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/ Fighting the fear of falling after a scary injury?

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SStraver - on 26 Jun 2017
Hey guys, I hope this is the right forum, sorry if it's not.

Last week while on a sport trip outdoors a friend of mine had a scary fall which involved her inverting, gashing her head and being taken away by mountain rescue. While she's fine now and able to climb we're due on another well long trip next week and she's (understandably) worried about getting back on climbs.

Just wondering if anyone has any experience with getting back on the rock after any similar situation? Any particular do's and don'ts or anything you found reassuring?

She adores climbing and I want to be there to help her get back to normal but equally don't want to cause more harm than good as I don't really know what's best here.

(PS. We've learned our lesson and will be enthusiastically donning helmets)
Crewey-Rob on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

Get on a course. If you're not wearing helmets then what other corners are being cut (there are so many things that can go wrong)? The best way to reassure yourself that you are in control is to educate yourselves properly and understand your limits. I'm sorry that your partner had an injury and I hope you both return to climbing in a safe (and enjoyable!) way. That's my twopence worth anyway. All the best.
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paul mitchell - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

Top roping only 4 a few sessions. Fun bouldering too, no highballs.
Climb well within your grade and just have fun. Analyse why the accident happened.
Fiona Reid - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

Everyone reacts to falling and injuries differently and recovers in different ways. Some folks just seem to carry on as if nothing happened. Other folks decide they'll never climb again. However, I suspect most folks are in between.

You both probably need to understand what happened, why it happened and if anything can be done to avoid it happening again.

In terms of getting back on the sharp end. From my own experience I found climbing stuff I was comfortable on (step back a few grades if required) and sticking to well protected stuff helped. Basically getting lots of mileage, concentrating on having fun rather than pushing grades and getting in stressful situations where a fall is likely. Take each day as it comes, if you or your mate doesn't want to lead stuff for a bit don't force them to.

There was thread a while back on a similar subject with some hopefully helpful stuff: https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=461898

Stay safe and take it easy
bedspring on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

Looking at your Log book it looks like you are trying routes you cannot climb (yet ), this may in some peoples eyes be a good thing, but may I humbley suggest you and your friend spend a period consolidating at a grade, and try not to fall off as much, for the moment.
1
DerwentDiluted - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

Some observations from a punter.
Use a clipstick to clip the first two bolts as it can be the second clip that poses the greatest risk of a bad fall, once above bolt 2 you should be ok regarding the ground. Wear helmets. Be an attentive and reassuring belayer, let your friend know that you are paying attention.
SenzuBean - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

I had vaguely heard (when I started climbing) that you shouldn't step under the rope, as it could flip you. I didn't quite see how this could be true (in my opinion it's tricky to imagine the scenario) - I tried to avoid it, but because it wasn't labelled in my head as "danger on a stick!!" - so occasionally I did step under the rope if I felt it would make a move easier. Then once I took a big whipper and inverted, only a metre above bashing a ledge. After that I thought long and hard, and I realized that yes, stepping over the rope is extremely reckless, and that similarly the inverting fall is just as dangerous on a sport climb, and that wearing a helmet shouldn't really be something done on a sport climb.
I'm pretty sure it's not possible to invert unless you've stepped under the rope (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) - so I suspect that, and wearing a helmet for sport climbing are your big takeaways.
Greasy Prusiks on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> I'm pretty sure it's not possible to invert unless you've stepped under the rope (someone please correct me if I'm wrong)

It's unlikely but still a possibility. Feet getting caught on high heel hooks or holds breaking can cause it. Stepping under the rope is by far the most common in my experience.

In reply to OP: Top rope, drop your grades and wear a helmet.
hms - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

it's certainly possible because I've done it - traverse on steep ground after missing a clip. As I fell, my heel ended up behind the diagonal rope & I flipped & crunched arse first into the wall. I've been extremely cautious about anything diagonal/traversey ever since.
Crewey-Rob on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to Crewey-Rob:

Why the dislikes? Too Elf & Safety for everyone's tastes? Not rad enough? Is it wrong to err on the side of caution when people get hurt?
3
SenzuBean - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks & hms:

Interesting to hear that it can happen - sounds like it's not extremely uncommon.
SenzuBean - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> I had vaguely heard (when I started climbing) that you shouldn't step under the rope, as it could flip you. I didn't quite see how this could be true (in my opinion it's tricky to imagine the scenario) - I tried to avoid it, but because it wasn't labelled in my head as "danger on a stick!!" - so occasionally I did step under the rope if I felt it would make a move easier. Then once I took a big whipper and inverted, only a metre above bashing a ledge. After that I thought long and hard, and I realized that yes, stepping over the rope is extremely reckless, and that similarly the inverting fall is just as dangerous on a sport climb, and that wearing a helmet shouldn't really be something done on a sport climb.

> I'm pretty sure it's not possible to invert unless you've stepped under the rope (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) - so I suspect that, and wearing a helmet for sport climbing are your big takeaways.

Bloody hell, I made so many mistakes. Should be:

stepping under the rope
and that wearing a helmet shouldn't really be something not done on a sport climb.
1poundSOCKS - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> Interesting to hear that it can happen - sounds like it's not extremely uncommon.

Hard to say. I've seen 1 inverted fall ever, and that was trad. And I've seen a lot of falls, mainly sport. If you're not used to falling, you're less aware of the issue of the rope behind your leg.

I inverted once at an indoor wall, as a beginner trying fall practice. Confidence is fine when you've got the experience.
Luke90 on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to Crewey-Rob:
> Why the dislikes? Too Elf & Safety for everyone's tastes? Not rad enough? Is it wrong to err on the side of caution when people get hurt?

Can't speak for everyone who disliked the post but for me it was the unwarranted assumption of incompetence. Lots of other people have given better received answers that weren't at all "rad" and mentioned ideas about safety. You were just being condescending.

1
Crewey-Rob on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to Luke90:

Wasn't my intention! Poor communication skills from me, apologies to the OP if you took it that way.
1
Luke90 on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to Crewey-Rob:

This is the internet, you're NEVER supposed to back down or apologise! Disagreements should be encouraged and amplified. (You should probably insult my mother to be on the safe side.)
annak on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

So this is mostly lifted from Rock Warrior's Way, but at any given time I have a comfort zone, a discomfort zone, and then a fear zone. Staying within the comfort zone is dead easy. Spending time in the discomfort zone expands the comfort zone. Spending time in the fear zone contracts the comfort zone.

For myself, if I get properly scared for whatever reason, my comfort zone contracts to tiny and takes time and work to expand it again. For example, after losing the plot not so long ago on a blank slab, my next few sessions involved dropping the grades right down and toproping, and that felt really scary. After a while that started to feel less scary and I started leading easy grades again, after a bit that didn't feel scary either and I got back to my normal lead grade.

In my own experience, it comes back with time, patience, and being kind to myself and not trying to rush back into things.
oldie - on 26 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

Possibly lead what you are comfortable with and your friend then climbs it on a toprope? When she feels like leading she starts on easy routes/repeats routes.
Hope she gets back to fully enjoying climbing, though it may take some time.
In the 70s I took a sizeable fall with no runners (trad of course) directly onto my head but was wearing a helmet and sustained just black eyes and neck fracture. Cause: leg buckling due to earlier tibial fracture (car). Confidence slowly returned.... I was leading routes but dropped my grade and was much more tentative. Very glad I didn't give up.

Hugh Mongous - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> I'm pretty sure it's not possible to invert unless you've stepped under the rope (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) - so I suspect that, and wearing a helmet for sport climbing are your big takeaways.

I once inverted on a sports route when I fell off, hit a very shallow ledge a few feet below me, and was pitched backwards. I wasn't expecting to fall off so maybe was less in control of the fall than I usually am.

spenser - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:

Wearing helmets (more specifically the polystyrene/ polypropylene type) is a sound way to improve safety. Plenty of loose rock about at sport crags (I reckon the number of times of pulled holds off on trad is maybe 2 times what I have pulled off on sport routes with 10 times as many routes). The hybrid helmets (petzl elios for instance) don't really offer any protection against side on impacts, hence the form recommendation.
Every time I've been involved in the aftermath of an accident I have tried to get back on the sharp end as soon as possible as that is what I enjoy about climbing, I'd suggest visiting familiar areas away from where the accident happened and just run up easy routes.
thel33ter - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:
My first sport fall was from the chains of a steep route in Spain, I couldn't quite reach them from the clipping jug, and was pumped out of my mind so couldn't hand traverse towards them or lock off for long enough to do some extreme reaching. There were probably foot holds but not many, and my one foot was on the good one. Next thing I know I was upside-down and half way down the route. (Or so it felt). Obviously the rope was going straight down between my legs as the last bolt was 2-3m below me and I inverted simply because my arms gave way and I had a good foot in a pocket thing.

I was suitably worried after this and we took the next day to do a massive reasonably easy multipitch which got my psyche back. Obviously I didn't have the injury aspect, I asssume that would have slowed the process. Taking it easy and learning to enjoy climbing again by doing fun easy stuff seems to be the way to do it.
Post edited at 07:28
Wayne S - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to SiobhanStraver:
Hi, it's hard when you have an accident. For me I had an accident at a climbing wall, I disected what happened over and over and compartmentalised the issue. The ground fall I took was due to a belay error, so to preserve my climbing I separated Trad climbing and Sport climbing in my head. My trad climbing continued mostly unhindered (once bones mended!). And I set off then to deal with the elements I could control in Sport climbing. I am still a bit jumpy indoors with new belayers but for the most part issues are resolved. That's my story and quite different to yours as I suspect that if you dissect the day and events leading up to the accident then you would have opportunities to do things differently . I would suggest the first thing is developing awareness as to where the rope is running in relation to legs. It's usually the rope that flicks a climber over. Sounds like you have already learnt about helmets. If you are brutally honest in discussions you may find things you could do differently to have avoided the accident (accident, not necessary the fall, falling is fine in the right conditions), this is a good thing in as much that you can learn and move on. Avoid blaming uncontrollable factors.

Hopefully the above I'd helpful, though I guess it risks sounding a bit harsh and uncaring in black and white.

Heads are funny things, talk about what happened, dissect, learn move on with a newly learnt perspective.

Good luck, and keep climbing.
Post edited at 08:02
duchessofmalfi - on 27 Jun 2017

Keep climbing, remain flexible and don't be afraid to vary your climbing in relation to risk. Carry disposable gear to give you options at low "cost"-- having easy retreat options reduces the stress and allows you to make more rational decisions when scared. The fear does eventually subside. About ten years ago a big trad fall cost me by boldness and it took years to regain it.

If it is sport climbing that you want to do, you can't beat working up to clip-drop exercises indoors for this.
1poundSOCKS - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> If it is sport climbing that you want to do, you can't beat working up to clip-drop exercises indoors for this.

I never found deliberate falling to feel the same as trying until failure, and I never became relaxed about falling until I started redpointing. Has the added benefit of being good training in itself.

I did start to get anxious about falling again last year after a sprained ankle and a few other painful falls damaged my confidence. Getting confident again after redpointing for the last couple of months. Always takes me a while.
pebbles - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to bedspring:

got to agree with bedspring on this. so I looked at your log too and the majority of routes logged are dogged or dnf. Plus a lot of your comments seem to suggest youre having pretty negative feelings on a lot of the routes youre trying. Now while its good to push your grade sometimes, I think if I was constantly experiencing this level of frustration it would really undermine my confidence - you need some successes as well! Try building up mileage on routes which are within your ability to lead succesfully where you can focus on getting up the route with good technique and enjoying the route, you just cant do this when you are sketching and gripped.
Michael Hood - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to SStraver:
Start off on a (edit: nice) route you've done before that you know you can do.
Post edited at 11:02
JackM92 - on 27 Jun 2017
In reply to SStraver:

Having read the replies to your post I've found most very unproductive - this is my take on things.

During 2016 I started leading some harder trad climbs, E1's, E2's and a couple of E3's and an E4. A lot of them were graded at that due to the boldness, I was very comfortable climbing in positions where a fall would mean decking, and was regularly soloing tech 4c/5a.

At the start of 2017 I fell off The Genie (V 7) and dislocated my shoulder, the ice axe catching on something as I fell. It wasn't so much the injury itself that was bad, but the 3 day drive changing gear right handed and subsequent 2 weeks with one arm in a sling, struggling to do really basic things.

Clearly in the scheme of things it wasn't a bad injury, so after 6 weeks I was back climbing...to find myself struggling on Severes, HS's...climbs that previously I would have solo'd without a care in the world that suddenly I was freaking out and getting pumped on. The moment I got above gear I became incredibly timid.

It all came to a head climbing at Tremadog. After having a complete mare on Pretzl Logic (E2 5c), I led a classic VS and suddenly felt as if I could climb again. Oddly enough it was a big lead fall off The Strand (E2 5b) that cemented my re-found confidence. During that fall I was airborn for long enough to unwrap the rope from around my leg, a surreal matrix style moment.

My suggestion to her - keep climbing and at some point things will click again. Equally falling off safely is a skill that most people, myself included, neglect. Learning how to fall off whilst maintaining some degree of control could provide the confidence boost that she needs to enjoy leading again.
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stp - on 28 Jun 2017
In reply to Crewey-Rob:

> Why the dislikes?

I would also add that your assumption that not wearing a helmet amounts 'cutting corners' is simply not true for most people.

Crewey-Rob on 28 Jun 2017
In reply to stp:

> I would also add that your assumption that not wearing a helmet amounts 'cutting corners' is simply not true for most people.

They could have been a game changer in this situation though!
SStraver - on 29 Jun 2017
In reply to pebbles:

To be honest the only reason my logbook is like that is more due to me wanting to try out loads of climbs on every trip. Often I come down from a route where I'll have fallen maybe once or twice and be like "yeah I could redpoint that", but do I want to commit that whole day to dialling the route? no. I want to jump on a bunch of different stuff.

I don't particularly enjoy redpointing, I find it to be a lot of time and pressure. On the other hand getting on things which are hard for me I find very rewarding. I'm happy to take falls which is something I know many struggle with, so why not get on harder climbs? Sometimes it is stressful, yeah, but sometimes it's brilliant, that's the sport isn't it? I wouldn't want to be always comfortable.
As for a lack of success, I take success from getting past hard sections, managing tricky moves, needing less rest than I thought I might have; success doesn't have to be the redpoint on the whole route, otherwise does falling at one point mean all the good stuff you did on the rest of the route is failure? I don't like the sound of that.

So though I do agree with you that it's a bad idea if I weren't enjoying myself I do typically have a great time and I don't think I've ever regretted a climb; even the crappy ones are type 2 fun! I'll bear your advice in mind if ever I do start feeling disenchanted, but for now I couldn't be less so. Thank you though

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