Been climbing 3 months now and have made it to 50 foot height. I only made it to that height because I imagined my cat was stuck in the tree . I can climb 30 foot any and all days. I am comfortable with my equipment and trust everything. Not big fan of heights but kinda like the feeling and something I want to learn like a puzzle or problem. I know some climbers have no problem, but does anyone have stories of how they thought mentally to get higher. Everyone started from zero. I realize I might not be a super climber one day but think the mental side might actually be the hardest part.
I had a similar problem when I first started climbing with a rope and harness 10 years ago. I discovered I'd acquired a fear of heights in my middle age. Apparently this is common, height fear is known to increase with age. So what to do? I really wanted to climb, wasn't going to let that stop me if I could help it. I went and took the basic course with Peter Jenkins in Atlanta and among other things learned to stop climbing when the fear hit and wait it out. When fear is triggered in a climbing situation adrenalin goes into your bloodstream and amplifies the problem. Sitting for 5-10 minutes allows the adrenalin to process out of your system and the nastier fear symptons like panic, accelerated heart rate and shaking knees will subside.
Back home climbing on my own I found an effective addition to the wait it out strategy. When I experienced fear during ascent I would stop climbing and then back down 5 feet or so, wait a minute or two and then resume ascent. Usually I would climb past the point that caused fear and would be able to continue up another 10 feet or more before it would hit again. Over many months I was able to gradually increase my height ceiling. In a couple of years I didn't seem to have a height ceiling any more.
Not to say fear doesn't still happen. That's a good thing, fear is an important signal, you're moving out of your comfort zone and you need to pay close attention to what's going on.
Last edit: 6 years 8 months ago by moss.
The following user(s) said Thank You: tree-bee, rob2312
I have a similar problem upon reaching the 50 foot height. Something I do along with the wait it out technique, is to focus on the process of what I'm doing. I think to myself, stand-sit, stand-sit etc. By focusing on the process I end up climbing another 5-10ft without really paying attention to the height. Another technique I do to overcome this fear is to repeatedly climb the same tree. I become more comfortable with that tree each climb. Each time I climb it I try to go a little higher than the last time, even if its just one branch higher. Hope this helps some.
I like the advice you gave. Focusing on the process is more my logic. As a contractor I focus on the steps needed to do the job. Tree climbing to me is new and confusing with all the gadgets and theory. Don't mind spending the money but try to figure the best and safest way. Climbing the same tree has not worked for me so far. I guess I have ADD but other trees looked better or different to climb. But know I will have to figure the best way for me.
I'm relatively new also and I feel the same way. I'm having trouble finding trees with good, low limbs to walk on, so I end up climbing a hickory in my backyard, whose lowest limb is just over 30' - not a great place to learn. I'm having a hard time reaching a TIP high enough to get to limbs in the 50'+.
I find I get nervous in two areas: while high up but just below the canopy, hanging in space; and when approaching within a few feet of my TIP. Being in the canopy feels safer so I find myself rushing up to the first limb to overcome the anxiety. I do a short climb (~10'), stop check everything again, then descend back to the ground. It's like a dry run and gives me confidence that I didn't overlook anything. Then I go up non-stop and keep looking up at my target the whole time. When I get on the first limb, I feel a sense of relief, like a kid in bed pretending alligators are surrounding him. Going higher doesn't seem as stressful once I'm surrounded by limbs.
On the other hand, venturing out away from the trunk is becoming a hang up I need to overcome. Also, putting weight and tension back onto my system after un-weighting it is always a bit suspenseful. I think climbing with a more experienced climber goes a long way to instilling confidence when you reach a plateau.
I understand reaching a plateau. Just a simple response from this post got me thinking the process of focusing on what I am doing, sit-stand, etc. has changed my mindset. Climbed 50 foot easy yesterday thinking like that. My main goal now is figuring out how to reach were I need in a tree. I have lots of dvds, some of the best. But like you know they make it look easy. I want to be a tree monkey, being able to traverse to another tree and establish new tie in points. I have an air potato gun that will shoot 150 foot easy. I use the saka by Richard mumford and it is like really stepping to your destination. I know it is a learning journey. A lot of the techniques confuse me but I have only been climbing 4 months. I am enjoying the journey. Last month I actually hired a guy to come out with his tree rigging equipment and show me the techniques and talked about the climbing aspect (it was 40 degrees and raining). He didn't want to climb because of the rain and cold weather but now I have first hand experience of rigging a tree. It took me craigslist to find a climbing partner near me (1 hour 15 min). We climb every Sunday or other. He is a big Richard Mumford fan. I started looking into him and have corresponded with him. He is a genius, the future of climbing in my opinion.