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This Is My Brain on Rock Climbing (nautil.us)
20 points by dnetesn on Mar 10, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments

Am I the only one who's skeptical of how quickly Nautilus reach the front page? I swear on like 15 different occasions a mediocre article with no comments get a surge of upvotes.

I'm hesitant to say there's foul play but something's not right...

I will say, believing in your skills as a way to manage fear is a dangerous path in climbing.

Your protection, not your skills, are what keeps most climbers alive and healthy.

Obviously skills are important, but far far more important is diligence with rope skills, carefully and frequently placing pro, checking and rechecking harnesses and anchors, putting knots in your ropes when rapping, and generally not getting complacent or lazy with these things.

But relying on just not falling is a great way to die by overconfidence (and yes, I'm saying that all free soloists are running on borrowed time and, frankly, are poor models to look to)...

I'm sorry but this is just not true at all in alpine climbing. Plenty of no-fall zones where being comfortable climbing icy 5.8 in boots and crampons is the difference between falling to your death and making it up.

For the vast majority of recreational climbers my comment holds. If you're in a no-fall situation where your life is at risk, it's because you're off route and run out, an entirely avoidable situation.

Then there are people like Alex Honnold who don't seem to have this fear at all, able to free solo (climb without ropes) that same route


I have climbed for many years, though as more of a gym rat. What this article seems to primarily be about is the psychological aspects of the sport - there are many times when you need to do a move which is physically not a stretch, but your mind resists, because you become stuck thinking about the consequences of failure. For a non-climber, think of walking in a straight line for ten seconds. What are the chances you will fall over and sustain an injury? Very small, of course, you do more dangerous things every day without thinking about it at all. But now walk in a straight line along a small ledge, where falling would mean certain death. Objectively, you know you can do it, it doesn't become any more difficult just because the consequences are much more serious. But if you panic, it does, and the panic can kill you... Still, I tend to prefer to stay closer to the ground, what can I say, I haven't achieved that level of confidence.

He is mentioned and also interviewed in the article. Did you read it?

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