/ Returning after an accident

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anomm - on 19 Feb 2013
Almost six months ago I was seconding my first ever multi-pitch route. However there was a major rockfall which hit us. Had to be airlifted of and toe amputated as a result. This was obviously a pretty big deal and not what a sixteen year old was expecting in his first ever multipitch!

I'm only just starting to get back into it with indoor climbing and recently setting up top ropes at my local crag. However its made a pretty huge dent in my confidence. I'm going to only do one pitch routes for the foreseeable future and was wondering if anyone had any tips on how to get back into trad -as to be honest im too scared to at the moment. Now that I know how easily things can go wrong its hard to take the plunge.

There must be some other people that have had problems getting back into it mentally.

cuppatea on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to anomm:

I had a long lay off due to Uni/Career and then a lengthy stay in hospital.
I'm only just getting climbing again, and have found fitness levels low but motivation high.

Take it slowly and build your confidence up. Enjoy the climbing for what it is, not for the tick, the grade or the number of pitches.
Wear a helmet.
Radioactiveman - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to anomm:

Had 3 months off work and a year off climbing in total . Now 18 months since I got injured and I am getting back to all the things I enjoyed b4 climbing,running,MTB,road biking

I just built up slowly,at first I didnt even like the wall particularlyat first because my mates were miles ahead of me. I also I thought my body wouldnt function as it had previously( it didn't but a fair bit of that was in my head)

I just built up slowly indoors then went outdoors and only seconded routes,didnt lead anything straight away to be honest it took me longer to lead something than I wanted but I went with someone I trusted and climbed a route on second then led it straight after.

I didn't get to do much rock last year due to weather but managed to get out a bit over winter and now looking forward to getting out as much as I can this year.

Only advice I can offer is learn from what happened ( I definitely learnt a lot from that day,as did friends who I shared the experience with, dont know the specifics really of your accident but it may help talking through it with other climbers to pick out any learning points)

Take your time,do what you feel comfortable with and build back up a step at a time. Also find someone understanding to climb with in my experience these tended to be older more experienced people. Most important enjoy it and you will keep at it,push to hard or make yourself uncomfortable and you wont enjoy it and it may put you off more
colin8ll on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to anomm:

I know how you feel as my confidence took a knock after a trad accident and to be honest it's taken me years to get comfortable climbing again.

Steps you could try are... 1) Lots of top-roping and small falls/bounces on the top rope. 2) Sport climbing with fall practice. 3) Top roping whilst placing gear as you would on lead - the advantage here is that you can hang around until you get the gear as good as possible without the prospect of a long fall 4) Aid climbing can be good for trusting the holding power of gear 5) Lots of milage on easy routes that don't stress you out too much 6) Get a good textbook and then practice (with your climbing partner) knots, belay building, hoisting, escaping the system, rescue techniques etc. to give yourself confidence that you are as prepared as you can be for whatever may occur.

I found the biggest difference came when I decided I would just be safer than the majority of climbers i.e. I would place more gear, not push as close to my limit on trad, back-off sooner etc. I reasoned that since most climbers don't experience a significant incident I could quite easily enjoy a lifetime of climbing without another nasty incident just so long as I kept an extra layer of safety!

Good luck
Caralynh - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to anomm:

OK first of all, accidents are equally possible on single pitch, so if you like multipitch, don't let your bad experience put you off. Having said that, my husband used to lead E1 then had a couple of accidents, the last several years ago leading to a complete shoulder reconstruction. We still get out a lot, but generally veer towards longer easier mountaineering stuff rather than technical single pitch. In short, his (and our) style of climbing and choice of routes has changed, but it hasn't meant giving up altogether.
anomm - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to colin8ll: thanks you've all given me some things to think about. Top roping while placing gear sounds like a good idea
bobbyf on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to anomm: can't emphasise enough how important it is to start off easily and build up slowly. Before my accident I was happily leading exposed HVS multi-pitch routes around the UK. After a 6 month layup with a broken ankle I accepted the invite to climb a VS multi-pitch with some mates. It was my first climb outside but I felt fit and had done a bit at the local indoor wall. The first pitch went ok then suddenly I went to pieces. I was literally terrified of falling and can only describe it as a vertigo attack. I was coaxed, helped and encouraged to the top and have never felt so grateful to top out. The result was I didn't climb again for the rest of that year and had to start from scratch months later. It was my fault for thinking that because I was physically fit, I would be mentally too.
Trevor Langhorne on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to anomm:

Lots of good advice alreay given. I had a mega fall in the lakes when I was 18 (long long ago) and was lucky to survive it. It took me about 4 years to get back to where I had been in terms of leading.

Basically do what feels right.The grade you start on is irrelevant. Get on some very easy multi-pitch stuff, put in as much gear as you feel you need and take the time you need to feel comfortable. At the same time get on some slightly harder single pitch routes. Beware the bicycle stability wheels trap where you never gain confidence because you have had such a re-assuring safety net.

Start easy, don't worry about the factors outside your control, if you need reassuring read the mountain rescue reports and see just how rarely things actually do go wrong. I like the idea of starting by leading single pitches on a top rope and placing the gear, once you have the gear in and have done the route go round and lead it without the top rope. A step on from this is to abseil down and place the gear then lead the route.Oh and don't forget to discuss who you feel with your climbing partner and get them on board with you.

Good luck in your comeback, I am also on the comeback trail and hope to climb this thursday for almost the first time in 18 months after having to be airlifted off a crag with a seriously wrecked shoulder. I'll be on Brown Slabs on shepherds crag doing the diffs I did on my first day climbing over 40 years ago and have regularly soloed up and down ever since....as I said you build up steady and don't beat yourself up if you struggle or feel bad
james.slater - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to anomm: This is a very reassuring thread, I just decked off an E3 at nesscliffe at the weekend and i smashed by ankle up pretty badly, ive always been a confident climber and i dont know how this will affect me, but it all sounds like great advice! Good luck to everyone who is recovering, hopefully see you out there!!

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