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Progress with comfort falling on gear.
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fracture


Apr 21, 2004, 5:38 PM
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Progress with comfort falling on gear.
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Last friday I went to our local granite crag. The plan was to lead a 5.10, gently overhung hand crack that I was more or less certain to fall on.

I got ready to go, placed a high cam, and then left the ground. Made a move or two, and then started placing a second piece at the limit of my reach. My hand was blocking me from seeing it, so I'd place it, move my hand a bit so I could look at it, and then fiddle with it again....this took a while.

It's kinda hard to get a piece to look super purty when you can't really see it, so I started getting more nervous as each time I moved my hand the cam still wasn't set the way I wanted it (the crack flares a little, so if you just chuck it in there the lobes are likely to not be extended the same amount). Negative self-talk starts me to wasting energy worrying that I only have one piece in if I were to fall.

By this time I was getting pretty damn pumped (apparently it is possible to overgrip a handjam ;)). So I finally clipped the piece and then had my belayer take.

Not exactly what I intended to do, which was climb 'till I fell. I repeated this again for 2 or so more pieces, and then decided that I was definitely being irrational about whether to keep going so I could fall. So I decided to jump off some. I backed up my last piece with another cam immediately below it, and took 2 short shock-loads and 2 small 5-6 ft falls on it.

After I finished out the route, I got on an 11a route nearby and flashed it. I didn't feel nervous at all, and I think there's more than one reason for this. (i) those practice falls probably took off a bit of irrational fear that the gear would pull. (ii) I could see my pro when I was placing it, so none of the pieces took more than one try to put in the way I wanted. This was mostly because of the way the route is, but I realized later that the problem on the first route was that I was placing each piece too high. If I place the gear closer to eye-level, I'll save time because I'll be able to see my placement and I won't have to clip a piece that I'm straining to reach. (iii) Hand cracks are much harder than dihedral finger cracks for sportos like myself :P.

Next time I lead a hand crack I'm going to focus on staying calm and not squeezing the hell out of the jam when I place gear, and I'm going to stop straining to place pieces as high as I can reach. It seems that I get most nervous about taking a fall when I'm placing the next piece, so perhaps there may be some way to work on that as well (maybe placing the next piece and then jumping or hanging out in a hand crack near the ground placing pieces over and over or something---any ideas?).


dirtineye


Apr 22, 2004, 6:25 AM
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Next time I lead a hand crack I'm going to focus on staying calm and not squeezing the hell out of the jam when I place gear, and I'm going to stop straining to place pieces as high as I can reach. It seems that I get most nervous about taking a fall when I'm placing the next piece, so perhaps there may be some way to work on that as well (maybe placing the next piece and then jumping or hanging out in a hand crack near the ground placing pieces over and over or something---any ideas?).

What are you doing with your feet while you are hanging on one hand to place? Maybe you could be more secure on the one hand if you set your feet a little differently.

Some hand jams require a bit of 'squeezing', others do not. Maybe you should do some test to see just how little 'squeeze' you need to stay on. COuld be that you are 'over gripping' ( for lack of a better term) your jams. I was hand and forearm jamming for fun yesterday ( and to imprees my non-jamming boulder only friends) and it always amazes me just how soild and restful a good jam is.
thht this) is to go around looking for really good jams right off the ground, stick your hand or fist or whatever in the jam, ans see if yo ucan hold you whole body weight on it in comfort. I usually show off the best ones by lifting my feet and other hand off the wall. Honestly, I started doing this partly for fun and partly out of appreciation for a good jam, but it turned out to be very helpful in identifying and trusting a good solid jam to the max.

One other thing, maybe there are other jamming techniques you can learn-- often a modified ring jam is much easier to hold than a finger lock for example, but you could use either in many holds.

There is a variation on finger stacking, I don't know the real name for it, but sometimes instead ofa poor finger lock or stack, you can put your thumb in first, crook it sideways a little, then set your figners on top of it kind of like a stack or lock, and not only is this much more comfortable, it is much more secure as well. I guess I'd call this a thumb and finger lock haha.

Anyway, you could look for pics of many different kinds of jams in some books, MTFOTH has some for example, and then play with all the variations on jamming you cna come up with yourself, to explore the possibilities.

Placing at eye level is a good idea. Some cracks allow you to see the whole cam from below, but not all.


fracture


Apr 22, 2004, 7:29 AM
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What are you doing with your feet while you are hanging on one hand to place? Maybe you could be more secure on the one hand if you set your feet a little differently.

Ah I forgot to mention this; I wasn't using my feet as well as I could.

I'm not very comfortable on foot jams yet, so I was smearing and edging on the crystals outside of the crack. I was sorta pulling outward on the jams to put more pressure on the feet. Higher up on the route I started putting one in the crack and the other outside, which was a lot better.

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Some hand jams require a bit of 'squeezing', others do not. Maybe you should do some test to see just how little 'squeeze' you need to stay on.

This sounds like a good idea. Another thing I just realized is I need to make sure i'm straight-arming the jam when I'm placing gear.

Thanks for the comments.


dirtineye


Apr 22, 2004, 4:55 PM
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If you get a good deep fist and arm jam, you can bend your elbow 90 degrees and have th e jam at your waist, and be all on big muscles in your back and our triceps for everythign except keeping a fist.

Likewise with a hand and forearm, once your forearm is resting on the rock, bending the elbow might even help depending on the situation.

Some jams you can't even do with a straight arm.

It just depends on the particular crack you are dealing with.

Every once in a while, I get this idea to do a coffee table book called, "Great Jams of the South East", hahaha. All the jams in it will ahve to be capable of supporting your whole weight, that is, no other hands or feet can touch the rock. There woudl be a closeup of the beautiful jam and an inset of the model held up only by the jam.

HAHAHA I bet THAT would be hard ro find a publisher for!


dredsovrn


Apr 23, 2004, 9:21 AM
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I am still a beginning leader and am dealing with confidence in gear placements, pumping out, etc... On the climbs I do, I often have to use a lot of runners because the route wanders. As you can imagine the extra time after finding the piece, and the getting the sling clipped and then the rope take some time.

In order to isnpire confidence and get myslef to relax, I will sometimes, place the piece as best I can on first shot, and clip it direct. Then I will adjust it to suit. Then I take the sling and clip it and clip the rope. Then I unclip the rope from the first biner. I know, not the best plan in the world, and I do it less and less. Sometimes when I feel sketched it helps me to breathe. It gives me the mental and physical security of a short fall until I am confortable with the gear. Whenever I am in that situation, I feel my grip lighten as soon as I clip the rope. I plan to progress.


jt512


Apr 23, 2004, 9:34 AM
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Re: Progress with comfort falling on gear. [In reply to]
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Sometimes when I feel sketched it helps me to breathe... I feel my grip lighten as soon as I clip the rope.

"It" doesn't help you to breathe; rather, you stop holding your breath. Likewise, your grip doesn't "lighten"; rather, you stop overgripping.

My point is that the clip isn't the real cause of anything. You are the sole actor. Pay attention to your breathing and your grip. Does holding your breath and overgripping actually help or hinder the climb? Can you learn to recognize when you are holding your breath and are overgripping, and learn to breathe continuously and grip more lightly?

-Jay


dredsovrn


Apr 23, 2004, 1:01 PM
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Sometimes when I feel sketched it helps me to breathe... I feel my grip lighten as soon as I clip the rope.

"It" doesn't help you to breathe; rather, you stop holding your breath. Likewise, your grip doesn't "lighten"; rather, you stop overgripping.

My point is that the clip isn't the real cause of anything. You are the sole actor. Pay attention to your breathing and your grip. Does holding your breath and overgripping actually help or hinder the climb? Can you learn to recognize when you are holding your breath and are overgripping, and learn to breathe continuously and grip more lightly?

-Jay

Good point. Thanks for the re-focus.


Partner justin


Aug 14, 2004, 6:41 AM
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In order to isnpire confidence and get myslef to relax, I will sometimes, place the piece as best I can on first shot, and clip it direct. Then I will adjust it to suit. Then I take the sling and clip it and clip the rope. Then I unclip the rope from the first biner.

I sometimes do that too. I don't think it's an entirely bad thing, some falls are not good to take. I will agree- it uses up valuable time. I've not fallen in this situation, so one could argue my efforts were pointless.


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