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iamthewallress


Jun 16, 2003, 6:03 PM
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Ever have this happen???
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Here's the scenario...

You're on a route that you hadn't planned on climbing. Perhaps one suggested by your parnter near another route that you intended to do. You start climbing an begin to feel like you're in way over your head. Every move seems so physical and insecure. Your heart races. You scrounge for the last crumbs of chalk in your bag and enter the delicate smeary face. You make a move, then another. Your last gear is 30 ft. away. You get to the "Thank God" jug, and scramble to the anchor. You feel like a hero.

....then you get back to your car and see that your test piece is given some grade that you might normally think of as '4th classable' compared to what you might normally consider yourself capable of climbing. Written descriptions of the route in no way suggest that the climb is sandbagged or run out.

So, if this has ever happened to you, do you let it get to you? How seriously do you take the grades?

Over the weekend, I went from feeling like a confident climber, running it out on scarey and tricky terrain to feeling discouraged and like I haven't progresed a smidgen if a climb of 5.X using familiar techniques would make me feel so challenged and scared.

I know that the 'right' answer is probably to not put too much stock in the grades, but I also have this feeling that when venturing into "R" territory or when getting on fully commiting long routes, that one is well served to know up to what level they are relatively solid, and then to climb well within those limits. The route that had initially made me feel so exhilarated later served to make me feel that I was far from ready for so many routes that I have been planning on doing in the near future. :(


atg200


Jun 16, 2003, 7:08 PM
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I do have a Y chromosone so I probably shouldn't be answering this, but it happens all the time. I'll lead frightening 5.9 offwidth pitches on a ghastly desert tower, and then be terrified leading a 5.7 finger crack on granite. I *always* perform better than I can imagine on big project routes, and *always* feel like I am going to whip on some cute little cragging route I don't take seriously.


wigglestick


Jun 17, 2003, 9:16 AM
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I agree. This happens all the time. Every day it seems that at some point I mutter the phrase "This is only a 5.x, it shouldn't be this hard" And I get all gripped and scared. But you just have to take each route as it comes and not get all intimidated. Because just as often the pendulum swings the other way and I will climb something that feels pretty moderate and find out later that it is much harder than I thought. It all seems to average out in the end.


katydid


Jun 17, 2003, 2:16 PM
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I've been known to let numbers psych me out (especially at somewhere with "old school" ratings). I'm now trying to take charge of that situation by following stuff that I would have previously considered "too hard" for me to do the moves on. Thus far I've done well and boosted my confidence a lot. (We'll see if that holds up when I follow Triple S at Seneca a few weeks from now!)

OTOH, I've had my ass handed to me by a 5.5 and spent a couple of months kicking myself for not being able to climb something that's "obviously" easy, when there were probably a lot of other circumstances at play that affected my inability to finish the route that day.

I try to use the numbers to keep myself from getting in over my head. Sometimes the numbers seem to mess with said head more, though. Grr.

k.


Partner missedyno


Jun 17, 2003, 3:32 PM
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again again i agree with kate. numbers are a great guide but they aren't strict rules. different styles of climbing, different people, grade can't account for all of it!


mwbtle


Jun 17, 2003, 7:14 PM
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I psych myself out if I even look at grades. I was stuck doing REALLY easy climbs at the gym...the GYM!...just because I had this idea that anything over that was too hard. When I got to climb a couple as yet ungraded climbs, I did fine, and when they graded them I was pleasantly surprised.

So on real rock, I avoid looking at the guidebook for the most part, look and see if I can pick out a line I want to climb, and then climb it. Or I have someone else tell me what the line is without telling me the grade, so I don't end up offroute. When I get back down and look at the grade, I'm almost always happy with it.


iamthewallress


Jun 18, 2003, 3:50 PM
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I guess I'm not adventurous enough to walk up to the base of Middle Cathedral and launch myself up the first crack that looks aesthetic though. I'm worried about what kind of end I might meet another three or thirteen pitches up.

I guess my quandry is that to do R/X routes or really committing long routes you need to be convinced that you are solid up to a certain grade. Does anyone give creedence to the "holy cow, they only called that 5.x!" experience when it comes time to rope up for the scarey or long stuff?


mewalrus


Jun 18, 2003, 8:12 PM
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Wallress
I think its just fear of the unknown. If you had seen the rating of that climb you would have most likely climbed it confidently and easily.


Nice name by the way 8)


estherator


Jun 19, 2003, 2:03 PM
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Like Melissa, I also get intimidated by numbers. And I also get really piised at myself if I thrash on a route that's a lower rating. That's why I prefer not to know until I've topped out. I always climb harder that way, too.


chalkpaw


Jun 20, 2003, 6:00 PM
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Another guy response here. I've found that each climbing area I go to has me respond differently. Same goes for rock type. On limestone I feel confident and can have those "oh be joyful" times. Usually sandstone (yes), gets a similar response. However if I go to say Granite Mountain in Arizona, I plan on having a punchout with every route I do. Doesn't matter if it is 5.easy or 5.hard, every thing seems hard. Same goes for Yosemite, and the Dragoons. But once I accepted it, my attitude and altitude improved.
As far as the guidebook thing, it is just another tool to use, not something to totally depend on. Sometimes it is great to leave the thing in the car when out and about.


jefffski


Jun 20, 2003, 8:22 PM
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another guy here.

i always look at the book, because i don't want to get in over my head. however i have pushed myself by accident, going up the wrong route, or after having being told "you can do this" and succeeded on stuff way out of my league.

if i fall on "4th-classable" and my gear holds, i may be po'ed but happy cuz my gear held--like last night.

climbing is fun, even when it isn't 'fun'.


climb.on
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Jun 21, 2003, 4:49 PM
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Just had this happen the other day at the Gunks. I was climbing Ribs and Ribless - one is a 5.4 one is a 5.6. Frankly I could not tell the difference. While earlier in the day I got myself pretty sketched out due to a stupid move on a 5.2.

So far I believe in trusting the grades, but until you get on the rock you never know.


Partner missedyno


Jun 25, 2003, 9:23 AM
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yeah, there can be just too many other factors besides the grade.

how you're feeling that day, style of climb, etc etc

ever drink too much coffee before climbing and want to kick yourself for it as you shake uncontrollably up the entire climb?


marvin


Jul 10, 2003, 6:07 AM
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Yet another guy response I'm afraid: I've also had similar experiences both in the UK on trad routes and also on bolted routes in France, Italy and Switzerland.

Over here there's several reasons for this -

the route is a total sandbag and it is perpetuated in the guidebooks for some unaccountable reason.

or (particularly in Europe) if an area is well known for a particular type of climbing style i.e. slab climbing in the Grimsel Pass then local climbers in the area will be very good at that style and so grades will be be lower than expected for a hard route.

Hope that makes sense.


boris


Aug 7, 2003, 7:36 AM
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Theres an article about this at sa climbing info network: www.saclimb.co.za- click on articles. Something about how you approach the route mentally, I can't remember the details, anyway check it out if you're interested.


boris


Aug 7, 2003, 7:45 AM
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the one called "Arousal and Anxiety in Rock Climbing" by Greg Streatfield


maculated


Aug 7, 2003, 1:20 PM
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I don't know why I ignored this post, but here's my take:

Admittedly, when I went to J Tree this year, I was just warming up . . . but I hopped on the first climb of the day, a 5.6 with a big runout beginning . . .

But come on, I can lead 5.6, right? Anyone can . . .

Nope. I got my first piece in and backed off. My friend led it and when I followed, I still decided that I wouldn't even dream of leading that climb. There were maybe three good pro spots and I was harried on TR.

This is why I take R/X pretty seriously. If I'm on a vertical climb, I won't lead them unless I am prime. If slab? No worries. Gotta know your strengths. R in the Valley? No. R in Tuolumne . . . hey! It's all R!


iamthewallress


Aug 7, 2003, 2:35 PM
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That reminds me of my JTree 5.6 debacle. Actually there were two that trip....

Three seasons back after I'd been climbing outside for a several months and had already gotten a two month forced vacation due to an injury sustained in a lead fall, I was having a little trouble getting my head where it needed to be in any consistant way. Sometimes I was climbing harder stuff, and sometimes I could barely TR easy stuff because I was so scared.

So...I go to JTree with a friend for Thanksgiving week. We decide to warm up on "Mike's Books" (5.6). He led the first pitch. I headed off on the second. About 12 feet off the ginourmous ledge, I start to feel sketchy. I begin to tremble. Then I begin to convulse. I feel like I'm going to rattle my way off the rock. I put in my #4 friend which isn't as retracted as it could have been, but wasn't exactly wobbling on its tips either. Convinced it sucks but no longer able to hold on, I believe I scream "I'm going to die" and come onto the piece. My partner fully thought I was loosing my mind. I was, I guess.

Anyway, I follow him a couple more pitches and I'm startling to feel more comfy, so I try leading again. This time it's double dip (5.6). The slab up top isn't incredible run out by JT standards, but it is for my experience. Still, I get to the top of the climb without melting down. My partner, knowing what I've been going through inside, says all of these really supportive things and I allow myself to feel like I've really accomplished something for myself. As he finishes following the pitch, I look down to see that he is wearing his approach shoes. Instantly my "accomplishment" felt so small. It was just like looking at the guidebook and seeing that my testpiece was 3 number grades lower than I expected and no R.

Maybe I should go to a zen colony or something to learn how not to let these external things influence my experience so much.


maculated


Aug 8, 2003, 1:46 PM
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Melissa,

I went through a major problem of this a while back while living in Mammoth. I hung out with some serious hardmen and here I was, poky little Kristin, just following them along going, "Wanna climb? Wanna climb?"

Well, I'd had a particularly humble experience after the winter completely not climbing and heading up to an overhanging 5.x and hang dogging the whole thing. I should have been able to do it. I was so fed up I told my partner I'd just belay slave all day. He takes me over to a 5.12!!!!! D!!!!! and I can't get my way up my piddly climb? I suck.

Now, have you been to Bishop during the peak bouldering season on the weekends? People everywhere with their little guides checking out routes. And I can make fun of them for this, but I can't do any of the routes they are on. But I'm out there with my dog . . . totally bumming because I'm so anxious about ratings and my experience with my friends . . .

That I just start climbing stuff that looks fun. No 'problems,' just hey, go up this, go up that . . . I'm sure people thought I was stupid, lame, what have you. I can tell you this, it was the best day of bouldering I'd ever had and it gave me a new perspective.

I'm always kind of nervous the first climb of the day, "How will I do? Do I really know what I'm doing? Do I even know how to climb?"

And then I look back on that day and go, "Shut up! And have fun."


Partner sauron


Aug 8, 2003, 2:54 PM
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Yeah, more guys here (but that shows it's not something that just girls run into)...

My first (attempted) trad lead was in Tuolumne - a piddly 5.4 chimney on Lembert Dome (next to the start of Northwest Books)...

Easy, I thought - I can sport lead 8's (yeah, I'm not a great climber, gravity's not my best friend) no problem, and I felt good and confident.

I started. I huffed and puffed and all it did, was halfway wedge myself in the chimney. I was too big to get inside it, and it was just too wide to where I could do anything useful.

Yeah, that was a very humbling experience for me.

We proceeded down into the Yosemite Valley, where I proceeded to redpoint my first 2 trad leads - a 5.6 and a 5.7 crack. (Dont remember the route names)

My most fulfilling trad lead (so far): The Bong (5.4) in Joshua Tree. It was my first trad lead in Josh, and there's nothing quite like climbing up into the sunset... (The walk-off/hike back to the car was a little dusky..:))

The moral: Sometimes life sucks, and other times, you're flying high...

- d.


jumpingrock


Aug 8, 2003, 3:08 PM
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Dude Chimneys are HARD. I had trouble on a 5.3 chimney. I sport lead 5.10/11 and trad @ 5.9. I hate chimneys.


maculated


Aug 8, 2003, 3:13 PM
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They get better the more you climb them.


iamthewallress


Aug 8, 2003, 4:20 PM
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They get better the more you climb them.

I'm almost starting to believe you. :wink: Still, when my eyes see chimney in the guidebook, my mind says "no pro."


maculated


Aug 8, 2003, 4:54 PM
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Yeah, that's true. :) But it's a CHIMNEY!!! The worst that will happen is you get hopelessly wedged!!!


blotched


Aug 8, 2003, 5:26 PM
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Yeah, that's true. :) But it's a CHIMNEY!!! The worst that will happen is you get hopelessly wedged!!!

One word : claustrophobic

J.

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