Sarah

5th Nov 2009

Question:

About 2 months ago, I was descending Tryfan and took a nasty fall, tumbling 60 feet. Although I didn't break anything, my confidence has been shattered and my love of the mountains seems to have gone that way, too. I find this upsetting and prohibitive to a past-time that I loved and am keen to work out a way to get back that confidence and joy that I once got.

Any tips?

Many thanks

Answer:

Sorry to hear about your fall, it sounds like a nasty experience. It’s tricky when something like this happens and can take different approaches to regain confidence; this will partly depend on your personality and how you deal with everyday life issues.

Some people will take the attitude of “When you fall off a horse, get straight back on it”. This is obviously a confrontational method and almost needs to be done with little thought and a ‘lets just get on with it’ approach. It can work but later it’s possible that hidden feelings that weren’t acknowledged or dealt with at the time will rear their heads and cause longer term issues.

Speaking from experience, having had three major accidents, the first being potentially the worst; I have found the more subtle approach works well.

Without going into too much detail, the first accident was caused by youthful inexperience and some loose rock. The result being that I fell 40-50 ft onto large chunks of rock in a quarry- I was soloing.

I suppose one good thing that came out of this was that I have a healthy distrust of rock, I don’t just assume that the hold that a hundred other people have pulled on is going to hold and that I’m still alive!

I knew I still wanted to climb but didn’t throw myself in at the deep end. I started with seconding and top roping, which felt very nerve racking at first, I just didn’t trust anything that I pulled on- understandably- but I knew I was safe.

And I was just happy doing this until it felt natural to take it to the next stage, which in my case was leading a route. This didn’t happen overnight but because I didn’t push it before I was ready, I don’t have any long term emotional damage, just as I said a healthy distrust of rock.

So I would suggest, just taking small steps with your mountain experiences. Don’t take on anything that will make you feel nervous, initially stay well within your comfort zone- this could be a long walk in the hills with no ridges or crags involved- and only step up the difficulty when you feel good and ready.

It is also helpful to look at why you had your accident. What caused you to fall? You say you were descending; were you going too quickly, was your pack putting you off balance, was the ground wet?

The fall may have been an accident but when you look at it, you might find that there was a small thing you did that contributed to the fall. If you can work out what this is, it can give you great reassurance because you simply have to make sure this doesn’t occur again. Even if it means crawling down on your bottom! This is an option- remember- the better part of valour is discretion.

I hope you manage to get out there and enjoy the mountains again.