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13 Jan 2003

Rock climbing - lost nerve.

This is not the usual type of question you get, but maybe you can help. I have been rock climbing since March 2001. I am now 31 and always enjoyed the sport, and everything to do with "messing about in mountains", but I now have to admit that I have lost my climbing nerve. Experienced climbers told me that climbing was 90% a mind game, but I didn't realise how true that was until now. I am well able to climb "trad" up to - possibly just over - grade 15, or I was. When I am climbing now I will do parts and really enjoy myself, but when things get a little tricky I have no nerve, no ability to make my mind override my body and try something out, despite the fact that there is a rope holding me (I don't lead). I tried to just keep on climbing in the hope that this would pass, but that has not helped. If anything, it has made matters worse. Someone suggested that I go back to the easy climbs I enjoyed and have done - so I know I can do them - and this makes sense to me. I do not want to give up on rock climbing, it's a great sport that combines being outdoors amid natural splendour and doing something which gives a great feeling of power and satisfaction, but at the moment I am petrified, in the true sense of the word. Apart from going back to baby steps, is there anything else you can suggest? Should I see a sports psychologist?
Answer 344 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi Sue

Yes, I would recommend you see a sports psychologist. The whole issue with "fears", is that they are often illogical and difficult to explain- and need to be unravelled - so that we can start to address them. Seeing as your fear is preventing you from enjoying something which has brought you great pleasure (until now), I would definitely think it's worth working through and trying to get the better of.

You can phone the Sports Science Institute's psychologist on 021 659 5655. If you don't live in Cape Town, perhaps he can refer you appropriately.

Best of luck - I hope things work out!
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