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Head game

Everett · · Nevada · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 25
sDawg wrote: Don't trust just the passage of time. Time can actually be your enemy if you are engaging with risk in the wrong way psychologically. You keep the cerebral understanding and you are scared of a fall, but you lose the feeling of taking a fall or facing a risk and getting through it, and you get to where you can freeze up and not want to do anything.
I've had this apply to me in non-climbing hobbies. For me, if I take a break from something due to negative emotions, it's hard to remember the good things during the break. That being said, internalize Maya L's advice too.

..good luck?
Eric L · · Roseville, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 115

Nathan, like others have said, climb something you know and is easy for you to get your confidence back.  Go back to Deception, which you liked, and get some reps in.  Funny story, I got off route on that one (also my second trad lead) and got stuck on the 5.9R section top of P2, Deception Direct, after I slab traversed right too early.  Had to down climb it and re-traverse left to finish.  That actually helped me.

Focus on the success instead of what “could have been.”

Brandon.Phillips · · Portola, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

I would just get back out there and climb again.  Most of us have had similar experiences early in our trad careers. You didn't get hurt - just learn from it and move on.

The best thing you can do is get back on the horse.  For me, the more time that passes, the more I build it up in my mind, and the more anxiety I have about it.  Don't let the fear get to you or build it up to be more than what it actually was. Place good gear and trust yourself.  After all, it was your climbing ability that kept you from an injury that day.  Climbing ability = most underestimated piece of protection. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Brandon. your brain is your best piece of protection. climbing ability is great. Strength builds confidence but without a good thought process and unfiltered risk assessment you can become just another strong climber who passed too early... 

normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100

I say you got a dose of reality checking. Multi pitch trad has risks and it’s a valid response to decide you don’t want to take them. Or to take them. 

MisterE Wolfe · · Bishop, CA · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 3,862
Ted Pinson wrote: Guys, we’re really getting off route with this discussion.

But, are you gonna die? Because that is when the off-route discussion gets real, Yo.

Nathan Z · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 1

Lots of great stories and good things to think about, everyone. Thanks! 

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135
Nathan Z wrote:

You sound maybe just more badass than me haha. I've taken whippers previously and been relatively unphased (but also, uninjured haha). 

I am not anywhere near a badass, I just don't let bad experiences prevent me from going forward.  That does not mean I don't try to learn from past mistakes.  I've had bad wipe-outs mountain biking and skiing, and get right back to it afterward.  But I think about what happened and why it happened and let it inform what I do in the future.  I took a bad head-over fall on a mountain bike trail that could have really messed me up.  I was well past my comfort/experience/style level on that trail and I'll just walk sections like that now..

Andrew Marsh · · Denver · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Stoked on this post. Like many of us in the climbing realm, shit has gone down in a less than spectacular way, at some point or another. For myself, in January 2018, i decked on a single pitch trad route and yanked two small pieces, that i was pushing my limits on. I took my longest break from climbing since i started years earlier, and didn't really get back on to rock leading for a few months. Likewise I also got off route at the same pitch on the Petit the June after, what would be my biggest climb since falling. I think that point was really critical for me because, as stated above, i had to make very deliberate decisions. This really improved my mental game. As for now, I'm working my way back up to leading harder stuff on gear that I know I'm physically capable of, but occur a mental block for, often doubting my success and ability. Don't know what exactly you're looking to get from these posts, but i appreciate you posted about it. the mental block still lingers noticeably but you won't change shit if you don't at least try to fix the situation at hand, whatever it may be. Advice; Find partners that will support you, they're out there!! 

J Kuginis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

People climb for various reasons but mostly fun. Occasionally after an incident it is no longer fun. That's when you find out whether you are still a climber or not anymore. No judgement! Being a climber is not any more special than anything else. Just go with whatever your passion is. However, if you are still a climber you climb again and soon. You still have the fear but this passes with time. In my 25 years of climbing I have had 3 accidents requiring 6-9 months recovery after extensive surgery. The first was the worst and due to inexperience. I got back on the horse but was terrified for 3 years but kept at it. The thought of stopping did not cross my mind. After time you get the joy back and it is worth it. Even today I still have low commitment days and then it is best to return to familiar routes that you know you can do well and safely. It is also important to remember that everyone will react to an incident differently. Incidents don't need to result in physical injury because the mind processes in strange ways. I once had 2 close calls in a day- once driving to the crag where I did a full 360 spin at 80 mph and then later at the crag had a 30 ft head first fall next to ledges.the next day and couple weeks I was terrified even though the climbing was totally different ie the fall came when high heel hooking the crimp disintegrated a move that is not that common. Bottom line- there is no magic time, everyone is different, just follow your passion whatever that is.

master gumby · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 80
Nathan Z wrote: For those of you who have had an accident or a close call, how long did it take for you to get back in the game mentally?

Took as long as the injury took to heal. 

Bogdan P · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 314

Some of my closests calls have been while driving on icy roads on the way to and from casual winter cragging days (spun out on the highway once, almost took a nose dive over a precipice another time). It's forever altered the way I drive in the winter, so if that's any indication you may never recover.

At the same time, I've had some close calls climbing, that have evolved differently. The closest was something similar to yours in the sense that I was inexperienced in the alpine and got in over my head. Evaluating my mistakes and what it would take to avoid something similar in the future played a big roll in my recovery there, which may be why the knee jerk response you see here is to work through your mistakes. I also had to do some soul searching though and make a decision regarding the amount of risk I was willing to accept in my climbing. The results of this process will be personal and depend on the circumstances. Most likely though the more fear you've experienced the harder it will be to work through the content of that fear and the more difficult it will be to calmly put yourself into a similar situation in the future. That's just the way the mind works, and other people's experiences here aren't going to help you very much because the fear you experienced isn't the same as the fear others experienced. Were you terrified out of your whits, life flashing before your eyes? Then it's probably going to haunt you for a while. Was it more of a retrospective "this could have been bad." You get over those faster. The actual consequences you faced don't matter, just how you saw them and felt about them in the moment.

In the meantime realize that this is part of what it takes to be a mature climber. You can't make mature decisions about risks without first understanding those risks. You're making progress on understanding those risks, which is good (and never ends). Now it's up to you to make a decision about the kind of relationship you want to have with said risk. Are you willing to risk broken ankles? Death? Your friends dying? Figure that out and make your decisions accordingly.

And for what it's worth, the "unknown unknowns" decrease over time. As you gain experience you find yourself surprised by unexpected dangers less and less and more and more you start picking and choosing those situations based on what you're willing to risk for a particular climb or style of climbing. It doesn't need to be a binary choice regarding risk acceptance either. For my part I'm more willing to tolerate risk when the route is good than when it's not (e.g. are you more likely to do a 5.9 X route if it's 5/5 stars or if it's 0/5 stars?), and I think that's where you want to end up, not free of risk (or else just quit climbing), but having a good sense of what the risks might be and whether or not you're OK with them on a case by case basis. For instance in your case it might be something like "alpine rock is more dangerous than trad cragging, is this route good enough for me to risk it." Was the petit worth it?

On a different note, you might find this enjoyable:
One dude is Ian Parnel (a leading british climber, former editor of Climb), while the other dude I didn't know, but apparently had suffered a serious pelvis injury, and is struggling with the emotional baggage of that by apparently doing an awesome but super sketchy climb. Maybe not the wisest prescription but all the same seeing someone take on their demons head on like that can be an inspiration, particularly when you're struggling with similar demons of your own.


Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

our 2 month road trip this summer we saw dead people on the side of the road and almost dead person in the middle of the road bleeding all over the place. also almost got killed by a tractor trailor. both in montana. No close calls climbing on that trip..

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195
Bogdan P · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 314
Ted Pinson wrote:…

a collection of multiple pieces of anecdotal evidence is no longer simply an anecdotal report.  More than one person has replied to this. That makes this an informal survey. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

time and playing the playstationz and smoking green bluntz does not help. you must climb. you must downclimb like true champion if you climb yourself into dangerous situationz and determine the rizk is unnacceptable, or do not do it that in the first place

all your runout are belong to me

Bogdan P · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 314
Ted Pinson wrote: The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

So then what's the difference between an anecdote and a datum?

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

First, “data” implies a level of objectivity that anecdotes lack.  Lots of people have told stories about UFO encounters; that does not mean they are real.  Secondly, data is generally collected in an intentional and controlled manner with an attempt to filter out noise, whereas anecodotes are not.  You could ask every person on the planet whether they think driving is more dangerous than climbing, and you’d be no more closer to the truth.

David Burridge · · Simi Valley · Joined 14 days ago · Points: 0

If you haven't read Arno Ilgner's book Rock Warriors Way you might want to check that out. It's a phenomenal resource for the mental aspect of climbing.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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