/ Dealing with fear

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SC - on 13 Oct 2016
After a long break from climbing I've recently started again and as much as I enjoy it I'm really having trouble with fear on multi pitch climbs, enough that I physically can't get started on them.
I'm fine leading slightly dodgy single pitch routes and getting a bit run out but on a multi pitch, dead safe sport route I'm totally spun out. I know I'm safe and I know I'm up there with a safe climbing partner but still struggling.
I really want to get up some of the big multi pitch routes at Cheddar and I know I could have a great time if I can get my head in it.
I've done six pitch trad routes in the past and enjoyed them.
Has anyone else had similar trouble and got over it?
Mark Collins - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:

Probably too obvious a suggestion, but why not have your partner lead the first pitch to reduce the pressure some what.
carr0t - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to Mark Collins:

Why not try easing into it. Find some 40-80m routes and split them. Going from cragging to 6 pitch beasts is a big step! Also drop the grade, so you can focus on enjoyment rather than being at your limit.
James Coulson - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:
Yes - very similar! Not specific to multipitch, just general fear after a long break, although big exposed multipitch certainly heightened my uneasy!! Thread about it in the link below:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=613498&v=1#x8025710

The two things that worked for me were a) lowering expectations and b) increasing volume (outdoors) & variety.

I made the big mistake of expecting to be able to pick up where I left off a good few years earlier. Much happier with my climbing now (particularly my head), but it just took time to build back to where I was.
Post edited at 14:35
SC - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to Mark Collins:

It's not much different whether I'm leading or seconding, the problem is just being up there.
I got on a four pitch sport route yesterday with no commitment to get to the top and a mate who was perfectly happy to back off at any point but I just couldn't get off the first belay. He even left a sling as a point of aid at the crux just incase I was nervous of falling off but that's not really the problem.
bpmclimb on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:

What about "bridging the gap" by leading some single pitch routes at crags which sit atop long, steep slopes, so you get some multi pitch-style exposure. Heart Leaf Bluff at Cheddar, and Juniper Wall on the Gower immediately spring to mind; no doubt there's lots of others.

springfall2008 - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:

Is there anywhere where you can climb a route that can be split into two pitches or climbed as a single. Try climbing it first as a single, then repeat as two pitches and you will wonder what the concern was. For example The Split (VS 5a) for trad or Still Nice and Still Sleazy (6a+) on sport?

ActionSte on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:

I guess on single pitch you can pretty much see what is in front of you and can work out what youre about to deal with, where as on multi you sometimes cant see the entire thing and so cant break it down mentally as easily - So you could always try finding a 2 or 3 pitch route and ab down to see what each pitch entails?

Failing that, remind yourself that on a large multi pitch if something catastrophic does go wrong, you will definitely die, as oppose to single where there is a higher likelyhood of being left in agonizing pain at the base of the crag and the potential of becoming a vegetable or a cripple for the rest of your life...

I hope this helps

AS
Danm79 - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to ActionSte:

When I struggle with the fear, I just think of all the debt I'll be out of if I die and push on.
Greasy Prusiks on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:

If it's a sport route then I'd try falling off it a few times see if that helps. Start with small falls and it should improve your confidence.
wercat on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:
You might find this an odd comment but I've taken to breakfasting on only a spoonful of full fat yoghourt before exercise varying in scale between ascents of Scafell Pike or long (for me) bike rides to rock climbing, only eating lunch quite late.

Climbing hungry makes me somehow much better at coping with fear and concentrating on what I'm doing
Post edited at 18:28
springfall2008 - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to wercat:

> You might find this an odd comment but I've taken to breakfasting on only a spoonful of full fat yoghourt before exercise varying in scale between ascents of Scafell Pike or long (for me) bike rides to rock climbing, only eating lunch quite late.

> Climbing hungry makes me somehow much better at coping with fear and concentrating on what I'm doing

Odd, doesn't work for me - I get shaky too easily and have to eat sugar!
1
Misha - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:
Climb in a 3 so there's someone else on the belay to encourage you?
Casa Alfredino - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to Misha:

That sounds like an idea. I was the partner, and I reckon I know just the other person to get on the route with him. I'm going to butt out though as I want to hear the other suggestions.
Dave Perry - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:

Have you restarted at the hardest grade you think you should be climbing?

If so would it make any difference to the fear if you started with ones you almost know you can romp up with reasonable ease, until you get 'readjusted' to the exposure/hight?
SC - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to Dave Perry:

That's a good idea but low grade multi pitch routes of decent quality with exposure are not easy to find in the Mendip area. Maybe a VS or two at boulder ruckle, Swanage might help. Free hanging abseil, commitment and exposure. Only ~30 metres but a big feel.
Pursued by a bear - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:

Or try Wintour's Leap. Either easy multipitch - plenty at V Diff - or single pitch on Fly Wall where the drop through the trees to the river adds to the ambiance.

But generally, drop the grade and get some mileage under your belt. If you're really struggling, walk to the foot of Wintour's through the quarry and solo back up the usual descent route. More than once, if you feel the need.

T.
rurp - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to SC:
I'm not sure what it is you are scared of?
Why is multipitch different.
You say it is not falling, so I guess it is heights? Or fear that you cannot escape as easily?

Do some scrambling with exposure.
Abseil in from the top and do the top pitch only.

Practice rope work for self rescue.

Read the rock warriors way

Good luck

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wercat on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to springfall2008:

Yes, I can imagine so as that has been my experience for most of my adult life. I think I've been a slave to carbohydrates without knowing it. Till I was around 30 I was below 11 stone in weight. I suspect I was about 11 and a half when I began climbing in my 30s. For most of the last 20 years I've been heavier than that and about a year and a half ago I became determined to lose weight and tried a new tack as being almost 13st rang alarm bells.

So I trained myself progressively over months to still do hill/cycling exercise but without any breakfast except for the fatty yoghourt. I'd have sarnies with me for a late breakfast and see how far I could get. Only a few outings and I could breakfast on top of a mountain, a couple more and it was after coming down and then after driving home. Result, same exercise, meal eliminated.

Now hunger doesn't make me feel weak as I react emotionally to it as a positive - a buzz from being able to defy it and knowing it is keeping my weight down as well as the idea that when I do eat it'll be all the m ore enjoyable through hunger.

I'm now at 12 stone, want to get down another half or so and find I'm more nimble on my feet, faster and on rock I'm more balanced and less strained in the arms. I was never a hard climber but at 60 I've done climbs this year that I last did in the 90s. The fear business seems to be part of the conquest of hunger, perhaps what Mr Spock was always on about!

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