shipley, originally uploaded by monkey_pushover_tree.

Fear…sometimes for no apparent reason it hits you. There is nothing that you can do to stop it. What makes it worse is that it’s an irrational fear which no real grounding. The part of you that no knows that are safe and under control disappears into the darkness of your mind only to be replaced by this screaming agonizing terror. Your palms are sweaty, your body shakes and your mouth dries. Sweat drips down you forehead and each step feels like it’s your last. Your mind races faster; I’m going to die, I’m going to fall, I’m going to get hurt, I’m not not going to make it. Suddenly all of these negatives seem the most reasonable things you can think of. It doesn’t matter that you’ve done the same thing many times before. I doesn’t matter that you know that the system is safe and you trust the people around you. There is nothing that you can do at this point.

This happened to me on Saturday when we went climbing. It was the first time that I’d been outside in a long time and we ended up in Shipley Upper. It’s not been a place that I’ve ever had success when climbing, but I wasn’t really thinking of this at the time. I was looking forward to it, a chance to be on real rock again. It had been a long time and there is nothing quite like it. The walk in is easy and I was looking forward to starting on the easy climb (13). It would be something that I know I could do without thinking and get back into leading etc. Given that there was 6 of us, I didn’t really get a chance to choose the climb I wanted to do.

I ended up belaying Mel first on a 17, then I had to top rope the same climb. It’s not really the one that wanted to do, but never mind. I started to tie in. This is where the problem started. I couldn’t remember how to tie a figure 8. It took me 4 or 5 attempts to get it right. I don’t know why, it’s a simple knot that I know backwards. That day I just couldn’t get it. Even when I did do it, it didn’t look quite right ( i know it was, my mind just was losing focus at this point). Then started the climb.

Gaby was to belay me. He’s belayed me many a time before and caught me falling. I know I’m safe, but that’s fading from my mind. The start is tough. I can’t quite reach the first hold. This is because I just haven’t got my foot up and stood yet (another indicator that I’m not thinking quite right). It takes me four or five attempts to do this too. At this point, the noise is getting to me. The people around me sound like they are having a rave. Every voice scratches at my brain. Even Gaby trying to help is not helping me.

I step up on the first hold and get up to the ledge. The ledge is massive, not big enough to lie down but still big enough. Then I start going the wrong way. I go left. I don’t know why, the route goes right. I can see it goes right, the chalk the quickdraws, the massive holds. I can see it goes right. But I want to go left and I struggle to find anything to hold. Now the voices in my head, the noise, the screaming gets to much. I look at the massive foothold on the right hand side. I step up on it.

I feel sick. I want to vomit. I hate climbing. Why am I doing this. I’m going to die. I hate climbing. Shut up people. All of this runs through my head. I’m less than 4m off the ground but that makes no difference to me. I’m shaking now. I’m trying to clear my mind but the more I do, the more it gets worse. I make one more step up and the rope goes tight and there I give up and jump off, then lowered to the ground. Once again safe.

Sometimes, it happens like that. Sometimes, things just get the better of you. Saturday, was just not my time to climb and it just wasn’t going to matter what I did I wasn’t going to get up those climbs.

I belayed for the rest of the time. I belayed rob to get his 22 ticked (dam fine work Rob!!), and I jumped on the 22 as well. By this time my head had cleared and I wanted to climb. But it was 30C in the shade and we’d run out of water. Still, as Rob says a bad day at the crag is better than a good day in the office. It’s true. I did a small walk with my pack and jumped on some rock, but that’s better that nothing. I was out in the Sun and the view is always good. Better than a cubicle any day.

Anyway, I’ll climb next time for sure and it will be awesome.


~ by monkeypushovertree on March 9, 2009.

One Response to “fear”

  1. it happens mate. Eric Horst has a trick to bring the focus back that works well for me. Honestly I used that day about half way up my first climb. Think about how the rock feels against your hand. Is it cold or warm? hard or soft? sandy or smooth? Not only does it bring your head back together it gives yous some valuable information about the climb…

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