Four weeks has passed scince I decided to start doing something about my fear of leadclimbing and fear of falling. The reason I divide it into two different fears is because I’ve realized that it’s actually two completely different problems. The fear of falling is something that sets in regardless of the route, the difficulty or the situation. It comes upon me like a wild beast and eats me up from the inside. This is also something I’ve noticed gets a lot easier just from practicing falling. First I started by falling beneath the bolt, in essence on toprope, moved forwards to falling with the bolt at hipheight, at the knees, at the feet and finally above the bolt. About a week ago I decided it was time to try falling above the bolt and from an angle that would give me a proper swing to the side, making it all very uncomfortable. This has been one of my greatest obstacles and I have bailed out several times in the past on routes where I can see this sort of fall coming up. All went well and I even impressed my somewhat ”fearless” husband with my ability to push through and take falls that were, no doubt, scary but safe. A week passed and we went back to the crag and I suddenfly found myself on the wall, putting up quickdraws, dogging up on routes above my onsight level, falling and laughing! You have to understand that this was a major, massive breakthrough for me, not having felt safe on lead for years! The last time I actually completed a project or even an easy route was more than two years ago..
The second part of the problem is the fear of leadclimbing at all. And what this comes down to are two things; feeling ok with falling from a place outside of my comfortzone and having enough endurance not to get a wicked pump when climbing. For me it’s paramount to feel relaxed and without pump to be able to clip the bolt, find resting positions, doing hard moves above the bolt. It’s actually more about the physical shape than I’ve thought before. So training for climbing, doing endurance sessions, practicing resting and clipping becomes more important at a certain point than the actual fear of falling, which in itself sort of fades when I’m feeling strong and fresh on the route!
I am sure this is something I will have to fight with all of my life as a climber, but it sure gets easier once I figure out how to fight it. For now I have taken a great leap towards being able to finishing my projects, going onsight or just enjoying some easy leadclimbing after work. What a good feeling.. I will make sure to bring future updates on my progress because I know many of you suffer from the same fears, all without reason.
Picture of Anders falling safely on ”Kosmos Kid” 7c+, a route I left behind two years ago because of my fear of leadclimbing, having made it very close to the top. I feel excited to try it again soon enough!