As I have written about before, I have an irrational fear of falling. Now, you might ask, "Isn't a fear of falling actually quite rational and healthy?" The simple answer: not always. I have a huge spectrum of climbing related goals for the next couple of months and they all depend on one thing.
It isn't really about the act of falling,
or not falling.
It is about having control over my fear of falling. I've been practicing lead falls in the gym, taking them over and over. I have to break my subconscious instinct to keep holding on. To trust the gear, the rope the belay; to know I'm not at risk.
Sometimes a healthy amount of fear is helpful; if I can harness it in the right way. When it is crucial not to fall, I never do. However, low risk situations are when I lose control of that fear and choke.
It's been working, I think. It doesn't take as long to let go anymore. When I take those falls, I'm familiar with every sensation of the experience. The split second of free fall, the rope stretching, the swing; it is more exhilarating that terrifying now.
But the actual falls aren't that important, you see, it's the head space. I am building the confidence to make the moves I know I am capable of. I can take on a dicey section an be okay with the idea that I might fall. It's working.
Building this lead head is a war of attrition. While I may be advancing rapidly now, that could change in one climb, or even one move. It's hard to deconstruct this fear and truly get a hold of it, but I'm trying.
I'm trying to focus on simplicity. Just me on the rock; my hands and feet moving together smoothly. No inner dialogue, no unnecessary worry. I have to keep that fear in check from beginning to end and accept that I just