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Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby Randy » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:46 pm

The best advice yet was to look at 5ft sections, looking at the big picture proboly will grip you. Also good advice rock climb, even at an easy level. Im from the east coast, I rock climbed for 5 years then moved to CO, even though I could only lead 5.9, it made scrambling way easy.

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby DaveSwink » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:54 pm

Many can just "go for it". If that works for you, great. I found that lots of repetitive top rope laps on class 4 and low class 5 burned in climbing moves to a more instinctive level, and allowed me to develop the 6-foot radius of concentration that shuts out worries of exposure. Emphasis maintaining three points of contact at all times, and practice downclimbing at least as much as climbing up.

Personally, I have built up to soloing class 4 and low class 5 on Flatirons which has helped my confidence hugely, but I cannot say that is necessary and some of my very good climber friends disagree with that approach to achieving comfort and safety on class 3/4 14ers.

I think getting comfortable with climbing and exposure allows your body to move in a more relaxed manner and you can maintain a more erect posture (rather than leaning into the rock) which actually increases your stability on the rock.

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby powhound » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:47 pm

All the comments are really good so far. Just want to add a bit.
DeTour wrote:Humboldt's west ridge has some blocky stuff not far below the summit that might get to low class 3, with no exposure. (You can work around it to stay class 2, but everyone I saw on the day I climbed Humboldt was scrambling on the blocks.)

A few years ago, I needed to build confidence, so I would do this too. If I came across an obstacle that was easily bypassed, I would climb it... and while on it...try to mentally picture huge exposure underneath me. Same thing goes for ridge running. If a ridge looks a little spooky, but you can avoid it by dropping down a bit...climb the ridge proper knowing that you can easily retreat to safety if you get uncomfortable.
jaymz wrote: There are plenty of places where you can look out over the edge into Summit Lake and test your feelings of vertigo, just to see if you get used to it.

Even better if there is actual exposure on one side with an easy retreat on the other.

These days when on easy mountains, I continue to do this (weather and time permitting)...just because it's plain fun as well as good practice.

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby ctlee » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:16 pm

I give a big +1 more to those that suggested rock climbing. I took a class with the CMC that put me on exposed Class 3 for the first time and even though I went in very motivated and completely psyched to start scrambling and getting up harder stuff, I completely froze on the South to North Arapahoe Peak traverse-and not even on a section considered the "crux"! I was shocked at myself--berating myself in my head, telling myself I was tougher than that--to just "go for it". My body literally would not move. Even now, looking back, I can't believe it. One of the instructors suggested the rock climbing class to "expose" myself with the safety of a belay. I blew it off with a "yeah, right". But one year later, there I was, freaking out on a rope--that is, until I thought it through--I was on belay--I was free to concentrate-and that's what I did--focus on my immediate location, figure it out as a problem, and realize that some unseen force wasn't going to throw me off the rock and the mountain wasn't going to fall apart beneath me. Yeah, crazy thoughts but when that primal instinct kicks in to get the hell out of there, these are the thoughts that run through your mind. I have to laugh because I also look over alot of ledges to "desensitize" myself. Things are much better these days but respecting your limits is smart--and those limits will eventually fall away!
Live as if you were to die tomorrow-learn as if you were to live forever-----Mahatma Gandhi

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby douglas » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:34 pm

This thread is perfect for me. I'm doing a trip late summer with a group of friends to do Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak and El Diente. I'm a little freaked about doing Mt. Wilson and the traverse, and was thinking of skipping that part - mostly because of the reported exposure. I've climbed Longs, Windom, Snowmass Mountain, and a bunch of other easier peaks. None of those freaked me out at all, but I'm wondering how much more difficult Mt. Wilson will be. Any insight from those that have done those peaks? Basically I don't want to do anything that if I slip I will die and leave behind a wife and four small children. I don't think the Mrs. would appreciate that.

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby painless4u2 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:32 pm

This sums it up for me:
Just focus on where you are putting your feet and your hands, that's it. When you pause and start looking around, you will freak out and wont be doing yourself any favors


Not looking down and simply focusing on the rock right in front of you, not thinking about the "what ifs" is the proper method to decrease fear. That said, there are a couple of moves that still cause some trepedation. That one move on Mt. Wilson is one of them, more so than any exposed shelf or "sidewalk" like Pyramid or Eulous, or even sustained slopes like Crestone Peak or Needle, or the Homestetch on Longs. Also, the crux move onto the summit block of Sunlight (when it was wet and sleeting!) was another pucker move. At least for me.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Bad decisions often make good stories.

"Well, that didn't go as expected." - Brett Maune

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby B[3] » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:47 pm

I agree with most of the comments thus far. Rock climbing multipitch routes has made a world of difference for me in terms of my confidence with exposure. When I first started climbing multipitch, it took awhile for me to feel comfortable looking down from the belay once I was a few pitches up. Now I've gotten to the point where I can hang out at a belay and enjoy looking around and I'll even lead the upper pitches.

MonGoose made a great point about having a climbing partner you can trust. When I did the Wilson-El Diente traverse, it was nice to have a partner who was happy to run ahead and make route-finding decisions (there's just something comforting about hearing that a particular option goes when it looks like the route ends in a drop-off). It can also be nice to have someone else downclimb a difficult section first and then talk you through the hand and foot placements (since foot placements are sometimes difficult to spot from above).

I actually really enjoyed Mt. Wilson and didn't find it any more difficult than Wilson Peak. Of the three you've mentioned (Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente), Mt. Wilson is the one I'd be most likely to repeat (We went down the North Slopes route described by Roach--the hardest move was right near the summit, but it wasn't too bad. We scrambled up the ridge to get to Mt Wilson's summit, which was fun but exposed; the other people on the summit were surprised to see us go that way and suggested a much easier way down). If you're concerned about looseness of the traverse, you could do Mt. Wilson by itself via the North Slopes route. Personally, I thought El Diente was the most dangerous of the three: we encountered spontaneous rockfall while ascending the couloir on the North Slopes route for that peak as described by Roach.
Learn from the mistakes of others--you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.--Unknown
Don't chase your dreams, catch them.--Unknown

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby JROSKA » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:32 am

Somewhat of a prick wrote:Basically the best thing you can do is go do it.

The exposure can unnerve you, but what I found to help me is to block it all out mentally. Just focus on where you are putting your feet and your hands, that's it. When you pause and start looking around, you will freak out and wont be doing yourself any favors.

Basically just take a deep breath and just move methodically. Only focus on where your next hand and foot is going and the route ahead of you. That's all there is to it, from my experience anyway.


That's kind of what I've found too. Just focus on the task at hand. On Castle Peak last year, my hiking partner was very intimidated by the exposure on the Northeast Ridge, while I didn't really notice it. In hindsight, there were a couple of spots up there where a fall would have been very bad, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time. It sounds like a cliche, but just focus on the little things to get the task done. It will help take your mind off of all the rest. It's kind of like driving up to the top of Mt. Evans. Despite being protected by metal, there are a few areas in that road where going over the edge would be a very serious problem. But when I'm driving, I'm so busy focusing on the road, and typical driving stuff, that I can't even think about what's off to the left or right.

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby zdero1 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:40 am

Definitely appreciate the advice on this thread as I share the sentiments of the OP. Excited to make my jump to class 3 this year. I'd like to do KC for a first class 3.

Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:14 am

Kelso Ridge is a great beginner class 3, at least it was for me

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby Michael J » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:09 pm

It's great that you have a healthy respect for the climb and a desire to study any and all information available. This website is probably the best resource for the majority of the information that you will need. Sometimes the lines between Class 2, 3, and 4 are blurred and one persons opinion about a Class 3 might be a Class 4 in another's opinion. Some of the best advice I've seen on here is focusing on the 5, 10, and 50 feet in front of you. It's ok to look at the big picture and the ultimate prize but then bring the focus back to the next 50 steps. And then when you hit those steep sections look only to what is the next move or two. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve. I like the introductory peaks that were mentioned like Longs and Lindsey. One more thing: start early. The toughest part of most Class 3's and 4's is towards the top. So put yourself there early in the day so you don't have the added pressure of time, storms moving in, etc. Your study and preparedness will serve you well.

"I've often heard a voice call down to me
If you'd climb higher you'd find wondrous things to see..."

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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby Billy the Kid » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:26 pm

I can remember being in the same boat. I had only been up to difficult Class-2 and decided I was going to attempt Pyramid Peak. Going into the hike, I told myself "just hit the trail and go for it. If I get to a point where I don't feel comfortable, I can always turn back, reflect on what I had experienced and go back another day." In approaching it with this attitude, I took all the pressure off of the climb. In the end, I just took it one move at time and before I knew it, I was standing on the summit of Pyramid Peak. I remember my first thought was "wow, that was it...I thought it was going to be so much worse." Look at all the thousands of people who have stood on all these summits before you....I assure you, you can do it to!

Happy trails!
"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So, be on your way."- Dr. Seuss
"I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious."- Michael Scott

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