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What goes on in your head while leading?
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trenchdigger


Oct 3, 2005, 12:09 PM
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What goes on in your head while leading?
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Just curious to hear how other people approach the mental game of leading trad. I'll post my thoughts once I get a few responses.

What do you think about?

Do you think about falling or do you try to push it out of your mind?

Do you look for placements as you climb or is there some planning involved?

Are always focused on making forward progress or do you keep the possibility of retreating back to a rest in mind.

Do you think about the piece you just clipped? Do you think about the piece(s) below that?

I think there is a lot that goes into having a strong lead head, and I think a lot of that relates to the questions above. In hopes of providing ideas to develop safer, stronger leaders, let's hear some input and ideas on the questions posed above.


Partner euroford


Oct 3, 2005, 12:34 PM
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i'm usually just focused on the task at hand; routfinding, pro, depumping, getting the best jamb. thats one of the great things about trad, i'm forced to only think about that exact task that the route puts in front of me at that exact moment.

on easier terrain my mind might wander a little bit. a song running through my head, what i'm going to eat later, boobies... ya know, normal stuff.

oh yeah, and sometimes, especially while aiding when i'm scared shitless i'll be thinking "why the f do i spend my weekends doing this?".


silkyerm


Oct 3, 2005, 12:56 PM
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When I am leading, I generally think about many more things than when on TR. Instead of just thinking about my technique, I think about my tools, the runout, my second. I am always considering my runout: "I am 20 feet out, but there is a ledge 15 feet below, better go ahead a put in some pro now even though I'm on pretty easy terrain." Stuff like that.

And judging from how much I think about boobies in a given day, my mind probably goes there while I'm leading from time to time, too.


stuckinmidwest


Oct 3, 2005, 1:17 PM
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The thing I am always thinking is where is my rest point? If you get to high up above your last piece and you look down and freak out, that's not the best time to look for pro. At every rest or moderatly comfortable position, I like to place a piece because even looking ahead, it can be hard to tell exactly where youre next piece is. I also agree with everyone else on the focusing on the task at hand. Nothing else crosses my mind, only the rock in front of me.


keinangst


Oct 3, 2005, 1:27 PM
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oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap
ok, that's bomber

next sequence...what's the plan?...hmmm...and....go

ok ok ok
oh crap oh crap oh crap
ok, that's bomber


-rinse and repeat-


grk10vq


Oct 3, 2005, 1:33 PM
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I'm always thinking:

"why do we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway....."


stryker


Oct 3, 2005, 1:50 PM
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"Did I turn off the stove?"


grk10vq


Oct 3, 2005, 2:02 PM
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In reply to:
"Did I turn off the stove?"

that was original.


grk10vq


Oct 3, 2005, 2:04 PM
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In reply to:
"Did I turn off the stove?"

following my post that was original.


veganboyjosh


Oct 3, 2005, 2:27 PM
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In reply to:
What do you think about?

where my hand goes.
where my foot goes.
where my other hand goes.
where my other foot goes.

sometimes in different order...
keinangst also hit the nail on the head.


In reply to:
you think about falling or do you try to push it out of your mind?

i don't think about it, but i don't push it out either. i'm aware it's a possibility, and to worry about it and fret about it and focus on falling at a time when i'm better off focusing on good footwork and gear placement would be kinda silly and self fulfilling.

In reply to:
Do you look for placements as you climb or is there some planning involved?

a little of both. be aware of where placements are, so that when you get to them, you'll have (hopefully) rationed your energy/pumpiness so that you can place a piece solidly with confidence.

[quote[Are always focused on making forward progress or do you keep the possibility of retreating back to a rest in mind.
forward progress, man. i'd say half the game is knowing what you're able to get thru, and sticking to that. if i'mma be climbing something above my ability, i'll stick to top roping it, so that a retreat doesn't necessarily mean a defeat.

In reply to:
Do you think about the piece you just clipped? Do you think about the piece(s) below that?

hopefully i've been focusing on placing the gear properly and solidly, and once it's placed and i climb past it, i don't have to think about it. when it walks out and slides down to the previous piece, then i start thinking about it and falling and all that other stuff.

i hope that helps.

josh.


trenchdigger


Oct 3, 2005, 2:39 PM
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Do you think about falling or do you try to push it out of your mind?
I always think about a fall and what the consequences would be. Ignoring this may help you climb harder by eliminating a possible fear, but puts you in a position where you're not paying attention to the consequences of a fall at every moment. I much prefer to know when I can and cannot fall safely and climb accordingly. I guess the associated question is: Can you relax and focus with the knowledge of the consequences of a fall in your mind? I find that I can.

Do you look for placements as you climb or is there some planning involved?
Whenever possible, I try to find my next stance/placement before I move from a stance at a piece I have just placed. In doing that, I think about how far the next stance/placement is, how difficult the climbing is, and what the fall will be like if I blow it getting to that next placement. I frequently climb with only passive gear which limits my placement options and forces me to plan ahead much more, find rests, and make decisions on when to place and when to wait and hope another placement presents itself when I want it.

Are always focused on making forward progress or do you keep the possibility of retreating back to a rest in mind? I always keep the thought of downclimbing in my mind. I downclimb frequently when onsighting a route, and I think it is an essential skill to be a strong, consistent onsight climber. Learn to downclimb... I can't emphasize that enough.

Do you think about the piece you just clipped? Do you think about the piece(s) below that? I always think about the nearest piece below me, as it is the primary factor in evaluating the danger of a fall. Pieces below that play into the direction of pull on my last piece when I place my next piece, so I will consider those in such a situation. Rarely do I find myself thinking about the consequences of a fall in which my last piece failed unless that last piece is suspect. Perhaps I should try to do this more rather than relying on my last piece to catch me when I expect it to.


renohandjams


Oct 3, 2005, 2:57 PM
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In reply to:
The thing I am always thinking is where is my rest point?
Yeah. Once in Utah I got up pretty high above my last piece and thought, oh, I'm sure there will be plenty of great spots in that crack 15 feet up from me, but once I got up there I saw that they were all crap, and the most I could work would be 2 cam lobs into any point on the crack. I look for rest points, or for good placements to plug a cam to rest on.


mcfoley


Oct 3, 2005, 3:02 PM
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This is what goes on in my head...over and over again...

Flies are buzzing round my head
Vultures circling the dead
Picking up every last crumb
The big fish eat the little ones
The big fish eat the little ones
Not my problem, give me some

You can try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough
If you try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough

This one's optimistic
This one went to market
This one just came out of the swamp
This one dropped a payload
Fodder for the animals
Living on animal farm

If you try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough
If you try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough

I'd really like to help you, man
I'd really like to help you, man
Nervous messed up marionettes
Floating around on a prison ship

If you try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough
If you can try the best you can
If you try the best you can
Dinosaurs roaming the Earth
Dinosaurs roaming the Earth
Dinosaurs roaming the Earth


climbingaggie03


Oct 3, 2005, 3:15 PM
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Falling is always in the back of my head, but generally I try to relax, breathe, not over grip, and look for rests, Then there's always placing pro, thinking about my second, worrying about rope drag and that cute chick at the trail head.


keinangst


Oct 3, 2005, 3:15 PM
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The irony of trad, for someone coming from toprope or bouldering, is that the higher you get, the BETTER and SAFER you feel.

So to overcome the irrational fear of heights and embrace the height as allowing more room for error is definitely part of the head game. I like to picture every sequence between pieces as an easy boulder problem. Pretend that piece is your spotter or your pad, then just get to it. Once you get another piece in, just repeat that exercise until you're done.

The second biggest issue to overcome, IMO, is to realize that sewing up a route will often use up your gear AND pump you out quicker. Sometimes running it out IS the safest option.


dirtineye


Oct 3, 2005, 3:39 PM
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In reply to:
The second biggest issue to overcome, IMO, is to realize that sewing up a route will often use up your gear AND pump you out quicker. Sometimes running it out IS the safest option.

This is bullsh!t.

IF good gear is there for the taking, and you choose to pass it by, then you are confusing style and safety.

If you don't know how to find rests, learn.

If you are not up to protecting a route adequately, then do an easier route.

Never pass up a bomber placement, you might not get another.

A lot of people get hurt running it out for whatever reason. Those who get in good gear and hang may not get a clean ascent, but they live to climb another day.

IF you climb enough, you will get your share of runouts. Don't create runouts where they don't exist.


hibby11


Oct 3, 2005, 3:41 PM
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Dont Fall


paganmonkeyboy


Oct 3, 2005, 3:44 PM
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"this is soooo fun..."
alternating with
"don't fall don't fall don't fall"

seriously - you need to be concious of many things when leading - rope drag, last pro, next pro, loose rocks, ledge fall potential, wandering belayer scamming chicks and not watching you, route direction, weather, footwork, what's left on the rack, where is the lighter...the list goes on and on, but you get used to it....


Partner gamehendge


Oct 3, 2005, 3:56 PM
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s u p e r c a l a f r a g e l i s t i c e x p i a l a d o t i o u s.


letolives


Oct 3, 2005, 4:34 PM
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What goes on in my head while leading is . . . IF there is ever a post about whats going on in my head while lead climbing I definitely need something to post on rockclimbing.com.


Partner cracklover


Oct 3, 2005, 5:03 PM
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That crystal looks good. Oh shit, my foot is buttering off. Okay, that side-crimp stabilizes me for a second. That looks like a good hold up there. Maybe I can put my other foot here. Yeah, ok. Now I need to find a place to bring up that bad foot. Shit, there's nothing. Where the fuck are the footholds? Goddamn it this sucks. How good *was* that last nut anyway? Wait, that crystal over there looks like it might hold me if I put my weight just like this. No, okay, maybe not, back down again. Damn damn damn... How 'bout this one. Yup, that works. Okay, got the good hold now, and I think I can get a good cam in that crack just a couple feet over there... Okay, at the cam placement - looks like yellow tcu. Plug it in. Fiddle. The left-side lobes look a little under-cammed, maybe a little more to the right. Yeah, that looks solid. Look down at last piece. Look up to determine where I'm going. Okay, don't need to extend sling, but do need a trippled sling. Right, now lean out from the rock as much as I can - where's the next pro? Damn I'm pumped, maybe I can hook this hold with my thumb and push sideways to rest my fingers for a moment.

Kind of like that. Routes that are hard for me are mentally exhausting as much as physically.

GO


Partner baja_java


Oct 3, 2005, 5:03 PM
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i actually don't do that much thinking once i start climbing. more so recognition and execution, that should feel second nature at some point. if i think about anything, it'd be about those in this world who are less fortunate than me, those living in squalor, those living in fear. my humanity depresses the hell out of my partners sometimes


chalkfree


Oct 3, 2005, 5:04 PM
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Dirtineye has it sorda right, and so does the guy that wants to run it out. If you climb a 5.8 finger crack there's going to be so much oppertunity to place gear that you'll use up all day placing it and be 80 ft off the deck when you run out of gear. Sometimes when you get 40ft up it's time to put on the bigboy panties and run it out a bit so as not to waste time placing gear that's going to do nothing but reduce an already safe fall.

Do the math, see if you'll be close to the deck, and look above you. If it's sketchy place pro, if it's the same damn crack for the next 100ft of the pitch run it out a bit. Don't get yourself killed, but climb the rock don't obsess over sewing the route up. 'Sides it'll just take the second longer and leave you hanging.


markc


Oct 3, 2005, 5:28 PM
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In reply to:
Do you think about falling or do you try to push it out of your mind?
I always think about a fall and what the consequences would be. Ignoring this may help you climb harder by eliminating a possible fear, but puts you in a position where you're not paying attention to the consequences of a fall at every moment. I much prefer to know when I can and cannot fall safely and climb accordingly. I guess the associated question is: Can you relax and focus with the knowledge of the consequences of a fall in your mind? I find that I can.

Do you look for placements as you climb or is there some planning involved?
Whenever possible, I try to find my next stance/placement before I move from a stance at a piece I have just placed. In doing that, I think about how far the next stance/placement is, how difficult the climbing is, and what the fall will be like if I blow it getting to that next placement. I frequently climb with only passive gear which limits my placement options and forces me to plan ahead much more, find rests, and make decisions on when to place and when to wait and hope another placement presents itself when I want it.

Are always focused on making forward progress or do you keep the possibility of retreating back to a rest in mind? I always keep the thought of downclimbing in my mind. I downclimb frequently when onsighting a route, and I think it is an essential skill to be a strong, consistent onsight climber. Learn to downclimb... I can't emphasize that enough.

Do you think about the piece you just clipped? Do you think about the piece(s) below that? I always think about the nearest piece below me, as it is the primary factor in evaluating the danger of a fall. Pieces below that play into the direction of pull on my last piece when I place my next piece, so I will consider those in such a situation. Rarely do I find myself thinking about the consequences of a fall in which my last piece failed unless that last piece is suspect. Perhaps I should try to do this more rather than relying on my last piece to catch me when I expect it to.

You posted nearly everything I was thinking as I read the thread. I don't think some of these questions are quite as either/or as you make them sound initially. I look for pro in the moment and try to have a plan for good rests/likely protection points. I try to focus on upward progress while bearing in mind what can be reversed easily and what can't. It's important to know when I can likely step back and regroup or if I have to solidly commit to the next sequence 100%. One of the things I enjoy about trad climbing is the mental aspect. It's an area where I still have some difficulty, but that part of the challenge has its appeal.


keinangst


Oct 3, 2005, 5:50 PM
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Dirtineye,

Take it easy--I said "often" in my post. I don't recommend unnecessary runouts just for the fun of it. I was just explaining that you have to learn the tradeoffs between overprotection with poor rests (and pumping out) vs. running a little further--safely--to conserve energy.

My point in addressing that is that these things don't even occur to topropers, or even sport climbers (unless we're talking about skipping bolts maybe).

I acknowledge what you're saying, but I don't think that anybody reading the thread would think I was trying to encourage unnecessary runouts :P

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