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Topic - Learning to trust your feet?

professionalwreckhead - on 10 Sep 2012
Had a great weekend climbing at Polldubh in Glen Nevis.

Spent lots of time working on slick changeovers at belays (I lead all pitches).

I'm still in the very early stages of leading, but feeling really comfortable with it so far, happy to lead up to Severe. At the moment I'm trying to avoid leading anything that I couldn't solo, just until i'm more smooth with my placements (there's still quite a lot of faffing about just now!).

Everything was going really well until we got on to the second pitch of Secretarie's Direct, which is a really slabby route which follows a very thin crack. The holds are very small, but are quartz and give good grip.

There isn't any gear immediately above the belay, so I needed to gain a bit of height to get my first bit of gear in. I've got no problems climbing above gear, but really started to flake when I couldn't find a solid foothold to get in a decent position to place gear. I ended up bottling it and down climbing back to the belay after getting pumped.

I know in my head that my feet will stick, but that all seems to go out the window if I get in a stress. I don't think I'm able to put enough trust into my feet at the moment to allow me to get comfortable on slabby routes like that.

Are there any ways I can work on knowing and understanding the limits of grip I have? I was thinking about seconding some really slabby routes and just trying to find my limit? Or are there any tips for building up confidence in your feet when relying on friction rather than a nice foot hold?

Practising on lead when I've not got any gear in to protect the belay doesn't seem to be the best place to start learning where my limits are!
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