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Desensitizing yourself to falling...

11:44:41 AM
After a really bad mind screw i recieved while climbing yesterday (My first day back after being off two months from an injury) I realized that I needed to desensitize myself falling on trad gear. As I lay in bed falling asleep i came up with this:

On a short route (smaller then 15 m so that I only need 1 60 meter rope) I would set up a top rope and tie myself in. On that same route I would go up it as if leading the route with trad gear. So I'm tied into the top rope system and the "Leading" at the same time. With the top rope system I wouldn't have all the slack but enough to keep you from decking should things go wrong in the lead scenario.

Once you get to a point where if you fall you wont deck from either the top rope as a back up or the trad lead... you jump! Of course I will want to set it up so that I fall onto my trad gear first so as to A) gain trust in my placements and B) desensitize myself to falling on it

If My fall was held I would climb back up and a little bit higher and then jump off again...
If anything were to go wrong with my trad placements I would have the top rope system to catch me and the oportunity to learn from what I have done wrong in placing my gear.

Can anyone see anything wrong with this hypothetical scenario?
12:03:56 PM
Personally I would start falling indoors/out doors on the bolts. Start small and work up to bigger and bigger falls. If you can't summon up the courage to go much above the bolt get your belayer to give you some slack. However, it doesn't really sound like your problem is falling on gear, its trusting the placements you are made so that you aren't afraid to fall on them-This comes from experience. Just do alot of easy trad, place a lot of gear, do a bit of aiding and bounce test the placements, get someome more experienced in trad than you to 'rate' the placements you make. Then you will a bit a better judge of the placements you have made and your confidence on falling on them will rise.

12:09:02 PM
Could work mtnbear... but sounds like a lot of effort. Are you planning on having someone to belay you? Give them some practice too...

12:18:59 PM
You will totally f--- up your trad gear taking repeated falls! The best way of gettign faith on trad gear is
to go aid climbing. You then get to test each and every placment you make. It does wonders for trad
confidence. Just aid something short and easy (single pitch crack routes at Araps ect)

12:19:14 PM
On 29/06/2006 Stuey wrote:

>However, it doesn't really sound like your problem is falling on gear,
>its trusting the placements you are made so that you aren't afraid to fall
>on them-This comes from experience.

This is true I do have a lack of experience... I have taken falls on bolts and have no worries when it comes to bolts; but I have never been placed in a situation, on trad, where I even had the sense of a possibility of falling on my gear. Now that I know how a true fear can hamper a climb, I need to reassure myself in my placements and their ability to hold my potential falls. And once that reassurance is there or beliefe is there that it will hold my falls I will climb harder with less worry.

12:26:03 PM

Yeah I will have someone belaying me and I intend on giving this desensitizing opportunity to my climbing partner as well. we've both kind of hit a wall in regards to this.

I have someone in the Canadian Rockies willing to show me the ropes for Aiding once I return to Canada in a few weeks... Maybe I should lay off this experiment, be patient and wait until then...

12:30:01 PM
When your at Araps next, head to Fang Buttess and place gear along the bottom of that climb Mantis. There are really weird cracks and pockets. You at the same time can test whether your gear will pull...somehow...plenty of large boulders for this too.

Eduardo Slabofvic
1:21:41 PM
Try introducing some fall motivation into your climbing. I use the system where by if you come off with
the gear above your waist, that's not a fall, it's a slump, and you should be punished for being such a
slack jawed faggot so you owe your belayer a bottle of stout. If you come off with the gear between your
waist and your feet, then that's the neutral zone, and no stouts are exchanged. If you come off with your
feet above the piece of gear, then thatís a fall, and you should be rewarded for being such brave and
fearless leader, and your belayer owes you a bottle of stout.

Keep a tally of who owes who how many stouts, then hit the bottle shop at the close of play.

We also employ the bonus stout for flashing a route, but it has to be agreed before setting off. No bonus
stouts are awarded for flashing the warm up route for example. Spectacular plummets may also be award
bonus stouts at the judges discretion.
Monkey man
2:05:53 PM
Nice idea. Post climbing beers are pretty standard but this adds a new aspect to it all.

2:10:54 PM
Thats an awesome setup Eduardo, clip skippers get rewarded and draw extenders get punished, mwahaha

3:53:14 PM
Or join up with Adski next time he heads down to Mexico. You'll be falling on gear, passing the belayer on your way into the abyss and dislodging Aliens before you have time to say "take"!!!

Right, Adski???

8:59:51 PM
Just thinking aloud... Would getting used to take falls on gear that you don't trust be a bad idea? especially if you distrust it because you don't have enough experience placing it. The gear might hold once or twice when you train but not when you are actually climbing without a top rope.

Does a grounder get you more beers? or just morphine?
9:47:48 PM
On 29/06/2006 mtnbear wrote:

> Now that I know how a true fear can hamper a climb,

Hang on a minute, I think you're talking about experiencing Rock Climbing. Ain't no easy solution!!

10:08:07 PM
have taken falls on
>bolts and have no worries when it comes to bolts; but I have never been
>placed in a situation, on trad, where I even had the sense of a possibility
>of falling on my gear

Am I just showing myself to be a dinosaur, or does anyone else like the idea of being able to judge a placement and the suitable trad gear and thenmake a judgement on if it is ok to run it out above it. Ok, you don't want to do much more than put body weight on a marginal #2 RP, but a bomber # 9 Rock in good solid Araps it out a bit.

Have always been a little bemused by the presumption that a bolt is "fixed". Do we know who placed it? Have they got any idea what they are doing? How long is the bolt? Is the glue any good? Etc, etc, etc.....

Have always been much happier to trust my own skill/ judgement (or lack there of)

11:22:37 PM
I haven't done any sport climbing since in Oz... Don't have any plates to put on your "untrusty" carrots.. *ducks the flak comming his way*

In Alberta (where I have done - all - of my sport climbing) all the bolts look minty new and are mostly installed by members of Tabvar... an organization that has wicked public support in the area and some big name commercial donors who trains people to put these bolts into the rock, hangers included, everywhere it is deemed necessary and allowed. I trust their work implicitly. For that reason I have developed a trust for bolts anywhere I see a larger organization taking care of it.

In regards to trusting my own skill and judgment... other then aiding which seems to be a couple months away (yes I'm impatient sometimes) how am i to develop skill and good judgment and the confidence that comes with it, without putting my gear placments through some sort of test? I guess thats why I've come up with this idea and am asking what the pitfalls of it are here where there are experienced people...

I do have to add... beer is always a great motivator. =)

12:44:14 AM
You don't trust the gear you place on lead, but you trust the gear you place for the top rope? go figure!
9:20:46 AM
On 30/06/2006 kezza wrote:
>You don't trust the gear you place on lead, but you trust the gear you
>place for the top rope? go figure!

yeah thats exactly what i was thinking Kezza, the mind is weird sometimes in the things it will convice itself of!
I spose the difference is that the forces on toprope anchors are less than in a lead fall. Also you can take more care in placing good gear for anchors than you can perhaps while flailing around on a climb!
Fool in the Rain
9:35:58 AM
Mtn Bear,

Shortfalls (no pun intended) to your scenario may be;

The ability of the belayer to accurately judge the amount of slack in the top rope to enable you to take the fall on the lead rope and still have the top rope as a back up. Remember each rope will stretch differently. Slack in the top rope may result in shock loading if the lead gear fails.

Don't try the experiment too close to the ground. You may deck out with rope stretch.

As kezza mentioned why trust your top rope anchors if you don't trust your lead anchors.

I'd suggest just dropping down a couple of grades so that you climb more comfortably. Try and climb something you can get up without falling.

If it's just a case of fear of leading then just try top roping or seconding.

Don't worry too much about backing off a climb if you don't feel happy. It's probably the right decision.

Give yourself time to get your head together. This may take months,
9:57:21 AM
Hi Mtn Bear

I tried some desensitization to falling after recently experiencing this kind of head trouble after a scary fall on very run out bolts at Giraween, which involved flipping upside down etc.

I found that when I tried to climb (even easy stuff) I would only remember this image of the scary fall, and forget all the other 'safer' and shorter falls I've had in the past. I would then freeze up and be unable to climb at all. I found 'desensitisation' worked really well Mtn Bear. I did this on bolts...found a well bolted route and jumped off progressively higher above the bolts. Had a belayer I trusted completely, which helps...
I found this technique extremely useful, and the next climb I did, this image of falling badly had gone, and had been replaced by the more recent, better image of falling and being ok.
This seemed to generalise to trad climbing as well, and I was more relaxed climbing trad also after this.

Also, I know that some fear is a part of rockclimbing, but this was a more irrational fear, that was completely stopping any enjoyment.

I hope that's of some help Mtn Bear!


9:59:43 AM
Never underestimate falling. There is potenital for things to go wrong that could have serious
consequences. For example - a foot behind the rope and you go tumbling upside down with a potential
headcracking result. You may have seen videos of guys taking huge safe whippers - but these are
usually done on wonderful overhung smooth rock (limestone). In the real world there are ledges, corners
and ropes to get in the way. Rope burn can be a major danger as well. A friend recently fell off at Point
Perp with a huge runout - but instinctively grabbed the rap rope that was next to him - huge rope burn on
his hand was the end result. No cllimbing for quite some time. Gear can rip and smash you in the face (or
even worse the rock can rip apart from around the trad placement and take out your belayer) If you are
are still going to practice falling - make sure you wear a helmet and some durbale long pants and top. Be
very careful. There is a reason your brain tells you not to fall off - its because its unsafe.

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