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Personally, I have built up to soloing class 4 and low class 5 on Flatirons which has helped my confidence hugely, but I cannot say that is necessary and some of my very good climber friends disagree with that approach to achieving comfort and safety on class 3/4 14ers.
I think getting comfortable with climbing and exposure allows your body to move in a more relaxed manner and you can maintain a more erect posture (rather than leaning into the rock) which actually increases your stability on the rock.
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DeTour wrote:Humboldt's west ridge has some blocky stuff not far below the summit that might get to low class 3, with no exposure. (You can work around it to stay class 2, but everyone I saw on the day I climbed Humboldt was scrambling on the blocks.)
A few years ago, I needed to build confidence, so I would do this too. If I came across an obstacle that was easily bypassed, I would climb it... and while on it...try to mentally picture huge exposure underneath me. Same thing goes for ridge running. If a ridge looks a little spooky, but you can avoid it by dropping down a bit...climb the ridge proper knowing that you can easily retreat to safety if you get uncomfortable.
jaymz wrote: There are plenty of places where you can look out over the edge into Summit Lake and test your feelings of vertigo, just to see if you get used to it.
Even better if there is actual exposure on one side with an easy retreat on the other.
These days when on easy mountains, I continue to do this (weather and time permitting)...just because it's plain fun as well as good practice.
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Just focus on where you are putting your feet and your hands, that's it. When you pause and start looking around, you will freak out and wont be doing yourself any favors
Not looking down and simply focusing on the rock right in front of you, not thinking about the "what ifs" is the proper method to decrease fear. That said, there are a couple of moves that still cause some trepedation. That one move on Mt. Wilson is one of them, more so than any exposed shelf or "sidewalk" like Pyramid or Eulous, or even sustained slopes like Crestone Peak or Needle, or the Homestetch on Longs. Also, the crux move onto the summit block of Sunlight (when it was wet and sleeting!) was another pucker move. At least for me.
Bad decisions often make good stories.
"I mean, what could go wrong?" "Well, that didn't go as expected." - Brett Maune
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MonGoose made a great point about having a climbing partner you can trust. When I did the Wilson-El Diente traverse, it was nice to have a partner who was happy to run ahead and make route-finding decisions (there's just something comforting about hearing that a particular option goes when it looks like the route ends in a drop-off). It can also be nice to have someone else downclimb a difficult section first and then talk you through the hand and foot placements (since foot placements are sometimes difficult to spot from above).
I actually really enjoyed Mt. Wilson and didn't find it any more difficult than Wilson Peak. Of the three you've mentioned (Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente), Mt. Wilson is the one I'd be most likely to repeat (We went down the North Slopes route described by Roach--the hardest move was right near the summit, but it wasn't too bad. We scrambled up the ridge to get to Mt Wilson's summit, which was fun but exposed; the other people on the summit were surprised to see us go that way and suggested a much easier way down). If you're concerned about looseness of the traverse, you could do Mt. Wilson by itself via the North Slopes route. Personally, I thought El Diente was the most dangerous of the three: we encountered spontaneous rockfall while ascending the couloir on the North Slopes route for that peak as described by Roach.
Don't chase your dreams, catch them.--Unknown
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Somewhat of a prick wrote:Basically the best thing you can do is go do it.
The exposure can unnerve you, but what I found to help me is to block it all out mentally. Just focus on where you are putting your feet and your hands, that's it. When you pause and start looking around, you will freak out and wont be doing yourself any favors.
Basically just take a deep breath and just move methodically. Only focus on where your next hand and foot is going and the route ahead of you. That's all there is to it, from my experience anyway.
That's kind of what I've found too. Just focus on the task at hand. On Castle Peak last year, my hiking partner was very intimidated by the exposure on the Northeast Ridge, while I didn't really notice it. In hindsight, there were a couple of spots up there where a fall would have been very bad, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time. It sounds like a cliche, but just focus on the little things to get the task done. It will help take your mind off of all the rest. It's kind of like driving up to the top of Mt. Evans. Despite being protected by metal, there are a few areas in that road where going over the edge would be a very serious problem. But when I'm driving, I'm so busy focusing on the road, and typical driving stuff, that I can't even think about what's off to the left or right.
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- Michael J
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"I've often heard a voice call down to me
If you'd climb higher you'd find wondrous things to see..."
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