In the Spirit of Halloween

In the spirit of Halloween, what scares me the most about climbing?

Most people will tell you: falling is scary, placing gear is scary, and looking down on highballs is scary. Indeed, these things can make anyone as pale as a ghost. To me, leading is the best, but leading is also the most daunting (or haunting). New or experienced, all climbers have faced or will face the spooky aspects of leading. Here’s a few tips on how to face your fears (on lead).

  1. Take the fall. Even if falling doesn’t seem to bother you, skip the take and simply fall. Get into the habit of falling at any clip.
  2. Talk to your belayer. As wimpy as you might sound, just make some contact. “Are you there?”, “do you have me?”, “I’m a little scared,” or “I might fall” are all good ways for you to feel sure that your belayer has got your skeleton. To be more low-key, just talk about the route by saying, “it’s a jug!!”, “this isn’t a 12,” “[insert route setter’s name] is the best/worst!”, “this route is garbage/so fun!”, or any other useless comment. Any contact with your belayer reminds you that they’re there, ready to catch you.
  3. Go for the move! Pumped out of your mind, you might think, “this is silly, why don’t I just fall (not take, of course) and then get back on?” Many of us struggle with commitment, and sometimes getting us to commit on lead would require a witch’s potion. The worst possible outcome is you miss the hold by a pumpkin’s width, and then you fall, but you were going to do that anyway, so it’s no big deal. If you make the move, though, you just committed on lead! Well done, you’re one move closer to sending the project.
  4. Climb outside of your range. If you project 5.11a, get on 5.11d. Even if you think there’s no way you’ll send, try it. You’ll begin to feel comfortable with ghoulish moves. You may not get the route clean, but when you hit your easier project, you’ll be good to go. It never hurts to fall all over routes that are above your grade (your rope may disagree, but you didn’t ask its opinion, did you?).
  5. Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yoga is especially helpful with this; sometimes, you drift into a pose that’s moderately uncomfortable, but since you have to stay in it, you learn to be alright with the discomfort. On the wall, sometimes that sloper is absolute garbage, but try to be okay with that. You can fly off of it later.

As frightening as leading is, everyone can move past it. Follow these steps, and you’ll be happy taking 100 foot whips on a 5.14 like a pro-climber.

Have any other tips that helped you ward off the fears of leading? Comment below!


High-Clip (Contributor)


30 Replies to “In the Spirit of Halloween”

  1. That’s called leaving your comfort zone. Pushing your envelope. Chasing adrenaline. As long as you have made sure that failure is just embarrassing and not catastrophic, go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really needed this today. No, I’m not climbing anything (probably but who knows). So much stuff has happened in the last few years that there are little fear barriers in all kinds of places in my psyche and one of them is the fear of falling, OK not down a pitch, but at all. Maybe in a way all fear is the fear of falling — it seems possible but I don’t know. I just realized as I plowed through the deep snow with my dog this morning that I’m scared of a lot of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that can be true. I also think maybe it’s that fear that pushes people to do great things; I think some can use it to fuel themselves, and maybe anything worthwhile is a little scary.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think so. I go around scared most of the time but I manage to do most of the things that scare me. This physical fear is new and I think it’s the result of months and years of pain and lessening ability to walk. But now I can walk without even thinking about it and sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by the beauty of that, that I want to cry. I believe there are some amazing “nexts!” on my horizon, but I’m going to be afraid. It’s OK. I think fear is NOW telling me “Try!” For a while it was telling me, “Be careful, you’re in a lot of pain. Be gentle with yourself.”

        I want to write about this, but I don’t fully understand it yet. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That sounds very challenging. Good luck! And maybe writing it out would help you understand; sometimes putting thoughts on paper helps you better grasp what’s going on.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Motivating me to head over to some steep overhanging stuff at Rumney and work on my falling comfort level!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not a climber. Heights are something that I fear. Also, putting your trust in 1 nylon rope and hoping that it does not break, is way to much for me. Be Safe, Girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely, I understand. It certainly helps to have someone on the other end of the rope 😉 Thank you, will do!


  5. 1) Take the fall doesn’t appeal to me, but maybe if I want to lead this is a key. 2) Keeping in contact with support does. 3) The witch’s potion here is one small glass of ginger wine. 4) Outside my comfort zone is the growth zone, where my support might argue. 5) Oh now 5) Now this my beloved blogging friend is good very advice. In order to grow into being comfortable with situations that currently make me feel uncomfortable., I need to get into those out~there places (but with a safety line) on order to grow. I don’t physically climb, but the advice seems to ring true with other life mountains. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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