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What am I supposed to be learning?
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dalguard


Nov 1, 2003, 8:27 AM
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What am I supposed to be learning?
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The books says that instead of focusing on sucess/failure in conventional terms I'm supposed to be focusing on learning and growing. But I can't get a picture in my head of what kind of learning he means. I come down from a route and ask myself what have I learned? and tend to come up with negative things like "that I suck" or "that I'm not very good at laybacking". I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant.

Occasionally I may learn to do a move in a new way or find an inventive gear placement, but not every route has a concrete learning experience on it. I'd love to hear some examples of how people feel that they learn and grow from climbing a route.


andy_lemon


Nov 1, 2003, 7:08 PM
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I don't want to put words into Arno's mouth... so I'll go with what I get from his book. When he says you learn and grow from a route, he means technical skill, mental skill, strength, and knowledge. Everytime you take a climbing trip you learn something new... whether you realise it or not! That is unless you goto a crag and climb the same 5 routes every day (highly unlikely), but even if so, you probably will learn something new. Just like when you roadtrip, you are always learning, every minute of every stretch, every story that is told in the car, every time you turn the wrong way onto that one way street...

What Arno is good at, and I mean really good, is his posture and composure while climbing. Just seeing the dude in the presence while your climbing makes you feel like you've caught your second wind mentally. What he teaches is how not to be afraid while climbing, and I've climbed with some great climbers and never seen anyone like him. What a great guy.

If you want to get into trad climbing and you don't know much about it or you are a bit sketchy, take his "trad climbing class" or his "rock warriors way" class... the guy is a great teacher and will focus on things with you the whole day or days your climbing with him. You can talk to this guy, he is human.


lou_dale


Nov 1, 2003, 7:18 PM
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i seem to talk a lot, so bear with me and apologies for talking on every subject i see posted..........

what i have learned - ok, i'll go back to one of my test pieces - several actually.

when we were first doing specific climbs - my husband (dale) always got to the top. not just sometimes - always. and i felt inadequate and i felt like i sucked too. i played my card often - i'm older, i'm shorter, i'm tired, i'm this or that - but it essentially always ended up being - i suck compared to him. he is, after all, a foot taller and stronger and better and blahhh blahhhhh.

and then we got into arno's 2 day class and we had to get up this unbelievable climb for fall practice (actually a really good thing to just get out of the way right off the bat). i so wigged out and then i cried - and then i was embarrassed because i cried........i couldn't get as far as dale, i wigged out when i fell, i this or that......and arno asked me - so what have you learned here today?

i could have said exactly what you said - well, that i'm not as good as dale and i can't climb like him and i wimped out and i cried and - i just went on and it was negative.

he asked me - did you do anything at all that took you out of your comfort zone and put you into the risk zone (aka learning zone)?

sniff, sniff - i don't know........

if you went up and took the fall and trusted the equipment, trusted the belayer/partner - you learned trust; correct?

sniff......uh huh........

any time you get out of your comfort zone, you are learning -

ok.......you learn how to take proper falls. you learn that you can judge the fall sequence better. you learn that by trusting the system, you aren't going to deck. you learn to make judgments so you won't deck when you fall, etc.

the next day when we got on something else (after fall practice because it really does help to just get that out of the way first), we got on my "test piece." not a hard climb for most but it is very reachy and i am very short - if i stand very tall and elongate myself as much as i possibly can, i am right at 5 feet 3. dale is 6 feet, 3.5 inches -

he floated up this climb, reaches up, grabs that key move, sails up to the top - nothing to it.

i get to that key move and i heel hooked, i lunged, i fell, i did everything i could think of..........and then some and at that time i just could not make that one crucial move. but in going up to that point, while arno was hanging out - he reminded me that maybe i should work out different moves to get to the same place - what did my instincts tell me? and that one day, i'd probably get to the top but i would have to work out different scenerios to get there because i AM shorter but to trust in my own abilities and stop comparing myself to anybody else.

the rock isn't going to change and i am not going to grow - so what i have to do is work on different ways to climb the same climbs that dale climbs even with the difference in our height if i choose to continue climbing with him.

so we went out (as i stated in my posty). and i worked out the moves and found a different way that worked for me.......

what did i learn from the route? i learned that because it doesn't change, that i must.......i must change how i view it, and how i choose my ways of climbing it if my goal is indeed to reach the anchors. i learned that i am every bit as good a climber as dale - i just can't use the same sequence he uses. i have a different style, reach, method -

and i learned that once i actually did get to the top and clip in - it was over. i had achieved that goal and now it would be time to move on to other climbs. i learned that i can trust in my first instincts - where to put my hands or feet, that overgripping won't get me any higher than gripping just enough, that breathing while i climb keeps me calm and helps me to climb better. i learned that while everybody else is grabbing those beautiful buckets, that maybe i need to appreciate the intermediate holds and consider those MY buckets. i learned that i don't have that reach but i can get my hands in places and feet on things that a lot of people just can't - because OF my size.

i learned to appreciate me more, compare me less, stop being as negative - because when i'm negative i tend to talk myself down or out of it. i learned to enjoy the climb itself (route) more by expecting less out of it and more out of me.

i learned to stop saying i'll try because it usually is coupled with i can't next. i learned that all my planning and scenerios and working out the moves, all the sweat, checking for fall consequences for safety's sake WAS my victory and that clipping the anchors was bittersweet in comparison to actually climbing the route itself.

i learned to be less selfish, more focused, trust in the process of intuition, my partners, my abilities - i learned to trust in ME more from climbing that one particular route.

had i just climbed it the first time like dale had - i wouldn't have learned much - other than i could grab a bucket and go to the top without a problem.

but by NOT making it the first time, i learned to plan, dream, work it out - that when the first attempt didn't get it, the next might and so on and so on........and i learned that the ONLY time i have failed is when i sit down on the ground and don't even get on the route to start with.

nobody sucks......you don't, i don't.......you have good days, bad days, days you make it, days you don't but any time you have a chance to do this thing that you love - you have succeeded.

any time you go out and engage the rock itself, play, come home safe so you can plan another day out there - you have succeeded.

hope maybe some of this helps a little.

LOU


andy_lemon


Nov 2, 2003, 11:07 PM
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Here's to short people!!! :D I'm 5'8" and while most people think that is average or a descent hieght I'd still have to say I'm at a disadvantage. I usually climb with people that are at least 6 foot tall. It used to be discouraging to me when one of my climbing partners would sail over a hard move because he could reach a better, more bomber hold then I could. After climbing for a few years now and climbing with several people who were 5'5" or shorter and could climb 12's even some 13's, you just learn from that. Alot of the 6 footer partners I have can't bring there knee to chest but I can, thus giving me an advantage in certain situations, alot of 6 footers can't get their fingers into that jam but I can. I could go on but the point is you learn to overcome your weaknesses. And that man, that is life.


on_sight_man


Nov 2, 2003, 11:35 PM
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I come down from a route and ask myself what have I learned? and tend to come up with negative things like "that I suck" or "that I'm not very good at laybacking". I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant.

One thing I noticed immediately is a simple attitude thing. I have been working on my crack climbing skills, especially .75 (green) Camalot size. I would go out, find a green camalot size crack, thrash on it, come off and get really discouraged. The truth that I figured out was I DO have stuff to learn about this size crack which is WHY I'm getting on them in the first place! So now, rather than saying "I suck at them" I think "Here's a chance to work on them". I mean, OF COURSE I'm going to flail on them. If I didn't flail on them, I'd be on some other size that I DO flail on because I want to get better. So it's a matter of looking at the process for what it is. You're doing something difficult for YOU so that YOU will get better at it.

Saying "I suck" doesn't help. Saying "I suck at laybacks" is better at least in that you've identified what to work on. How about saying "Where's a long layback climb where I can thrash and whine so I can improve at them?" and then enjoying the process of working it out. Now THAT'S the goal. In short, give yourself a break.


jen_c


Nov 3, 2003, 8:07 AM
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How about saying "Where's a long layback climb where I can thrash and whine so I can improve at them?" and then enjoying the process of working it out. Now THAT'S the goal. In short, give yourself a break.
But instead of whining while working on it, think positive thoughts...ask yourself questions like Arno mentions in the book..."How can I get through this?"..."Is there a different way to approach this move?"...etc. I bet you will work out the moves faster and better than you will if you are whining (creating negative thoughts, energy leaks).


calliope


Nov 3, 2003, 8:17 AM
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Here. Here. I'm 5'4" and one of my regular climbing partners is 6'4". Needless to say his Beta is almost useless most of the time.

Of course I can get most of my hand into "two finger" pockets, so it all comes out pretty even.


shank


Nov 3, 2003, 9:41 AM
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I come down from a route and ask myself what have I learned? and tend to come up with negative things like "that I suck" or "that I'm not very good at laybacking". I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant.

I think this is exactly what he means. Well maybe not so negative though.

Instead of I suck at liebacks it should be I need to work on my liebacks.

Don't say I can't do it. Say what do I have to do to get it right.

And another thing to keep in mind is that more learning is achieved in failure not success. Not to say that if you flash a route you don't learn anything. I just think you learn more from the route you have to work and work and work...


andy_lemon


Nov 3, 2003, 10:03 AM
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Don't listen to Shank... he's got to be at least 6'2", his beta is useless!!! :lol:


evan


Nov 3, 2003, 1:04 PM
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Hi Dawn,

Thanks for starting this topic. I had something from this past weekend I wanted to share, and this thread is giving me an opportunity to share some thoughts.

As an aside, it's great that you're posting on this forum. I used to lurk, (never posted) on wreck.climbing and read your journal updates on a regular basis. Your website is definitely one of the reasons I became interested in trad climbing. I hope to travel to half the number of places you have already in your climbing career.I'd love to hear some examples of how people feel that they learn and grow from climbing a route.
Like other people, I'm still struggling with conflicting emotions regarding what one learns from an apparent failure, for instance, the inability to complete a route. This has been a source of frustration for me this past summer, as it's been my first season climbing on gear. Although I've sport climbed and bouldered for the last two years, nothing prepared me for the battle of nerves that comes with trad climbing.

My friend, Freed, and I climbed last Saturday at Pitchoff Chimney Cliff in the Adirondacks. We originally intended to climb at the Web, but our project was soaking wet. With more than a few reservations, I racked up to lead "Roaches on the Wall" a mid level 5.10 that I had previously top-roped with several falls at the crux. "Roaches" is a 100 foot climb that cuts up a face climb, pulls a small roof, enters into a crack (crux) and then follows three discontonuous cracks up the headwall to the anchors.

I made it to the begining of the crux section and called for take, seriously pumped from hanging around too long and dicking in too much pro. I rested, got back on, placed a #5 Metolius Nut, and entered the crux section. I made a series of moves, too delicate to reverse, and realized that I couldn't move out of the stance I had gotten myself into. I was also unwilling to commit to the thin layback moves in the discontinuous crack that would get me past the crux. I told Freed I was going to fall. He gave me a good soft catch, so I wouldn't hit the roof. I sailed past my last piece, the nut below it, and the TCUs below the roof. I was a bit shaken.

I tried the sequence again, but couldn't commit or even visualize the moves when entering the crux. Not being able to reverse the moves to a decent rest, I called for a fall again. This time, I whipped past my last piece, the nut below that, the TCUs below the roof and the fixed pin below that. Previous to this, I had taken two "real" falls on gear, leading at my limit.

I lowered off, and walked up to set up a toprope. I was very, very dissappointed with myself, especially when I hit the moves first try on toprope. Later, I found myself torn between feeling good for making an effort, and bad for failing to get up the route on lead. Days later, sitting in my office, I felt the experience was a positive one. I wouldn't have been able to do this earlier this summer, and would probably be still moping... but, here's how I look at things:

This is one of four 5.10s on gear that I've tried leading from the ground up. I'm breaking into a new grade, and it isn't magically going to happen overnight. It's going to take time, and effort. What's more important, getting the send, or learning things that will enable you to climb more fluidly in the future and *enjoy* the route? What I learned:

1. I don't seem to be doubting my gear anymore. Freed said it best, "Well, from the falls you took today and last weekend, your gear doesn't seem to be much of an issue anymore." I realized afterwards that the quality of my placement never entered my mind. I simply has the normal, "Damn, I hate this" reaction I have when whipping onto a bolt. I wouldn't have gained that confidence if I had shot straight to the top.

2. I know what to work on next time. Little by little, I'm going to start coaxing myself to climb faster, and select specific exercies out of Arno's book to help me deal with my negative mental self talk while climbing.

3. Success or failure is irrelevant to whether or not you enjoyed the climb. When my Ego eventually shut up, during and after the climb, I realized that I enjoyed making all those moves, enjoyed placing that gear and enjoyed getting pumped.

4. I climbed past my comfort zone, and didn't yell for take... I willingly delayed, broke a habit and took a fall. That in itself was worth driving down for the day.

5. Sometimes, you're just not ready to do a series of new and foreign moves on lead. So what? Learn them on toprope, and then execute them on lead - in a variety of scenario - after you've built a foundation of trust and commitment.

6. I have a project for next season, something to measure my mental process. This excites me. The world is infinitley vast, and knowing that even something now familiar to me will provide an opportunity for growth makes me happy.

So, that's what I learned. I'm still dissapointed that I didn't make it to the top on lead, but I'm not beating myself up over it like I would have earlier this summer. Like I've said before, it's a strange feeling... I feel as if I should feel worse about this than I do, just from force of habit.

Hope this lengthy post helped. Good luck, Dawn!

- Evan


arnoilgner


Nov 6, 2003, 8:16 PM
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Witness, Witness, Witness...Ego, Ego, Ego...

There are two main things, in my opinion, that get in the way of climbing better: fear of falling and the ego. That damn ego of ours is always equating success with getting to the top or with being better than someone else. The Witness position is that part of ourselves that observes thoughts. If we can truly realize we are not our thoughts, then we gain some power over them, like not automatically acting them out or reacting to them.

Do we really value learning? As we sit by the computer it seems easy to say yes. But, when our ego doesn't get what it wants from a climb, do we really value learning? Or, are we allowing our ego to frustrate us? Frustration is a sign that we want something for nothing. The climb is challenging us at a certain level and we're not good enough yet to rise to that challenge. And, instead of improving US, we get frustrated, wanting the challenge to come down to our level. In order to begin learning and figuring out what we need to learn we must gain some perspective over our ego orientation because it DOES NOT value learning.


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