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When to throw the towel in??
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jedasmith


Dec 7, 2009, 9:29 AM
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When to throw the towel in??
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Hello!
I have been climbing for a handful of years now. I started leading maybe 3 years ago. I have read RWW and done the recommended practice falls, but I find they ramp up my anxiety rather than helping. My question is this-- are there some people that just are not wired for the sharp-end? I feel like I am constantly fighting fear--especially on lead. I know everyone has some amount of fear-- but mine is debilitating. I won't lead anything if I feel I could fall on it. Do I continue to push myself and try to swallow the self-loathing that comes with my repeated failures at controlling/managing the fear? Do I accept this as a part of who I am and settle for seconding all the time?
Any advice is appreciated.


(This post was edited by jedasmith on Dec 7, 2009, 9:36 AM)


ScottMcNamara


Dec 9, 2009, 7:01 PM
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Self-loathing is not a good way to motivate yourself and is definitely not much fun.

The internal self-loathing dialog tends to get in the way of learning and change. For many of us self-loathing dialog involves comparison. For example, I could not lead the route. My partner had to lead it. I am not as good as my partner. I suck....

There are a lot of logical problems with this kind of quiet internal self whipping. First, it tends to become a habit and hard to break.

Second, we usually project onto our partners our own self loathing. They must think .... We rarely check out what our partners the reality of the situation with them. How do you feel about me not wanting to lead? They may be very happy that they get to lead everything.

Third, if comparison with others is very high in your hierarchy of values you tend to lose the value of your unique self. Everybody is different. The different toppings make the pizza better. Everybody has different shoe sizes. It does not make their feet more or less valuable. Perhaps learning or having fun might move up on you hierarchy and comparison down.

Fourth, this type of internal dialog takes up too much ROM when it might be better used in learning and having fun. Ho man, Im fucked up--- becomes a self fulfilling prophesy because it becomes the predominate focus. It might be better to listen to your internal dialog to pay close attention to what you are saying to yourself ---to choose fear. Might it not be more about what you think others think and less about getting hurt during a fall?

I understand that you feel stuck. I tend to think that until you can gently accept your fear at part of you (at this point in time in your climbing career) you cannot move on to where you want to go. Just trying to choke it down tends to make it grow and learn misinformation. I sounds like you already know this.

Climbing like most things has cycles. Maybe it is ok to be afraid for now. Engage your fear only in small ways. It will change. Few things are forever.

I think just having fun climbing goes a long way toward making the change you seek.


jedasmith


Dec 10, 2009, 4:15 AM
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Thank you for taking the time to write such a developed and thought-filled reply. I am processing it all now!
Jen


wanderlustmd


Dec 17, 2009, 6:26 AM
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jedasmith wrote:
Hello!
I have been climbing for a handful of years now. I started leading maybe 3 years ago. I have read RWW and done the recommended practice falls, but I find they ramp up my anxiety rather than helping. My question is this-- are there some people that just are not wired for the sharp-end? I feel like I am constantly fighting fear--especially on lead. I know everyone has some amount of fear-- but mine is debilitating. I won't lead anything if I feel I could fall on it. Do I continue to push myself and try to swallow the self-loathing that comes with my repeated failures at controlling/managing the fear? Do I accept this as a part of who I am and settle for seconding all the time?
Any advice is appreciated.
Sounds like you need to take more practice falls. You can acclimatize to most anything with enough exposure. The question is what you should acclimatize yourself to.


seatbeltpants


Dec 20, 2009, 6:21 PM
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wanderlustmd wrote:
jedasmith wrote:
Hello!
I have been climbing for a handful of years now. I started leading maybe 3 years ago. I have read RWW and done the recommended practice falls, but I find they ramp up my anxiety rather than helping. My question is this-- are there some people that just are not wired for the sharp-end? I feel like I am constantly fighting fear--especially on lead. I know everyone has some amount of fear-- but mine is debilitating. I won't lead anything if I feel I could fall on it. Do I continue to push myself and try to swallow the self-loathing that comes with my repeated failures at controlling/managing the fear? Do I accept this as a part of who I am and settle for seconding all the time?
Any advice is appreciated.
Sounds like you need to take more practice falls. You can acclimatize to most anything with enough exposure. The question is what you should acclimatize yourself to.

yeah, i totally agree with this. i am gradually working on getting over my fear of leading and the most useful things i've found are to practice falls and to work on getting lots of exposure.

there's a longer discussion on falling practice in espresso lessons of the rww - essentially it's a metter of starting with top rope falls, building up to small falls on lead, then larger falls, all while staying calm and not stretching yourself too far. doing this lots and lots will help. ten falls one morning at the crag probably won't make a huge difference, but a hundred will.

the other thing, as mentioned above, is exposure. a friend of mine isn't comfortable leading so it inevitably falls to me to lead when i climb with him. this forces me to do it while letting him get away with not doing it. which of us do you think is becoming bolder? i'm currently teaching my wife to drive and i think it's just the same as this. you need milage, lots and lots of milage, and what is currently stressful will gradually become mundane.

arno talks about pushing yourself, but not so far that you freeze up, get super stressed, or perform terribly. that won't help, just like it wouldn't help my wife learn to drive by dumping her straight on a crowded highway. nice, easy, gradually acclimatisation is the key. push yourself a little, get slightly stressed, but don't overdo it.

steve


maxwell4508


Jan 7, 2010, 10:39 AM
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I can relate. Sometimes I'm geared up to lead head wise and lots of times I am not. I find that if I just let the leads go to the other guy, then I can get comfortable with the imagined loss of the warrior image. Hell, people who don't climb think everyone up there is a warrior, which ever end they are at. And sometimes I get out there and I'm just ready. That works better if it is a spur of the monent deal. Lots of the crazy fools wouldn't think of not leading. Take advantage.


tn_traddie


May 10, 2010, 1:01 PM
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I was taught the mantra of "the leader must not fall". Over time I grew to relax a bit on that thought process but, I still won't lead a climb I'm likely to fall on. I also hate to lead climbs where opportunities for pro are sketchy or not every 10 feet or so. I've just started doing some climbing again after 3+ years and I'm finding that leading is scary again! Hopefully that feeling dissapates as I get more climbing miles in. Kinda weird as I didn't feel that way so much when I first started leading....guess I young & dumb back then & didn't know any better. Tongue


luckypink


Aug 5, 2010, 10:57 AM
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I think you just need a mentor. Someone to actually "take" you climbing a few times and give you a chance to work with it all in slow motion. Slowing it down seems to work for many people , do a few practice leads on top rope also. Go back to Beginners Mind.
good luck with it.. and you know, you don't HAVE to climb or lead. There's lots out there.


clee03m


Aug 7, 2010, 7:42 AM
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I see you posted last year, but here are my thoughts on this anyways. I find more I lead, more it really helps with my lead head. It doesn't matter if you have to lead many climbs at a level you wouldn't fall. Just lead as often as you can, and you may find yourself pushing yourself and enjoying it. And try to avoid only climbing with people who are better than you. Climbing with some who needs you to lead can really help you feel good about leading a climb you find too easy. Personally I find these two approaches more useful than practice falls and finding a mentor. Good luck.


jedasmith


Aug 7, 2010, 4:25 PM
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Thank you to everyone for their thoughts and advice. I really appreciate it. I am still working on it-- going with the more mileage approach for now.


KeitaroHoshi


Aug 28, 2010, 10:30 PM
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Hi there Jeda.

I would like to share my experiences with you also.
When I began leading I was climbing sport maby twice a year, and when climbing vertical lines I was scared to take a fall more than one foot past the bolt.
When I was climbing past vertical to nearly horizontial lines I felt more comfortable with falling because I was not going to make contact with the cliff. Over the years and going climbing and becoming a bit more skilled my confidence grew.
After watching a few videos of some free climbing I could see how these falls were taken. I still was not verry confident about falling and being uninjured.
I knew that I must not allow the rope to wrap around my leg so I would not be fliped over and hit my head. Over the years my climbing vacations became extended to two weeks then to two months at a time. Now I will share story about my first wipper.
The climb was completly vertical so there was no chance of skidding down a slab also nothing to hit on the way down. I came to a realization while leading a 5.11 face climb. I suddedly realized that gravity was my friend when falling; because all of my weight was pulling me down and not foward.
I was ten feet above the bolt reached high and slightly touched a two finger crimp. Then I knew I was in for the ride. I slightly hopped, posed in a middle stance(like the kind praticed in karate), and began falling. I allowed the rope to pass in front of me with my arms bent and hands in front of my shoulders in a sort of ready to push position. To prevent being cut open I was carefull not to touch the wall on the way down. The rope soon became tight in front of me and my feet hit the wall after all of my momentum was stopped. I had completly taken a twentyfive foot wipper on a vertical wall! I attempted to climb it agin. I wipped five more times. Then I started to get scared that I might break the bolt. So I used a stick clip the next clip while hanging from the bolt from a quickdraw. I was able to climb past the section that I kept falling on with ease, on top rope, and finish leading the rest of the climb with out falling. Aparently that spot is the crux. This climb is now on my list of things to redpoint.
I hope this story is helpfull for you. Please remember not to allow anyone to presure you into leading somthing above your current level of climbing ability.
If people are yelling at you-Just go for it! DONT LISTEN TO THEM. Maby that would be a good time to call it a day.


(This post was edited by KeitaroHoshi on Aug 28, 2010, 10:45 PM)


darkgift06


Sep 16, 2010, 12:31 PM
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Fear & loathing in climbing is natural. The key as pointed out before is to go climbing with people who are not as good as you, this way you are forced to lead easy routes which are at your ability thus giving your more miles on the rock, & a stronger lead head. Just remember that the fear & loathing is normal when getting into the unknown or the hard lines, & when it sets in keep looking forward for that rest after the hard bits & don't focus on the hard bits.


tolman_paul


Sep 12, 2011, 6:17 PM
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I've climbed off and on for ~25 years, and have gone from getting terrified and backing off, to leading runouts and free soloing, and everywhere in between.

The important part is to remember that climbing is supposed to be fun! At first I always thought I had to be seeking out harder and harder climbs, and had to push my limit.

Then some friends invited me on a group trip to climb a 4 pitch 5.4. I never gave any thought to climbing something like that, but man, what a fun climb!

So I'd say put on some mileage, and get yourself into some exposed situations, but at an easier grade and on fairly well protected routes. I found that really helped my lead head better than anything else.

I assume you don't have a problem doing hard boulder problems? If you can do hard moves, or rather moves that are at your limit without fear, then the issue is learning to deal with exposure.


damienclimber


Sep 21, 2011, 12:33 AM
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tolman_paul wrote:
I've climbed off and on for ~25 years, and have gone from getting terrified and backing off, to leading runouts and free soloing, and everywhere in between.

The important part is to remember that climbing is supposed to be fun! At first I always thought I had to be seeking out harder and harder climbs, and had to push my limit.

Then some friends invited me on a group trip to climb a 4 pitch 5.4. I never gave any thought to climbing something like that, but man, what a fun climb!

So I'd say put on some mileage, and get yourself into some exposed situations, but at an easier grade and on fairly well protected routes. I found that really helped my lead head better than anything else.

I assume you don't have a problem doing hard boulder problems? If you can do hard moves, or rather moves that are at your limit without fear, then the issue is learning to deal with exposure.


Every time I see you user name, I think of tolhouse cookies, then I see you live in Alaska.

Now that I read you climb 5.4 .
I'm wondering how sweet it would be if you near the Palin's and could take Sarah , Todd or maybe the entire clan climbing!
Make sure you bake extra special tolhouse cookies don't skimp on the good chocolate chips.
Where in Alaska do you live btw?


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