Climbing is one of those sports considered to be the most dangerous and that is because many people are afraid of heights. Is the height of the wall or a boulder the only factor that scares us in climbing, maybe there is something more to it? How probable is it to fall off the wall? Why is climbing so scary? Those any many other questions we will cover in this article, so stay with us to learn more.
Being scared of something is a very personal thing, everyone is different and will be scared by something else, but there are many things that are common and scare most of us like for example ghosts, snakes, and fear of falling from tall objects. Every time when we have to jump a little bit higher during our climbing, to reach that handhold we tend to remember our worst nightmares and ask ourselves, what will happen if we can’t grab it and fall?
Fear of falling from a climbing wall
In general fear of falling is common among people. In many case studies, we can learn that more than 33% of older adults acknowledged being very afraid or moderately of falling. We also can learn that the potential injury is the reason for that fear, and when your body is more fragile or simply older, then that percentage increases, due to your age. As the “World health organization” states adults over 60 years old suffer the biggest number of fatal falls, and that’s the reason why older people are scared of falling.
Being scared is a totally normal thing for our bodies to prevent us from injuries in the future, that’s how our body reacts to many things, and it can be caused by our previous experiences like watching scary movies or seeing wild animals as kids. That can give us trauma for the future, so for example if you fall as a kid from something tall and hurt yourself that can be the reason for your climbing fear or why you are scared more than your climbing friends.
Even as a professional climber your body is getting more fragile with age, so we need to think about some prevention strategies. Fall prevention strategies for climbers are:
- Avoiding routes way above your current skill level
- Warming up long before any climbing session
- Thinking more about the route or problem before we are going to climb it
- Not doing the same route after the first fall from it
But we have to know that climbing is a dangerous sport overall and we have to live it, so avoiding danger is not always possible.
Our fear is something that sits in our brain, and from the time perspective, it looks way different. With experience comes knowledge, and the problems that were scary for us at the first bouldering session later became trivial. So doing easy routes can give us more confidence for the harder ones, due to our increasing experience.
How probable is it to fall off the wall?
In the case study mentioned above, we can see that about 9.6% of people in the united states reported a recent fall, so that means we as human beings tend to fall very often, but it was not related to professional climbers. Even the fall death rates are increasing year over year. Each year an estimated 684 000 people die due to fall damage, this statistic is related to the whole planet and not only to the United States, but over 80% are in low-income and middle-income countries.
To lower the probability of falling you should get more experience on easier routes to give your body more confidence, remember “practice makes perfect”. Your body gets something called “muscle memory” by practicing, and that will teach your brain to not generate that much fear because you know what you’re doing, and the probability of falling is decreasing. Note that climbing is dangerous and even the best climbers fall from time to time.
How to overcome a fear of falling?
Lots of things can make us feel afraid, but climbing can be sometimes dangerous because when you feel fear while climbing then you can’t do your best. To overcome the fear of falling, first, we need to know what can that felling do to your body in terms of climbing:
- You feel dizzy – That can lead you to make a mistake like putting your feet in the wrong position before going for the next handhold and causing you to fall off the wall eventually.
- Increased sweating – In climbing sweat is a very bad thing, that makes your skin less dry. If the skin is dry then it will generate more friction while holding the handhold, that’s why we use chalk, but fear makes us sweat more.
- Overthinking the problem – Fear of doing a hard move above the ground will lead us to overthink and that can be dangerous for your muscles because while you will be thinking about the ways to solve that problem your muscles will get more tired and that won’t let you give it your best.
Those are the most common disadvantages related to the fear of falling, and if you know how bad it is for you as a climber we can start to think about ways to get rid of that. The ways to overcome the fear of falling:
- Doing easier problems/routes – Every hour added to our experience during our climbing sessions will give us more confidence and that is necessary for your body to feel less fear while thinking about harder problems.
- Think about what are you going to do on the ground – Many climbers don’t do that, but it’s so underrated to think about that problematic part while you are still on the ground, that way you will have time to think about what exactly are you going to do to solve it, and then while you will reach that moment you will simply go with the thinks that you have previously imagined.
- Ask someone experienced to give you a tip – if you ask someone else for his or her opinion about it then while that person will be giving you an opinion, your body will get more confidence and will see that this is possible to clear that route. Even ask someone to show you his or her beta.
Those simple tips should let you feel less scared and get the motivation to complete that problem you have been struggling with.
In conclusion – Why is climbing so scary?
Climbers are scared mostly due to the height that they are going to climb. If climbing is too scary for you we highly recommend you try bouldering instead. Indoor bouldering is a great way if you feel scared about height because you will be climbing only a few feet above the ground also there are crash pads on the ground to prevent you from injuries, so make sure to check it out!