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edge


May 9, 2012, 9:16 AM
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Creating Your Own Reality
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In another thread, a talented and experienced climber made the comment that a certain cliff was "too hardcore" for them. This got me thinking...

If you have a mindset that a cliff, route, or problem is "too hard/hardcore/difficult" then you are absolutely right. You have created that reality for yourself. If, however, you allow yourself to believe that it is in the realm of possibility, then you have created a mindset which opens the door to success.

When I was younger, I was deathly afraid of heights. In my mid teens I became enamored of climbing, and my personal fears routinely kept me from advancing technically because I was paralyzed at the thought of being more than 25 feet off the deck.

About this same time, I got my hands on a copy of National Geographic with an article about the first clean ascent of the Regular Route on Half Dome. I can still remember the gut wrenching fear that came when I saw the pictures of the climbers seconding the Zig-Zag pitches with all of that exposure beneath them. It literally made me sick to my stomach.

The following year in college, I made a last ditch effort to overcome my fears by sending away for a cassette tape called "Fear of Heights." I played it every night as I went to sleep, and it walked me through powerful visualizations that created associations with heights and my own personal comfort zone. I also returned time and again to the National Geo article, and forced myself to look at the pictures, reminding myself that the climbers were experienced, tied in, and in control.

The following year in the Valley, I found a British partner who I did a series of warm-up climbs with, including the East Butt of El Cap and the NE Butt of Higher Cathedral Rock. The last climb of the trip was the Regular Route on Half Dome, and we opted to take our time and enjoy the climb.


The wall gear, including my home made haul bag. Note the 4" wide swami belt in the lower left corner which was my wall harness and yes, thats an old SMC "Square 8" which I used the small end of for a belay plate. Nigel brought a sleeping bag; I slept in a pile jacket with a space blanket inside the emptied haul bag.


Seconding the second pitch.


Nigel Cleaver on the 5.8 chimney.

We spent two nights on the wall, on Long Ledge atop pitch 6, and on Big Sandy atop pitch 17 and directly below the Zig Zags.



Nigel on the impeccable 5.8 double cracks below Big Sandy.


Nigel, calm and composed on Big Sandy.

I lead the Zig Zag pitch myself early on the third morning, and my mental preparedness paid off as I felt calm and determined. I followed Thank God Ledge crawling like a reptile with both hands and one leg on the ledge, then lead the A3 pitch that was the last obstacle to the summit. We topped out around 3 pm and were met by some friends who had hiked up and greeted us with some warm beer and a handshake. It was the day of my 21st birthday.


Nigel leads the first pitch off of Big Sandy; This was his first aid lead ever and a good one because I could talk him through all the necessary techniques. I combined the next two Zig Zag pitches to a hanging belay at the right end of Thank God Ledge. Note the EBs and hand tied aiders.


Me leading the A3 pitch (it only felt A1ish) just below the summit.

Visualization is a powerful tool, and I would have long since given up climbing in personal disgust if I had never learned that I alone am responsible for my perceptions of what is or isn't possible. Today, when I am preparing for a climb, I will often study the moves from below and mime them out with hands and feet moving. There can be no space for self doubt or negative thoughts, only success. I find this tremendously helpful and as a result, my sends are much more fluid and successful.

Of course, there are climbs that for one reason or another just plain shut me down. The challenge is to walk away with learned beta and a clear mental image of how best to approach them in the future. If I truly believe that I will send, then more times than not, I will.

(As an aside, my old college roomate who was forced to listen to my self hypnosis tape also has no fear of heights.)

Discuss...


(This post was edited by edge on May 9, 2012, 9:31 AM)


johnwesely


May 9, 2012, 9:22 AM
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Great post edge. I only have this to add. whenever I break to that next level, what used to be past my limit always seems so easy. It is amazing the affect perception has on performance.


gblauer
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May 9, 2012, 10:13 AM
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Great read.

I have certainly created my own "reality" and regrettably have bounded my climbing because of it.

I hope my diligence on working with it pays off as handsomely as yours...


lena_chita
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May 9, 2012, 10:19 AM
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Great read, and very good point!

What's there to discuss? Yes, we all create our own reality. And yes, you have to believe that the change is possible in order to get there.

But what if some things are just objectively impossible? Or if some things require the change of such magnitude that it is impractical? What if the change, while achieving your own goal, affects other people negatively?

More excuses, all of the above?


johnwesely


May 9, 2012, 10:22 AM
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lena_chita wrote:
Great read, and very good point!

What's there to discuss? Yes, we all create our own reality. And yes, you have to believe that the change is possible in order to get there.

But what if some things are just objectively impossible? Or if some things require the change of such magnitude that it is impractical? What if the change, while achieving your own goal, affects other people negatively?

More excuses, all of the above?

How do you know the difference?


(This post was edited by johnwesely on May 9, 2012, 10:22 AM)


lena_chita
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May 9, 2012, 10:23 AM
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johnwesely wrote:
lena_chita wrote:
Great read, and very good point!

What's there to discuss? Yes, we all create our own reality. And yes, you have to believe that the change is possible in order to get there.

But what if some things are just objectively impossible? Or if some things require the change of such magnitude that it is impractical? What if the change, while achieving your own goal, affects other people negatively?

More excuses, all of the above?

How do you know the difference?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wink


edge


May 9, 2012, 10:35 AM
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lena_chita wrote:
Great read, and very good point!

What's there to discuss? Yes, we all create our own reality. And yes, you have to believe that the change is possible in order to get there.

But what if some things are just objectively impossible? Or if some things require the change of such magnitude that it is impractical? What if the change, while achieving your own goal, affects other people negatively?

More excuses, all of the above?

I expect that the answer lies in knowing what is possible within a given circumstance.

Right now, I know that I cannot climb 5.13. I never have led harder than 12+, and given my age and family obligations, it would seem highly unlikely that I find one that suits my style and present conditioning.

However, instead of just writing off the potential of climbing one in the future, I leave open the (admittedly small) possibility that if I were willing to train and devote the necessary time, then it would be within my grasp.

Visualizing and belief must always be balanced and tempered by reality not fantasy.


lena_chita
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May 9, 2012, 10:36 AM
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johnwesely wrote:
lena_chita wrote:
Great read, and very good point!

What's there to discuss? Yes, we all create our own reality. And yes, you have to believe that the change is possible in order to get there.

But what if some things are just objectively impossible? Or if some things require the change of such magnitude that it is impractical? What if the change, while achieving your own goal, affects other people negatively?

More excuses, all of the above?

How do you know the difference?


I was thinking of a number of hypothetical scenarios.

Here's one, for example: I would love to go on a long (couple years long) climbing trip. I also happen to have two school-age kids.

Do I know that it is theoretically possible and how to go about it?

Sure! Save up some money, get a small camper, pile stuff into it, drive from place to place, home-school the kids, get odd jobs here and there, live frugally, make do, and climb-climb-climb... But I do not believe that doing so would be in the best interest of my children.

Yes, I know, there are people out there doing it, and their kids are just fine. But I don't think my kids would be, I don't think they would enjoy it, and I ALSO don't think that I would particularly enjoy THAT version of a climbing trip.



What I would like is a climbing trip without the kids...

Is there a way to do it? Yes, again theoretically. Talk the grandparents into taking care of the kids, and go. Entirely possible! Many kids have been raised by their grandparents just fine.

BUT... I don't want to dump my kids on grandparents for two years. I would miss them, they would wonder why the hell their mother abandoned them, and grandparents are not exactly in the best of health.

So: objective reality? If I want to go on a 2 years-long climbing trip, it would have to wait until the kids are in college. In the meantime, I can compromise and go on couple 1-week long trips a year.


lena_chita
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May 9, 2012, 10:53 AM
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edge wrote:
lena_chita wrote:
Great read, and very good point!

What's there to discuss? Yes, we all create our own reality. And yes, you have to believe that the change is possible in order to get there.

But what if some things are just objectively impossible? Or if some things require the change of such magnitude that it is impractical? What if the change, while achieving your own goal, affects other people negatively?

More excuses, all of the above?

I expect that the answer lies in knowing what is possible within a given circumstance.

Right now, I know that I cannot climb 5.13. I never have led harder than 12+, and given my age and family obligations, it would seem highly unlikely that I find one that suits my style and present conditioning.

However, instead of just writing off the potential of climbing one in the future, I leave open the (admittedly small) possibility that if I were willing to train and devote the necessary time, then it would be within my grasp.

Visualizing and belief must always be balanced and tempered by reality not fantasy.

I see what you mean there. And yes, I agree.

I was actually just having this conversation with a climbing partner this past weekend.

She is not a very strong or experienced climber yet, and she, unfortunately, has been hanging out with the crowd that preaches as gospel the fact that "you will always lead at least 4 grades below your toproping ability".

She fully bought into this idea, and as she was talking about it, I was remembering that I started out in the same place once upon a time. Back then, I was thinking wishfully that someday, I want to be able to toprope 5.12a, and lead 5.11a. Nothing more than that, I definitely wouldn't be able to, I thought I knew that for sure, but at least that much, I thought I could do.

Seems really funny, in retrospect. It is one of the things that reading SCC made me re-think. Instead of having this distant and unachievable goal of someday climbing a 5.12 on a toprope, there was a pyramid I could do, and a simple small achievable goal of sending 5.10d. And then 5.11a, the 5.11b...

Now, 5.13 seems, though somewhat distant, not by any means impossible. Sure, 5.14 is in the so-distant-as-to-be-impractical-to-think-about realm. But some day, who knows? I agree that closing the door on that distant and slim possibility would be unnecessary.


karmiclimber


May 9, 2012, 2:36 PM
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edge wrote:
In another thread, a talented and experienced climber made the comment that a certain cliff was "too hardcore" for them. This got me thinking...

If you have a mindset that a cliff, route, or problem is "too hard/hardcore/difficult" then you are absolutely right. You have created that reality for yourself. If, however, you allow yourself to believe that it is in the realm of possibility, then you have created a mindset which opens the door to success.

When I was younger, I was deathly afraid of heights. In my mid teens I became enamored of climbing, and my personal fears routinely kept me from advancing technically because I was paralyzed at the thought of being more than 25 feet off the deck.

About this same time, I got my hands on a copy of National Geographic with an article about the first clean ascent of the Regular Route on Half Dome. I can still remember the gut wrenching fear that came when I saw the pictures of the climbers seconding the Zig-Zag pitches with all of that exposure beneath them. It literally made me sick to my stomach.

The following year in college, I made a last ditch effort to overcome my fears by sending away for a cassette tape called "Fear of Heights." I played it every night as I went to sleep, and it walked me through powerful visualizations that created associations with heights and my own personal comfort zone. I also returned time and again to the National Geo article, and forced myself to look at the pictures, reminding myself that the climbers were experienced, tied in, and in control.

The following year in the Valley, I found a British partner who I did a series of warm-up climbs with, including the East Butt of El Cap and the NE Butt of Higher Cathedral Rock. The last climb of the trip was the Regular Route on Half Dome, and we opted to take our time and enjoy the climb.

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/loransmith/Climbing/1-2-2010_041-1.jpg[/IMG]
The wall gear, including my home made haul bag. Note the 4" wide swami belt in the lower left corner which was my wall harness and yes, thats an old SMC "Square 8" which I used the small end of for a belay plate. Nigel brought a sleeping bag; I slept in a pile jacket with a space blanket inside the emptied haul bag.

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/loransmith/Climbing/1-2-2010_043.jpg[/IMG]
Seconding the second pitch.

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/loransmith/Climbing/1-2-2010_054-1.jpg[/IMG]
Nigel Cleaver on the 5.8 chimney.

We spent two nights on the wall, on Long Ledge atop pitch 6, and on Big Sandy atop pitch 17 and directly below the Zig Zags.


[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/loransmith/Climbing/1-2-2010_055.jpg[/IMG]
Nigel on the impeccable 5.8 double cracks below Big Sandy.

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/loransmith/Climbing/1-2-2010_060.jpg[/IMG]
Nigel, calm and composed on Big Sandy.

I lead the Zig Zag pitch myself early on the third morning, and my mental preparedness paid off as I felt calm and determined. I followed Thank God Ledge crawling like a reptile with both hands and one leg on the ledge, then lead the A3 pitch that was the last obstacle to the summit. We topped out around 3 pm and were met by some friends who had hiked up and greeted us with some warm beer and a handshake. It was the day of my 21st birthday.

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/loransmith/Climbing/1-2-2010_065.jpg[/IMG]
Nigel leads the first pitch off of Big Sandy; This was his first aid lead ever and a good one because I could talk him through all the necessary techniques. I combined the next two Zig Zag pitches to a hanging belay at the right end of Thank God Ledge. Note the EBs and hand tied aiders.

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/loransmith/Climbing/1-2-2010_069.jpg[/IMG]
Me leading the A3 pitch (it only felt A1ish) just below the summit.

Visualization is a powerful tool, and I would have long since given up climbing in personal disgust if I had never learned that I alone am responsible for my perceptions of what is or isn't possible. Today, when I am preparing for a climb, I will often study the moves from below and mime them out with hands and feet moving. There can be no space for self doubt or negative thoughts, only success. I find this tremendously helpful and as a result, my sends are much more fluid and successful.

Of course, there are climbs that for one reason or another just plain shut me down. The challenge is to walk away with learned beta and a clear mental image of how best to approach them in the future. If I truly believe that I will send, then more times than not, I will.

(As an aside, my old college roomate who was forced to listen to my self hypnosis tape also has no fear of heights.)

Discuss...

Love this so much and I'm printing it out and hanging it up my gear room! Thanks for posting :-)

I remember the first time I went to Yosemite...one of the most beautiful places on earth. I only hiked there, but El Cap was love at first sight...I used to dream about climbing it and sleeping on a portaledge and waking up to the most beautiful sunrise ever. Must be the best feeling in the world to have made your dream a reality!


moose_droppings


May 9, 2012, 4:31 PM
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I agree, it's mind over matter.

I've gotten snail eye a couple of times when I found myself out of my comfort zone while roped soloing in the back country. If I let my mind race and think about things like how long I could hang here before someone finds me, thoughts of retreat enter in. Instead I've taught myself to keep my mind busy on the task at hand, focus on what I'm doing now and everything else that's been done along the way to insure my safety. Blocks out all the negativity.


wonderwoman


May 15, 2012, 10:37 AM
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I am catching up on my RC.com reading and so glad I came across your thoughtful post! I think you posted this after I made the comment that Cannon was too hard-core for me.

Visualization is definitely key for me, although I tend to solely use it in the short-term form for getting me through a move at a crux or looking at the climb from the ground. I have journaled my fears and experiences to try to pinpoint roadblocks or try to get over climbing dilemmas. I have made long-term plans and goals, but I have never incorporated visualization in them. This may be just the mental exercise that I need, as I attempt to get back into climbing shape!

Your story is inspiring. The moment that I saw a picture of someone sleeping on a portaledge, I have wanted to have that experience. Have I ever visualized it? Not yet. (Okay - I am a little bit frightened of the poop-tube and I can't bring myself to engage in that sort of visualization exercise!)

Truth be told, what keeps me from going back to Cannon again has to do with blackflies and bushwhack. I think that I have hiked to the base 5 or so times, and actually made the summit 3 times. Rain, cold, swarms of biting insects, and a freak migraine attack have made me associate Cannon with suffering. But this is the stuff that makes climbing climbing. Right?

With grad school nearly in my rearview mirror, I am about to make a new 5 year life plan. My plan will involve setting climbing, family and career goals. Lucky for me, I have a spouse who has a similar vision. Although, we may need a separate poop-tube portaledge because I don't want to be that intimate with anybody.

I had not even thought of incorporating visualization into my plan setting. Now I will. But I still don't want to visualize being devoured by blackflies! Maybe I should visualize and plan to pack deet, and give Cannon another try. Maybe not with my husband, though. He's had enough of me on Cannon.


Kerry_NC


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Great inspiring post!

I am very new to climbing, but am fortunate to have a experienced (20+ yrs) partner to help me learn. I use visualization to an extent, I always try to visualize how I am going to climb a route before I start, I also try to visualize alternate ways to complete a section in case plan A doesn't work for me.

I spent the last 25 yrs competing in equestrian events, where I used visualization before every event...picturing the exact way I wanted to jump a course before I started..I have just been trying to adapt it to climbing..your tips will certainly help. Thanks!


edge


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wonderwoman wrote:
I am catching up on my RC.com reading and so glad I came across your thoughtful post! I think you posted this after I made the comment that Cannon was too hard-core for me.

And cue the Carly Simon song... Angelic

In reply to:
Visualization is definitely key for me, although I tend to solely use it in the short-term form for getting me through a move at a crux or looking at the climb from the ground. I have journaled my fears and experiences to try to pinpoint roadblocks or try to get over climbing dilemmas. I have made long-term plans and goals, but I have never incorporated visualization in them. This may be just the mental exercise that I need, as I attempt to get back into climbing shape!

Your story is inspiring. The moment that I saw a picture of someone sleeping on a portaledge, I have wanted to have that experience. Have I ever visualized it? Not yet. (Okay - I am a little bit frightened of the poop-tube and I can't bring myself to engage in that sort of visualization exercise!)

Truth be told, what keeps me from going back to Cannon again has to do with blackflies and bushwhack. I think that I have hiked to the base 5 or so times, and actually made the summit 3 times. Rain, cold, swarms of biting insects, and a freak migraine attack have made me associate Cannon with suffering. But this is the stuff that makes climbing climbing. Right?

With grad school nearly in my rearview mirror, I am about to make a new 5 year life plan. My plan will involve setting climbing, family and career goals. Lucky for me, I have a spouse who has a similar vision. Although, we may need a separate poop-tube portaledge because I don't want to be that intimate with anybody.

I had not even thought of incorporating visualization into my plan setting. Now I will. But I still don't want to visualize being devoured by blackflies! Maybe I should visualize and plan to pack deet, and give Cannon another try. Maybe not with my husband, though. He's had enough of me on Cannon.

Tiff, glad to hear that this may be of help. The instance I described in my OP opened my eyes to the power of visualization, and I soon learned that it translates well beyond climbing.

In my work, for example, I make custom, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. To date, I have never declined a job that pushes the boundaries of my past experience, instead I use this technique to envision the finished product and all of the processes long before the wood hits the shop floor.

As for the portaledge/poop tube thing, I am sure you can picture everything going smoothly...


Gmburns2000


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edge wrote:
wonderwoman wrote:
I am catching up on my RC.com reading and so glad I came across your thoughtful post! I think you posted this after I made the comment that Cannon was too hard-core for me.

And cue the Carly Simon song... Angelic

In reply to:
Visualization is definitely key for me, although I tend to solely use it in the short-term form for getting me through a move at a crux or looking at the climb from the ground. I have journaled my fears and experiences to try to pinpoint roadblocks or try to get over climbing dilemmas. I have made long-term plans and goals, but I have never incorporated visualization in them. This may be just the mental exercise that I need, as I attempt to get back into climbing shape!

Your story is inspiring. The moment that I saw a picture of someone sleeping on a portaledge, I have wanted to have that experience. Have I ever visualized it? Not yet. (Okay - I am a little bit frightened of the poop-tube and I can't bring myself to engage in that sort of visualization exercise!)

Truth be told, what keeps me from going back to Cannon again has to do with blackflies and bushwhack. I think that I have hiked to the base 5 or so times, and actually made the summit 3 times. Rain, cold, swarms of biting insects, and a freak migraine attack have made me associate Cannon with suffering. But this is the stuff that makes climbing climbing. Right?

With grad school nearly in my rearview mirror, I am about to make a new 5 year life plan. My plan will involve setting climbing, family and career goals. Lucky for me, I have a spouse who has a similar vision. Although, we may need a separate poop-tube portaledge because I don't want to be that intimate with anybody.

I had not even thought of incorporating visualization into my plan setting. Now I will. But I still don't want to visualize being devoured by blackflies! Maybe I should visualize and plan to pack deet, and give Cannon another try. Maybe not with my husband, though. He's had enough of me on Cannon.

Tiff, glad to hear that this may be of help. The instance I described in my OP opened my eyes to the power of visualization, and I soon learned that it translates well beyond climbing.

In my work, for example, I make custom, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. To date, I have never declined a job that pushes the boundaries of my past experience, instead I use this technique to envision the finished product and all of the processes long before the wood hits the shop floor.

As for the portaledge/poop tube thing, I am sure you can picture everything going smoothly...

lentils work wonders.


potreroed


May 16, 2012, 6:30 PM
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Excellent post! Visualization is powerful stuff, although there are other ways to conquer a fear of heights.

My wife is always reminding me that I live in my own personal world.


theguy


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Moderators, please move this thread to the Mental Training: The Rock Warriors Way forum


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