Looking to Improve my Confidence

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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cfischer
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Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by cfischer » Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:50 pm

Hello everyone,
I'm happy to have joined this community, and thought I would reach out for some advice. I was hopinh to tap your brains for ideas on where I can go hiking to help improve my confidence levels.

I've just started hiking a few 14ers, namely Cameron and Grays. I am a moderately skilled all-season hiker, climber, and mountaineer (summited Mont Blanc, and other peaks in the area, used to lead sport, trad, and ice), but it has been a long time since I've done anything more challenging than the mountains in the North East. Though confident in my skill set and am of average fitness. I am looking to rebuild confidence when confronting heights, knife edges, and terrain that just "feels" steep or exposed. To give you an example, even being up on Bear Peak in Boulder makes me nervous. I know that once I start getting flustered, I'll make poor decisions and will slip up technically with things like footwork and balance, and just generally fatigue. My goal is to feel comfortable enough on steep terrain to get into snow climbs, ridge traverses, and more technical terrain.

All that being said, do you all have any ideas of places where I might have a good shot at building up my confidence? I've been considering Kelso Ridge, and maybe the west ridge of Quandary. I live in the Longmont area and am willing to travel around 4-5 hours to reach good destinations; I also drive a prius, so accessibility can sometimes be an issue. Right now my hiking distance on 14ers tends to top out at 8 miles round trip, and that would be pushing it. Any ideas on locations, or other resources for me to look into would me much appreciated.
Thanks!
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DArcyS
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by DArcyS » Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:36 pm

Out of curiosity, how old are you?

I've noticed through the years that many of the deaths on peaks involve people over 50 (and this year isn't an exception), which may be from a failure to acknowledge declining physical strength and motor skills. There may be no getting back the confidence you once had when you led sport and trad when you were younger, especially if you're much over 50.

Just my opinion, which may not be worth much depending upon your age.
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by bergsteigen » Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:46 pm

The best way I’ve found to build confidence on steep exposed terrain is to get on a rope and rock climb. Just getting into a gym can help tremendously. With the injuries I’ve had over the years, that confidence/tolerance of exposure has waxed and waned, so it’s likely I have to get back on a rope again myself.

Kelso Ridge and the Sawtooth would also be great nearby options with tons of beta to get you used to it as well. It just takes practice and experience to progress farther
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peter303
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by peter303 » Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:11 am

DArcyS wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:36 pm
I've noticed through the years that many of the deaths on peaks involve people over 50 (and this year isn't an exception), which may be from a failure to acknowledge declining physical strength and motor skills. There may be no getting back the confidence you once had when you led sport and trad when you were younger, especially if you're much over 50.
The 11 14er fatalities in the 2019 plus 2020 (so far) seasons have ages:
22,25,26,27,41,41,50,55,60,61,71

mean=44, median=41

Nine falls, one heart attack, one not published. 10 male, one female.

In the early 2010s it was about 11 per season. Last two years half that, despite the AFI measuring a steady increase in summits over the decade.
No real correlation with weather: record snow and avalanches at many resorts in 2019, record drought in 2020.
"Dont count your chickens..."
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DArcyS
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by DArcyS » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:01 am

peter303 wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:11 am
DArcyS wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:36 pm
I've noticed through the years that many of the deaths on peaks involve people over 50 (and this year isn't an exception), which may be from a failure to acknowledge declining physical strength and motor skills. There may be no getting back the confidence you once had when you led sport and trad when you were younger, especially if you're much over 50.
The 11 14er fatalities in the 2019 plus 2020 (so far) seasons have ages:
22,25,26,27,41,41,50,55,60,61,71

mean=44, median=41

Nine falls, one heart attack, one not published. 10 male, one female.

In the early 2010s it was about 11 per season. Last two years half that, despite the AFI measuring a steady increase in summits over the decade.
No real correlation with weather: record snow and avalanches at many resorts in 2019, record drought in 2020.
"Dont count your chickens..."

And the other group that has drawn my attention are guys in their 20s. Something about their psychology of being bold. As for folks in their 30s and 40s, it may be that many of these people aren't getting out as much because of having families, and perhaps many are by nature more conservative in their choices because they know they need to return home. I'll note that I've looked at the age distribution in Accidents in North American Mountaineering (as I vaguely recall) and my observations didn't bear out there. Plenty of folks in their 30s and 40s. But for Colorado peaks, just something that I noticed that seems to hold true. But statistically speaking, I'm not certain it would hold true if a large enough sample were collected (as opposed to what I see on 14ers.com, etc.).
arianna2
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by arianna2 » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:07 am

I like the idea of doing ones with really stable rock like Crestone needle. Just keep getting out there on numerous hikes which will improve your stamina and balance.
Aphelion
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by Aphelion » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:14 am

cfischer wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:50 pm
Hello everyone,
I am looking to rebuild confidence when confronting heights, knife edges, and terrain that just "feels" steep or exposed ... My goal is to feel comfortable enough on steep terrain to get into snow climbs, ridge traverses, and more technical terrain.
Start climbing again, and work your way into easier low-consequence routes. Try low-angle snow climbs like Boudoir couloir or the Angel of Shavano. You mentioned Kelso ridge, that's a good one as none of the few class 3 areas are very long or hard, and the knife is about as gentle as a knife can be. You've done these things before, just need to work back into it.
cfischer wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:50 pm
Right now my hiking distance on 14ers tends to top out at 8 miles round trip, and that would be pushing it.
Improve your fitness. 8 miles is not very far for a day's work, and you'll be a lot more confident on more difficult areas if you're not down to half a tank by the time you get to them.
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by Jorts » Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:50 am

Drugs and/or alcohol are great for confidence.
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by tortilla » Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:41 am

Quandary’s west ridge is a great option. You can avoid most of the difficulties until you reach the dirt gulley and then the crux, neither of which are really that challenging. Both look harder to overcome than they are. In addition, if you’re feeling good/confident, the west ridge has a lot of optional rock features that are more challenging than the mandatory crux wall. The west ridge does hold some loose rock though, beware
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by daway8 » Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:14 am

cfischer wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:50 pm
All that being said, do you all have any ideas of places where I might have a good shot at building up my confidence?
Take a look at this trip report which I wrote in part for the purpose of answering questions like this:
4 Classic Ridges: Ellingwood, Kelso, Sawtooth and Quandary West Ridge (plus Buckskin)
https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine
ker0uac
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by ker0uac » Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:40 am

I don't think that going on harder routes at this point will help build your confidence. In fact, in my humble opinion, that's the one thing you should NOT do. I would focus on completing maybe 10+ Class1/Class2 hikes before even considering going on Class3. I see three drivers to success - mental preparation, physical preparation and skill training. But they are all correlated. When you feel confident that you have the skills, your mind will be at ease and you will enjoy the challenge. If your legs are shaking while you try to push yourself up, your mind will be freaking out and you will feel like a failure and you won't enjoy the challenge. You want to avoid all of those scenarios.

For mental preparation, I recommend researching the routes before you go. Get all the beta. Learn about mistakes that people have made before. Learn about exit routes. Learn about where the potential fatal drops are. Learn how to turnaround if need be. Bring ultra reliable gear. Bring a PLB or satellite phone. Share your plans with friends. I often tell someone that if I am not back by a certain time, call for help. Ultimately, a good risk management strategy will bring you comfort, coz you will know "if s**t hits the fan, I know what to do". Learn first-aid as well and bring a small kit with you. If you fall and injure your leg, what should you do. Try hanging out with other climbers. Partner with someone more experienced. Or just stalk someone along the trail and do whatever they do :lol: Also, indoor climbing with very challenging routes where you are likely to fall. Learning how to fall is a skill that I don't see being taught. There are so many risks to mountaineering, but if you know all of them and you know how to deal with them, then you remove a lot of the anxiety.

For physical training, I would suggest simple tests. Stand on top of the flat surface of a busu ball. Can you do ski moguls on it, with varying feet separations? Can you stand on top of it on one foot only? Can you do overhead press on top of it? Another one, can you do 10 reps of one-leg deadlift? Can you do with 10lbs in each arm? Another one, can you plank for >60secs and a hollow body hold for 60secs? Another one, on a treadmill with maximum incline can you sprint for 60secs at >5mph?
Last edited by ker0uac on Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking to Improve my Confidence

Post by nunns » Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:15 am

peter303 wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:11 am
DArcyS wrote:
Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:36 pm
I've noticed through the years that many of the deaths on peaks involve people over 50 (and this year isn't an exception), which may be from a failure to acknowledge declining physical strength and motor skills. There may be no getting back the confidence you once had when you led sport and trad when you were younger, especially if you're much over 50.
The 11 14er fatalities in the 2019 plus 2020 (so far) seasons have ages:
22,25,26,27,41,41,50,55,60,61,71

mean=44, median=41

Nine falls, one heart attack, one not published. 10 male, one female.

In the early 2010s it was about 11 per season. Last two years half that, despite the AFI measuring a steady increase in summits over the decade.
No real correlation with weather: record snow and avalanches at many resorts in 2019, record drought in 2020.
"Dont count your chickens..."
So really the age distribute out about evenly between young 'uns (under 30), middle age (40-50), and older people (older for climbers, not in an absolute sense) (55+).
This thought has not escaped me as I have moved through the first 2 categories and am now poised to break into the third category.
You can replace some, but not all, of the advantages of youth with better, more specific preparation and experience.

The last 2 years have been good but overall an anomaly I believe. When I made a very informal study of several year's worth of fatalities in the 2000's, I got about 12/year.
As near as it was possible to discern, 4 were people very unprepared for what they were doing. 4 were "elites" pushing the envelope (ice climbing, 5.high routes, etc). 4 were simply wrong place, wrong time, probably a wrong decision. I always felt like I could choose to stay out of the first 2 categories, but I had to acknowledge the possibility of being a part of the 3rd group and just do what I could to minimize my risks.

Respectfully,

Sean Nunn
"Thy righteousness is like the great mountains." --Psalms 36:6
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