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Mountally challenged => ChitChat => Topic started by: trunl on Oct 6 2004, 06:27

Title: Psychology
Post by: trunl on Oct 6 2004, 06:27
W-O-W, we were talking about psychology stuff in class, and that stuff is DEEP. makes you think.....

Title: Re: Psychology
Post by: 7summits on Oct 6 2004, 14:46
cool, pay good attention, psychology is probably the single most important field that will get you up (and down) mountains...

My GF is a psychologist, she makes me think a lot too...
Title: Re: Psychology
Post by: Corsair on Oct 6 2004, 15:39
Wasn't it Joe Simpson who said;
"In the end it doesn't count much how well trained you are if the brain isn't on your side. 80-85% is mental when you're high up there".
Something like that, I don't remember the exact words.
I agree.

The brain will find all logical reasons in the world to make you turn back.
The tricky part is to discard some of those "logical thoughts" and listen to the real danger signs.
After all, we are not supposed to be up there and the fight is most times mental. Many climbers who turned back are not sure afterwords, what excactly made them take the final decision to abort. It all made sense when the decision was made, but when back in BC, it isn't so clear anymore.
Very few admit this and after some time a story about the decision starts to develop, builds up and are extended to a complete scenario of logic, which makes sense both to the climber and to the persons who listen to the tale about why Mr Joe Climber aborted.

My personal way to train this is to "do things wrong" when back home. This also helps you to know the physical aspects better.
Some examples:
* Try to climb your rockwall back home under unusual conditions. Climb at when the weather is as miserable as possible. Climb at night, first with a head light, later on without. Climb blindfolded.
* Climb or run long distance when you're dehydrated. How does that feel? Where is the utmost limit? Where is the breaking point? How does it affect my judgement? How can I find the those last reserves? How much do I have lower the pace in order not to reak completely?
* Try out food you expect to use on an upcoming expedition when you're close to max pulse. Try to eat it without water. Uncooked, etc.
* Stay awake for a long time and then climb, that will be a reality sooner or later anyway on the high peaks. Combine it later on with a very low intake of energy. Better to get to know how you feel back home than during a blizzard on 7000m.
* Climb some with one arm in a sling. Make one of your legs stiff, so you can't can't move it when attempting a pitch. Better to simulate a broken arm or leg before experiencing it on a peak somewhere.
* Throw your friction shoes in the closet for a month and climb rock in your mountaineering boots. etc. etc.

The above and many other tests will put you on trail and you will learn a lot about yourself. Needless to say, this has to be done with a lot of care. It's absolutely not a thing to practice alone.
To test gear, food and yourself under perfect conditions doesn't give you the full story and I've seen a lot of climbers being unable to eat the "high-tech" expedition food on higher elevations, cracking up completely when the rock is wet etc. etc.
Be prepared for as many of the "unusual" conditions as possible and you'll have a better chance to reach your goal. It's also a way to play the dangerous game of mountaineering safer.

My late friend was running in a gas mask to simulate high altitude.
I'm not sure how valid the conclusions drawn from this test is, but he was adamant about the positive side affects he learned from it.
One thing's for sure...it scared the hell out of all the runners he met  8)
Title: Re: Psychology
Post by: 7summits on Oct 6 2004, 15:57
Hey Corsair, cool post and good advice.

I think Goran Kropp used to sleep in the woods, set his alarm without watching the alarm time and when it went (every night at a different moment) he got up and ran through the woods for 10k or so..

- Expect the unexpected.
- If you can do one more step, chances are big you can take another one afterwards
- It's good if food is tasty, if not at least it's mostly nutricious in some way, so always eat, even if it tastes bad...

I also always tell people from experience that mental strenght is the most important one to have on mountains and on high altitude.

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing" - Ben Zander
"Altitude is the great equalizer" - Hornbein
"Free your mind and your ass will follow" George Clinton  ;D
Title: Re: Psychology
Post by: Buddha on Oct 6 2004, 18:36
That's true about Göran Kropp. I had the fortune to meet him when he was training for the bikeride to Everest and the following climb to the summit. Back then I was 18 years old and thought he was nuts when he was sleeping outside in -30 degrees.

It seemed like no matter what he did then, he connected it to his forthcoming trip and did some additional training. He held a lecture for a few people, which I attended and after only a few minutes he walked over the the door and grabbed it at the top and started hanging there for about 2 hours. All the time doing chin-ups..