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/ Lead climbing fear of falling

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TattyJJ - on 22 Feb 2018

Being relatively new to climbing and even newer to lead climbing, any tips to help with the fear of falling when above protection?

I deffo climb better on top rope than i do on lead, at least a good 2 grades better. 
But the nervous feeling when above a clip is holding me back.
Aside from lots of fall practice, any advice?

FWIW thus far only climbing indoors, soon as summer arrives will be heading outside, hoping can progress more on lead before i get there! 

Ta muchly

thebigfriendlymoose - on 22 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

Climb steep routes.  The difficulty of getting back onto the rock / wall if you fall whilst top roping leads to the adoption of leading as standard.

ShoePolice - on 23 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

Read Dave Macleod's book, it helped me when I was new to falling. And otherwise, practise falling - once it's not an unknown feeling you won't fear it nearly as much.

 

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/premier_posts/9_out_of_10_climbers_make_the_same_mistakes-385458

TattyJJ - on 23 Feb 2018
In reply to ShoePolice:

Ordered from Amazon, looks like a good read!

springfall2008 - on 23 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

Lead loads of routes that are well within your grade until you aren't scared anymore.

Try seconding routes which are a little harder. It's often more difficult to undo the clips than do them up so once you can second a route you can lead it, convince yourself and give it a go.

Lead steep routes and fall off, it's much better than falling practice which is a little bit fake in comparison.

Take your time, it can take a good year to gain your confidence moving from top rope to lead.

 

TattyJJ - on 23 Feb 2018
In reply to springfall2008:

That is essentially what I have been doing. Albeit I’ve only been leading 2 months ish, just don’t feel like I’m making any progress with it.

Feel fine before I climb, fine on easy sections, but as soon as I reach a tough bit or an overhang where there’s a chance I might fall it all just stops going to plan.

A little bit frustrating!

overdrawnboy - on 23 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

Remain scared, it might help you fight harder to get up something. 

8
springfall2008 - on 24 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

> That is essentially what I have been doing. Albeit I’ve only been leading 2 months ish, just don’t feel like I’m making any progress with it.

> Feel fine before I climb, fine on easy sections, but as soon as I reach a tough bit or an overhang where there’s a chance I might fall it all just stops going to plan.

> A little bit frustrating!

I can imagine it's frustrating, but it will get better over time. If you only climb once or twice a week it may well take a year to build your confidence. Stick with it!

Kevster - on 24 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

Hi. Let me give you a few secrets.

Most climbers continue to be scared of falling. Even the ones who declare they are not. 

Habitual desensitisation does work, but you have to keep going at it. This is especially hard with trad or winter. With trad, turning your brain off may be a better strategy? Flow, zone, living in the present whatever you call it is a great place to be when on lead, falling then isn't an issue, but the moment you think about it then you lose it. A bit like the game (you know the one we all play and you lose as soon as you remember you're playing it?).

It is very difficult to practice falling and only when you push your limits does it happen with any deliberate intentions to do so. The other times is luck. 

Practicing jumping off is easier, but does come with some psychological and practical  differences. Try not to confuse falling off with jumping off. They are similar but are definitely not the same.

And finally. 

Trust your equipment, have an outstanding belayer who you trust implicitly (and I find best not be the person you live with or love) and if you don't enjoy falling/leading/jumping then be kind to yourself and realise it before you imprint any further negative associations. 

 

Enjoy. 

Murderous_Crow - on 24 Feb 2018

In reply to TattyJJ:

Kevster's post is excellent.

I've experienced nearly all the iterations mentioned: (very) scared of falling, gradually becoming 'ok' with it, back to being pretty damn scared of it now I haven't done much lead for a long while. 

The whole trust thing is obviously massive. Set the bar high though. Don't be afraid to have that conversation with your belayer when you're not feeling watched out for. 

 

 

Post edited at 16:32
GridNorth - on 24 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

I'm very much of the opinion that a fear of falling when leading is no bad thing   Why anyone would want practice something that could end up in injury is beyond me and is certainly not something that novices should be worried about.

Al

4
johnboybuchan - on 25 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

Of the times I’m convinced that I’m coming off I’ll somehow pull through. Mostly I’m airborne or dangling on a rope before I get a chance to get scared. Doesn’t stop me wobbling and gibbering in the former moments though!

 

1poundSOCKS - on 25 Feb 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

> Why anyone would want practice something that could end up in injury is beyond me and is certainly not something that novices should be worried about.

Because it helps you relax while climbing, which helps your climbing progress. I think it's well accepted that you don't learn as quickly when you're stressed. If you don't get over the fear early, you're not going to progress as quickly as if you do.

Took me years to get around to dealing with it, in fact it was really just a side effect of redpointing, rather than a conscious decision. Wish I'd done it sooner.

GridNorth - on 25 Feb 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

It was said tongue in cheek to be honest.  I just get uncomfortable when experienced climbers encourage novices to do it. I wouldn't say I don't experience it but I don't think it's ever been particularly inhibiting for me despite having had a few nasty falls but I do acknowledge that there is benefit for some but again not novices.  For a novice it's better to overcome that fear with experience IMO.

Al

1
DenzelLN - on 25 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

Im in a similar situation, i seem to be getting worse at climbing the more i do it.

I started last June, and got to leading VS with my best lead being HVS and now i can barely lead a severe or get up a 6a.

I think im just shit at climbing!!

1poundSOCKS - on 25 Feb 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

> there is benefit for some but again not novices

Not sure why you say this. Make yourself aware of the risks and practice. Same as for belaying. If you never catch falls, you won't get any better at it. And you're more likely to tense up and slam the leader. Being relaxed falling and catching comes with experience falling and catching, not climbing.

>  For a novice it's better to overcome that fear with experience IMO.

For me it didn't go away with experience. If I don't fall off now for a long time, I get tense on lead again. Again, experience comes with actually falling, not avoiding it.

GridNorth - on 25 Feb 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Well I say that because a) a novice is not able to judge when it's safe to fall and b) unlikely to be capable of getting himself/herself into a position where it is safe to do so.  I would also add that there is falling off, when you tend to be out of control and jumping.  The two are not the same.

Billhook - on 25 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

A good book and well known, is:-

 

Feal The Fear and Do It Anyway.  

 

Cant remember the author.

springfall2008 - on 26 Feb 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

If it's an indoor wall or well bolted outdoor route it's unlikely to end in injury...

springfall2008 - on 26 Feb 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

That said, there is something invigorating to working a route above your limit, falling off and then getting it right the next time around.

 

1poundSOCKS - on 26 Feb 2018
In reply to GridNorth:

> a) a novice is not able to judge when it's safe to fall and b) unlikely to be capable of getting himself/herself into a position where it is safe to do so.  

Get a few clips up on something that's not a slab, and be aware of the rope behind your leg. It's not complicated.

The belaying takes more practice.

springfall2008 - on 27 Feb 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> Get a few clips up on something that's not a slab, and be aware of the rope behind your leg. It's not complicated.

> The belaying takes more practice.

Again if it's an indoor wall on an overhang you only need to lock off the belay and the fall will be fine, does that really take much practice. Of course we can get into a discussion on dynamic belaying but although nice it's not a must have in these situations.

 

megamonkeyman on 27 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

My tip would be, slowly but surely redpoint a route you are inspired by. Be that the grade, line, steepness, name, whatever.

Ideally well bolted and safe to fall off in all cases.

Start leading it as soon as you can safely clip the 2nd/3rd bolt. Find the crux, awkward clips, work that all out on top rope/below the clip.

There is a safe sequence to clip for most sport routes, sometimes even climbing a little higher to clip works better.

Once you are happy with any awkward bits, lead it from then on. 

This will build your confidence with falling little by little.

1poundSOCKS - on 27 Feb 2018
In reply to springfall2008:

> Again if it's an indoor wall on an overhang you only need to lock off the belay and the fall will be fine, does that really take much practice. Of course we can get into a discussion on dynamic belaying but although nice it's not a must have in these situations.

It wasn't indoors, but I sprained my ankle falling off an overhang. Took me long time to recover. Not a must have, but it could have been avoided.

I've made mistakes belaying and you learn from them. Belaying shouldn't be just about locking off. Indoors or out, sport or trad.

1poundSOCKS - on 27 Feb 2018
In reply to megamonkeyman:

> My tip would be, slowly but surely redpoint a route you are inspired by. Be that the grade, line, steepness, name, whatever.

I think that's a great way to do it. Builds up slowly and you actually end up falling off climbing rather than jumping.

CurlyStevo - on 27 Feb 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

IMO falling off leading indoors is almost completely safe once you become accustomed to it, you are probably at more risk driving home or walking home after a few pints. Outdoors I’ve mainly trad climbed and one thing I used to do early in sport trips is take a deleiberate safe fall above a bolt where there wasn’t anything to hit, it helped me get in the right mind set. That said some places I’ve climbed on bolts there has been a genuine risk from falling either due to the nature of the route, poor bolting or very spaced bolts. In alpine and even the surrounding lower areas often the easier pitches can be a long way between bolts, I’ve seen 15 meters plus. Defo doing the equivalent of cruxes of F4 on a F6a climb with bolts a very long way off for example.

By the way you don’t need to learn to lead indoors befor going out. Out is a continum. From walking to hill walking to scrambling to climbing, There is always a level that you can safely learn trad with a risk level you could be happy with ( and basically be extremely unlikely to fall).

Post edited at 23:59
springfall2008 - on 01 Mar 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> I've made mistakes belaying and you learn from them. Belaying shouldn't be just about locking off. Indoors or out, sport or trad.

 

As a priority you want a belayer who does lock off rather than dropping you. If they are capable of making a smarter decision that's fine, but we are talking about beginners here.

1poundSOCKS - on 01 Mar 2018
In reply to springfall2008:

> As a priority you want a belayer who does lock off rather than dropping you.

No sh!t.

> we are talking about beginners here.

Beginners falling, not catching.

 

springfall2008 - on 01 Mar 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

> > As a priority you want a belayer who does lock off rather than dropping you.

> No sh!t.

> > we are talking about beginners here.

> Beginners falling, not catching.

Your original comment

"The belaying takes more practice."

I took to mean that there was something difficult to catching a falling climber indoors

1poundSOCKS - on 03 Mar 2018
In reply to springfall2008:

> I took to mean that there was something difficult to catching a falling climber indoors 

Not really difficult to stop them hitting the floor generally. But it takes experience to do it well, and do it well consistently.

TattyJJ - on 03 Mar 2018

Thanks all, some sound advice here!

Not sure how it turned into a debate about belaying though... lol

1poundSOCKS - on 03 Mar 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

> Not sure how it turned into a debate about belaying though... lol

Falling turns into belaying. How could that possibly happen.

TattyJJ - on 04 Mar 2018
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Not exactly pertinent to the question though is it. 

2
1poundSOCKS - on 04 Mar 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

> Not exactly pertinent to the question though is it. 

Overcoming fear of falling? Of course it is. After I sprained my ankle I had a few painful falls, hitting the wall hard. I totally lost my confidence falling, and had to really get my head sorted again after years of not worrying. Falling has to be a positive experience, and a lot of that's down to the belayer.

JLclimb on 04 Mar 2018
In reply to TattyJJ:

I find the more competent you become as a climber and build self-confidence in your ability, this helps with the fear of falling.

I have found that just falling off on routes out of my comfort zone has helped me to manage the fear of falling a lot better than taking practice falls as you don't have time to talk yourself out of it!

Having said that, I would recommend trying the clip drop technique as a good starting point -https://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/play.php?i=1252

Also, do falling practice or pushing yourself on harder routes when you're in a positive mindset, don't do it when you're already feeling tired, scared, distracted etc as you will associate falling with negative experiences. An excellent belayer is also a must - watch your partner belay another climber falling and see what they do. You know you're in safe hands if you see them take a catch well.

Good luck!  

Post edited at 10:49

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