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Listening to your gut


Original Post
Sam Sala · · Denver · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 40

EDIT: I'm not asking about my psychic ability...I don't think I, or anyone else is, psychic to any degree.

EDIT: TL;DR version of the day, Full Exum on Grand Teton. I had a bad feeling waking up, that I kept to myself (told myself it was normal jitters), shit hit the fan in multiple ways on-route, we bailed off. For all that went wrong, much more went right and I'm happy with the end result..just sparked curiosity about listening to your gut.

Was just over on the thread about bailing and figured I'd start a cousin-thread to it.

I had a more-off-than-normal feeling from the minute I opened my eyes in my sleeping bag that morning on the Grand, and still think about it from time-to-time when I'm heading out for a big day in the hills.

A piece of my post (slightly edited here) with my question(s)...

"For me, the call to bail is usually pretty clear-cut, even if I second guess it a few times on the hike out...what I kept pondering after this one was, when do you listen to your gut on the approach? How do you know the difference between a case of the "normal" jitters, and something more serious that you should listen to/make decisions based on? IS there a difference? Do you create the more serious feeling somehow? Does it start out as "serious" or does it evolve? If it DOES evolve, is it your doing (dwelling on bad feeling creates bad events)...OR is the seriousness only recognized/created afterwards, during reflection on the event?"

In hindsight, I feel like I knew it was something more serious that morning...but I kept it to myself to shelter others from not getting into the same negative space, and told myself it was just normal jitters and to let it go.

"I was there to do a job and if I didn't do it, nobody would get to climb the route, and then what the hell would we have driven all this way for?!"

When we all talked about it back in town the next day, my partners were both a bit pissed that I didn't say anything and agreed that I should have spoken up. I have not held back since and have found that dealing with disappointment of not climbing something, is easier to deal with than wondering if you're going to die for an entire day (even if those days make for better stories).

Cheers!

Vaughn · · Colorado · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 50

Although it isn't clear from your post, it sounds like you had a bad day on the Grand after having bad feeling the morning of?

Without knowing what went wrong on the Grand, it's hard to comment, however I don't believe that you or any other human has the ability predict the future. If you were feeling sick, which caused the team to move slow, and resulted in an epic then yeah, you probably should have said something. But if you had a spidey sense something's not right feeling and then some rock fall caused an accident, then I believe that is just coincidence.

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

i don't think clairvoyance is real

the time i listen to my gut is when it's telling me i should've pooped at home but i'm already half way up the route

Sam Sala · · Denver · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 40
Vaughn wrote:

Although it isn't clear from your post, it sounds like you had a bad day on the Grand after having bad feeling the morning of?

Without knowing what went wrong on the Grand, it's hard to comment, however I don't believe that you or any other human has the ability predict the future. If you were feeling sick, which caused the team to move slow, and resulted in an epic then yeah, you probably should have said something. But if you had a spidey sense something's not right feeling and then some rock fall caused an accident, then I believe that is just coincidence.

Vaughn, here's the rest of it (I figured I'd link to the thread to avoid a wall of text - too late now)...I wasn't sick, or moving slowly...was just generally "off" that morning. Usually I'm really psyched to get on route and chipper even during alpine starts...that day I was feeling weird and super quiet (one partner noticed and mentioned it that morning, but didn't ask anything further).

RE: "When's the last time you bailed?"

"This past July from Lower Exum. Party of three. Plan was to lead the entire lower, then swing leads after Wall St. Decided I had enough at the base of the black wall pitch, after a dismal morning and the approach of a fast moving storm caught us by surprise. Woke up that morning with a weird feeling looming (should have just called it then in hindsight), super-sluggish snow approach from our camp at the moraine, bullet proof snow/ice slopes layered between runs of scree (stopped for crampons on/off several times along the way) to the base of the 4th class ramp. Soaking wet 4th class slabby ramp all the way to the base of P1, chimneying P1 with ice axes strapped to packs full of mountain boots and crampons, b/c the right face option was taken by another party. One partner with pretty bad intestinal problems that started at the top of P1, but she insisted she would be fine and urged us to continue (again, in hindsight, we should have called it then). Somehow, I managed to get WAY off route on our P3, got super sketched on some X rated choss before slinging a mostly-detached horn (best option I could find without burning already limited gear). Fast moving party came up while I was getting my shit together back at the belay, so we opted to let them climb through which caused a bit more of a delay. Weather was still gorgeous, so didn't think too much of it at the time. More chimneying/flailing with ice axe on pack, before eventually ditching and trailing the pack while mega runout (cracks that fit the light rack I had on-hand were iced up). Temps plummeted, rain/hail/snow while bringing up my 2nd/3rd. I was over it and made the call to GTFO from the station just below the black face. Tossed the ropes (twin 70s) and started rapping. Ropes stuck on the last pull (thankfully here and not higher up), scrambled up a bit and cut the ropes at the half-marks, to salvage what we could for the ramp below. Soaked in cold rain, welted from hail, downleading wet 4th class which was now a small river, while lightning exploded all around us (at least we weren't on the summit like so many others that day!)

Definitely one of the worst times I've had on a route, but so much adventure, and fantastic to see our party function well after shit hit the fan. Type 2 day for sure, but wouldn't trade the experience for anything."

I wasn't meaning to suggest that I am, or anyone else is, psychic to any degree...more of a question of the subconscious creating events...i.e. if you wake up with a weird feeling, how do you know when/where it becomes something more serious than normal nerves/excitement? And at what point do you start to make actual decisions based on it vs. just dealing with it and continuing on? Most days, if I'm jittery, I can be mindful and they go away after a bit.


Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 745

A hindsight is a screwy thing. Haven't you ever had the days that went in reverse? I have!

I mean a day when you wake up feeling sluggish and not rested, feel horrible on a warm-up, almost don't even want to try your project... and then somehow feel great and send it on the first try?
Has happened to me a few times.

But we end up remembering the days when you wake up with the weird spidey feeling of not-right, and then something bad happens... or sometimes we even amplify in retrospect how badly off you were feeling... yet discard all the times when the spidey weird sense ended up being nothing.

If the weather is possibly souring, maybe not-quite-yet, but you have an arthritic "barometer knee" that tells the weather better than meteorologist, that is legit; If you feel like you are getting sick, those are the times to say something. If you are the only person who can lead the crux pitches, if you are the most experienced, and your partner won't be able to tell if you are off-route, etc. then you feeling off your game is also a reason to bail. But I am not sure that it is a reason to bail completely, it might be just a time to get on easier, less committing climbs?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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