Fear. What is it? Why does it affect us? How can we conquer it and free ourselves from its insidious grip? I don’t know. But Arno Ilgner does, and he’s written a few books that explore the effect of fear on climbing and whatnot. He’s even teaching clinics at RJ that cover all sorts of techniques for maximizing your climbing through mental preparation. All that jazz. Meanwhile, I’ve put together a haphazard list of everything I can think of about fear and how it relates to climbing:

1) Phobos is the Greek term for fear. Phobos is also a pretty sweet boulder problem at Lincoln Lake.

2) The best climbers I know are not timid when it comes to doing a move. Commitment to success is the most important mental element of climbing well, and those who are able to really ‘go for it’ (air quote dab) without thinking about taking a big fall are the ones who succeed the most. One needs only to watch the Dosage series to get a feel for how little Dave Graham is afraid of taking a fall, as nearly every segment features him eating it in spectacular fashion. Yet his resume is one of the most impressive in rock climbing. Why? Because he’s thinking about sending, not falling. Or maybe he has microscopic spider hairs on his hands, I dunno.

3) It is pretty lame to automatically include Chris Sharma in a discussion about rock climbing, but in this case he fits. In King Lines (I’m in no way affiliated with Big Up Productions…) Chris is seen hucking his meat for holds 60+ feet over the ocean in Mallorca, smiling, laughing, enjoying the whole experience. Later, he backs off a high ball in Bishop because “it’s scary up there.” He can commit to wild deep water soloing not because he isn’t scared, but because he has more fun than fear, while on the high ball it’s the other way around. There is no reason to force yourself to climb something that isn’t fun; if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.

That’s what I’ve got. Arno though, he’s got much, much more. All kinds of ways of improving your climbing and making you a calculated, focused warrior of the rock. Maybe you’ve already read the fliers posted around the gyms, but in case you haven’t, here is an abbreviated list of topics Arno will be covering:

* awareness of your mind’s limiting tendencies

* effective risk-assessment

* distinguishing between no-fall and yes-fall zones

* making appropriate risk decisions

* practicing falling in small increments

* cushioned belay techniques

* developing flow and momentum

* problem solving skills and strategies

* fear reduction

There’s more, too, but that’s what the clinics and his books are for. The clinic at RJ1 is Monday August 8th from 6-10pm and will cover everything mentioned above and more. Arno’s RJ2 clinic is Wednesday August 10th from 6-9pm and will only cover how to fall and techniques to conquer your fear of falling. The RJ1 clinic is $79 for members and $89 for non-members while the RJ2 clinic is $69 for members and $79 for non-members. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the number of participants, so be sure to call either RJ location to reserve your spot as soon as you can. If you can’t make the clinic, RJ carries both The Rock Warrior’s Way and Espresso Lessons (15% off if you’re a member).


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