The risk pyramid

Climbing is a scary sport at times. We're no longer terrified of heights, we still get a little flustered by sketchy moves. How do we manage this fear? How can we progress in our climbing without being held back by these anxieties?

The pyramid

We started by asking ourselves where we felt safest to do the sketchiest, hardest moves. For us, that's while bouldering. Falling while bouldering isn't scary and usually quite safe, even if the moves are extreme.

We are the least comfortable falling when leading multi-pitch routes. Those are endurance-focused climbs. For safety's sake they should be well within our grade of climbing.

A pyramid with at the bottom bouldering, then toprope, then single-pitch lead climbing, then multi-pitch lead climbing at the top.
The risk pyramid as of September 2020.

In short, we allow ourselves to do dangerous moves while bouldering. That way we can learn the mechanics of them, and get accustomed to the movement with relative safety. The goal is to move techniques and moves through the different layers in the pyramid.

Once we're comfortable attempting something on a boulder, we should try it in a toprope climb. And if that goes well, we should try it on a single-pitch lead, and so on. That allows us to learn and re-learn the techniques with a little more stress every time. More practice under varying circumstances always helps to get more comfortable with it.

This is a trial for now, we're working on this. We'll report back on how this is working out for us.

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  27. Petzl Connect Adjust

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  30. Black Diamond Circuit approach shoes

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