Today’s Tuesday Training! First off, our mental training exercise for today is lead falls. Now, you must know that I am a terrified lead climber. I have an irrational fear of lead falls, even safe ones, and this near phobia often inhibits my climbing. For example, last night for climbing practice, the team was practicing for a competition by climbing in a mock onsight competition. In a onsight competition, a climber will warm up in a bouldering cave or at some other warm up wall until they are called to climb. They will be shown to their first climb and have thirty seconds to start climbing. Usually, they will have never climbed the route before, but, in my case, I had already climbed the rout. Because it was a mock competition, no new routes had been set specially for practice. This time, however, I was required to lead the route, and I became scared before my feet left the ground. I freaked out at the exact spot I had predicted I would, climbed off route, and clipped a quickdraw that wasn’t mine. Shaking and crying, I lowered and rested while the rest of my teammates climbed in turn. Feeling defeated by one’s fears is the worst feeling of all, an empty ache that I hate above all else, perhaps even above fear. I decided to try the climb once more, and after everyone else had gone, I gathered my courage and sent the route on lead.
After lowering from the climb for the second time, I realized that (1) I should have sent the route in the first place, and (2) I need to take lead falls. Taking purposeful falls on lead is a form of mental training, an exercise that I have always maintained a love-hate relationship with. I am incredibly scared while taking lead falls, but afterwards I feel like I’m on top of the world. The only downside to this exercise is that it needs to be done often to retain its freeing, mind-clearing effect.
Clip at least four quickdraws on a fairly easy route with a clean, straight line of clips and a safe fall zone. Take baby steps at first; begin with falling with the clip at your waist. Remember to always fall looking up or straight ahead, never down, so as to ensure that you do not fall awkwardly. Climb 1/4 of the way to the next bolt and fall again, then 1/2 of the way, and then 3/4 of the way. Finally, fall with your head at the next bolt. If you’re feeling really brave, fall with the unclipped bolt at your waist. After you gain some confidence, fall faking a move to the next hold; this will create the feeling of falling on a hard project. If you do this exercise two to three times per week, you’ll soon be taking the largest whippers with ease.
The challenge for this post: try this mental exercise and post in the comments to tell me how it goes!