Base Camp Blog

Reader Poll: Tell Us Your Fears

• What is your biggest fear in climbing? (e.g., falling, weather, rockfall, etc.)

• How do you deal with fear when climbing? (e.g., convince yourself it’s ok, back off, etc.)

• Describe a time when your fear has held you back.

Tell us in the comments and your answer could be featured in an upcoming issue of our print edition!



Previous Comments

Probably my biggest fear in climbing isn't anything bad happening to myself, its the though of someone else (my climbing partner or another party) getting seriously injured. I usually go through a mental list when deciding what to do, 1.)If there is anything i should actually be scared by, 2.)Chances of something happening, 3.)Consequences of something happening, I then decide what to do. I was on probably some of the steepest snow I had ever been on at the base of the summit pyramid on a glacier climb, as we traversed along the base of the chossy climb above, the sun beat down melting the snow making every step more uncertain the the last. As I was climbing the summit pyramid I pulled off one of the many massive loose chunks and had to throw it over my group who where below onto the snow where it slid and exploded on impact with the scree, showing what would happen if you fell.

Michael - 09/11/2014 5:02:00

My biggest fear when climbing is the potential for sexually transmitted diseases. How embarrassing would that be to explain to future climbing partners? That's why I usually use protection.

Moony - 07/25/2014 5:21:54

I think getting into a situation that I don't have the skills to get out of. Recently a friend and I were up at Sonora Pass. The second day there we decided to head up to Frankensteins. From the book I had seen a great 5.9 crack, but when we got there we discovered that we would have had to rappel down two pitches, something I've not done yet, or first lead up some harder routes. As I was tired from the previous day and the hike in, I got scared that something would go wrong and I'd not be able to deal with the situation.

Matt - 07/24/2014 8:48:01

heights! started climbing in gym and couldn't get above boulder line. Now pushing multipitch sport (3-4 pitches), just as long as there are no bad runouts!

Gary - 07/24/2014 6:05:19

My biggest climbing fear is that a piece of gear or sling or bolt or something will fail. i know is really unlikely but there's always that thought in the back of my head. When I'm actually climbing i try not to think about anything but the moves them selves and that seems to help suppress the fear a good bit. its always there but in some ways i think it helps. it gets my adrenaline going and sometimes helps me pull moves that i thought to be above my level. The first time i was to clean a sport route i got to the anchors and couldn't get myself to untie. I wouldn't trust the bolts alone, not sure why but i was young and inexperienced lol

Joe - 07/24/2014 5:48:29

Lightning. If I'm above tree line and dark clouds are coming in I almost always bail. I had an experience with a "simple" peak in the Tetons, Buck, and thought because it was not technical I could move fast and was safe. Let's just say thunderstorms form faster then we realize and are a sight to see at elevation. Many times I have retreated since and no weather has moved in and I feel like a wuss, but those times it does I'm very happy to be hiking out in the rain and thunder instead of stranded on a ridge or peak with 20 pounds of metal strapped to my hips. Coming back for a climb I bailed on and finishing it, whether it takes two, three, or however many tries feels great, you build a connection with the climb and are almost sad to complete it.

Sean - 07/23/2014 11:29:31

I have some fear of the "unknown", i.e., I'm very afraid of leading a route that I've never climbed before. I have thoughts like "What if I don't find a hold? What if I climb leftwards but should have gone right and end up far from the protection?". This is specially true when doing big-wall or multi-pitch routes. Last May I missed the opportunity to lead some easy pitches in the big wall climbing of Pedra Riscada (the super big wall in Brazil home of the "Place of Happiness" route: My friends even game me the opportunity to climb the last pitch (and it was a short-and-easy slab) to summit first and I refused it =/

Fred - 07/23/2014 1:19:19

• Definitely being stranded or stuck with a bad belayer/partners/campers. • I just try to submit to the moment to my best ability and do my best to trust my belayer, usually ready for the worst. (like decking or a big whipper) • I usually can't finish an overhang, where I'm afraid to fall and be caught bad, since most people pay no attention and suck at belaying — especially the fear of ripping out my navel piercing (and by that ruining the day) holds me back most often, so I mainly climb slab, slight hang or flat verticals.

Jen - 07/23/2014 12:29:36