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What goes through you mind while on the sharp end?
6:20:06 PM
I often find that for me the key to ticking climbs at or near my limit is how quite I can make my mind. I was interested to know how what goes through other poeples minds when trying to tick at or near their limit? Also interested to hear what goes through people's minds when they get their worst head f--k?

I guess I quite my mind by deep breathing and visualisation of the moves.

When this doesn't work and head f--k sets in my brain is racing thinking of how bad the fall will be if I move past the last piece of gear or that it's almost a certainty that the rope will unclip itself during a fall or the bolt might pull or my hefty weight will surely make my last piece of pro pop taking half the cliff face with it.

Major indications that head f--k has set in are elvis leg at 4m, 27 pieces of pro in the first 5 meters, fliping every binner over to stop the rope from uncliping itself in a fall, the world going very blurrie due to the tears of fear and finally vomitting or touching cotton.

Any one got any miracle cures to HF?
9:58:05 PM
Incence Dave, incence. Personally, I like patchouli or cinnamon, that's what helped me get up Peregrine RHV the other day. Calms the mind, helps you relax. Yeah, a couple of nice sticks of incence at the bottom of the cliff does the trick.

When I'm head f---ed? Usually I ask myself why it is that I chose to climb up this bloody great big piece of rock in the first place, or that the fall won't be fun, but I'm getting a bit more confident on bolts these days. Then again I reckon you've heard your fair share of my lamentations when I've been head f---ed ;-) (note to self - go back to Gondwannaland and redeem myself!).
mikl law
12:19:48 PM
Logic, logic, logic!
Will I die?
1) If Yes, get out of there (unless it will make you famous)
2) if no, hanging around and worrying will make you fall off anyway, 100% chance of failure. Going for it might just get you up it.

take a breathe and smile, think "use my feet"
If I'm working something I take the falls till they become meaningless

1:04:38 PM
i focus on how im holding on... that is if im over gripping thends to take my mind off imenent doom!

1:11:55 PM
breathe.. relax... breathe.. relax.. think.. why did that pro fall out, no dammit don't think that.. breathe.. relax...
2:32:14 PM
I remind myself (when gripped) that I came here to climb, not to fall. Usually I start worrying about pro when the climbing gets hard, when (logically) I should concentrate on the climbing. I try to remember to place (good) pro when I'm comfortable with the climbing, so that when it gets tough I can focus on the moves...
I have found an increased chance of falling is associated with panicking about (maybe) falling, and trying to (desperately) place pro in this state.

5:21:54 PM
some interesting replies - seems to be a rather large focus on pro falling out! ;)

relaxing via some deep breathing works for me, especially when elvis has moved from the legs to the arms...

I also use self doubt as a powerful tool to challenge very nicely for me.

2:24:20 AM
Some crap song usually ("I'm a Barbie Girl....") that drives me crazy but keeps me one step away from panic...why is that one can only think of crap songs and not good ones while climbing?!

..::- Chris -::..
8:30:58 AM
Sport Climbs - I focus on solving the moves btw each clip so 12 - 15 small boulder problems (unless it's one of those climbs where even cliping is impossible.)

Trad Climbs - As above but focusing on the moves to get me to the stance to place my next piece of gear...

If it's a red point attempt very rarely be nervous as I know whats ahead, and If I'm stupid enough to try and redpoint something that I know could have a high chance of receiving an injury or worse I deserve what i get !!

Something else i do notice especialy if i'm a little nervous is that the micro-second after I've clipped a bolt, or a solid piece of gear, I feel like the world has just been lifted off my shoulders.... This feeling lasts for about 2 meters and then sure enough the little thing i call a brain decideds to get nervous and bam the world is back on my shoulders....
(I have very strong shoulders because of this !!.... hehehe)

10:34:42 AM
The Distance by Cake is a favourite head song of mine .. "he's going the distance, he's going for speed".. "deftly manouveur and muscle for rank".. etc etc

11:59:53 AM
On 26/08/2003 DC wrote:
>I often find that for me the key to ticking climbs at or near my limit
>is how quite I can make my mind. I was interested to know how what goes
>through other poeples minds when trying to tick at or near their limit?
>Also interested to hear what goes through people's minds when they get
>their worst head f--k?
>Any one got any miracle cures to HF?

If I can scab a rest at the critical moment, I try to analyse the situation and focus on the moves / sequence required. Oftentimes I can easily see whats required but there is not enough juice left in the tank to complete the sequence!
The times I hate most are when I attempt the moves then the head/fuel gauge takes over and I realise its probably 'not on' so I try to reverse the moves (if its possible to downclimb) to the rest stance. It really gives me the heebee geebees if I fall at that point; .. though I know if it was that marginal, I most likely would not have pulled it off anyway...

If there is no rest stance and I have good pro then I figure I am committed and go for it. The few times where I have gone for it without good pro have in essence been some of the most satisfying moments in my climbing, though I do not try to 'engineer' these situations.

The only time I have experimented with breathing I tried the martial arts approach*, by exhaling prior to the moves rather than 'holding' my breath during them. I have not done it often enough to notice any significant improvement, though the action helps in focusing on what is required for the wholistic sequence. (*I picked up that tip from a book by mountaineer Julie Tullis called 'Clouds from both sides'. She was Kurt Deimburgers partner till she died on K2).

Re elvis-leg; I overcome that by touching the knee concerned against the rock. I find that by consciously feeling the cold/warmth of the rock with my knee brings a calming effect simply from the sensation, and allows my mind to focus on the more enjoyable side of the 'same' experience; ie fear and enjoyment are balanced; like on a see-saw, ... The more one goes up the more the other goes down (in my experience).

I have experienced bad HF on a couple of occasions right at the opening moves of a climb, and have found that if I climb on, then in effect I 'climb through' the HF and the whole experience (end result) has been extremely enjoyable; ... possibly a higher high for having experienced a low at the start, if you follow my drift. This knowledge has helped considerably in any subsequent similar episodes.

My mind games in my climbing are probably the area I am most interested in exploring at present, as I know I have the technique and equipment, and/or at least understand my limitations in technique and physical ability. I find it hugely intriguing that with the addition of the right attitude, mere mortals such as I can get up some pretty outrageous bits of rock! This is why I have progressed into 'significant' (for me), aid climbing.

Aid climbing stretches (for me), the mental aspects because it is so slow. Its one thing to remain focussed for a short period (intense though it may be), .. but to stretch this into an absurd amount of time is something else again! The aid climbing overcomes the 'lack of fuel in the tank' issues and allows the mental aspects full reign, particularly when committing to a long runout on thin gear.
I have done enough of it now, that I am furthering the experience by getting seriously into roped soloing.

PS. Re flipping every krab over; I do that as a matter of course anyway!
12:19:11 PM
I usually do one of two things...

Usually call obsenities at the bitch of a move that I am trying to do, makes me feel better anway.
Or if it's a really balancy move, start wiggin out, stop breathing, and carefully make the next move, or try to anyway then call more obsenities and insist that a crucial piece of rock has fallen off since the cliub was graded.

12:25:42 PM
This is great,,,
Can we turn this all into a "Tech Tips" article,
of course all this could be MORE of a head f--- than no tips at all...
1:22:38 PM
Not a bad idea Dodgy. For myself I think the mental part of climbing at or near your physical limit is probably 50% of the game.

Also I have noticed that tech tips always talk about technique either in terms of gear usage and movement but never incorporates mental preparation before climbing and techniques for dealing with HF during a climb. I'm guessing a lot of climbers could benefit from an article like this.

Any volunteers to write this article? I'm probably not qualified myself as I tend to lose the mental battle more often than I win it.

2:10:02 PM
of all the things that limit the actual grades I can climb and the routes I get up, nothing plays a bigger part than my head. I boulder in the gym, lift weights, train, blah blah blah, but nuless my head comes along with me, I might as well go home.

What do I do to train the mental element of climbing? Sweet FA.

go figure.

2:47:35 PM
Sounds like people should invest some money and book in with a Sport Psychologist.
3:02:39 PM
I'm sure I have a Rock & Ice/Climbing article on mental preparation, I'll add it if I can find it...

3:06:56 PM
theres some good info on it in 'performance rockclimbing'
11:09:15 PM
I generally try to stay alive

Donut King
2:30:10 PM
suck it in and enjoy yourself, or back off.

theres no need to go to a sports phsycologist on this one, you either want to do the climb without fear or with fear.
Fear is a good is the reason you focus and keeps you from running it out when you know you shouldnt!

its a puzzle to be solved (unless you are at the gallery), and you solve it one move at a time, its supposed to be fun

also try think about for me

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