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Dealing with Exposure

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Wondering what ways people have to deal with not getting gripped by exposure. Personally, I'm not sure that there's more of a magic bullet here than for any other aspect of riding: I find I have to simply get repeated exposure to exposure, if you will, to stop thinking about it or start enjoying it. To a certain extent this process repeats itself every year, in spite of the fact that my summertime activities may have their own "exposure" elements.

I do find that other stresses -- cold, tired, not having a great vibe from your skiing/riding partners -- can make it worse, and conversely great sking/riding partners, being happy, etc. can make it better. The physical act of smiling seems to help the relaxation/feelgood process.
post #2 of 26
I don't think fear of exposure (whether skiing, boarding or climbing) is fundamentally different than the fears of never-ever skiers: Beginner skiers are deathly afraid that they will not be able to stop, will keep picking up speed and "get killed" (even tho they are only on a 5 degree bunny hill). Beginning rock climbers are afraid that their protection will rip out (even if top roped), their belayer won't be paying attention, etc. Beginning glacier walkers are afraid that the other members of their rope team won't know how to self-arrest, rig a rescue, stepped on the rope with their crampon and didn't say anything, whatever.

It all comes down to the perception of trusting your life to your own skills, those of your team and the capabilities your equipment. If at some deep level you have doubts about any one of these things, it eventually comes out. Address each of them, and for most non-phobic people, the fear eventually goes away. The problem is that "addressing the issues" really means building confidence in them, and this might take years of experience at gradually increasing levels of difficulty.

It's not "repeated exposure to exposure" which works, but repeated exposure with periodic demonstrations (at increasing levels of difficulty) that the protection systems in place (eg, knowledge of avalanche risk, ability to self-arrest, ability to ski/board the slope, ability to survive an unexpected night on the mtn, etc.) really work.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM
post #3 of 26
I think that if you're not at least a little scared when dealing with exposure, you're not thinking. But sometimes you have to deal with exposure to get to a good line, like traversing above a cliff in order to get into a chute.

It comes down to managing the risk.

One of the nice things about snowboarding is that it leaves your hands free.

When dealing with a line with consequences for falling, I'll carry an ice axe in my right, dominant hand so I can self-arrest if needed.

Also, try practicing falling on a steep groomer sometime, heelside and toeside. Get the hang of how long it takes your edge to stop you.
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhysicsMan
I don't think fear of exposure (whether skiing, boarding or climbing) is fundamentally different than the fears of never-ever skiers: Beginner skiers are deathly afraid that they will not be able to stop, will keep picking up speed and "get killed" (even tho they are only on a 5 degree bunny hill). Beginning rock climbers are afraid that their protection will rip out (even if top roped), their belayer won't be paying attention, etc. Beginning glacier walkers are afraid that the other members of their rope team won't know how to self-arrest, rig a rescue, stepped on the rope with their crampon and didn't say anything, whatever.

It all comes down to the perception of trusting your life to your own skills, those of your team and the capabilities your equipment. If at some deep level you have doubts about any one of these things, it eventually comes out. Address each of them, and for most non-phobic people, the fear eventually goes away. The problem is that "addressing the issues" really means building confidence in them, and this might take years of experience at gradually increasing levels of difficulty.

It's not "repeated exposure to exposure" which works, but repeated exposure with periodic demonstrations (at increasing levels of difficulty) that the protection systems in place (eg, knowledge of avalanche risk, ability to self-arrest, ability to ski/board the slope, ability to survive an unexpected night on the mtn, etc.) really work.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM
Glad to get an opportunity to start at the basics of dynamic skiing, Tom! Isn't it that skiing is that easy because you can find out whithin minutes how to reduce speed or stop under harmless conditions?
post #5 of 26
Gee, all I can tell you about exposure is that when your toes turn black, it's time to come inside.
post #6 of 26
My early race coach told me I would never remember the best run of my life. It took me like ten years to know what he meant by that statement. I learned not to take it literally. Of course i would remember what run it was, but I wouldn't remember the details. "Skiing on the edge" as it is often referred, I believe, refers a lot to skiing instinctively.

Most people, myself included, give constant thought to their surroundings when skiing; where the rocks are, the trees, snow quality, yada yada. when you're with your friends on a powder day, you may have them scope a landing for you, or give you a heads up on depth, etc.
All of that thought results in memories. Those memories can instill a fear in exposure. (Or a pleasurable flashback buzz of adrenaline)

When I started competing, (don't anymore) I discovered that once I got to the bottom, I often forgot where I had been on the line. I've even had to ask people; "Where did I come off that rock?" I believe now that I understand what my race coach was talking about. I prepped the line, memorized it, skied it rat's fast, got to the bottom and forgot the details that I never gave a thought to. Other competitors have asked me; "what was that landing like, was it deep?" "I honestly have no idea. My skis didn't come off, my back slapped the ground. I'm still shaking. Is that enough?"

Exposure can be viewed as how much you pay attention to the death threats. Do I recommend ignoring those threats? No. Is there a magical solution to fear? No. But of all the fearful lines I've skied, I don't recall fear from any lines skied in events. And that is the only point that obsurdly long note hopefully expressed. : Nor did any of my injuries ever come from any lines skied in any events. That's the most interesting thing to me now that I am an old man who craves simple pow lines.

Ever see Point Break with with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze? I'll get this quote wrong; Swayze; "Fear will cause (something), (something) will cause hesitation, hesitation will cause your worse fears to come true."
Can someone help me out on that quote? Come on you swayze fans.

Ever hear of Dan Osman? (Rest his soul.) Saw some footage of him climbing. He was considered the world's greatest free climber. (no rope) Saw footage (Faces of Stone 3? 1995?) where he scaled a four-hundred something foot cliff in something like four and a half minutes, no rope. He gave a brief commentary in his films too about dealing with fear. I wish I could quote him here. To this day his athletic accomplishments caught on film have impressed me more than any other human being. Which is probably why I don't remember what he said. I never got over the shock of seeing him perform. Which... pretty much shuts me up.
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai
Ever hear of Dan Osman? (Rest his soul.) Saw some footage of him climbing. He was considered the world's greatest free climber. (no rope) Saw footage (Faces of Stone 3? 1995?) where he scaled a four-hundred something foot cliff in something like four and a half minutes, no rope. He gave a brief commentary in his films too about dealing with fear. I wish I could quote him here. To this day his athletic accomplishments caught on film have impressed me more than any other human being. Which is probably why I don't remember what he said. I never got over the shock of seeing him perform. Which... pretty much shuts me up.
Okay... now this is outright unbelievable.

Talk about dealing with exposure!!! :

http://www.devilducky.com/media/36803/
post #8 of 26
Thank you so much for getting that footage linked above.
again... speechless.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
The Osman footage (on an easy climb that he had rehearsed to death, to put it in perspective; still very impressive speed and anearobic endurance though) and what Samurai are talking about are to me example of being in a flow state: relaxed enough to allow complex coordinated movements, but aroused enough to perform at max strength/power etc. The fear brought on by exposure can prevent that flow state. How to have just enough fear or adrenalin for optimal performance but not too much is an interesting question for people from opera singers to skiers or riders.

To add to my earlier post, on thinking more, cognitively identifying the "gripped" feeling for what it is -- a natural reaction to somewhat unnatural situations -- and visualization both also help deal with it. Think about those first couple turns and then go before paralysis by analysis sets in.
post #10 of 26
Hmmm, exposure. Generally not a problem for me. The only time I've ever felt that exposure was a problem is when it involved real consequences. Falling over a death cliff, that sort of thing. Dropping in on a steep line from a knife ridge. Bring it on. Traversing dangerous ridges, or climbing steeps, I just focus what is in front of me and tune the rest of the situation out.

Ok not to be an ass here. Dan Osman...free soloist is what you were looking for. That is climbing without ropes or gear. Free climbing is climbing with gear, using ropes and gear as a safety net. You only need it if you fall.

Greatest free soloist? Sure he was a great one, but I think that title either goes to Croft or Bachar. Depending on which style (long sustained routes vs short hard ones) you put more weight too. Personally Peter Croft's solo of Astroman stands out as the classic solo line. That feat stood untouched because no one was willing to try it. Dean Potter finally did it solo decades later. Still, Osman's speed ascent of Lovers Leap is fun as hell to watch isn't it?
post #11 of 26
CTkook; sorry for the thread hijack here but...

Can somebody explain to me the difference between "free" clilmbing and "solo" climbing?

I apologize for the dumb question, but my climbing experience is fairly limited and I barely know the difference between traditional and sport climbing.
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz
Hmmm, exposure. Generally not a problem for me...[snip]
Out of curiosity, how continuously are you in a steep environment in terms of days/year? The reason I ask is that for myself, each different type of "steep" environment requires adjustment to get used to. Hiking a headwall in the winter just seems very different from, say, slab climbing in the summer, to me, even though the headwall is generally less steep and more secure. As a climber, you've probably experienced taking someone used to say, Shelf Road sportclimbing down to the South Platte for slabs, and having them get really gripped even on second, just because the nature of the climbing is so different. Some riders who primarily freeride will comment on how an icey pipe is scary, and vice versa.

But, it's also true that speaking for my own experience, I don't get as many days in an overall alpine environment with a variety of visual inputs as I'd like. If someone wants to fund a multi-season study program on this important issue, I'm all ears.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
...

Can somebody explain to me the difference between "free" clilmbing and "solo" climbing? [snip].
In this context, Killclimbz explains it well.

You can also solo without free soloing by either 1) using a rope as a "safety line" for some or all of the climb, or 2) aid soloing, using some sort of mechanical aid to help you climb difficult stretches. In the Tetons, you have a lot of free soloing of easier routes, but some people may, for instance, rope solo the difficult portions of a climb and then put the rope away and free solo the rest.

It's interesting that you viewed the Osman climb as dealing with a lot of exposure. My inference is that this is because he was unroped; in climbing terms, the route wasn't blocky or overhanging or a thin ridge, and so in some ways was not that exposed. The visual commitment of being unroped, though, is very striking.

Here's one for you: the "daily" drop, to me, is far scarier and exposed-feeling than dropping into a pipe. It's also possible I'm a wuss.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook
Out of curiosity, how continuously are you in a steep environment in terms of days/year? The reason I ask is that for myself, each different type of "steep" environment requires adjustment to get used to. Hiking a headwall in the winter just seems very different from, say, slab climbing in the summer, to me, even though the headwall is generally less steep and more secure. As a climber, you've probably experienced taking someone used to say, Shelf Road sportclimbing down to the South Platte for slabs, and having them get really gripped even on second, just because the nature of the climbing is so different. Some riders who primarily freeride will comment on how an icey pipe is scary, and vice versa.

But, it's also true that speaking for my own experience, I don't get as many days in an overall alpine environment with a variety of visual inputs as I'd like. If someone wants to fund a multi-season study program on this important issue, I'm all ears.
Well I generally rockclimb 4 days a week. Mostly sport anymore. You definitely get more gripped trad climbing, which I occasionally still do. I am just not into it anymore. I reserve the right to change that opinion and start trading it up again. In the winter I spend 99% of my 60 (generally) + days in the backcountry. So I hike up ridges, exposed lines all the time. Putting on crampons for some of the approaches. Most of the stuff has sure footing, so even if I am on a knife ridge it just doesn't seem like much to me. I think that's the rockclimber in me coming through. Footwork first. I am sure there are plenty of situations out there that I would either avoid or have to approach a different way. Probably attack it like "crux" sections on a climb. Look at what you have to do and where the next rest is most likely to be. Then try to push through the hard section to get to that rest. Most of all, as I think you well know, is that this stuff is mental.

Bob,

Free soloing is as mentioned climbing without any safety gear. Just you and the rock. If you fall, you don't stop until you hit the bottom, ledge, hang up on a tree whatever. Gravity and solid objects decide on where you stop. Generally equalling death. Bouldering is basically free soloing but the heights involved won't kill ya. Don't tell me that when I am on a 20ft highball though. That damn pad looks like a postage stamp from up there.

Freeclimbing is the term that generally gets confused with soloing. If you have gone out toproping, sportclimbing, trad climbing, you have participated in free climbing. Your gear is for safety. If you fall, the rope pulls tight and catches you. At least that is what you are hoping for. Think of gear like a safety net for the trapeze artist. They only use it when they let go.

Aid climbing is that act of actively using your gear to climb the rock. Mostly used in the realm of bigwall climbing. Say El Capitan. Examples would be pulling on a quickdraw or cam to reach a hold. Actually hanging off your gear while you place another higher piece than going in direct to that, lather, rinse, repeat. This is in the realm of juggin, aiders, daisychains, lost arrows, pitons, copperheads, to name a few things. definitely not my area of expertise in climbing. Tons of gear, lot's of work over long periods of time at times.
post #15 of 26
^^^^then of course there is rope solo climbing. Basically using gear as a safety net by yourself and solo aid climbing. Using gear for aid by yourself. The list goes on....
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz
Greatest free soloist? Sure he was a great one, but I think that title either goes to Croft or Bachar. Depending on which style (long sustained routes vs short hard ones) you put more weight too. Personally Peter Croft's solo of Astroman stands out as the classic solo line. That feat stood untouched because no one was willing to try it. Dean Potter finally did it solo decades later. Still, Osman's speed ascent of Lovers Leap is fun as hell to watch isn't it?
He's the only one I've ever heard anyone call the greatest. I'm way out of the climbing loop, but I love great footage, skiing, climbing, skating, yada yada. Any advice as to where I can find Croft, Bachar or Potter. I'll do a search later, but any keywords to help my search? LIke titles of films or names of climbs. cheers...
post #17 of 26
Peter Croft has a few solo's on film in the Master's of Stone series along with John Bachar.
Croft Solo'd Astroman before Osman was on the climbing radar.
Bachar solo'd some stuff in the in the 5.13 grade.
Potter (not that I am putting him in the class of the other two) is known for solo's, but a lot of them involve him placing a piece or two and pulling on it directly to reach a hold. He also holds numerous speed ascents in Yosemite. I think he did El Cap in something under 3(?) hours. Him and Hans Florine have been going at it on that one, so I don't know if he still owns that record or not.

Just enter Peter Croft Solo and google and his North Face resume should pop up. Same with the others.
post #18 of 26
I ski when there is snow, and climb when there isn't. I have only skied inbounds (plan on taking care of that during my next 4 winters in CO), but have raced for 2 years. When sking or climbing, the sketch factor is dependent on my confidence in my gear, confidence in my skill, and any objective hazards. How all three of those fit together determines the sketch factor, and therefore how much adrenaline runs through my body.

I build confidence in my gear by taking care of it. I mean really taking care of it. I mean obsessing over it. I like my toys, I like to play with them, and when I need them most, I don't want them to fail.

I build confidence in my skills by learning where there aren't many objective hazards, and refining that skill in ever riskier situations untill I consider myself well versed.

As far as objectional hazards: If I don't have control over these, I get worried. I like to know what I am up against so I don't get in over my head. To manage these, I size them up. How steep is this slope? What condition is the snow in? How hard is the climb? Are there any parts that are like nothing I have done before? How bad will it hurt when I hit the ground, or fall while trying to make this turn?

Then weigh everything. It is rare that I am not confident in my equipment. So the big weigh in is my skills vs. the objective hazards. If the sketch factor is too high, I won't do it. Or if I do, there will be more safety measures in place. (slower speed, slightly different route, more protection, different protection, figure out a few ways to bail, etc.) The tricky part is figuring out that point where the objective hazards outweigh my skills. I have figured that out through experience, and of course, more than one or two close calls.

P.S. Killzclimb, I recognize you from rc.com
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Korporal...[snip
When sking or climbing, the sketch factor is dependent on my confidence in my gear, confidence in my skill, and any objective hazards. [snip]...
Sketch factor can be different from the exposure factor though?

An example: steep lift ramps. There's one mid-station in particular at last season's "home" resort for me that early season before the base builds up is quite steep with a bit of a kink at the bottom where it meets the cattrack. Zero consequence other than being hurt through forces of a fall themselves, though: nothing to run into, and the cattrck will stop you before you go anywhere if you get off and forget how to ride or ski. To even a low-level intermediate rider, though, this ramp is the steepest thing they've ever been on. The kink adds to the sense of "exposure." And several times a day in November/December people will freeze and not get off the chair.

I rode this lift last year with two women, one of whom was just learning to ride and had caught an edge while getting off at the midstation two times in a row and was back for her third time up. One of the coolest things I've seen in a while, becuase she was clearly gun-shy and gripped but determined. The lift was creaky that day and bouncing in the wind so the ride was not helping. Her girlfriend did a great job of being calm, funny, supportive, while at the same time telling her to imagine sliding straight down and stopping. She made it that time with just a bit of a hand down. For her, that was probably about the same thing as a strong intermediate/advanced rider doing something like hiking Tuck's for the first time.

I'd say she definitely used some visualization, and also had a good, positive riding partner.

I imagine instructors have to deal with students getting gripped unexpectedly in "exposed" situations (expsoed for the students) not infrequently.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook
Sketch factor can be different from the exposure factor though?
They both have the same effect on you, paralysis. And I deal with them the same way. Confidence in my gear, and confidence in my skills.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Korporal
P.S. Killzclimb, I recognize you from rc.com
Hahahaha. Yeah I am a board whore. What screenname do you post on over there. Is it the same?
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
One extra thought along the lines of cold/tired for flatlanders: altitude can have a big effect on what your body/mind thinks it's capable of the first few days out West. If your pulse is already pounding due to altitude you realistically are a bit limited in physical abilities the first couple days. It helps to remember on the 3d-4th day that something that didn't look fun earlier may look perfectly reasonable all of a sudden.

A fun opposite of exposure is vertigo due to white-out. The coping mechanisms can be much the same though.
post #23 of 26
And the thread ressurection of the year award goes to.....CTKook!!!
post #24 of 26
Now all we have to do is to figure out how this got into the snowboard forum and where the heck it really belongs.
post #25 of 26
Meh, it was started as a question to snowboarders. So I would leave it here. Otherwise the BC forums is the next most likely fit. Since we are talking exposure, rockclimbing, mountaineering related subjects.
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Leave it.

It's also not relevant simply to BC in my view, being gripped/vertigo etc. happen to people at all levels of the experience and vertical environment food chain.
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