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Anna

I've been humbled

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O.K. I am now ready to talk about this after about a month....it has taken me a while to get over it but I think that it is time to settle my restless soul.

 

The reason I want to talk about this crazy experience I had to ya'll is because I think that it may make me feel better about the whole thing...

 

Some of you were witness to it including Mister shredmaximus, who I believe I owe my life to...I also owe my life to Mister Fred Beckey or whoever put in that stetchy piton....Thanks......

 

While in Leavenworth last month, I was climbing (God I don't even know what the name of the climb was...you can see how this has fucked me up)a fairly easy climb that I believed I could tackle up on Castle Rock. Some of the others present had confidence in me that I could lead it....not knowing how limited my experience was. I have done a little trad leading but was not nearly enough time in to go first on a two pitch climb. I hardly have any knowledge of setting anchors or even trad gear placement itself. I should have known better! As I got to a challenging part of the climb I decided that I didn't feel safe enough to continue. [Mad] I opted to set up my own anchor with what gear I had left. My last protection piece was a rusty piton below me and I started to set up an anchor above it...I was getting kind of nervous but took the time to set it up. Well, it didn't work...obviously cuz I didn't know what I was doing not to mention that I had not climbed in like 4 months. I started to lower down but the anchor didn't last very long. I felt kind of relaxed through the fall, I don't even know how far I fell but once the last piece caught me I realized what really happened. Shred belayed me down the rest of the way and I decided not to climb anymore that day...I haven't climbed since.

 

When I got home it really hit me, especially when I started to think what could have happened. Goran died that next week and then I really started to feel sick. The bruises on my body couldn't even compare the utter feeling of pain in my heart. I had decided not to climb anymore for the simple reason that I could not dedicate enough time to it and I consider it something of a sport and not a passion, not to mention I have not found someone who will take the time to teach me right.

 

Well, take what you want out of this, I hope to feel comfortable with climbing again soon. I believe I was spared cuz I have so many other things in my life that I AM passionate about and AM very good at...soooo with that said.....stay safe out there!

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Anna, I don't believe in "being spared". I believe you lucked out that day. Climbing may well be the death of you, or any of us, but then so could driving, flying, skydiving, whatever. I believe it's all about priorities and personal gremlins and such. Grab what you can while you can. The alternative could be the couch and a bag of chips.

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Passion for anything, including climbing, ebbs and flows like the tide. Ride it while it's high, and eddy out and rest when it isn't.

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You right Trask...freeclimb....I really don't believe in destiny either. I am all about taking chances...safely. I guess I had to make head or tails of it I suppose. I got very lucky indeed but it think it could have been prevented if I would have realized my limitations.

 

"Life's tough, but it's tougher if your stupid"-John Wayne

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Who know's what may end it for us?

Maybe it's time for you to give climbing a little break, but remember, it's not what you do but who you are and how you do it that matters.

 

Re-read your sig line and never forget to burn, burn, burn.

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Most of us have been humbled at least once in our climbing carrers. There are a lot of "What ifs" in climbing. You just can not dwell on them or you would never leave the house. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Get proper instruction, there are plenty of climbers out there willing to spend a little time teaching someone the ropes. Practice on the ground learning to place pro properly. Work on keeping a cool head, and being relaxed in stressful situations. Climb smart and safe.

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I am largely a self-taught climber and did a lot of climbs early in my career with partners who knew no more about climbing than I did. Somehow, we bumbled through it and nobody ever got hurt. Consider yourself lucky, but consider also the possibility that you actually were qualified to attempt that climb. You were sensible enough to figured out that you were over your head so you made the good decision to bail, and you did so at a point where you were not so far off the ground that this wasn't a fairly good option. Perhaps, too, you conciously or unconciously chose to do so before you got way too far above that rusty old relic piton.

 

Your story kind of reminds me of a time when, in Huntington's Ravine on Mount Washington, my buddy and I decided we'd have a go at climbing The Pinnacle. We got a couple hundred feet up the thing before we started getting scared. At that point we looked around and noticed that there were these little metal spikes in the rock and we thought to ourselves: there must be some special skill needed to climb this thing. Downclimbing was a bit tricky, but we managed to get back to the ground and said: boy was that stupid. But when we got home we started reading up on ropes and pitons and stuff.

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I am just getting ready to learn to lead trad, in fact I've just put together a rack. I share your frustration with finding someone to help learn. I have settled for following leads and checking out gear placement before I clean it; I guess this is helping but it doesn't quench the desire to get out front and do it. But having said that, taking it easy and learning your limitations is as important or moreso than anything else you can learn.

 

Anna, I would think hard before giving up all together on climbing. (Think back to what made you start it to begin with, try to find some of that passion) It seems as though you learned a valuable lesson, and as long as you learn from it you probably won't repeat it. Getting a little complacent in climbing is dangerous, but we've probably all done it at some time or another. A little fear helps keep you safe (at least I believe so). So take your experience and ease yourself back into climbing. If you never extend your abilities beyond even a 5.7, so what? Enjoy!

 

I don't know how far I'll ever go with rock climbing, but I'm just going to enjoy the moment. If I eventually redpoint .12's, great, if I never complete a .10 on top rope....oh well. It's all about having fun and testing your limits, just know where your "redline" is!

 

So that's my two-cents. Hope it helps.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide,

 

Craig

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Yah, I'm sure y'all have been through some sketchy situations and had some close calls ...I myself have been in situations on fires where things could have gotten really ugly but I got through it....this was my first time while climbing (cuz I fell) so I guess it kind of FREAKED me out. I really haven't dwelled on it too much lately but last night I had a crazy dream that started me thinking about it again.

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Yah, Craig....I'll ease back into it. I dont think I will stop climbing all together. Top-roping for a while though till I read some good books, set up a lot of practice placement/anchors under keen tutors. I think it will always be in the back of my mind though.....maybe that's a good thing [smile]

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do you know why your anchor failed Anna? That's seems like a pretty important lesson to sort out.

 

I don't know that hearing 'it happens to the best of us' type platitudes should really be all that comforting. To me it just reinforces that sometimes we are all idiots right on the verge of killing ourselves. But seems to be a truth, that close calls are more frequent than you'd like. I've had some and I try and learn and make use of the lessons they continue to teach me in some cases many years after the fact.

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Here's my 2 cents even if you didn't like my "water" bomber [Wink]

 

The only good reason to climb is because you want to. I know people who never lead, and still love climbing. This includes my girlfriend who had a fall while in her learning phase that turned her off. She didn't hurt her self too bad (bruises and bumps) but she shook her self up a bit.

 

Don't give up on climbing because you are dissapointed in yourself for making a bad judgement call. (Me being presumptious, feel free to call me on it) We've all made them. I almost rapped off the end of a rope once. Stupid mistake, but you can bet I'm pretty careful about setting up raps now. [Eek!] I was lucky, and I learned from it.

 

If you really feel that you don't want to climb any more for your own reasons, then don't. Move on to other stuff, and enjoy that. Me as example again: I hardly climbed at all this season because my love for it had ebbed. There were many reasons for this, but a lot of it had to do with pressuring myself to acheive certain goals last year and not attaining them.

 

I burnt myself out, but I know it will come back, and in the meantime I have been doing other things that I let fall by the wayside. Climbing isn't everything, but it can be a strong centering point for some people.

 

I don't know if any of this is relevant to you, but I hope it makes sense at least.

 

Always find people you trust to climb with - including your self [smile]

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quote:

Originally posted by Anna:

I think it will always be in the back of my mind though.....maybe that's a good thing
[smile]

It is, it's a _really_ good thing.

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quote:

Originally posted by fern:

I don't know that hearing 'it happens to the best of us' type platitudes should really be all that comforting. To me it just reinforces that sometimes we are all idiots right on the verge of killing ourselves.

I don't really find them comforting, other than knowing that I'm no more of an idiot on the verge than anyone else. But the reality is that climbing can kill you, and there is a continuim in everything from safe to dead, and we all try to believe that we are at the good end of it.

 

On another note now. Self taught is a good thing in the climbing world to some extent. I think it is vital to know enough about what is going on to know whether or not your mentor knows anything at all. Never be afraid to ask dumb questions or say NO.

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Fern-

I wasn't intending to offer a platitude and Joe probably wasn't either. In fact, I have often argued that climbing is very dangerous and that all of us must acknowledge this and figure out how or whether we want to deal with that fact. It is not a platitude to say "I've been there" and that there are a variety of lessons that can be learned from such an experience. She might conclude that she doesn't want to climb again -- or she might not. She might conclude that she shouldn't have tried that climb -- or she might not. Either way (on both questions), I hope she learned something valuable. "I've been there" may be comforting or it may be exactly the opposite.

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Hey, Anna, sorry to hear about your close call. [Eek!] You will hopefully come around back to it. I have great ambivalence about climbing, some days it feels good, some days it just seems like the most selfish, ridiculous, dangerous, silly thing on the planet. Just don't feel bad about it in any case, and don't let anyone else make you feel bad about it either. Take it easy. [smile]

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mattp I was addressing the general not the specific, I have no quarrel with anything you have to say. Merely philosophicatifizing about taking comfort in words that are not actually very comforting when I look a little deeper.

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It just takes time.... if I remember... (and to remember anything right now is a real stretch for me) but if I remember "no more clipping bolts for Anna" was a thread topic just a few months ago. I just started leading trad, and I have spent a lot of time talking with people about the evolution of a trad leader... just take your time and go slow.... remember .... 5.6 is fun

 

[big Drink]

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I have to say that I disagree with the 'hey it happens to the best of us' kind of reaction to Anna's experience. It is one thing to try a climb that is over your head (and certainly I do this occaisionally....just ask erik [Wink] ) but if you're going to do that, you'd damn well a) do it on a climb that protects well, so you have the option to set up an anchor and bail and b)*know how to place gear*. I'm not trying to harp on you Anna --- it sounds like you handled this pretty well, and at least tried to set up an anchor and bail instead of continuing on and taking some horrendo fall that had worse results than bruises -- but I think that heading up a trad climb without knowing how to place gear well is, well, asking for it.

 

Personally, I think that the fact that most people get into climbing trad these days by starting off in the gym or on sport routes then move on to wanting to lead trad is causing too many people to have an experience like Anna's. If you're out there climbing .10's in the gym/on sport/on top rope it's really hard to get yourself to step back and start leading on 5.4's, which is really where people should start. Your first bunch of trad leads should be on stuff that feels painfully easy to climb, and only when you're quite confident in your gear placements should you move up to climbing stuff that is going to challenge your climbing skills at all. As a community I think we have a responsibility to encourage people to start off leading easy stuff! I think it's irresponsible not to, and I think the climbing community is really bad about encouraging people to always be pushing their limits.

 

Anna, first decide if lead climbing is really something you *want* to do. This can be the hardest part. If it is, then step back into it in a comfortable way. Start off on stuff that seems embarrassingly easy and only after you have placed lots of gear that you know is bomber should you do anything that might push you.

 

Also, I think one of the important skills you gain with time in leading is distinguishing between "oh my god, this feels way hard and i'm scared, but i know i can do it", then pulling it together and doing it, 'cause you *do* in fact have the skills and you can focus when you need to, and "oh my god, this feels way hard, i'm totally sketched, and i'm in over my head", and if you try and keep going you end up in trouble. A given climb could go either way for someone, depending on where their head is that day. Only with experience will you learn where not only your technical limitations are but also to be able to read your own head and know when you're in the right head-space to push through a tough climb.

 

Good luck and remember that whatever you do it should leave you smiling at the end of the day, at least 90% of the time!!!

 

[ 11-01-2002, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: sayjay ]

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Well said Sayjay. I would agree with the observation regarding gym climbers and the transition to trad. Try leading a climb you have been a second on previously and one that is at least several grades below your comfortable top-rope level. If it freaks you out too much, maybe it's not your thing. Good luck, be safe.

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I say consider yourself fortunate that you received such a great lesson with minimal consequences. If you do continue to climb, you'll be a safer and wiser climber.

As we've all read about, my partner Stefan took a fall on rappel and I got a firsthand look at the site and cirucmstances of the accident last weekend. I feel lucky that I received an in-your-face reminder about raps - one that was more personal than reading about the same thing in ANAM. As a result, I'm sure I'll never take a rappel lightly as long as I climb.

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The first smart thing you did was climb on granite. The second smart thing was to clip the shitty old piton anyway.

 

Everyone gets humbled. It's all about getting back up and trying it again. Climbing is not for the weak or faint hearted.

 

PS Keep climbing granite. It's the shit [Wazzup]

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OK, Anna, a couple of things. I posted a bit ago on the long-term effects of such events, and got a good nuber of replies, some of which even had value... Although the proverbial salt grain must be applied.

 

web page

 

Anyway, with respect to your doubts of climbing/leading/gear, I got some new perspective a few days ago while talking to a practitioner of things mental. I was telling her of my accident and its aftereffects upon my confidence and mental state, and her response was - 'But what did it give you?' It's a grim thing, but she offered up that I should look upon that event as a gift, and that there was good and strength to be found in it.

 

OK, that aside, and now to nuts and bolts (literally). I'm sure, as mentioned above, that plenty of us are mostly self-taught in the art and skill of climbing and pro, and protected by Fate, just as are drunks, small animals, and ships named Enterprise. We got ourselves into and out of trouble, partly conciously, sometimes out of stupidity. The important thing is learning what your boundaries of knowledge and skill are, and being aware of them. It sounds as if, even though you had a bit of experience, that you were not skilled enough in placements to be tackling the climb you were on, and that you may have been able to avoid this situation by being a bit more assertive with your partner regarding your doubts about your skills. Don't push your limits just because you're afraid that you may be letting someone down, or that you feel like you have to impress. That's a big one that me and my ego have played with. As someone mentioned above, and friends have talked with me, you can be an awesome partner and not lead a single pitch.

 

So take a breather, as necessary, and look at your passion toward climbing - is this event something that will halt you, or change your focus in climbing, or take on that rack of pro and learn how to place with confidence? Your call.

 

Good luck - and for being a fractious bunch of children much of the time, when someone among us asks for help, we tend to show up in spades. Good job, folks.

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