/ NEW ARTICLE: Ice Climbing - Physical and Mental Advice

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UKC Articles - on 19 Dec 2011
On the first pitch of Nuit Blanche (WI6), Argentiere Ice falls, 3 kbTop winter climber and professional instructor George McEwan takes us through some essential tips for ice climbing.

As we perhaps know all too well, although we may decide to leave the ground and start climbing, part way up the climb we might find ourselves facing an emotional crisis and a resultant change of heart. So how do we go about dealing with this potentially dangerous performance degrading set of behaviours?"

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4312

3leggeddog on 19 Dec 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

I would add:

If you are struggling then clip your axe while you place that screw. You have placed your upper axe securely haven't you.

This was common practice in the joyful days of bang in ice screws, it appears to be out of fashion nowadays. It adds a lot of both psychological and physical reassurance. Remember those boys in Will Gadd's video a few years ago, clipping the axe would have saved a lot of pain.
Ben Sharp - on 19 Dec 2011
In reply to 3leggeddog:

>Remember those boys in Will Gadd's video a few years ago, clipping the axe would have saved a lot of pain.

Unless the axe ripped of course and then he'd have fallen further as he'd have had more rope out.

If I remember the article correctly the jist of the advice was get good enough seconding/top roping so that you don't fall off and don't get out of your depth in the first place. With todays modern tools and quick screws maybe someone finding themselves having to clip the axe is a sign that they should get out the top rope or get on second before getting to that stage in the first place.

Ben
Thoms6974 - on 20 Dec 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

I've always had a problem with being too aroused whilst climbing...
ice.solo - on 20 Dec 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

cool article, coming at a good time. cheers.
Gibbo - on 02 Jan 2012
....although i'm not sure you can claim that holding your breath causes a lack of oxygen in fit and well people.

Your lungs have a 'reserve' of air (otherwise we would turn blue every time we breathed out) - which is extremely unlikely to run out over the time we can hold our breath.

There are psychological changes induced by concentrating on something, whilst doing something else which can cause a change in our behaviour.....but its not lack of oxygen.
george mc - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to Gibbo:
> ....although i'm not sure you can claim that holding your breath causes a lack of oxygen in fit and well people.
>
> Your lungs have a 'reserve' of air (otherwise we would turn blue every time we breathed out) - which is extremely unlikely to run out over the time we can hold our breath.
>
> There are psychological changes induced by concentrating on something, whilst doing something else which can cause a change in our behaviour.....but its not lack of oxygen.

I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying. I'm saying holding your breath and climbing will cause a psychological reaction - that's the point I was making and is the point behind doing that wee breathing exercise i.e. hold your breath and twirl the pencil. I agree we have a reserve of air but it's only a reserve. Tax that reserve by making strenuous physical actions and holding your breath will cause you to a/ run out of puff or at least end up breathing very heavily b/ cause you to 'tighten' up mentally and physically.

I agree other factors can lead to the same effect i.e. becoming anxious etc due to the situation, but I believe and from what I have observed in other climbers, than many people hold their breath when they climb. That in itself causes "psychological changes"
timjones - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to george mc:

> I agree other factors can lead to the same effect i.e. becoming anxious etc due to the situation, but I believe and from what I have observed in other climbers, than many people hold their breath when they climb. That in itself causes "psychological changes"

You may be right but are those changes a negative or positive?

I'd suggest that they are very often positive, there may well be very good reasons for it being an instinctive reaction at times of tension.
george mc - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to george mc)
>
> [...]
>
> You may be right but are those changes a negative or positive?
>
> I'd suggest that they are very often positive, there may well be very good reasons for it being an instinctive reaction at times of tension.

Hhmm that does depend eh? Positive if it helps you stay in one piece/succeed on a pitch; negative if ya fall off or get into trouble.

I'd suggest though that keeping cool and in control can generally speaking only be a positive thing when leading. But as I state in the article it's only one part of a very complex relationship between differant elements. Staying cool and being ballsy is nae good on an ice pitch if your technique/fitness etc are not up to par.

timjones - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to george mc:
> (In reply to timjones)
> [...]
>
> Hhmm that does depend eh? Positive if it helps you stay in one piece/succeed on a pitch; negative if ya fall off or get into trouble.
>
> I'd suggest though that keeping cool and in control can generally speaking only be a positive thing when leading. But as I state in the article it's only one part of a very complex relationship between differant elements. Staying cool and being ballsy is nae good on an ice pitch if your technique/fitness etc are not up to par.

I guess it needs to be appreciated that you can cool, in control AND still hold your breath. I find that if you breath in and hold as you move you can gain extra "structural rigidity", full lungs can somehow take some weight off your core muscles. I also suspect that the breath in and hold somehow sharpens the senses and mental awareness.
george mc - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to george mc)
> [...]
>
> I guess it needs to be appreciated that you can cool, in control AND still hold your breath. I find that if you breath in and hold as you move you can gain extra "structural rigidity", full lungs can somehow take some weight off your core muscles. I also suspect that the breath in and hold somehow sharpens the senses and mental awareness.

I beg to differ here. In my experience I find holding your breath causes you to become 'stiff' rather than relaxed. My opinion, as I make the point in the article, would be to focus on staying relaxed. For sure in some strenuous sitsuations then using your core muscles will hamper deep relaxed breathing but you still need to foucs as much as you can can on breathing.

If you can time your movement to coincide with breathing out you have more 'flow' i.e. you move in a relaxed manner. In RL this is challenging to do but if you can nail it equates with a more relaxed and flowing movement.

timjones - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to george mc:
> (In reply to timjones)
> [...]
>
> I beg to differ here. In my experience I find holding your breath causes you to become 'stiff' rather than relaxed.

That's entirely my point it's a way of stiffening your "core" without working your core muscles too hard. You don't have too stiffen the rest of your body and it's usually no more than a second of holding your breath whilst you move a limb.
george mc - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to george mc)
> [...]
>
> That's entirely my point it's a way of stiffening your "core" without working your core muscles too hard. You don't have too stiffen the rest of your body and it's usually no more than a second of holding your breath whilst you move a limb.

I think we are at cdross purposes here. The point I make in the article is generally speaking most climbers hold their breath for too long. No real general advantages to doing that as I state in the article. Thats's the context. Try the wee excercise I outline in the article. It underlines the point I am making or at least trying to make... :)

timjones - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to george mc:
> (In reply to timjones)
> [...]
>
> I think we are at cdross purposes here. The point I make in the article is generally speaking most climbers hold their breath for too long. No real general advantages to doing that as I state in the article. Thats's the context. Try the wee excercise I outline in the article. It underlines the point I am making or at least trying to make... :)

I was assuming that was what you saying but I'm not sure you make it entirely clear.
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george mc - on 02 Jan 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to george mc)
> [...]
>
> I was assuming that was what you saying but I'm not sure you make it entirely clear.

Ach weel - the joys of writing. Thought I had. Must try harder ;)


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