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Partner cracklover


Feb 14, 2007, 9:22 AM
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Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice
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In a thread in the Ladies Room, a poster who was trying to get her lead head back after having fallen from an a part of a climb where she should not have fallen. She got pretty badly hurt, and lost her confidence. One poster gave her the following advice:

In reply to:
take Arno's class. It is relatively inexpensive, very powerful and really helped me change my lead game dramatically. I would, however, talk to him about a trad class, rather than a sport class.

<snip> Also, I am a big fan of drilling lead falls. (I know, I just broke my back, but, that doesn't change my mind. My belayer failed me.). I drill on sport and on trad and I take some fairly good sized whippers. (In both cases, I assess the fall consequences BEFORE I fall. when I do this on trad gear, I make sure that I have redundancy in my gear and I always check the gear before I fall again.) These falls help me trust my gear, get my brain in synch with "falling is ok" and it enables me to free my mind as I am climbing. I know that I can fall and be safe, so I can really focus on my climbing.

I believe that the "falling is okay" concept is really sport climbing bleeding over into trad climbing. And what's worse, I believe that the value of this mindset is *way* overrated in trad climbing these days. Yes, it has some value, as anyone who is pushing 10s, 11s, and higher on trad can attest.

But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

Falling will do nothing for it. Mock leading will do nothing for it. The only thing to do is to put in plenty of miles on trad climbs that are below your limit, place lots of gear so that if you do fall, you'll be okay, and then in time, you will convince yourself that you *do* have the power to climb in near complete control, without falling.

GO


joshy8200


Feb 14, 2007, 9:36 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
I believe that the "falling is okay" concept is really sport climbing bleeding over into trad climbing. And what's worse, I believe that the value of this mindset is *way* overrated in trad climbing these days. Yes, it has some value, as anyone who is pushing 10s, 11s, and higher on trad can attest.

But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

Falling will do nothing for it. Mock leading will do nothing for it. The only thing to do is to put in plenty of miles on trad climbs that are below your limit, place lots of gear so that if you do fall, you'll be okay, and then in time, you will convince yourself that you *do* have the power to climb in near complete control, without falling.

GO

Umm...so falling on trad is reserved only for those climbing trad above 5.10? Slightly logical because terrain under 5.10 can tend to be highly featured and have ledgeout potential.

But you say the only way someone can learn, is to climb lots of trad under the level that they will fall. Well, if you're not falling then how are you going to understand and learn to trust good gear placements?

Keep in mind Arno never says go out and climb a bunch of routes that you "can't" climb. He's saying to do exactly what you're talking about...GAINING EXPERIENCE. To gain experience falling...well you have to take some falls. He stresses the need to assess the falls and saftey of falling.

The point is so that you can push your climbing ability and learn. Yes it takes climbing routes that you're not going to fall off of, but the point of climbing those routes isn't to have a 'no fall' mentality. The point is to learn about your abilities: Are there times that you should back off or continue? What are the situations that a fall would be dangerous? How can I get out of this situation? Do I compose myself and climb on, and if so what could be the consequences?

Arno would be all for what you describe as gaining experience. His point would be to change the point of learning from the experiences to what CAN I do, as opposed to what should I not do.


(This post was edited by joshy8200 on Feb 14, 2007, 9:38 AM)


zenelky


Feb 14, 2007, 9:42 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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Thanks. I was begining to worry that I was the only one thinking this.

I had a fellow sport climber recently go out and by a rack. They then came to my climbing partner and I asking for us to take him to the nearest multi-pitch trad route in NC. I gave him a 45 minute lecture about how trad climbing needs much more respect than he was ready to give and that most people don't know their limits until they've passed them. My partner is recovering from a foot injury due to a fall. He went from bravely climbing 10's back down to practicing on 7's.

I must agree, mock leads and practice falls are not the answer. She needs confidence, courage, and encouragement. That can all be found on easy routes, with many miles behind her, and a belay that she trusts in.


healyje


Feb 14, 2007, 9:42 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
I believe that the "falling is okay" concept is really sport climbing bleeding over into trad climbing. And what's worse, I believe that the value of this mindset is *way* overrated in trad climbing these days. Yes, it has some value, as anyone who is pushing 10s, 11s, and higher on trad can attest.

Hmmm, depends on your background I think. I come from one where falling is definitely 'ok' and a desirable measure of whether you are really pushing your limits. I'm have tempted to say that the 'don't fall' attitude is a lingering hangover from old [trad] purists who viewed it philosophically as failure.

In reply to:
But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

I agree with this in balance; the balance being you need to strive to succeed and be willing to fail as they go hand in hand at your limit.

In reply to:
Falling will do nothing for it. Mock leading will do nothing for it. The only thing to do is to put in plenty of miles on trad climbs that are below your limit, place lots of gear so that if you do fall, you'll be okay, and then in time, you will convince yourself that you *do* have the power to climb in near complete control, without falling.

I agree mock leading is counterproductive at best and a horrible idea at worst. Falling enough to have confidence in your gear, your judgment, and your ability to deal with the objective realities involved does contribute to your confidence on lead. In general I agree the idea is to get up a pitch, but the right 'lead head' (and I hate over thinking the whole affair) is all about a balance of well-roundedness, judgment, and an oddly reasoned abandon. You'll know you've arrived when you don't have to think so explicitly about it all and can just focus on getting up a route. As you said, the best way is yardage...

GO


Partner j_ung


Feb 14, 2007, 9:53 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
In a thread in the Ladies Room, a poster who was trying to get her lead head back after having fallen from an a part of a climb where she should not have fallen. She got pretty badly hurt, and lost her confidence. One poster gave her the following advice:

In reply to:
take Arno's class. It is relatively inexpensive, very powerful and really helped me change my lead game dramatically. I would, however, talk to him about a trad class, rather than a sport class.

<snip> Also, I am a big fan of drilling lead falls. (I know, I just broke my back, but, that doesn't change my mind. My belayer failed me.). I drill on sport and on trad and I take some fairly good sized whippers. (In both cases, I assess the fall consequences BEFORE I fall. when I do this on trad gear, I make sure that I have redundancy in my gear and I always check the gear before I fall again.) These falls help me trust my gear, get my brain in synch with "falling is ok" and it enables me to free my mind as I am climbing. I know that I can fall and be safe, so I can really focus on my climbing.

I believe that the "falling is okay" concept is really sport climbing bleeding over into trad climbing. And what's worse, I believe that the value of this mindset is *way* overrated in trad climbing these days. Yes, it has some value, as anyone who is pushing 10s, 11s, and higher on trad can attest.

But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

Falling will do nothing for it. Mock leading will do nothing for it. The only thing to do is to put in plenty of miles on trad climbs that are below your limit, place lots of gear so that if you do fall, you'll be okay, and then in time, you will convince yourself that you *do* have the power to climb in near complete control, without falling.

GO

Gabe, while I agree that trusting gear and keeping it together when the leader must not fall are two separate skills, I disagree that practice falls have little value in this case. It seems like the poster is trying to get over irrational fear, not fear of actual consequences.


rockprodigy


Feb 14, 2007, 10:04 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:


But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

What you are talking about here should mostly apply to R and X rated climbs. Usually people don't lead these routes unless they know what they're doing. Most other routes are safe to fall from. I'm skeptical that doing a bunch of easy routes will give you confidence on harder routes later...it doesn't teach you that gear can be trusted because you're not weighting the gear, and it doesn't teach you that it's possible to climb and place gear when you're pumped because you're never pumped. How would this help you learn to keep it together if there is nothing in the scenario that is pulling it apart?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained...maybe not everyone is cut out for pushing their trad leading.


moose_droppings


Feb 14, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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I think you touch on a very good point, "to climb in near complete control". Having taken my share of falls I on gear that held, I'm still a little skeptical of placing 100% faith in gear. I have better assurance in trusting my abilities and knowledge of the situation I'm in. Through the years I've seen a lot pieces pull that you would of sworn were bomber. Its a reality thats hardwired into me that falling on gear is tossing dice and its my confidence in me that gets me past a move. Sure I put some faith in the gear, but I'm not about to go taking whippers on gear on purpose, you do it enough times and your setting yourself up for a bad one.

Sport climbing is about putting it all on the line and pushing limits and abilities, and its all done in a relatively controlled environment. Try that in trad to much and you'll meet your limit.


jmeizis


Feb 14, 2007, 10:21 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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The concious decision that it's ok to take many falls seems to be a sport climbing thing. Something that I don't really adhere to, if you can't climb the whole thing the first time without taking ten falls maybe you should work the lower grades some more. I've only ever seen one person fall leading trad (it was a pretty scary looking one too).

I just started leading trad this past season and the thing that the person teaching me said is that the first couple of times you're basically free soloing with extra weight. You don't really know if your placements will hold or maybe even the difference between good and poor rock for those placements. So keeping that in mind the highest trad lead I have is about 5.7 where I usually can redpoint in the 10's. Part of having the confidence to eventually lead trad at higher levels would be confidence that the gear would hold in a fall. I agree that there seems to be a prevalence of people saying that it should be ok to fall on trad but I sure as hell don't see anyone doing it Smile. Now if I were confident that my gear placements could take a fall I would probably lead harder and maybe if I took a few falls trad climbing I might realize that it's not so bad and that would keep me from the death grip that would pump me out and send me plummeting more often and in turn I would be able to lead more confidently and fall less. Other's mileage may vary, but for me, my confidence that I will not fall comes from my confidence that if I do fall for some reason (trip on a shoelace, hold breaks, knocked unconcious) my ability to place gear will save me from hitting the ground and I can thus focus on the climbing, not the falling. Suffice to say trad's a whole different ballgame than sport when it comes to falling.


bandycoot


Feb 14, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Re: [jmeizis] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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I don't think that it's something you can train. You either have it or you don't, in my experience.

For example. I have a friend who took a 15' fall in the climbing gym trying to clip the 4th bolt on a route. He almost hit the ground. He was freaking out about how me almost decked. I said to him calmly, "You can look at it one of two ways. You almost hit the ground, or the system worked. You choose."

A few weeks later, I took a 70' headfirst fall for a myriad of reasons. Luckily I was on overhung terrain and came away unscathed. While everyone else at the crag was grumbling about how they would go home if it were them, I rested, told the belayer that since no one was hurt it was an excellent learning opportunity, went back up there, made the shitty clip, and finished the route. There is nothing I could have done to prepare myself mentally for taking a 70' head first whipper. It's all attitude and mental ability.

I've never seen anyone who changed their lead head through any training. Those who have bad lead heads always have bad lead heads. Medium stayed medium, and good stayed good. However, that is just my experience. Has anyone else out there seen someone improve in this area? I'm curious. I'd also like to know what they contribute to that change. A friend asked me to help him learn trad and his lead head isn't really there and I'm not sure what the best way to proceed is.

Josh


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Feb 14, 2007, 10:43 AM
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Re: [bandycoot] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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I took Arno's class and it changed my lead game; both Trad and Sport.

My lead head developed after lots of mileage, lots of drills (yes, the ever controversial falling drills) and more mileage. The more experience I get climbing, the easier it is for me to (in no particular order):
1) Route find
2) Find rest stances
3) Place gear/trust my placements
4) Trust my climbing ability

I find that my "head" ebbs and flows; there are times when I am uber strong and other times when I am less confident. I do know that under most circumstances, I rather be at the sharp end.

BTW, I was the poster that advised the climber to take the Arno class and learn more about falling.


phillygoat


Feb 14, 2007, 10:44 AM
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Re: [jmeizis] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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Keeping in mind the quality of the rock and placements, there is really no need for such a dichotomy between falling on a bolt or a nut. Arno certainly doesn't discriminate in his book, as I remember.

Winging off just for the hell of it seems pointless, but then so does climbing 3-4 number grades under your limit to stay "safe". Get on steep stuff, put good gear in, and get after it! You'll find out soon enough that, indeed, the gear works.


Partner cracklover


Feb 14, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Re: [joshy8200] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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joshy8200 wrote:
But you say the only way someone can learn, is to climb lots of trad under the level that they will fall. Well, if you're not falling then how are you going to understand and learn to trust good gear placements?

You're missing my point. Learning to trust gear placements is not the main thing that'll get you up hard trad leads. Anyway, that will come in time, I guarantee it, as will the falls, if you continue to push yourself. But the ability to *not* fall when it's important to not fall - the skills that it takes to do that, under control, while still climbing fairly efficiently, and the confidence in one's ability to do so - that's absolutely central to trad climbing, and requires focus, a unique set of skills, and a lot of miles, to attain.

In reply to:
Keep in mind Arno never says go out and climb a bunch of routes that you "can't" climb. He's saying to do exactly what you're talking about...GAINING EXPERIENCE. To gain experience falling...well you have to take some falls.

And gaining experience falling will only teach you how to fall, how to push your limits into the falling zone, and how to deal with your fear of falling. If you don't see it's missing the key component of how to climb hard in a no-fall zone, you have no clue about what trad climbing means.

GO


Partner cracklover


Feb 14, 2007, 11:18 AM
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Re: [bandycoot] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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bandycoot wrote:
I don't think that it's something you can train. You either have it or you don't, in my experience.
<snip>
A few weeks later, I took a 70' headfirst fall for a myriad of reasons.

Yes, you "have it". But it's the *wrong* it. That "it" will get you dead before long on most moderate trad climbs.

GO


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Feb 14, 2007, 11:22 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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Perhaps the head for hard, dangerous trad leads requires both the ability to trust gear and the ability to climb on when the gear is in doubt. Those are two separate skills and I've read nothing in this thread to convince me that excluding one of them will result in a better leader.


Partner cracklover


Feb 14, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Re: [healyje] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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healyje wrote:
In reply to:
But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

I agree with this in balance; the balance being you need to strive to succeed and be willing to fail as they go hand in hand at your limit.

And I agree that you don't know your limit until you go past it, or as William Blake said "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom". But that's still avoiding the point - sometimes you have to go for it and take the chance that you'll fall. Sometimes you have to go for it and absolutely not fall. And sometimes you have to back down.

And sometimes you have to climb like you're soloing, and absolutely not screw up. Even, no especially, on easy terrain.

No amount of fall training will give you the skills to do any of the above things!

GO


bandycoot


Feb 14, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
bandycoot wrote:
I don't think that it's something you can train. You either have it or you don't, in my experience.
<snip>
A few weeks later, I took a 70' headfirst fall for a myriad of reasons.

Yes, you "have it". But it's the *wrong* it. That "it" will get you dead before long on most moderate trad climbs.

GO

I don't understand what you're talking about. How does falling on hard sport climbing relate to dying on moderate trad?


vector


Feb 14, 2007, 11:35 AM
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Re: [phillygoat] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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One thought for those referring to Rock Warriors Way: consider reading the book. Perhaps everyone here commenting on the subject has, I don't know.

From the RWW perspective, there are a number of rational behind fall practice (as well as methods). A couple are:

- Learning to fall safely (this is not trad specific). This has to do with body positioning while falling but also with know what a safe fall is. I know I was pretty off the mark in judging fall distances the first few times--a critical skill if their are ledges/other fall hazards below.
- For trad falls, it is also about learning to trust the gear. It should _not_ be attempted without experienced guidance and adequate safety measures.

In regards to sport vs. trad, there are definitely times where I would trust gear I placed over a bolt placed by an unknown person with a unknown skill-set. Usually I prefer the bolt, but it is situational.

[updated for clarity]

(This post was edited by vector on Feb 14, 2007, 11:39 AM)


healyje


Feb 14, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
healyje wrote:
In reply to:
But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

I agree with this in balance; the balance being you need to strive to succeed and be willing to fail as they go hand in hand at your limit.

And I agree that you don't know your limit until you go past it, or as William Blake said "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom". But that's still avoiding the point - sometimes you have to go for it and take the chance that you'll fall. Sometimes you have to go for it and absolutely not fall. And sometimes you have to back down.

And sometimes you have to climb like you're soloing, and absolutely not screw up. Even, no especially, on easy terrain.

No amount of fall training will give you the skills to do any of the above things!

GO

You're quite correct in that - my point is that you really shouldn't be focusing on either falling or not falling - you should just be making periodic decisions and then just be getting after what you decided to do. Any irrationality or overthinking of the whole falling thing in general is a problem from my perspective - we climb, we fall - one would suck without the other and both need to be well-integrated into the background fabric of your mind.


climbingaggie03


Feb 14, 2007, 11:41 AM
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In reply to:
I've never seen anyone who changed their lead head through any training. Those who have bad lead heads always have bad lead heads. Medium stayed medium, and good stayed good. However, that is just my experience. Has anyone else out there seen someone improve in this area? I'm curious. I'd also like to know what they contribute to that change. A friend asked me to help him learn trad and his lead head isn't really there and I'm not sure what the best way to proceed is.

I have changed my lead head through training/practice. I used to get terrified on sport routes that were hard, even if the fall wasn't going to hurt, i'd grab draws, do whatever it took to keep from falling. Even though I could lead 10c sport, I couldn't get myself to lead anything harder than a 6 on trad.

This fall, I took a road trip, I thought if I got some milage that maybe it would get easier, but after a few weeks of climbing at least 700ft a day my head was just as bad as it ever was. I read the rock warriors way, which I applied bits and pieces of it to my climbing and I improved, I started climbing more confidently and harder routes, in a few weeks time I was leading 5.10's on sport and 5.9's on trad. I feel like I could lead 10's on gear but I haven't had the opportunitiy.

the biggest proof or my change in lead head was I climbed with one of my regular partners not long before leaving for this trip and I had my usual sketched out lead head. We went climbing the weekend I got back from my trip and he repeatedly commented on the change.

So, lead heads can change with training.


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Re: [rockprodigy] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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rockprodigy wrote:
cracklover wrote:


But there is *much* more value in knowing that you can keep it together and not fall when a fall is unsafe. This is the most important mental aspect to develop in trad climbing, and it's what the poster trying to get her lead head back *really* needs.

What you are talking about here should mostly apply to R and X rated climbs.

I disagree vehemently. I've been on PG routes, and even G routes, where either protection options are limited through the easy stretches (broken bad rock, slab, dirty gully, etc) or where in order to make time on the easy bits, you must be able to climb in excellent control and not stop to place much gear.

In reply to:
Usually people don't lead these routes unless they know what they're doing.

And how about these R routes? How do you get to the point where you "know what you're doing"?

In reply to:
Most other routes are safe to fall from.

Bullshit. Most sub 5.9 routes in most places are absolutely not safe to take long falls on.

In reply to:
I'm skeptical that doing a bunch of easy routes will give you confidence on harder routes later...it doesn't teach you that gear can be trusted because you're not weighting the gear, and it doesn't teach you that it's possible to climb and place gear when you're pumped because you're never pumped. How would this help you learn to keep it together if there is nothing in the scenario that is pulling it apart?

Here's how it helps you: you learn specific techniques to climb in control. You learn how to place gear quickly and efficiently. You learn to spot placements where you wouldn't have seen them. You learn how to keep your rope in a straight line. You learn how to recognize good rock and bad rock. You learn how to follow the rock - the path of least resistance. You learn to recognize rests. You learn to push it, and slowly, cautiously, you make decisions about when to run it out and when not to, and you eventually, once you've got your skills dialed, and your confidence is good, start pushing the grades where the gear is good, and you start falling, and gaining confidence in falling.

If you want to gain quicker knowledge and trust in gear, do a little aid climbing. If you want to practice falls, do them on safe bolts. If you want to practice climbing at/above your limit, and you don't have a lot of experience trad climbing, do it on sport climbs.

But if you want to know what it feels like to really be on the sharp end, in control of your fear, at the cusp of your self-knowledge, and confident in the ability of your hands and feet to keep you up, not the gear on your harness - you simply must put in the miles on lead on trad - in control.

GO


Partner cracklover


Feb 14, 2007, 11:55 AM
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Re: [j_ung] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
Perhaps the head for hard, dangerous trad leads requires both the ability to trust gear and the ability to climb on when the gear is in doubt. Those are two separate skills and I've read nothing in this thread to convince me that excluding one of them will result in a better leader.

Absolutely. But the latter gets little attention. If anything, it's subsumed into a "go for it, dude" mentality, which is the opposite of what's needed to climb in control.

Anyway, as I've already said, and as is the case for the poster being advised by the original advice I quoted, you need to not fall on *easy* climbs as well as hard ones.

GO


joshy8200


Feb 14, 2007, 12:11 PM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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cracklover wrote:
[

Here's how it helps you: you learn specific techniques to climb in control. You learn how to place gear quickly and efficiently. You learn to spot placements where you wouldn't have seen them. You learn how to keep your rope in a straight line. You learn how to recognize good rock and bad rock. You learn how to follow the rock - the path of least resistance. You learn to recognize rests. You learn to push it, and slowly, cautiously, you make decisions about when to run it out and when not to, and you eventually, once you've got your skills dialed, and your confidence is good, start pushing the grades where the gear is good, and you start falling, and gaining confidence in falling.

If you want to gain quicker knowledge and trust in gear, do a little aid climbing. If you want to practice falls, do them on safe bolts. If you want to practice climbing at/above your limit, and you don't have a lot of experience trad climbing, do it on sport climbs.

But if you want to know what it feels like to really be on the sharp end, in control of your fear, at the cusp of your self-knowledge, and confident in the ability of your hands and feet to keep you up, not the gear on your harness - you simply must put in the miles on lead on trad - in control.

GO

Yes, this is a logical way to build a knowledge about falling safely. The only thing that Arno and RWW would advise on is not to have an irrational fear of falling on trad.

The sequence of learning to fall on sport routes would be just as applicable on trad routes. The big thing in the Warrior's Way is like you've said to be very situationally aware and make a concious decision about what to do. And that decision isn't made on an irrational fear of falling or irrational concept of not falling on trad. Whatever decision you make...whether to fall, down climb, climb higher, pee your pants and wait for help...is based on true (or rationally inferred) experience.


iamthewallress


Feb 14, 2007, 12:19 PM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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At the end of the day, I think the question really needs to be, "How much are you willing to risk to climb harder?"

Falling is always more dangerous than not falling. That is an utterly indisputable fact. Is it enough more dangerous that you want to avoid it? Avoid it some of the time? Do it all the time so that you can purge yourself of your normal (and IMO, frequently beneficial) gut feelings that are aiming to protect you when you are putting yourself at risk?

I think a lot of people have "bad lead heads" because they don't have the experience to genuinely know the difference between bomber and not bomber climbing; impeccable and shitty gear; etc, and their reflex to save their own bacon is kicking in. Gail talked about how her gut suggested that her belayer was too tired to belay and she should have listened to it. Isn't taking practice falls to get used to falling, just training yourself to ignore your gut?

People get strong fast, climb hard sport, and expect the same on trad because if the gear is bomber they can treat it exactly the same as a bolt on an overhang, right? We see one person who sends a hard grade after a relatively short period of time, and it's easy to not realize that many people spend a decade getting their lead head and skills together to do harder climbs.

This is sort of what happened to me when I first started, and I got hurt badly in my first fall. I decided that the fall was clean and went for it. To this day, I don't know what I hit, but evidently the fall wasn't clean enough, and the peice that held me nearly fell out. (Mercifully, it did not.) I would not choose to risk a fall in that same spot.

The problem that happened with my 'lead head' (that inspired me to start the WW forum, btw) was that it took a long time (many years for me) to gain enough self-knowledge and knowledge of the rock conditions to know whether or not I would or wouldn't fall. Everything felt like it had fall potential. In fact, I initially experience a dip in my lead head as I started to learn about what I didn't know.

However, as I really tested and consolidated my skills, the fear went away nearly entirely when I was climbing within my limit. Only climbing, not falling, was required to get to my present degree of relative comfort climbing within my abilities. In fact having years go by where I didn't think I'd fall, and by golly, unexpected falling didn't happen either, was a real boost for my confidence.

I agree with much of what Arno says. Although he and I would probably disagree on what level of risk avoidance was "rational", Arno doesn't say that you have to accept all risk, just that once you do decide to accept it, commit completely, so that you are doing what you need to do to succeed in the moment and are not wrapped up emotionally/intellectually elsewhere. That advice, I think is something that has helped to keep me safe many a time now. That's my understanding of it, anyway.

I realize that playing it safe all the time does not gel with most of our reasons for climbing. IMO everything from A5+ pop tabs to soloing thin ice to taking up X-treme falling for its own sake are all good if you're honest with yourself about what the risks are, and decide that you're OK with that.

Practice falls are great for helping you to quiet your gut, but I think that taking them to convince yourself how safe they are is foolish when you look around at all of the people go have gotten injured or died in falls that they thought were perfectly safe. I could list many off the top of my head from the last couple of years.

Arno's practice falls on gear seem to make more sense to me for someone like rockprodigy who has enough experience to really make informed choices and who is going to be on steep terrain most of the time where it's hard enough for him to fall, and unexpected falls on 5.6 low angle just aren't going to happen.

FWIW, as an aging weekend warrior with very little natural athletic talent, I've managed a couple of 12's and quite a few 11's on gear now without taking an honest whipper for over two years. I took 2 falls in the 3 years before that. I top rope a lot of harder stuff to get stronger and learn my technique and lead when I feel solid. For me not getting injured is worth adjusting the risk towards not pushing the limits of my system.


(This post was edited by iamthewallress on Feb 14, 2007, 12:21 PM)


gblauer
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Feb 14, 2007, 12:19 PM
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Re: [cracklover] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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"Here's how it helps you: you learn specific techniques to climb in control. You learn how to place gear quickly and efficiently. You learn to spot placements where you wouldn't have seen them. You learn how to keep your rope in a straight line. You learn how to recognize good rock and bad rock. You learn how to follow the rock - the path of least resistance. You learn to recognize rests. You learn to push it, and slowly, cautiously, you make decisions about when to run it out and when not to, and you eventually, once you've got your skills dialed, and your confidence is good, start pushing the grades where the gear is good, and you start falling, and gaining confidence in falling. "

GO...I agree with all that you say, except that if you have a terrible fear of falling, you will never get to the place where you are climbing in control. You will always be climbing to AVOID falling. For some people, falling is a terribly scary prospect. It severely limits their ability to climb. Learning about falling can be a means to achieving the kind of control that you are describing. Every climber must understand the fall consequences (sport or trad) when deciding whether to tackle a route. How will you know the consequences if you don't know a thing about falling. Falling is an aspect of climbing, why ignore it? Why not train and learn as much about falling so that you can let irrational fears go and focus on the control that you speak of?

I suspect that you are a very strong climber, with an "uber" lead head and that you are having difficulty relating to the mortals among the crowd. I happen to be a 50 year old, mother of three with a mere five years of climbing experience. I work damn hard at every aspect of the sport. I regularly train in a gym during winter (body movement drills, body awareness drills, aerobic, anaerobic and yes, falling). All of this training has helped me push my lead on sport and slowly increase my confidence and competence on trad. I seek the control that you speak of, but, have yet to reach that nirvana on trad. I was heading to EPC at the end of February and I was certain that I would have climbed my hardest ever due to my training regimen. Alas, that is not to be, at least not until I heal.


(This post was edited by gblauer on Feb 14, 2007, 12:23 PM)


iamthewallress


Feb 14, 2007, 12:25 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Trad head, warriors way, and bad advice [In reply to]
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gblauer wrote:
I agree with all that you say, except that if you have a terrible fear of falling, you will never get to the place where you are climbing in control.

I disagree w/ you on this point b/c it doesn't match my experience. I was petrified to climb at all for a while, but as I gained experience, I got more and more comfortable. When I'm run out or unroped, the last thing on my mind is falling, b/c I wouldn't allow myself to be in that situation if I thought for a second that I would fall. It caries over into well protected roped climbs. I climb in the moment and am mostly not worried about my pro or my falling. When I get too scared and without focus, then for me it's time to back off and learn some more skills so that I'm less worried about the falling b/c I'm more confident about the climbing.

Taking steps to justifiably increase my confidence has felt like a way more proactive solution to me than to take steps to decrease my fear. I think that they really are two different concepts too...not just different ways of saying the same thing.


(This post was edited by iamthewallress on Feb 14, 2007, 1:30 PM)

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