Risk and Fear In the Alpine

swbugas Portland, ORMember Posts: 19

Hundreds of feet above the glacier, no rope, and the world feels like it's melting away. The fear is settling in, and I can't get myself to go any further. The reality is that I'm standing on a fairly wide rock spine, wide enough to comfortably accommodate myself along with multiple other climbers, and yet I feel like the wrong sneeze would send me tumbling.

Over and over again, I return to the paramount skill: how to manage fear. It's become the biggest challenge I face while climbing, and I'm finding it more and more often putting a dent in my aspirations to climb increasingly exposed routes. I'm strong enough, I have the gear, I have great partners, but my brain and heart feel like they are colluding to give me a panic attack. How do I manage this fear?

I've heard breathing can be the key...1, 2, 3 exhale...but my brain still races. I've been told to find a motto or mantra of sorts to repeat when I need stability. Now, while I navigate this momentary impasse, I'm curious what you guys do to mitigate fear.

I think that fear is a rather vulnerable subject, and it can feel a little uncomfortable to discuss, but I've personally found A) that other people actually experience the same fear I do, and B) what techniques they've developed to control and utilize it, goes a long ways towards allowing me to grow and confront the uncomfortable nature of fear. I'd love this to become a place we can openly discuss places we've found ourselves afraid, as well as the means by which we work through it (my angle is mountaineering, but fear can come in many activities, so I'm open to all settings!).