/ Trying to overcome freaking

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HJEdmondson - on 28 Nov 2016
I am trying to overcome an intense fear of runout or hard (for me at least) trad routes. In terms of climbing ability I am able to lead 6b indoors (dont get out much, which may be the problem) I am just struggling to get comfortable leading trad routes, which are even slightly runout or hard/have difficult moves. The hardest I have lead is HVS, however I am mainly comfortable climbing at severe level, however I haven't been able to get out much for the past few months.

I am desperate to get better, I like a challenge. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
deacondeacon - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

> I am trying to overcome an intense fear of runout or hard (for me at least) trad routes.
however I haven't been able to get out much for the past few months.

Well I wonder what could possibly help ;)
That'll be 10 pound please

stp - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

I think it sounds like a case of familiarity. I've been climbing for many years outside but even after a long winter spent indoors it still takes me a bit of time to reacquaint myself with real rock. The same is true for the transition from bolts to trad.

I think just do what feels comfortable for you and when that feels like not much of a challenge then it will be natural to pick something harder. Dealing with fear is one of the major challenges of climbing so don't expect too much too fast. A fear of falling from heights is hardwired into our brains, not something one can ever completely deprogram.

If you can get out more I'm sure you'll progress much faster. A holiday away with say a week of solid climbing is often a good way to accelerate progress.
Duncan Bourne - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

Apparently while doing the first ascent of "Meshuga" Neil Bentley was shouting out "I am Jerry Moffett on a top rope" to psychic himself up for the crux.

On a more practical note: doing run out climbs that you know are within your ability helps. Also easy soloing can help with the head. When I was working up to do 50 routes in a day (yeah I know it is not a lot these days but it was something to do for my 50th birthday) I would spend midweek doing continuous traverse circuits on the bouldering wall to build up stamina and the weekends soloing easy climbs and leading harder ones
Spend as much time out on the rock as you can. Wall climbing may be good for strength and stamina but doesn't quite equate to real rock especially trad.
In the end you want to be learning to trust in your ability and strength but also getting used to being high and runout.

I have a friend who also pratices falling off at the wall. Climbing above a clip (with enough ground clearence) and dropping off. Though you may not want to use you best rope for this (although on the other hand use a good one)
davidalcock - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

Seb Grieve, surely...
Aly - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to davidalcock:
And on Clipperty Clop
Duncan Bourne - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to davidalcock:

> Seb Grieve, surely...

DOH! You're right I was getting mixed up
Cake on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

Have you ever fallen onto your gear? I'm not particularly recommending you do it deliberately unless you are sure it will not damage the rock, but if you don't fully trust your gear placements, then that's always going to put you off.
LakesWinter on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to Cake:

Could always hang on it at ground level...
Mick Ward - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

> (dont get out much, which may be the problem)

As others have suggested, it almost certainly is the problem.


> I am desperate to get better, I like a challenge.

With respect, don't be desperate to get better at trad. People get seriously injured. They die. While an individual route may be a challenge, overall getting better at trad is a process. And it's a process which requires patience.


> I am mainly comfortable climbing at severe level...

Then do that. Do loads and loads and loads of severes - slabs, walls, cracks, overhangs. Do them on different types of rock. When they start to feel second nature, ease up into Hard Severe, then VS. Then repeat. Your 'easing up' routes should be well protected ones!

These days everyone seems to be in a rush to climb Grade X, Y, Z. But as the late Ken Wilson always used to say about trad, it's all about serving your apprenticeship. Don't skimp on it. Be patient. When you end up climbing for your life (and, if you do enough trad, sooner or later it will happen) you'll be glad you didn't skimp on your apprenticeship.

Good luck. Let us know how you get on. We're all learning.

Mick
GrahamD - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

If you get the chance, try to climb with positive partners a few times. If you are not going well and your partner is also a bit nervous its a downward spiral.
deacondeacon - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

More seriously. The trick to getting competant at trad climbing (for most people) is to do shit loads of it. When you go cragging don't do three routes, do ten. Start early and finish late. Get slick at all your rope work, building belays, sorting your gear out. Don't stop and have a chat for half an hour between every route.

You want everything to do with climbing to be second nature, so that all you have to worry about is the actual climbing.

Make sure your first route of the day is something that you'll piss, so that you start the day on a positive (I'm terrible at this).

Climb with people who have a positive attitude. You don't want any negativity at all. every single person I climb with regularly accepts that it's the leaders decision to decide wether to push on, or if the gear looks iffy, or the moves may be too hard. Conflicting opinions cause doubt, and the sharp end of the rope is no place to be worrying about doubt.

But the most important over everything is mileage. You can't help but get competant with mileage. I've been onsighting E5's this summer and with no recent mileage I failed on an E1 on Sunday. If I'd still been getting plenty of mileage in week in, week out I would have soloed it.
That's what's great about trad though. The moves aren't that hard, but Doing them is, and that's what makes it feel great.

Did I mention mileage?
WaterMonkey - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

As someone else has mentioned don't rush to get better. You're not in competition with anyone. Just enjoy your climbing. I can't get out trad climbing as much as I'd like due to living in Kent with too many other hobbies but when I do, I climb so I'm comfortable and enjoying it.

There are some amazing VDiff and S routes out there. You really don't need to be an "E" climber to enjoy climbing!

C Witter on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

It sounds like we're in a very similar position: I'm confident at severe and trying to take it up a notch. Trying to climb VS routes this year, I managed quite a few short local VS routes, but it feels hard to step it up on multipitch routes.

With this in mind, I was wondering why you're focused on runout as your main issue? I'm scared of the idea of running it out on a harder climb, but I've not encountered lots of runouts at VS, compared to severe. My main issues are probably:

1. Getting a partner who wants to push into VS and beyond with me.
2. Getting enough time on quality routes (e.g. in the Lakes rather than local esoteric 10m limestone routes).
3. Being efficient and strategic, so as to avoid getting pumped placing gear.
4. Dealing with 'delicate' moves and thin cracks.
5. Getting over the fear that makes me avoid getting on VS routes in the first place, setting out on S routes instead and missing the time window.

My point being - a lot holds me back before runouts even enter the picture.

If runouts remain the issue, then two things have been said to me that I find helpful (though, they might not be as helpful to others):

1. "Just don't place bad gear." Because, it's easy to spend a lot of time and energy placing poor gear you rightly have no faith in, and it's good to know that the gear beneath your feet is good, rather than trying to remember which was good and which was dodgy.
2. "You're not going to get any gear on that bit, so just focus on your climbing." That's what a friend told me as I headed up the runout start of "Jomo" (VDiff/Severe) at Trowbarrow, on one of my earliest leads. It doesn't sound helpful, but I think it helps me to put aside the rising panicked question, "surely there's gear somewhere!?", and focus instead on making moves smoothly and confidently till the next feature where gear's possible. Pretty sure I read somewhere "good climbing is the best protection". Obviously something to take with a pinch of salt.

Having said this, I (mostly) agree with Mick - don't feel pressure to move on; if you're enjoying severe, then use that to do some really good severe routes rather than feeling the need to move on. Also, in trying to push my grade, I fell twice this year! Both times where fine - almost enjoyable - but, you do want to make sure your gear and rope skills are bomber before pushing yourself. It's easier to make mistakes when you're more tense, pumped or when a route just demands good strategy.

Bulls Crack - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

pick well-protected routes
GridNorth - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

Follow Mick Wards excellent advice summarised in 3 words: mileage, mileage, mileage.

Forget all this talk about overcoming fear of falling, on trad that fear is a good thing. It's one thing to practice falling on an overhanging sports route but quite a different experience on easier angled trad.

Al
Scarab9 - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

mileage.

The reason you get comfortable being run out is because you are confident you won't fall on the type of ground you're on. If you've only done a handful of X grade, you're never going to feel confident you won't fall on X grade. Unless you're drunk. In which case you have other problems. It's utterly illogical to hope to be happy on a run out if you've not done enough climbing at that grade to know youll be fine.

Also down climbing can be useful practice as you know better whether you can reverse a move.
1poundSOCKS - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to GridNorth:

> Forget all this talk about overcoming fear of falling, on trad that fear is a good thing. It's one thing to practice falling on an overhanging sports route but quite a different experience on easier angled trad.

I agree that falling off on easy angled trad is nearly always a bad idea, I sprained my ankle falling off an overhanging sport route so there can always be consequences, and you should always approach climbing with that in mind.

But I would add, I think fear generally is a bad thing in climbing. I find it clouds my thinking, so I can't be objective about danger, or even concentrate fully on placing gear. I'd say being aware of the danger is a different thing, and that's what's important. And I think you can learn more quickly when you're relaxed, and being relaxed is not possible when you're scared.
GrahamD - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to C Witter:

> 1. Getting a partner who wants to push into VS and beyond with me.

I would suggest that if you want a confidence boost, try to do a few climbs with someone who is already confident at VS. Surprising how infectious positivity or conversely negativity really is.
nniff - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:
A few things from me - I don't get out much - circumstances and location - but when I do, I usually manage to pick up where I left off. So -

1. Have faith in your wall-trained physical capabilities. Work hard at on-sighting - if your habitual climbing style is to give it a little go and slump, you're going to get a beating on trad.
2. Actively relax and ease off your death grip on your holds - consciously let go until you've reached the minimum power necessary to sustain your position.
3. Use your feet more than you ever thought possible. The holds won't be in convenient wall-set locations.
4. Look for rests and use them.
5. Be quick, accurate and decisive with your gear placements - faffing will lead to tears.
6. Probably the most important - don't focus on the fear. Focus on anything else - take time to look at the rock's grain structure and micro-features, the smell of it, the view, the plants, creatures - anything and everything. You'll actually enjoy it more as a result too.
7. If your heart is pounding - take six deep breaths and relax.
8. Don't study things too long - it's not going to change. Look carefully, work it out, then go.
Post edited at 16:14
jsmcfarland - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

Improving your stamina might help. Being runout and pumped is terrifying, but being runout and feeling much more in control is a different experience. Especially having the endurance to hold on with one hand for a long time while you are fiddling with gear
Duncan Bourne - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

Oh yes and very important this one, especially if it is cold. WARM UP! It may be stating the bleeding obvious but nothing sets you back like copping an injury at the start of the day. I have buggered myself many a time trying to pull on crimps too early or doing a full arm crank when cold
HJEdmondson - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to Cake:

I havent really, I am pretty confident in placing gear, but it may help. Thanks
C Witter on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

Agreed. But, unfortunately, it's proving a challenge to track one down at present...
Dogwatch - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

> I am able to lead 6b indoors .... The hardest I have lead is HVS

I wonder if there is some "ought" in your head. I lead 6b indoors so I ought to lead harder than HVS. Forget the "ought". Particularly if you are young and strong, you can progress indoors way faster than on trad. Is usual. Don't stress about it.

GrahamD - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to C Witter:

Have you looked at local clubs ?
Bobb on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to C Witter:

> 1. Getting a partner who wants to push into VS and beyond with me.

> 2. Getting enough time on quality routes (e.g. in the Lakes rather than local esoteric 10m limestone routes).

Am I correct in assuming you are in/near the Lakes? Have dropped a few grades (mainly due to lack of mileage). I used to climb VS happily but have dropped down and would like to get back up. Bad time of year for it (working on this on damp-sopping wet routes is not currently helping!) but if your up for climbing with a stranger when the weather improves let me know

In response to the original poster don't push and be nice to yourself! Another reason for my drop in grade (or though I might be over analysing) is I tried to push myself into HVS when feeling over confident and totally freaked myself out. I have learnt to drop the 'I can climb this sport grade so should climb this trad' approach... It's more about where my head is/confidence when trying to place gear than my physical ability.
C Witter on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Bobb:

Yep - based in Lancaster. Your profile doesn't allow messages, but drop me a line by all means.
Goucho on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to HJEdmondson:

> I am trying to overcome an intense fear of runout or hard (for me at least) trad routes. In terms of climbing ability I am able to lead 6b indoors (dont get out much, which may be the problem) I am just struggling to get comfortable leading trad routes, which are even slightly runout or hard/have difficult moves. The hardest I have lead is HVS, however I am mainly comfortable climbing at severe level, however I haven't been able to get out much for the past few months.

> I am desperate to get better, I like a challenge. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Firstly, you are not alone in not being able to transfer your indoor grade to outdoor trad. In fact you are in a very large majority, so stop beating yourself up over it

Secondly, the advice given by Mick (Ward) in an earlier post, is very good sound advice. There really is no substitute for mileage.

50% of trad is in the 'head'. Putting in the mileage on stuff you are comfortable with, will get your head in a good place, and when you combine it with the increased strength and technique from your indoor climbing, you will start to see the difference.

And finally, don't put yourself under presure to get better. That will invariably have exactly the opposite effect.

At the end of the day, if you're not enjoying your climbing, what's the point?

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