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Mountaneering and heights.

Right here we go.....Have just completed my SMP in Bavaria and loved it. Problem is I have never been a big fan of heights(sweaty hands and pulse rate up) and when doing some of the routes where there where some steep drops and only about 5 inches to walk on I must admit I did feel a bit apprehensive.

Is it a question of just getting up the hills walking the ledges and getting used to it to overcome the nerves.

The reason I ask is because I am going to push to go MLT then JSMEL. I have no dramas with leading the group or nav just the heights thing at the moment so any help/advice would be appreciated as I dont want to be held back and fail the courses through nerves.
Well, first things first - it's obviously not a crushing phobia otherwise you would never have gotten through the routes, let alone decided to take the sport up seriously. I'm not belittling your fear, I'm just saying you should give yourself some respect for not letting it stop you.

Brain Botherers will tell you that your phobia is to do with losing control and a fear of dying/serious injury. To my mind those are perfectly rational things to be scared of. it also means that as your knowledge, skill level and confidence on the hills increases, you'll feel more in control, more at home and more aware of the physical risks - and what you can do to minimise them. Although it doesn't seem that the irrational fear you feel will be diminished by such rational factors, it will be.

But you don't have to pay too much attention to the psychotherapists - the more you do something, the less scary it gets. look at cunnilingus. Britain is a frankly awesome country to climb up hills in. If the narrow ledges of Crib Goch in Snowdonia are too much, do some costal stuff in penbrokeshire - you're high above sea level, but what you're walking on is obviously safe as houses. Same with the lake district, nice views, maybe stay away from Striding Edge until you're confidence is up, but its all safe and you can't really let yourself wuss it when you see a family in t-shirts and flip flops coming up behind you. Or MDN stood on the peak playing last post on a make believe bugle. When you're happy with not only your confidence but you've developed your trg a bit, you can give Tryfan, bristly ridge and devils kitchen a go, or bag some of the munroes in scotland.

Knowledge Dispels Fear. I think I read that on a TShirt somewhere.
I would much rather you had a healthy respect for the hills and heights as a mountain leader than have no fear at all!

You will be far less likely to get yourself and others into trouble!

Take it slowly and safely!

having said that, and without taking the p1ss, you really need to consider whether it is fair on yourself or those you are leading if you maintain the phobia when qualified. i agree 100% that you can grit your teeth and push through a nasty experience - eg heights - and that phobias do become more controllable with practise and frequent experience - however, this wears off if you dont keep the frequency up, and you are back to scared.

seriously, as an instructor you are not always given a choice of routes / locations. if you are qualified you are expected to lead with example and gusto, but moreover to be the focal point in a crisis. if you have a phobia that impairs you, how will you fair when you have a group-member who has slipped down the side of crib goch? if you feel you will be happy walking crib goch, great and well done, but if you are not happy effecting a scramble / rope rescue / whatever you may be just as well sticking to a proficiency award and not going for your instructor ticket.

i dont mean to be harsh, just think about why an instructor is there - really - and then see if you fit it.

Just remember that adv trg is about the management of perceived risk. As a leader, you should never lead a group up a route that you don't have confidence in. This doesn't mean that you should only do routes you know, but that as you build your experience, your confidence will grow - just as RTFQ says above. Also getting the tick in the box isn't the end of it, but merely the beginning (must do mine someday). I've seen some arse decisions made (or usually the right decisions not made) and have stepped in a couple of times to suggest a different course of action. This is one of the facets at the heart of ML - the ability to make a decision based on the available factors and ultimately 'managing risk.'

Often people are afraid of making decisions, just as they are afraid of being afraid. Although I don't climb much now, I can still remember getting the old disco leg on climbs. Nor have I been in Bavaria but guess I would probably get a little excited at some altitudes/exposure.

Believe me, knowing your limits is far better than being in a pair of trainers on Ben Lomand while others are in crambons and gortex (as one of my colleagues saw once) - I assume there already is a thread for top civi mountain horror stories??
You may also have problems with the rope rescue part of the MLT course, but they say one of the best ways of conquring a fear is to take it head on so perhaps a RCP course may be the best option.
Thanks for all the advice and agree with it all.

I see where you are coming from onfire, I would never lead a team if I didnt feel completley confident in my ability. That said surely you dont get your qaul from the back of a cornflakes packet so when I am qualified I will be ready.
I think at the moment its more of a confidence thing Ie stumbled over the kerb,stairs,kids toys etc many a time.

I wouldnt say it was a phobia anyway as a never hesitated on any of the route just that I would like to be able to enjoy it more without the nerves which as mentioned before I feel would be picked up by the group and if they think I am nervous then they will feel there is something to be nervous about.

I look forward to the challenge and trying some of the Kletterstieg courses to improve my confidence.
RTFQ said:
Or MDN stood on the peak playing last post on a make believe bugle.
Oh you just knows thats true. :D

Echo what RTFQ said with regards to Britain having some awsome hills to bimble up. Blencathra boasts two of the best ridge in the lakes alternatively take in some routes with low grade scrambles, I had a bash at Pinnacle Ridge on st Sunday Crag the weekend, awsome now the good weather is here. Take advantage of whats on your doorstep & chalk up summits prior to attending your next course, confidence grows with experience.
Bit limited to Germany at the moment, so U.K. going to be a bit tricky unless I try to convince the wife and kids to go for holiday over the summer.

Anybody know if there are any good walks in the Hearts Mountains (excuse the spelling as I know this must be wrong but you get the drift) as they are only about two hours from where I am.
oldagecrafty said:
Bit limited to Germany at the moment, so U.K. going to be a bit tricky unless I try to convince the wife and kids to go for holiday over the summer.

Anybody know if there are any good walks in the Hearts Mountains (excuse the spelling as I know this must be wrong but you get the drift) as they are only about two hours from where I am.
Harz Gebirge....

Lots of very good walks and a few rock climbing faces but nothing horrendous, if I remember correctly. Lovely area and well worth the trip.


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