Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

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Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby climbingangler04 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:31 pm

I have been wanting to move up from class 2 to class 3/4 abilities for the past few years but have a mental block on being able to complete a class 3 climb (Not sure why but 3 and 4 class climbs ring in my head as dangerous and I am reserved to put myself/others at risk). I am in good shape and run 6-8 miles a day and have been hiking all my life (here and out east in the Catskills and Appalachians) so endurance and scrambling ability aren't really an issue, it's just a complete mental deal with moving up in classes. My main issue is the mental aspect of moving up from slight exposure to high exposure. I have no issue with scrambling below treeline but when I get above treeline and the exposure gets more "airy" (trees seem to make the exposure seem less for some reason) I seem to get a sense of vertigo. I am kind of curious if others felt this way before becoming comfortable with class 3 climbs with exposure and if there is anyway to get over that feeling. I am planning out my summer climbs and would really like some experience in more technical hikes/climbs and when researching routes I feel comfortable with the actual trails/route but I feel the exposure will get to me. My plan for Class 3's for the summer is to add Longs, Kit Carson/Challenger, Blanca/Ellingwood, the Crestones (different day for peak and needle) and Wetterhorn.

Any ideas on getting over the class 2 hump (and if my list seems reasonable)? Any help on how others got over the mental barrier from class 2 to 3/4 would be much appreciated. Or does my mental barrier seem outlandish and odd?
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby CO Native » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:36 pm

Just ease into it. Climb Lindsey, Sneffels, or Windom (class 2+). Then do one of the easier class 3s like Eolus or Wetterhorn. It's not like there's a huge gap between the different ratings. Work your way up and you won't really notice much more difficultly between each mountain.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby justiner » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:48 pm

Class 3 in CO is still Class 2 in CA. We're just wimps.

Also. Bouldering? Rock Gym?
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby realhillboarding » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:01 pm

I've found that rock climbing helps a ton (outdoor much more than indoor) just because it takes away a lot of the technical challenge of class 3 and 4. You don't need to lead or get on huge multi-pitch routes, just get out on top rope and see what you're capable of. For even better training, I've gone out climbing and lapped a 5.6 in my hiking boots, both climbing up and down-climbing with the safety of a belay. The exposure will still be there, but if you can get somewhat comfortable using tiny handholds and footholds on technical rock, it will probably help ease your mind as you use the huge holds on the scrambles.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby jmc5040 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:21 pm

I completely agree with the comments about rock climbing. Rock climbing has undoubtedly eased my mind on exposed areas. By rock climbing you can learn what you're capable of before out on a route. Just keep in mind to always check you hand and foot holds when on a route. You'll definitely encounter a lot more loose rocks climbing a 14er route than when going outdoor climbing in a popular area. To me it's all about getting in the right mindset and trusting the moves you are making. I know the feeling you have, you just need to push through it.
Last edited by jmc5040 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby jaymz » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:23 pm

You might just try driving up Mt. Evans one day once the road opens and spending some time on the summit. 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. The rock is solid, so it might give you an indication of how much of your fear of exposure is psychological.
For me personally, the transition from class 3 to 4 was a much bigger step than from 2 to 3. Like CO Native said, just ease into it and take it one step at a time. Rock climbing helps in developing trust in your hands and feet on small surfaces - even if it's just in a climbing gym, that's better than nothing.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby Jay521 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:30 pm

+1 on what CO Native wrote, although I think Lindsey is a tad more difficult than the other two. I was in the same boat you are in a few years back. You might also consider some 13ers as an intro. My first easy class 3 was Father Dyer, east ridge. That built my confidence tremendously and made Wetterhorn, Longs, etc., much more tolerable. Slow and easy - and I think it will surprise you how quickly you will take to it.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. I'm sure others face the same dilemma you do.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby GeezerClimber » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:43 pm

Class 2,2+,3 kind of blend together. I think your choices are good ones to get going. I would also recommend Lindsey if you haven't already done it. IMO, Kit Carson is the easiest official class 3 via Challenger and not very exposed. You might find Blanca more exposed than Kit Carson. Save the Crestones for last. If you can handle the Needle's exposure, you can handle anything on CO 14ers. Wetterhorn is fun but the last pitch freaks some people out, it's pretty exposed. This site has a list of peaks grouped by exposure. You should find that helpful making choices and look at the trip planning photos also but bear in mind everything looks steeper in photos than real life.

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

Postby DeTour » Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:40 pm

You know, there are so many other factors in the difficulty and safety of a mountain beyond class rating. Getting off-route or caught in bad weather on a class 2 can put you in a far worse place than a class 3 in good conditions. A solid class 3 can feel easier, and probably be objectively safer, than a loose class 2/2+.

That said, I think several of the Sangres would pose good transition peaks from your peak list. 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.) Lindsey's "class 2+" standard route is a definite step up from Torreys-type class 2. And Kit Carson, as noted by others, is a really easy class 3. I personally thought Lindsey was clearly more difficult than KC.

Crestone Peak and Needle, and Longs, are a definite step up from those. Longs doesn't have that much class 3, but almost all of it is at around 14,000 feet, with a cliff below (home stretch) - the kind of terrain that can freak you out a little based on your self-description. It's not that steep, but the rock is worn smooth by foot traffic, making it a bit slick, especially if there's any moisture at all. Parts of the Red Gully on Crestone Peak are steep and/or slick, and the summit ridge gets a little airy in spots. Needle is steep, rated hard by people on this site, but the holds are so great I didn't think it was difficult - as long as you stay on route. The crossover between east and west gullies is the only tough spot IMO. Rockfall could be an issue in the gullies, but it's pretty solid, which helps minimize that problem.

My bet is once you get one or two of these under your belt, as long as you stay on route and make good decisions regarding weather, you'll be over any mental barrier.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby Alpine » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:37 am

Going from 2 to 3 was not difficult for me - partly because it was only later when I found out what a 'rating' was and realized that I had been doing 3 all along without knowing any better.

For 3 to 4, I was a little nervous at first, but what helped me was when I started viewing the moves more at a 5-feet-at-a-time level rather than getting freaked by thinking of the entire route. Breaking it down this way allowed me to look individually at a long series of moves that I could see ahead of me, and consider that I knew I could do the individual moves up and down, so linking them together should not be a big deal.

And sure enough, once I committed, that is the way it worked out.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby MonGoose » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:16 am

I agree with what has been stated so far but I would add that having a climbing partner that you feel comfortable with and trust can help immensely in these types of situations.
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Re: Mentally moving up from class 2 to class 3/4

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:23 pm

Basically the best thing you can do is go do it.

Last summer was my first 14er, I started with the easy mode up Elbert. I've always had a fear of heights, and looking down did scare me even though it was just a class 1 trail. We did Humboldt next and I gained some more confidence, then we progressed to the class 3 stuff with Sawtooth and Kelso ridge. 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.

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