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Improving head game after ground fall

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I’ve been trad climbing for a number of years now and was slowly building up my confidence level at around HVS/E1. I’ve always been quite cautious when approaching climbing in general, but back in May I decided to push myself a bit and took around a 6m ground fall where I bounced off a boulder and escaped with a broken helmet/concussion in the Roaches. I was going along the crux traverse of a route called Rhodren when I slipped, ripping a crucial wire which I thought was bomber and, in the moment, hadn’t backed up (blind placement behind an under-cling). All of the gear below this (which was crap) also came out, leaving a small cam at the start of the route stopping me going further down a gulley.

This clearly taught me a great deal about trusting blind/single placements before crux moves, but has also had quite a big impact on my climbing for the rest of the year. Almost every trip I’ve had since I’ve made excuses to try and avoid leading anything challenging altogether, felt anxious whilst seconding and even leading on sport routes. I essentially think I’ve sharpened my fear of pushing myself above gear with the inherent potential for taking a lead fall and it’s sucking a lot of the joy out of climbing outside at times. One annoying aspect is that on a couple of trips since I’ve led some fairly adventurous pitches in the Lakes and Avon which I was really happy I did; I just don’t seem to be able to use these positives to push me back to enjoying myself more.

I’d be interested to hear if anybody has shared a similar experience or knows of some good ways of increasing my confidence to get back to enjoying climbing when I’m out. I’ve tried taking lead falls outdoors at Portland which helped to some degree, however the positive effect of this can be short lived in the memory. On a recent trip to the Peaks I took some small falls/rests on gear at Froggatt which seemed to help, but the next day (+ small hangover) I bottled it on a HS at Curbar which was frustrating. I was thinking about trying the technique in Dave MacLeod’s latest vid ( youtube.com/watch?v=KqoZQIbkWYs&) to restore some confidence in the gear itself, which has been lacking of late.

1
In reply to Dutton:

I've had a similar experience, except that my belayer was the one who got hurt. Luckily not too badly though.

It's taken me a few months to get back to being happy falling (sport climbing), but my method was to just start climbing really easy routes that I was very unlikely to fall off and very slowly build it back up. If I tried to force it then it would just set me back a step or two.

Thr other thing I did was to try to constantly tell myself that I enjoy climbing above the gear constantly. And I don't necessarily mean while I'm climbing, but during the day, trying to reinforce the fact that it's normally OK.I

I'm now mostly back to where I was pre-incident, although it'll probably be a work in progress for quite a while, which is no bad thing. 

My experience was sport climbing though, so a slightly different scenario.

 mrjonathanr 14 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

Maybe try doing lots of easy routes where you feel quite in control, even when above gear, to become less anxious when on the rock leading? As you become more confident,  gently up the grade.

 mrphilipoldham 14 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

Start again at Diff. Pick obviously well protected routes and just begin building up that confidence again. Maybe go back and look at the route on abseil when you're feeling better about it, I'm pretty sure there is plenty of bomber gear at the traverse so perhaps you missed something? Might be worthwhile understanding why you ended up decking.

 PaulJepson 14 Nov 2022
In reply to mrjonathanr:

Yep, get used to climbing a grade where you know you're not going to fall off. Gradually ramp it up from there. 

It looks like grit is an unfamiliar rock-type for you as well; don't let this impact you on other rock mediums you are more confident in. It always takes time to get your eye in for gear and moves on different rock. I used to live in Bristol and grit tended to feel quite alien to me and I had to drop my grade. I was climbing HVS on lime regularly but HVS on grit felt pretty wild and a real achievement when I did it. Now I'm the opposite and limestone has a tendency to wig me out. 

Your last unexpected fall was a negative experience, so now you might need to build back up from lower down until your next unexpected fall happens (which will hopefully have a more 'positive' outcome). 

Also treat it as a learning experience. On a route like that, where it looks like there's gear on demand, I'll try to never leave one piece between me and decking - they're not bolts.

 profitofdoom 14 Nov 2022
In reply to mrjonathanr:

> Maybe try doing lots of easy routes where you feel quite in control, even when above gear, to become less anxious when on the rock leading? As you become more confident,  gently up the grade.

That is exactly what I did after a bad abseiling accident many years ago in which I was injured. It worked a treat. It took about a year to get fully back into it. But I did

Edit, took a year not because of injuries, but because of fear and over caution caused by the accident 

Post edited at 18:08
 petegunn 14 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

If you use an indoor wall regularly over the winter you could try never clipping the chain and take a fall, 10 routes, 10 falls a session , once a week until march/april = hundreds of falls.

Might need a new rope afterwards but works very well.

2
 gravy 14 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

Don't worry about it, it just takes time.  Start slowly, have fun, don't beat yourself up. Leisure and pleasure climb.  When you start to think it's time to push things a bit start with working / headpointing on top rope to gain confidence in placing those dodgy pieces.

Physical training also helps - it's nice to have a bit more welly in reserve for placing stressful bits but, again, take it slowly, build it up and climb for pleasure. After all these loads of amazing climbing to be had and it isn't like you're going to lose sponsors for not pushing E1.

 Cake 14 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

On most grit HVS routes and below, you can get in a fair bit of gear in the first 6 metres and therefore eliminate (near enough) the possibility of taking a ground fall. One placement just after you have pulled on, another only about a metre above and so on, so that a ground fall won't happen. If the gear is close together like this, you are also backing up any dodgy placements (although ultimately you will want to trust your own judgement).

Unexpected slips like yours and holds breaking do happen regularly and 6 metres is enough to get badly injured, so even on easy routes at others have suggested, doesn't fix that problem. 

 Mark Haward 14 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

Many years ago I took a ground fall ( gear ripping, inattentive belayer, belayer too far out from the base ) at Symond's Yat. Quite an extensive array of injuries and a lot learned. To help me get back to enjoying leading I found the following strategies helped me:

- Going scrambling gradually building up the exposure / difficulty for self confidence.

- At the climbing wall, after agreement with partner, have some slack in the system at the top of every top rope route ( gradually increasing ) so there were controlled 'falls' almost every route / every time. This led to clip drop. In my opinion doing this only occasionally does not help much but building something into almost every wall visit  does help. This could be applied to sport climbing too - but do make your own judgement about the health of the bolts / anchors.

- Choose your routes carefully - especially the easier ones as some may be more likely to lead to injury in the case of a fall than steeper / harder routes. Look for well protected routes, not just the crux but routes which have the option of regular placements throughout. Also choose routes that you can place protection from non strenuous positions if possible.

- Put protection in at very regular intervals ( perhaps more than you would be used to ) and only have more spaced gear when you feel comfortable to. Remember this is for fun, you don't have to put less gear in because you may be worried about what others think / peer pressure.

- When below a crux section consider putting in two bomber pieces not just one.

- Place lots of gear at ground reach level, score your placement yourself, perhaps have a critical friend score your placement and compare notes. Add a sling and really 'test' the placement. Being confident in your own placements and the accuracy of your judgements really helps.

- Don't be afraid to second a route first before leading it.

- Look for routes you want to lead the next time you visit the same crag.

- I remember not trusting a blindly placed wire before doing the crux of Fool's Gold at Bus Stop Quarry. So I used my 'phone to photograph it and looked at it before committing

Hope there is something here that helps.

 top cat 15 Nov 2022

I took an 8m ground fall in similar circumstances regarding gear ripping.  Resulted in 6 spinal fractures and a lost summer.  When I got out of hospital I was in a body brace for months.

First climbing after that was a winter route. IV/V.  Seconded the first pitch, then led.  You have no options but to get your head sorted on winter mixed

Never looked back.

5
 jkarran 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

First point I'd pick up is to have another really good think about what failed and why. You say it was blind but good gear, also that it wasn't a single placement, the rest ripped too. Why? That's indicative of poor judgement or situational awareness. Not a criticism, we all make mistakes and it's something we can work on.

Had you carefully considered the direction the gear would be loaded? On a traverse it's quite dramatically sideways so nuts in a break can easily slip, cams turn. That goes for the gear both ends of the traverse, every point in between and the situation changes as you progress and place more. The last piece gets loaded upwards once the traverse is completed. The whole thing is a recipe for unzipping seemingly good gear! I might be teaching granny here but it's not entirely intuitive and must be understood.

On the getting back on it front I'd say don't, not if you're not enjoying it. Do stuff you do enjoy, it's a hobby and a risky one at that, there is no point doing it if it's not fun. You'll likely find you just work back up the grades gradually and the fear fades as experience builds or you may get hooked on bouldering or sport or running for a while, doesn't matter so long as it's fun.

jk

 mutt 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

Others have made sensible suggestions above, specifically

1.Get used to putting in more gear than you need.

2. Think about the directionality of the placement. Will it come out or rip if you move onward?

3.Rate each placement in your head on a scale 1 to 5.

It's worth adding that (from what you wrote) your gear placements are aweful.what were you up to when every piece of gear you placed came out! Don't worry though this can be sorted. And once you have confidence in your gear then I think your leading head will return. But this time you'll have confidence based on sound quantified appraisal of the gear rather than having unfounded confidence. 

So I suggest that you spend 1/2 an hour or so placing gear at ground level and practicing placement, appraisal, scoring. Your placements must be of the right gear and be deep. Gear placed at the surface is only usefully if it's rammed down. Deep placements using the right gear will stay in. Practice choosing the right gear first time right, and berate yourself if you choose badly. With cams tug them twice, with wires and you shouldn't need to tug them if they are deep but do so to help quantify. 

Do this at least 10 times. 

Learning to place gear properly should not be attempted on a route until you get it right every time. 

Then you can try an easy route but this time place every piece of gear you are carrying. Test yourself on whether you chose the right bit first time and were all the directionalities right?

Finally then you need to do a route and commit to falling onto one of your placements but whilst you are below the gear. (Make sure you have built up a chain of solid placements). But until you are willing to commit to your gear you will not be able to lead with confidence. 

That will hopefully get you back in the saddle. But as you go forward it really helps to regularly fall. You will learn to trust the gear and trust your ability to correctly appraise the quality of the gear.

 Brass Nipples 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

I would revisit your gear placement as no way it should have all come out on that route.  You likely have a lack of trust in your gear at the moment, and to have a good head you need to know when the gear is solid and when it is more psychological. If you can trust the gear, you can make the move knowing a fall isn’t going to see you hit the ground or that ledge below etc.

2
 PaulJepson 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

Also - build your pyramid! If your logbook is up to date then you haven't climbed all that much outside. Less than a hundred trad climbs doesn't usually make for a solid leader at their limit. Focus on mileage days. Do a load of climbs at HS, if that's the grade you feel like you're definitely not going to fall off, and soon enough VS will be the grade that feels like you're not going to fall off, and so on. 

1
 mark s 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

I took a ground fall also at the roaches in the peak (no s) I was on Laguna sunrise and ripped the one small nut. I fractured my spine. Only thing I wanted to do was go back and finish the route which I did. Apart from that I don't think there is any magic cure apart from just going out and climbing and learning to rust you gear. 

 Hardonicus 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

How can blind gear ever be considered bomber? I would suggest you work on your risk assessment capability before you worry about confidence!

1
 Mick Ward 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Hardonicus:

> How can blind gear ever be considered bomber?

Agree.

[To the OP] Never trust blind placements. Back 'em up, asap. And back stuff up anyway. Redundancy's your best mate. 

Don't give yourself a hard time. Bottling it on a Hard Severe on Curbar? I'm sure most of us have backed off [insert the grade] at Curbar. No better place for backing off stuff! Would leave it alone for the time being. Same with Stoney. 

Lots of great advice given above. What I'm going to suggest is complementary, not competing. 

When people have bad falls/accidents, they feel traumatised. In my experience you need to overlay the bad experience with good experiences. This means 'days in the sun' fun climbing with supportive people, not pushing yourself, just enjoying climbing (I mean, how hard is that?) In time, you'll probably get over it. Then and only then would I go back to pushing yourself (if that's what you really want to do). 

Don't beat yourself up. Don't give yourself a hard time. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself in life anyway. 

Good luck!

Mick 

In reply to Dutton:

Two years ago I had a really bad accident at Wild Cat in the Peak District, caused by my own complacency and stupidity. The result was a broken talus, dislocated foot, and tibia sticking out of my skin. 3 months in a cast and many months more of physio. I'm physically 98% recovered in the leg department, and fitter (climbing harder boulder and sport grades) than before the accident.

Mentally? Well, that was a lot harder to get back to, and took a lot longer, most especially with trad. I think I am pretty much there now, but I do occasionally have meltdowns - weirdly, these seem to be on well protected VS crack routes. I've led E3 since the accident in a far calmer state of mind. What's going on here? Well, the brain is complex, and after you suffer a traumatic physical injury there are major mental ramifications. It is completely normal for it to take a long, long time for your brain to once again accept that what you are doing is a risk it is prepared to accept, and it doesn't always do that consistently or in an apparently rational way relative to the facts of a given situation.

So the first thing I'd say is: don't fight this, just accept it as an inevitable part of being human. This takes times.

Second, as a consequence, be kind to yourself and go gentle. No point in self-deprecating negative talk about how you 'should' be climbing harder again by now. If you feel 'frustrated' (as you say) about not doing a given grade, try to be kind to yourself. It's normal and rational for your brain to be struggling in these scenarios given what happened - how could you not have days where you don't feel up to it?

Third, remember there are good and bad days, and it can feel pretty much random when they come. About a year after my accident, even climbing sport, I'd have one day where I felt 'back', trying hard above the bolt, being ok with falling. Then the very next day I'd be shitting myself again. In time I just learned to accept those days for what they were...and over time, they became fewer and fewer.

So fourth: time will help, and if you gently expose your brain to mild doses of climbing stimulus over time your comfort zone will expand, and eventually your confidence will return. But it won't be overnight, and the path to mental recovery is a zig-zag not a straight line - but the evidence from all the thousands of climbers who have had bad accidents and come back from them indicates that if you go gentle on yourself and take your time, you'll come back from it too.

Fifth and finally, remember (and this is quite something coming from me, who struggles to remember it all the time) climbing is supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, why are you doing it? Drop the grade so that it's fun again, and then let the grades sort themselves out over time (they will - trust me).

Post edited at 14:21
In reply to Dutton:

Thanks for all of the different perspectives and feedback, it's reassuring to hear other people's experiences. I guess maybe I’ve been trying to rush myself back into it somewhat and it’s not really helped the situation. It can feel like there’s a bit of personal pressure to get on things sometimes and it knocks you back when you either a) decide not to get on at all or b) get on and fail, which has happened so often this year. Need to release that pressure and focus on the positives more from this year for sure.

I’ve definitely had a renewed focus on placements and awareness as some have suggested, for whatever reason on that route I just didn’t factor in the potential result of that piece ripping. I’d read the feedback on UKC about the placement being bomber before setting off and maybe that factored into my thinking at the time. The piece I put in was either was slightly too small (nut) and/or got pulled sideways during the traverse. When I fell the nut got chewed up and pulled out from behind the massive under-cling flake which I didn’t expect. The pieces below that ripped were more psychological in quality, as such I was fortunate for the first cam I placed to catch.

The plan on the trad front for me is going to be three-fold:

1/ Learn to trust the gear again – probably going to rope solo some stuff in Wintours and bounce around on gear ala MacLeod’s technique.

2/ Do more comfort zone climbing – unfortunately most of the crags I’ve been to since for trad haven’t enabled this so much!

3/ Get immense finger strength – spend the winter hanging off my fingers to make myself immune to pump

 Mark Bannan 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> ...Then the very next day I'd be shitting myself again. In time I just learned to accept those days for what they were...and over time, they became fewer and fewer.

Very well said! That happened me after a 5m ground fall in 2016, when I broke my pelvis in 2 places and got a hairline spinal fracture. I actually was very lucky - full recovery in 11 weeks. I then was very lucky again! I should have started off on a Diff, like one of the other posters helpfully pointed out, but I tried an undergraded and badly protected Severe. I completely filled my trousers, but just about managed to hold it together (I'm sure if I had lobbed again, I would not be here today - I was looking at a possible 8m ground fall!). I must have got all the fear and lack of composure out of the way at that point - I have cocked up a few times since then, but thankfully less and less frequently. In my old age, I am really starting to enjoy clipping nice shiny bomber bolts!

In reply to Dutton:

3/ won't make you immune to pump, it will just give you really strong fingers for boulder Cruxes. If you want to become pump immune (hugely beneficial for trad) you need to work your aerobic capacity and aerobic power systems. This means doing vast volumes of laps, either at very easy level (1-2 pump on a scale to 5, e.g. doing 3 sets of 8 minutes on easy terrain) or at intermediate level (able to go 2-3 minutes and getting level 4-5 pump by the end, doing 4 or 5 total sets). Auto-belays or circuit boards are your friend here. I've spent much of the last year doing exactly this. It's boring AF, but when you're run out above your gear, you're grateful for having done it. 

 mutt 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

> 1/ Learn to trust the gear again – probably going to rope solo some stuff in Wintours and bounce around on gear ala MacLeod’s technique.

> 2/ Do more comfort zone climbing – unfortunately most of the crags I’ve been to since for trad haven’t enabled this so much!

> 3/ Get immense finger strength – spend the winter hanging off my fingers to make myself immune to pump

4/ practice practice practice placing perfect gear in a situation that won't hurt you if you get it wrong. 

In reply to Dutton:

You might also benefit from reading The Rock Warrior's Way (I did). there's some daft hippy dippy stuff in there, but if you filter that out, the underlying advice about how to think about climbing and being a climber is very sound.

 FreeloaderJoe 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

I did something similar and fell 3 meters or so a couple of years ago in the Peaks and totally destroyed my ankle. Tbh i've never been able to walk normally again, never mind lead at the same level. I suppose it's just one of those things - go easy on yourself and count your lucky stars you didn't break your back or suffer a life changing injury.

 Mick Ward 15 Nov 2022
In reply to mutt:

> 4/ practice practice practice placing perfect gear in a situation that won't hurt you if you get it wrong. 

Yes!!!

[To the OP]  Please do this. How do you know it's perfectly placed? Find a second who will tell you. 

Re the rest:

I feel queasy about you rope soloing at Wintours; there's a lot that could go wrong there. 

Bouncing around on gear won't do the placements any good. 

Re finger strength, you don't need it. As said, it won't make you immune to pump. (Won't do any harm though.) But if you're shitting yourself, you'll get pumped really quickly anyway due to overgripping, shallow breathing, all our old friends, never mind how strong your fingers are. 

I think you're massively overthinking things. To put this behind you, would do loads and loads of easy stuff with supportive partners. And be kind with yourself. 

Mick 

 J Whittaker 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

I had a similar do this year in early June on Fat Freddie's Cat (E2 5c)

Climbed the initial easy slab, to a good wire, then off up a bolder section to a rest ledge which was a lot less positive than i was hoping for the move on to it which stressed me out a fair bit with my last gear a good few meters below.

I then rested as best i could and placed two cams semi blind and set off up the crux headwall. Ran out of hand holds and off i came. 

The two cams i placed pinged out one after another and i fell straight on to the slab then tumbled down it, 10m in total by reckoning of my belayer.

Somehow i managed not to break a single thing and walk down, then drive 1:45 to Kendal hospital with my mate doing the gears as my hand was fairly battered up.

I felt like id been hit by a bus the day after, its taken a good few months to get over the soft tissue injuries and my wrist is still a little stiff.

Head game wise i honestly thought i'd be able to just jump straight back on the rock as running up to the fall i had the best head game ive ever had - how wrong i was.

First time back on the rock was in Pembroke and i was absolutely pissing my pants even on second and it was quite a while before i wanted to lead something and i was pretty nervy when i did even though it was a number of grades below where i had been operating.

I ended up having an honest conversation with one of my climbing partners who i was supposed to go to the Dolomites with in August and calling the trip off - i was in no frame of mind for the routes we had planned.

I think the same as physical injuries the mental scars may need a bit of time to heal and it will take different times for different people.

My biggest learning point from the whole debarcle has been to place all the gear i can. The route i fell off is described as well protected. I had fallen into a trap of getting tunnel visioned on the moves themselves at crux sections. My only goal was to climb the crux to the next rest then place gear. I had on previous routes missed glaringly obvious and easy to place gear at the start of a crux and fell off taking a big fall but got away with it, this time i didn't. I most likely could have placed a really good wire before i set off on the crux and i would have been completely safe.

Im now really looking forward to a sport trip in January without the stress of trad gear to think about.

Post edited at 17:18
 Mick Ward 15 Nov 2022

> Head game wise i honestly thought i'd be able to just jump straight back on the rock as running up to the fall i had the best head game ive ever had - how wrong i was.

Completely normal. But when it happens for the first (and hopefully only) time, the power of it can be shocking. 

> First time back on the rock was in Pembroke and i was absolutely pissing my pants even on second and it was quite a while before i wanted to lead something and i was pretty nervy when i did even though it was a number of grades below where i had been operating.

Again completely normal. But you did the right thing and dropped grades. 

> I ended up having an honest conversation with one of my climbing partners who i was supposed to go to the Dolomites with in August and calling the trip off - i was in no frame of mind for the routes we had planned.

Totally the right decision. Like Croft saying to Honnold after bailing, "You made the right decision." And making the right decision is ultimately what climbing is all about. 

> I think the same as physical injuries the mental scars may need a bit of time to heal and it will take different times for different people.

In my experience the 'bit of time' can be three - or (much?) more - times as long as most people anticipate. That's if they anticipate it at all. 

One way of looking at it is like this. Imagine your subconscious is a bodyguard that granny got for you. This bodyguard is big and mean. He's doesn't do fancy arguments. But he does follow orders unquestioningly. Your granny told him to keep you safe. That's exactly what he's gonna do. 

Now (you probably don't remember this) but when you first started climbing and having butterflies, that ole bodyguard wasn't too happy. But, as time went on and all seemed OK, slowly he got won over. 

But after an accident? "No way, kid! You're grounded." ("Granny told me to keep you safe and that's exactly what I'm doing.")

Now you can fight that psychic bodyguard. (I know! I have!!) Knock yourself out. But guess what? It won't end well. He's a big strong, mean critter - and, after all, he's doing it for your good.

So 'getting back on the horse'? An obvious idea which we all have. But not a great one. 

You've got to win that guy's confidence back again. As simple as that. What's going to impress him? You having day after day after day climbing and coming back safe. 

A waste of time fighting him. What you really want is him on your side. When your head's in great shape, you're doing hard moves way out from the gear but it's OK, you feel good. And he's giving it, "Yeah, kid, you can do this. Go for it!"

In climbing, that big, mean guy is your worst enemy - or your best friend. 

Thus endeth the sermon. Somebody took a lot of time and went through a lot of pain learning it. But I won't say who. 

Mick 

1
In reply to J Whittaker:

Similarly, I now place a lot more gear. It seems obvious now, but in the past I used to just want to get up the route and claim the tick. I had a bit of a reputation. This year one of my partners said how much nicer it was climbing with me than it used to be, because I place good gear as often as it is available, and that is frankly far less stressful for him as a second. It's also far less stressful for me, because I really, really, don't want to repeat the summer of 2020 ever again.

In reply to Mick Ward:

That's a brilliant analogy, and spot on in my experience.

You're also I think in about the right ball park on the x3 what you expect scale. After my accident I declared to myself that the goal was to lead Resurrection (E4 6a) by the end of the next year. This was kind of motivating at the time, but it was loopy as an actual real possibility. The year after? Nope, but I did get back to solid E2 onsight. Next year? Maybe...

 Mick Ward 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Paul Sagar:

At the time of your Resurrection thread, I did wonder whether you were setting yourself up for a load of pain. But I might have been wrong and I didn't want to put you off or be a spoilsport. So said nowt. 

You could probably toprope Resurrection clean right now. But is it worth risking shaking your way up it on lead? Surely not. (Exactly the same argument applies to me.) You want it to be a rich, fulfilling experience. 

Obviously you can leave stuff too long. And I have. But hey, I'm still alive. Must be worth something?

I think the trick is that when you're on a roll, capitalise on it. Never mind the odd bad day. Just keep getting on with it. 

Last summer a friend of mine had an amazing trad week in Wales. One day she went up to the Cromlech and did every route you'd ever want to do. She's talented, strong and bold. But, above all else, she's safe. 

She has other priorities in her life than climbing so that week may (or may not) have been a high point. But she knows she climbed safely and well. Those routes, those experiences are with her forever. And surely that's what matters most?

Mick 

1
In reply to Dutton:

If you're still explicitly re-imagining your fall I would suggest going back, abbing down the route with a rack and placing the gear again - do some "perfect" placements but also do some that as far as you can tell are like the ones that ripped - spot the difference.

Also consider the direction of pull on each runner if the one above is still in place, and if the one above pings.

You'll either realise that your gear was sub-optimal and see how it could have been better (sounds likely from your OP) or realise that your gear was the best it could have been, and you were just unlucky when you fell (unlikely from what I remember of the route although placements could have changed from so many years ago).

In reply to Mick Ward:

Yep, that’s the conclusion I’ve also arrived at this year. That, and moving out of London as soon as I can!

 Michael Gordon 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Michael Hood:

> If you're still explicitly re-imagining your fall I would suggest going back, abbing down the route with a rack and placing the gear again >

That sounds like not a bad idea. I would get a pitchful of bomber (or near as) placements on the ab rope. Next, if unsure, get someone experienced to check them. Then there's the option of leading it with the placements just the same as done on the ab rope, much like what folk do when headpointing. (Or pick another route)    

 pencilled in 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

for what it’s worth Dutton, the only thing that works for me is to execute absolute focus on the moves. 
I imagine screwing up a piece of paper with the word fear written on it and throwing it away. Next I visualise the moves required over and over and over again until all I can do is execute. It feels quiet, silent, the only possible thing to do is to execute the moves. My fingers and feet are tools to place with  pinpoint accuracy in the order I imagine and visualise, as strongly and as real as the way I screw up and discard fear first. It sounds like a self hypnosis mind job and I’m not proud of my reliance on it. I can’t use it on sport or indoors and I haven’t tried using it when bouldering. It works for me because it keeps me focused. I’m a bit deranged maybe. Good luck, dude.

1
 Fellover 15 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

FWIW when I did Rhodren earlier this year I thought the gear was pretty crap or at least not obvious, I more or less just decided I was soloing and should make sure I didn't fall off. So I wouldn't say that it means you're bad at placing/assessing the quality of gear (you might be idk, but I don't think this one incident mean that you definitely are).

R.e. the mental aspect of things, everyone's different. Some people will benefit from getting straight back on the horse as it were, sounds like you won't/haven't, that's fine. If you still enjoy seconding, then just do that for a while. The point is to have fun, so if leading isn't fun, then don't do it for a while!

It's a long while until next spring/summer and time can be a great help with things like this. With any luck by the start of the good conditions you'll be feeling the same as everyone else - just a bit rusty! If you're still feeling bad when leading that's fine, just build it up slowly from grades/routes where you feel safe. If you still feel bad when leading mods/diffs then you might want to consider doing something a bit different that's actually fun, maybe some hillwalking or swimming and just accept that leading isn't for you, at least for a while.

The only actually useful thing I can say is try and make sure that your first lead next year is in good conditions and that you're feeling ok! Not after shivering in the cold having belayed your mate for two hours, as it starts to drizzle and coughing from the flu you picked up last weekend.

 George_Surf 16 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

In reply to Dutton:

If you want to learn to trust gear find a really safe route and aid it eg sit on gear, pull on gear, jump on to gear etc. obviously make sure you’ve got unquestionable kit below incase anything fails. I find grit is potentially more dangerous than what we’ve got here in north wales. Whenever you’re below 10m you’re close to the floor but not so close it’s not going to hurt. My personal rule is I always want 2 unquestionable bits between me and an accident. People also continually underestimate the direction that a weighted rope pulls the gear. Gear on the floor pulls up, stuff you thought was 100% flies out. It probably was good for a fall on to it, but now it’s getting pulled differently. Having you’re belayer stand close in  and putting in low cams or cams when there’s a change in direction helps, as does extending stuff but that’s not ideal on the peak… 

 Offwidth 16 Nov 2022
In reply to George_Surf:

Please do not advise jumping on grit placements: it will encourage trashing the rock.

For the OP I'd get someone experienced to assess your gear placement;  pay for instruction if you can't find a pal to help, as it will easily be worth the cost in the long run. Rhodren is not poorly protected but ensuring good placements will be easier with good tactics: it's clear the sideways crux is on powerful undercuts (where it will be hard to stop and place protection) so ensure good extended gear before you commit. Where gear will be loaded sideways (or the route changes direction) always extend it.

Post edited at 14:13
 mutt 16 Nov 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

> For the OP . Where gear will be loaded sideways (or the route changes direction) always extend it.

Yep. Forgot that. Two more ways to avoid hitting the floor or anything else 

1/ always extend your gear with 60cm extenders unless there is a reason not to. This cuts down on the directionality risks at the cost of only an additional 60cm of fall. Once you've taken a few falls you'll see that slack in the system means that extra 60cm of fall is meaningless.

2/ don't climb short routes. I very much favour multipitch simply because I only leave the floor once in a day. When you can, only climb on overhangs as you'll just fall into space. It's the ground that hurts. Stay away from it.

1
 Fellover 16 Nov 2022
In reply to mutt:

> 1/ always extend your gear with 60cm extenders unless there is a reason not to. This cuts down on the directionality risks at the cost of only an additional 60cm of fall. Once you've taken a few falls you'll see that slack in the system means that extra 60cm of fall is meaningless.

Seriously!? Surely there is an obvious reason not to do this (which applies all the time, to everyone) which is that carrying a rack full of extenders is more annoying than a rack of a few extenders to use when appropriate and the rest 'normal' quickdraws. I think I can count on one hand the times I've seen anyone in the UK setting off on a route with no normal draws on their harness, only extenders.

E2A. I'm sure there are a few routes out there where it's desirable to use an extender draw on every piece and no normal draws, but these are surely few and far between.

Post edited at 16:00
In reply to mutt:

Not a grit fan then....

 Jim blackford 16 Nov 2022
In reply to mutt:

extending your gear by 60cm increases the fall by 120cm. I have a friend who carries 10+ extenders and always does this: i think its a great practice on long routes, i think its awful for shorter routes like most of gritstone

id agree that shorter routes are more dangerous than people think, but placing good gear and having the belayer stand close to the wall is the solution 

 mutt 16 Nov 2022
In reply to Fellover:

> Seriously!? Surely there is an obvious reason not to do this (which applies all the time, to everyone) which is that carrying a rack full of extenders is more annoying than a rack of a few extenders to use when appropriate and the rest 'normal' quickdraws. I think I can count on one hand the times I've seen anyone in the UK setting off on a route with no normal draws on their harness, only extenders.

> E2A. I'm sure there are a few routes out there where it's desirable to use an extender draw on every piece and no normal draws, but these are surely few and far between.

Do you just climb on short cliffs? Anyway 60cm can be deployed as 20cm extenders. It's not annoying at all. I carry 14 such on every route I do (but they are all on overhanging sea cliffs of over 50m).  

 mutt 16 Nov 2022
In reply to ebdon:

> Not a grit fan then....

I like it but we are discussing the ways to get over a fear of falling and I'm suggesting that being close to the ground is dangerous. There are no peak district grit routes that fit the bill afaik.

 mutt 16 Nov 2022
In reply to Jim blackford:

> extending your gear by 60cm increases the fall by 120cm. I have a friend who carries 10+ extenders and always does this: i think its a great practice on long routes, i think its awful for shorter routes like most of gritstone

> id agree that shorter routes are more dangerous than people think, but placing good gear and having the belayer stand close to the wall is the solution 

No it doesn't unless of course you are in the habit of not using any extenders and just tying into the gear directly. 30cm extender makes fall of 60cm and 60cm extender makes fall of 120cm. 120-60 is 60.

 Jim blackford 16 Nov 2022
In reply to mutt:

Thats right, but on short outcrop routes, most people arnt using 30cm draws, 18cm is the most common and cams are often clipped direct. 

I always prefer extending gear to ensure it holds at the cost of a larger but still safe fall. But on the grit, i can think of many routes where extening with 60cm would make a safe fall into a dangerous one

Post edited at 17:27
 Michael Gordon 16 Nov 2022
In reply to Jim blackford:

Yes, on short routes I like to have some short quickdraws. Also, plenty of multi-pitch routes have tricky moves above belay ledges.

A rackful of extenders could be a good idea in winter, on really chossy stuff, easy mountaineering, routes with a lot of traversing, big breaks etc, but I certainly wouldn't do so as standard.

 mutt 16 Nov 2022
In reply to Jim blackford:

> I always prefer extending gear to ensure it holds at the cost of a larger but still safe fall. But on the grit, i can think of many routes where extening with 60cm would make a safe fall into a dangerous one

i did say 'unless there is a reason not to (extend to 60cm)' 

In reply to mutt:

I was being a bit flippant but I would suggest the best way to get your head back after a fall is loads of mileage on friendly well protected routes (whitch grit has in abundance) rather than overhanging multipitch routes which, although maybe safe,  perhaps not the best advice for someone looking for a gentle return.

 George_Surf 16 Nov 2022
In reply to Offwidth:

Yeah fair enough. I would have thought sinker wires wouldn’t do much damage but I know what you’re saying. I don’t climb on the grit so my advice may not be the best. I would say though that one of the best ways to learn to trust gear is to actually test it eg sit on it. With regards to the 60cm draws being mentioned I would be very weary using these to protect falls where you’re less than 10m from the floor! I always see people underestimating fall distance even sport climbing. I know you’ve not got much rope out but even if you fall off on a top rope eg the gear is above you you’ll still drop 1m maybe even 2? Combine this with being above the runner, then the runner extended 50cm and you’re looking at 3-4m+ all of a sudden. More maybe if you’re climber is heavier and gets up some momentum

edit: if extending gear stops it pulling out then this is obviously the preferred / necessary option!  Sometimes no matter how much you extend it it doesn’t do it, instead you need a directional runner below it like a thread or a cam

Post edited at 19:53
 Fellover 17 Nov 2022
In reply to mutt:

> Do you just climb on short cliffs?

Not really, normally a range of crag sizes throughout the year. Though admittedly my last three routes were at Denham... I promise the one before that was bigger.

> Anyway 60cm can be deployed as 20cm extenders. It's not annoying at all.

I find extender draws considerably more annoying than regular draws in terms of carrying them around in a bag or on the harness and a bit more annoying in terms of actually clipping them. I find that they're much more likely to get tangled up in other stuff, get pulled out of shape, take up more space on the harness, snag on my shoe velcro in the bag etc. So I try not to carry more than I think I'll need.

I recently did a route where all I used was krabs not draws (it was lrs so no rope drag) and that was great - even less tangly stuff flapping around on my harness!

> I carry 14 such on every route I do (but they are all on overhanging sea cliffs of over 50m). 

Whatever works for you I don't think I'll be taking it up as a habit though, my 4 (sometimes 6 for longer pitches) seem to be enough for me on almost all the routes I do.

 RuthW 17 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

I took a big fall trying to lead a scramble in January. I was a bout 20m up on the first tricky bit (did not put any gear in the easy bit!)  and fell whilst trying to clip a nut. I hit quite a lot of bits of me in the way down (all the way to the bottom) so had a fair few injuries although nothing massively dramatic (like you, my helmet saved me cracking my skull in two).

I don't have a huge amount of experience leading so did shake my confidence significantly. 

I took probably 2-3 months off climbing for reasons of recovering from the injuries.

I then went back, first indoors and then outdoors but refused to lead for quite some time. I just got my climbing confidence back by seconding lots with nice tight rope. I did not want to stress myself, so my plan was to not go back to leading till I felt good.

After probably 3 months of that I started leading super easy things (mods and diffs) just putting loads of gear and taking lots of time. 

Things that have since built my confidence up a bit were climbing with a guide in the Alps for a week, seconding harder (for me climbs) (I reckoned that if I was less rubbish at climbing I would feel better about leading), and leading sport climbs (if you don't have to stop to place gear the world feels better, but you get used to being on the sharp end). The other thing was leading routes that I had just seconded, so I knew I could do them.

I am probably back to about where I was previously (which isn't to say much) although I faff a fair bit more now due to getting a bit anxious before making a move. I have not gone back to leading sketchy scrambles yet!

Good luck. I think, just enjoy climbing and don't pressurise yourself to get ahead of your head.

In reply to RuthW:

Glad you are recovered - sounds really horrible! Do you mind explaining how you fell? I would imagine on a scramble, a hold pulling, or big boots slipping on a polished bit are probable rather than just the difficulty of the climbing?

 RuthW 17 Nov 2022
In reply to TobyA:

I think a lot of it was because the conditions were a bit marginal. It was damp and cold and I could not feel my hands and I was shivering. I got a bit stuck as I couldn't tell if I had good handholds or not and eventually, as I was trying to shift my position to clip the rope, my foot slipped on the slightly damp rock.

Post edited at 13:00
 Max factor 17 Nov 2022
In reply to Jim blackford:

> extending your gear by 60cm increases the fall by 120cm.

or 80cm relative to a a typical trad draw of 20cm, but thought provoking to think what differnce that could make close the ground. 

 mutt 17 Nov 2022
In reply to Max factor:

Being close to the ground is the only time I wouldn't use a 60cm extender. I carry one 20cm QuickDraw for that. 

When I'm climbing badly I do find myself getting anxious about the additional fall (60-80cm) and I leave the extender folded but that is definitely worse on the routes I climb. They are rarely straight up and down though. 

 brianjcooper 18 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

Some useful advice in this thread. I've taken lead falls a number of times over the years, but usually well placed protection has allowed me to be writing this narrative. 

Just over a year ago I had my first serious ground fall in over 40 years. Thought I'd broken my Femur at first, as did everyone else. A good innings said the nurse in A&E. No worthwhile protection on the route, so crashed into boulders from just under 3 metres high.  

What saved me was my partner who spotted me and broke most of the fall's velocity. You know who you are, and again, many thanks. Protection on its own counts for naught without an attentive  belayer.

In reply to brianjcooper:

Glad you were ok, I think you can always tell a good belayer if they spot you through low down unprotected sections, it can feel a bit weird when you've got a rack on and in a trad mindset but is very good practice!

Post edited at 16:56
 brianjcooper 18 Nov 2022
In reply to ebdon:

As an after thought. I've got a lovely embedded tattoo in my right thigh from one of the cams that punctured my leg..  

It says 'WILD COUNTRY' 

 Nick1812P 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Dutton:

If you don't know why your gear failed in the first place how can you trust yourself to place gear in the future?

If I was you I'd be going back to the route and looking at the gear placements to work out what went wrong and what you'd do differently if you got there again, ideally with someone more experienced who can offer their insight, "bomber" placements don't fall out...

>I’ve definitely had a renewed focus on placements and awareness as some have suggested, for whatever reason on that route I just didn’t factor in the potential result of that piece ripping. I’d read the feedback on UKC about the placement being bomber before setting off and maybe that factored into my thinking at the time.

This is quite worrying, there is no such thing as a bomber placement it's always going to be a combination of available placements and available gear, you could have 10 perfect wire slots but if the only wires you have are too big/small they'll never be "bomber" don't base the quality of your runners on strangers on the internet!

Also there are very few routes that actually require blind placements and even fewer that then can't be checked or reevaluated once placed. It might require a lot of effort to do so, but I'd always rather be tired with good gear than gambling on gear placements.

As long as you've learnt some useful lessons and feel you wouldn't easily make the same mistakes again then don't beat yourself up and just take it steady to ease back into it. Remember backing off isn't a bad thing if you've weighed up the risk, push yourself when you feel good and run away when you don't.


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