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Getting Over the Fear After a Highball Fall
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By bowshaaa
Jan 17, 2013
great barrington

Midway through 2012 I took a highball fall and was injured. It turned out the injury wasn't the main problem as much as the fear that set in after the fall. Below is the video and blog link to the story.





Blog link to injury story


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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
Jan 18, 2013
CoR

Climbing is half mental, or in my case completely mental.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jan 18, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

Some fear is good. It helps keep you alive. I see a lot of people who I think have a skewwed sense of the risk they are really putting them selves into. Sometimes I think it is your intuition telling you to slow down and take it easy. Listen to it


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Jan 18, 2013

^^^^
I agree. Perhaps you should have had the fear before. Maybe your "fear" might now be better characterized as "experience". Highballs are great but, after having my knee rebuilt twice when I was in my early 20s, I've never seen the benefit outweighing the potential of harm.

Probably not the answer you were looking for...

Glad you're better and didn't get too wracked up.


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By TWK
Jan 18, 2013

Fat Dad wrote:
^^^^ I agree. Perhaps you should have had the fear before. Maybe your "fear" might now be better characterized as "experience". Highballs are great but, after having my knee rebuilt twice when I was in my early 20s, I've never seen the benefit outweighing the potential of harm. Probably not the answer you were looking for... Glad you're better and didn't get too wracked up.


Excellent reply. Me, I'm too fearful/experienced/unskilled to want to get that high off the deck without a rope. I just don't see the point. Dying is the last thing I wanna do.


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By frankstoneline
Jan 18, 2013

There have been some great comments above on the risk awareness end of things, and thats certainly one possibility. However, it seems that if you were wanting to try and ease back into it, you might do so by finding some problems that are tall, and will provide a bit of a challenge to flash/onsight. Ideally these would have good landings. Approach them with a gang of pads and a spotter that has his hands out of his pockets and work at it. if you get spooked, down climb and jump off, but proceed at a pace you are comfortable with. It's like learning to fall on a rope. You need to practice on the real deal, routes that push you some, but you should do so in a setting where you can think completely about the conditions of a fall and with a belayer you know will provide an excellent catch/protection that isnt too hairy.


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By nick manning
From superior,az
Jan 18, 2013

why was the spotter standing there looking at your butt? to give him credit he did try to move the pad but his reaction was too slow. oh well he tried and you got the ankle.

as soon as you started sketching around with your foot he should have been ready to get smashed by you.

not trying to be a jerk and hindsight is always 20/20 but come on...


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By Senior Hernandez
Jan 18, 2013
on the trip

Body language says:

Learn how to climb routes. It's obvious that you are strong as hell but you not are not confident, you lack technique, and it shows in your climbing. I would ask what you hardest red-point is, but it is quite clear that a lack of roped climbing is probably the cause. At least that was the best way for me to deal with the kinds of body shaking your are experiencing in the video. Take your strength and make it fluid, buy a rope.


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By Jared Garfield
Jan 18, 2013
Romancing the Stone

Having a spotter that actually directs you toward your pad may help. If I am worried about a problem I will have one or two people I really trust spot me.


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By RockyMtnTed
Jan 18, 2013

agree with tonto... You are SOOOOO shaky. I wouldnt have been able to watch you if i was there, quite obvious you were probably going to fall.


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By bowshaaa
Jan 18, 2013
great barrington

Tonto wrote:
Body language says: Learn how to climb routes. It's obvious that you are strong as hell but you not are not confident, you lack technique, and it shows in your climbing. I would ask what you hardest red-point is, but it is quite clear that a lack of roped climbing is probably the cause. At least that was the best way for me to deal with the kinds of body shaking your are experiencing in the video. Take your strength and make it fluid, buy a rope.


I do know how to climb routes, but I was on a bouldering spree for about 6 months with no sport climbing in the gym or outside so my endurance was definitely gone. I have since changed that with mixing up my training in the gym with sport and bouldering.


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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Jan 18, 2013
Aiding.

TWK:

Dying is the last thing I wanna do.

Well, by definition, it *is* the last thing you are going to do. ;-) Sorry, couldn't resist.

Glad that the poster got better and got over his fear. Hope it never happens again.


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By TWK
Jan 18, 2013

Call me stupid, or chicken feathers, whatever.

But if you're THAT afraid of getting hurt, use a friggin' rope. It would reduce your chances of getting hurt, and remove most of the doubt you're having angst over.

I'll never do what you're accomplishing. But even the great Bachar fell bouldering high, so you may find yourself in honorable company.

Live long, climb often, don't blow it needlessly.


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By CJC
Jan 19, 2013

good thing you weren't on a real highball

you should get some better spotters dude


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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Jan 19, 2013
Imaginate

Stop filming yourself climbing. You will fall less.


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By Suqui
From asia
Jan 19, 2013

TWK wrote:
Call me stupid, or chicken feathers, whatever. But if you're THAT afraid of getting hurt, use a friggin' rope. It would reduce your chances of getting hurt, and remove most of the doubt you're having angst over. I'll never do what you're accomplishing. But even the great Bachar fell bouldering high, so you may find yourself in honorable company. Live long, climb often, don't blow it needlessly.

stupid!


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By Jon Powell
From LAWRENCEVILLE GEORGIA
Jan 19, 2013
stone depot

Took a nasty lead fall back in the summer. Has taken me a while to get pass the fear and boy did it effect my climbing.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Jan 19, 2013

No less than the Master, John Gill, often used a top rope (with self belay) on some of his projects. No shame there. Some often rehearse on TR before sending. It's all good. You're still out there climbing, right?

Still lots of folks are climbing big stuff and there aren't stacks of bones at the bases of certain problems. Just ease back into it on easier stuff until it feels natural again. Just remember to listen to that little voice when it doesn't feel right


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By Scott M. McNamara
From Tucson, Arizona
Jan 19, 2013
One Way Sunset

warriorsway.com/


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By TWK
Jan 19, 2013

TWK wrote:
Call me stupid


Suqui wrote:
stupid!


I knew somebody wouldn't be able to pass that up!


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By Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Jan 19, 2013

Just watched that video and I have to say, if I was chicken-winging that much that high up I would be doing everything I could to get back down before something bad happened. Highballing is about control, including any possible falls, not about going for it and seeing what happens.

Maybe another good rule is never ever miss the pad. The best spotter in the world is not going to save a fall from that height if the landing is not well prepared. Bring more pads or have a better plan.

Following those two simple steps would have saved you a lot of trouble. The actual send video shows the difference between a solid attempt and a sketchy one.


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By bowshaaa
Jan 20, 2013
great barrington

Fat Dad wrote:
No less than the Master, John Gill, often used a top rope (with self belay) on some of his projects. No shame there. Some often rehearse on TR before sending. It's all good. You're still out there climbing, right? Still lots of folks are climbing big stuff and there aren't stacks of bones at the bases of certain problems. Just ease back into it on easier stuff until it feels natural again. Just remember to listen to that little voice when it doesn't feel right


Yeah still climbing but i don't try to climb on highballs that often anymore. Im back to normal though with bouldering. No fear when I'm climbing although i have more pads and spotters around more often.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Jan 20, 2013
El Chorro

I agree with some of the other posters about the video. It seems that you have a lack of control pretty early on in the problem. Anyone you see doing tall boulder problems has probably prepared for it by some route climbing (remember how Kevin J. prepared for Ambrosia?). That's never a bad idea.

It's not just about "endurance" but also about training your mind to stay with it for more than 60 seconds at a time. If all you do is boulder then you are actually going against the grain when it comes to high balls. Your mind will get used to those "regular height" boulder problems and then all of the sudden, when you take it into "tall" boulder problem territory, it doesn't know what to do.

And get some spotters who know what they are doing. Even in the last video w/ an extra person and pads, you'd would have gotten hurt if you fell. One should be 100% ready to catch you and toss/push you to the pads, while the other one should actually be holding a small pad, ready to put it under you as you fall. There is no way of knowing exactly where you're gonna fall until you come off - so the girl should be ready to put the small pad wherever it needs to go at the last second.


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By bowshaaa
Jan 20, 2013
great barrington

Ryan Williams wrote:
I agree with some of the other posters about the video. It seems that you have a lack of control pretty early on in the problem. Anyone you see doing tall boulder problems has probably prepared for it by some route climbing (remember how Kevin J. prepared for Ambrosia?). That's never a bad idea. It's not just about "endurance" but also about training your mind to stay with it for more than 60 seconds at a time. If all you do is boulder then you are actually going against the grain when it comes to high balls. Your mind will get used to those "regular height" boulder problems and then all of the sudden, when you take it into "tall" boulder problem territory, it doesn't know what to do. And get some spotters who know what they are doing. Even in the last video w/ an extra person and pads, you'd would have gotten hurt if you fell. One should be 100% ready to catch you and toss/push you to the pads, while the other one should actually be holding a small pad, ready to put it under you as you fall. There is no way of knowing exactly where you're gonna fall until you come off - so the girl should be ready to put the small pad wherever it needs to go at the last second.


I didn't really train much for climbing until after that happened. I knew if i wanted to continue to climb hard problems i would have to train myself both physically and mentally which is what I've been doing for the past 4-5 months. Good points that you brought up though.


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