Neil

9th Jul 2008

Question:

Hi,

I've been climbing for 1 and a half years now, predominantly trad and indoor leading and bouldering. I'm currently leading 6a+/6b indoors. I'm trying (what seems to be) my very best to push my grade indoors, but every time I get to challenging ground I find it very hard to commit to the next move.

I find this fear to commit to moves very frustrating, as I feel as though I shouldn't be having these inhibitions. I also fell from a trad climb back in October and broke my wrist, putting me out of climbing for 3 months, which had a big effect on my confidence when getting back to climbing, but I have regained alot of confidence since then.

Do you have any suggestions for keeping the fear in check and not letting it affect my climbing, or any mental routines you know of for working up the courage to commit to the next move?

Answer:

This has strong echoes of the last climbing clinic question from Matt. If you haven’t already read my answer, I’m sure there will be a lot of useful advice in there for you.

In addition, when you say ‘leading f6a+-f6b indoors’, does this mean on sight or just managing to get to the top of these routes any way possible?

Obviously there is a big difference between these styles! If you are getting to the top of these grades with falls and rests, then this suggests these grades are above your limit. It is good to get on routes that are too hard for you (I am a definite advocate of this) but in order to progress, at some point you need to be thinking about:

either redpointing these routes to;

a. gain a sense of achievement and

b. get in the zone of doing hard moves in extremis

Or you could try to on sight routes that are easier and more achievable at the moment.

With regards the last part of your question, you cannot have faith mentally if you don’t trust yourself physically. In climbing, the mind and body really are one and if either is out of sorts, things will not go to plan. So if you have put the physical preparations in, when standing at the bottom of the route you can psyche up with confidence and knowledge that where the mind goes the body will follow. On a slightly less hippyfied tone, you can also;

Assess the route from the ground identifying where it goes, where the holds are and where the belay is!

Check your knot is tied correctly before leaving the deck.

Take a few deep breaths and start to focus on the job in hand, resist talking to your belayer and just put your full concentration into the climb.