/ Fear of Falling
FEAR OF FALLING
These words have been stuck in my head for quite a while, I cannot remember when it has grown in my mind, I don't enjoy it at all.
unfortunately, I realized it getting worst and worst.
I would like to hear the stories of other climbers who have finally conquered their Fear of Falling.....
If you happy to share, Please reply
After having taken a couple of falls recently I was amazed at the speed the fall is all over and done with. Before the falls I had this idea in my head that the butterfly feeling in the guts will kick in after a couple of seconds in freefall but the reality is much less distressing as it's over so quick.
I've noticed some of the bigwall and sport stuff where the climbs are more overhanging or vertical that the falls seem bigger but assuming it's reasonable trad then you can pack the rock with loads gear and minimise the falling distance.
Also shouting a quick warning to my belayer before a bolder move helps instill confidence my partner has got me. Not sure if the fear ever goes for most of us but it can be managed.
You should retain the fear of falling for dangerous situations - start to recognise when/if it could hurt. Did you ever play on a trampoline ? The rope can be just as certain given a clear fall.
I find that sometimes when I come back to leading after a winter off the ropes falling can feel a bit daunting. A good way to work on this is to go to a lead wall and take some falls in a safe environment.
Start off with something really small like slumping on to the rope with the bolt above your head (like you do when lowering off). Keep going progressively higher until you build up to the bolt being up to your waist. Eventually, keep going higher until you are above the bolt. Go climbing with a belayer you trust. This process can take place over a number of sessions - perhaps on your first session you will only fall with the bolt above your head.
Taking it slow and doing only what you're comfortable with is key. I think this progressive method of practicing falling can really take the stress out of the situation rather than simply taking a massive whipper on your first try and potentially scaring yourself more. The ultimate aim of practicing falling is so that when you are lead climbing in a safe situation you don't think about falling.
Have you ever taken a fall, or is it just the fear of falling you're worried about?
I've never practised, as some people have suggested, but I've taken a few small falls, They've all been fairly low, but with belayers I didn't trust 100%. Each time they've stopped me decking out and each time I didn't get any warning I was about to fall.
I think this is normal. You get wiser with more experience, hence more afraid. Embrace it!
I saw this when 1st posted - v helpful
However I noted a secondary conclusion - our heroine not only practices falling but also gets a lot fitter. As you get fitter you are in a position to tackle steeper routes which are safer to fall on - so the progress is you might say twofold. I"ve yet to see any video of climbers falling on difficult climbs (ledges, blocky corners …) which will remain dangerous no matter how experienced or practiced you are - all the big whippers on record are folk leading on smooth and/or steep rock.
I have always had a sensible fear of falling onto the ground because it hurts.
The first time I fell off and was caught by the rope before I hit the ground any apprehensions I had about falling when there was good gear and a competent belayer were gone.
I had a bit of a fear of falling for a while, and I noticed that it was getting worse over the last couple of years and was beginning to hold me back a bit... When leading I'd down climb and yell take when the going got tough rather than just going for the move and risking taking a fall, which was always going to prevent me from climbing anything near my top grade... It didn't help that I'd taken a couple of reasonably big falls lately, and picked up a couple of minor injuries from them...
So earlier this year I took Hazel Findlay's coaching coaching course (group session at The Castle) which deals exactly with this fear, and it really worked for me. Of course I don't like to fall, I'd rather stick the move, but I'm now willing to take falls and am getting much better at differentiating real risk and danger, and what is only a perceived risk. Can't recommend the course highly enough, if you see the opportunity to attend one of Hazel's courses I'd get yourself involved....
> FALLING PRACTISE.
> That's all.
> After having taken a couple of falls recently I was amazed at the speed the fall is all over and done with. the reality is much less distressing as it's over so quick.
Absolutely agree, I have had 2 fairly long falls through clear air 80' and 90'. I just saw a whirl as the world spun around and I tumbled, no fear whatsoever. I had a bad crunch and injuries from one fall though and that was the problem not the actual falls themselves which held zero fear while they were happening
On the long one I remember thinking "This is it then" but still no fear just a realization
I've had one long fall. I remember nothing between coming off and hanging on the rope 6 feet off the ground. However 5 years on it's still negatively affecting my lead climbing.
> assuming it's reasonable trad then you can pack the rock with loads gear and minimise the falling distance.
I'm not sure I'd rely on this! Here in the Lakes you definitely can't rely on there being stacks of gear on every "reasonable" trad route. Bold-ish climbing, where the gear is often below your feet, and sometimes much further is the norm on the routes. If you want to be able to lace a route then you have to choose it carefully (and even then you can be disappointed).
Practice can make ‘perfect’ but it can can make ‘permanent’. Therefore for this reason it is important that fall practice takes place in the right environment at the right time for you so bad fall practice experiences aren’t embedded in the mind making progress even slower/more difficult. This means doing fall practice with a belay partner you trust 100% and on the right wall, likely overhanging and in as stress free an environment as possible. The advice already posted is important, i.e. building up to a lengthy fall over a period of time you’re comfortable with and if that means for some time just letting go after clipping or even when the rope has been taken tight-ish, then so be it. Dave McLeod’s book 9 out of 10 Climbers has some very good advice on managing the fear of falling.
Great advice. I have done a bit of fall practice indoors in the past, and it has helped to get me better at going for it indoors (temporarily of course). I don't do enough sport climbing to ever get comfortable going for it and falling in that environment, but I'm not too bothered because sport climbing is just a back-up in bad weather for me, or it's an after-work sesh on the local chosspile.
But do you think fall practice is any use for trad? I do mainly fairly adventurous trad, and I am happy as larry when I'm finding the climbing pretty easy, but as soon as it becomes considerably likely that I'll fall off, I'm off-the-scale terrified. Or even if it's not that hard, but it's intimidating, e.g. confined under roofs, plus slightly dodgy/dirty rock, at my top grade, then I get terrified (heart starts trying to escape from my chest, mouth goes dry, etc). I'm not sure this is actually fear of *falling*, it might just be fear of *the route*
A lot of the falls I've had and have caught have been potentially serious. Quite often gear has ripped, quite often the climber has inverted. I think falling off trad is in general a dangerous game - yesterday I caught my mate as he somersaulted half way down Scafell East Buttress. He was fine, but that's not something I'm comfortable with!
Any trad-specific tips? Or am I best off just keeping a healthy fear of falling alive because if you're onsighting routes in the Lakes, it's perfectly rational to absolutely minimise the chance of losing contact with the rock!
> quite often the climber has inverted
some no-training simple advice for everybody *wear a helmet*
I was once close to cracking my skull in an inverted fall (no helmet then) and I know others who were less fortunate - even if its just sport single pitch; modern helmets are not cumbersome - its a small act of insurance
I've never 'conquered' my fear of falling, but the fitter I get the less likely a fall seems and so the less it worries me. So to me just being physically prepared for my climbing is my best defence at getting 'gripped'.
It sounds like we've had pretty similar experiences Jon! At the end of last year I too had a few bits of gear unexpectedly rip and took an inverted fall after a hold broke. I found that it made me nervous getting back in to trad at the start of this year, particularly that I didn't trust my gear (which, let's face it, you need to do if you want to enjoy or push it on trad). Luckily I found a way to overcome it this weekend!
What worked for me was trying a really hard but safe route - Stroll On (E3 6a) in this case. I climbed up to the crux, feeling a bit nervous in the gear I'd placed, but then I tried the crux with 3 bits of gear right next to me (and loads below me to back it up). I fell off multiple times trying the crux, not big falls, but now knew that trad gear does hold. Once I'd managed to dog the crux I continued up the crack and every bit of gear I placed I slumped on to. This meant that I now knew that a variety of placements (cams, different size nuts) etc. all held, reinforcing my confidence in the gear. I think this kind of experience is necessary because we can rationalise how safe falling is sat in our armchairs, but to convince yourself of it you need to reinforce that knowledge with genuine experience.
The next day I felt a lot more comfortable climbing and even pushed it properly above my gear. The day after that I felt like my old self again! I think it's a bit like the Jerry Moffatt Mastermind book: you have negative experiences (e.g gear ripping, inverting) which make you less confident and perform worse. To combat this, you should have positive experiences (climbing trad safely, taking safe falls, testing gear) which make you more confident and perform better.
Also always wearing a helmet makes the prospect of inverting less scary!
Hi Kimmie, its Daniel here from LC&CC.
We have climbed together before on numerous occasions, and i have actually caught you when you fell and inverted on monolith crack at wilton. You got straight back on it and finished the route!
My point is you know you can do it, have you not been climbing all winter? Why don't you do some easy stuff to reacquaint yourself with the rock and perhaps some indoor fall practice?
That being said, fall practice doesn't really work for me, you really need to climb to the point of failure and then fall i reckon, more realistic.
Im still a wuss! But getting stronger and more competent does make you more confident on the rock, and my thinking is that if a fall does happen it will be quick, a bit like jumping off a boulder problem.
Im willing to have a go at leading E1 somedays and lower off a Severe the next, go figure.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SHARE AND SUGGESTIONS
I knew that everybody holds different attitude, mentality, and sensible on different aspects within their climbing, that is why I Post it for your reply.
It took me some time to read them all, get connected to your share experiences and relive mine as well!
I should share mine experience and conclusion
I choose and enjoy this sport, therefore, nothing could stop me, although, On the second hour of my climbing lesson ever, I was a witness that experience climber fallen from the top of the big wall hit the floor and bounce up to a meter high and hit the floor again. (Not sure would it affect my subconscious) after it I always aware of the risk and be caution…
In my memories of every single fall…. Most of the time, at that second of falling my brain was shut down, only switched back on after the fall which when I realized I been fall and my brain has reconnected to all my sense within my body. (I have very limited control to my mental and emotional during the fall)
The actual ‘Falling’ was not enough time to get afraid! (Dysfunctional is at a high risk of cognitive behavioral)
This is a mind game in somehow!
‘Fear of Falling’ creating a chaos within my mind (Doubting made me lose my senses of balance, physical abilities and overestimate the risks etc) and it affected to much further than just the mind, which an uneasiness went over the reality, panicky leading me to have no abilities to deal with the climb or stuck, furthermore physically injury by the panicking movements….
I realized that all my fells were only with belayers I trusted,
The indoor falling practice could gain the knowledge of gliding fast down within the safety protection gears, educating the mind to take this type of falling and the body would learn how to fall.
Reckoning the gears and capabilities of the move…
Will see and I think the vital is to have a trustable belayer to start
THANKS, GUYS AND HAPPY CHATS
There's a whole new book on this called 'Fear' and features interviews with top climbers (inc. Hazel Findlay). I haven't seen the book but it sounds interesting. There's a recent interview with the author on TrainingBeta.com.
Great advice, thanks.
I haven't taken a trad fall in a good few years, and the ones I have taken have generally been safe but quite long. I'm always painfully aware that if you fall off with gear below your feet, you go miles - and with all the inverting falls I've caught I tend to "budget for" inverting.
I think it would be a great plan to find the right route to really try hard on, and possibly fall off - in fact I think White Noise (E3 5c) is just the route, and I'll hopefully have a crack (NPI) in the next week since stuff up here is, I shit you not, dry. It's not even freezing cold, honest.
These routes are really few and far between though! And I do seem to recognise pretty quickly when I get to a move that's just not going. When I slump on the gear I usually find that the move just wasn't ever going to work the way I was trying it, and it wasn't just a bit more "go for it" that was needed. It was a totally different combination of holds that I was never going to find and then be able to use while pumped out of my box.
Yes, that's all very well. Until the next time a piece rips unexpectedly......... because it will.
I've been climbing three evenings this week, once sport, once well protected trad, once indoors. Interestingly I've been the most apprehensive "going for the move" indoors. I'm not sure how that works really - maybe motivation; indoors just doesn't count as much. I've found that indoor falling practice really only improves my indoor falling. Outdoors I'll go for it on sport or trad when I want the onsight badly enough irrespective of indoor falling practice. This may not be really often, but when I do it is far more than I could ever want an indoor route.
Maybe it's a cliché, but reading the Rock Warriors Way really helped me.
> Interestingly I've been the most apprehensive "going for the move" indoors.
more spectators ?!
>I think this kind of experience is necessary because we can rationalise how safe falling is sat in our armchairs, but to convince yourself of it you need to reinforce that knowledge with genuine experience.
Totally agree. For me, rationality doesn't really cut it. I need to get to the point where my subconscious says, "OK, you're not going to die. You've got my permission to go for it." And my subconscious demands 'experiential proof' - which means whippers off safe(ish) but hard (for me) stuff.
Right now, I've got far too many layers of insulation - tons of gear, grades in hand. Got to embrace the journey...
> Totally agree. For me, rationality doesn't really cut it. I need to get to the point where my subconscious says, "OK, you're not going to die. You've got my permission to go for it." And my subconscious demands 'experiential proof' - which means whippers off safe(ish) but hard (for me) stuff.
Or means lots of mileage not falling off moves of a similar difficulty and type? I don't really buy this thing about necessarily needing to fall off to improve at trad. And it just doesn't seem very sensible to me anyway!
When you get past 50,all those big falls,even onto mats ,will be registered as pain in your hips and knees.
Thus,it is always worth climbing down as much as you can before jumping off.Pick your spot and land as accurately as you can.Think about a kind of controlled crumpling into the mat. Always check for those seemingly insignificant small rocks near the mat,as you might shoot off the mat with the landing impact,and clonk your head.Sometimes better to boulder wearing a helmet.
The greatest danger is the spotter not spotting.The spotter should stand below where you are at most risk. Don't be afraid to order your spotter around.Often,telling them to push you on to the rock allows you to get down without a fall. I spotted my partner yesterday,from the top of a gnarly slab.I pulled them over the top. I spotted at the bottom,then went round to the top.
As has been said,practise falling,but,in the best trad sense,try to avoid falling in the first place.
> Or means lots of mileage not falling off moves of a similar difficulty and type? I don't really buy this thing about necessarily needing to fall off to improve at trad.
I'm with you on that. With confidence in your ability not to fall off, the probability of climbing through sequences increases and the probability of falling off decreases. I get the confidence by feeling strong (for me) and fit (for me).
> Or means lots of mileage not falling off moves of a similar difficulty and type? I don't really buy this thing about necessarily needing to fall off to improve at trad. And it just doesn't seem very sensible to me anyway!
Don't get me wrong, Robert. Mileage is the first thing I'm going for. I'll always do that. But, if I'm being brutally honest, I suspect that, with trad, I've nearly always operated with at least one grade in reserve (and often many more). Hell, with sport, it's pretty much been the same story. I guess I've learned to manage risk by being horribly risk adverse.
> But, if I'm being brutally honest, I suspect that, with trad, I've nearly always operated with at least one grade in reserve (and often many more).
But that is probably sensible. If you onsight at your limit regularly without a bit in reserve, sooner or later you're going to get hurt. Best to save it for routes you want really badly!
The crect spilling in this conntext is PRACTISE. Unless you're a Yank!
'Practice vs. Practise. The difference between these two mainly comes down to British vs. American spelling. In British English, practise is a verb and practice is a noun. In American English, practice is both the noun and verb form.'
> But that is probably sensible. If you onsight at your limit regularly without a bit in reserve, sooner or later you're going to get hurt. Best to save it for routes you want really badly!
I'm not sure it's fair to be so general. If I was a better climber, I'd be keeping plenty in reserve when it was dangerous, and I'd be pushing it really hard when the risk was minimal, rather than skuttling down and slumping onto gear. Every situation requires good judgement and many times, that should be to blindly slap, push on without gear, skip a placement etc, because it's safe. Other times, good judgement is to sack it off because it's too hard.
My aspiration is to be taking falls in the right circs - choose the route well, try as hard as possible, and really commit. As it is, I operate mostly within my comfort zone and I'm gripped as soon as I get anywhere near falling off. I don't think you need to keep anything in reserve as a blanket rule, I think you need to know when to be within your limits, and when to push them, getting that judgement consistently right to both get up hard routes and stay safe.
Which is of course why trad climbing is such a fantastic way to spend your time.
This week's Friday Night Video is from UKC regular David Linnett. The short clip features Johnny Dawes climbing the Roaches classic Chalkstorm, although in Johnny's modern style: hands-free.