Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

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Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Tortoise » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 5:17 pm

Ok, so it looks like I'll have a shot at Federation Peak this summer, in a (hopefully small) group, with someone experienced in helping people in tricky spots etc. I've been working in my fear of heights for a while, but don't have anything in the NW of Tas that comes close to a 600m drop to practice careful negotiating. Mt Anne was indeed terrifying, but with help (and a rope on one of the ledge drops) I made it. :D Relaxation techniques helped, as did mindful concentration on the task at hand. But Fedders is a few big steps beyond Anne & the Notch.

Any practical suggestions, big or small, gratefully received.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Overlandman » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 5:47 pm

You could try skydiving. :D
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Tortoise » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 5:57 pm

Would you believe I jumped out of 2 perfectly good planes in my younger days?! Not sure what went wrong between then and now. :roll:
Cost is a limiting factor to what I can do at the moment...
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby geoskid » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 6:26 pm

Not so much practical advice Tortoise, but I've got lots of encouragement to give.
I admire your courage to pursue your goals, and understand, to a degree, use of mindfulness to achieve them.
What I've found, is that challenges are not always as bad as we imagine them.
Have a go and find out!
I have a 15 &1/2 yo (which I introduced to bushwalking) who is pushing me now to commit to the harder stuff.
It's all just very exciting, if not somewhat scary!
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby RonK » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 6:30 pm

Tortoise wrote:Any practical suggestions, big or small, gratefully received.

Get a copy of the TV series "Redesign Your Brain" with Todd Sampson. I think it's available from the ABC shop on DVD.

In series 2 he has to condition himself to perform a tightrope walk between high rise buildings.
The techniques he used should work for you also.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby geoskid » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 6:50 pm

RonK wrote:
Tortoise wrote:Any practical suggestions, big or small, gratefully received.

Get a copy of the TV series "Redesign Your Brain" with Todd Sampson. I think it's available from the ABC shop on DVD.

In series 2 he has to condition himself to perform a tightrope walk between high rise buildings.
The techniques he used should work for you also.


Yeah, good call Ron - I saw series 1.
We are capable of more than we think we are, the trouble is , we need to convince ourselves of that.
I find all of this type of learning (about the mind) fascinating.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Tortoise » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 6:53 pm

Thanks for the encouragement, geoskid. :) Good on you and your son!

And thanks for the reminder re the Todd Sampson series, Ron. I saw some of it, including the last one, but forgot all about it now that the specific opportunity to try for Fedders looks like it's coming up in real life. I'm really interested in neuroplasticity! And I didn't think about the series being on DVD. I'll definitely look into that.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby RonK » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 7:07 pm

As an aside - a while back my group of cycling acquaintances included renowned mountaineer Michael Groom.
Michael is very modest but his mountaineering achievements are incredible, so I was astonished when over a post-ride coffee he told us he was afraid of heights.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby South_Aussie_Hiker » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 7:11 pm

Another thing is to consider that you might not make it to the top - but you will have covered some pretty formidable terrain to get there and given it your best shot. The once or twice I've turned back from a summit due weather or conditions or exposure, I've NEVER regretted that decision.

You need to look at it differently. If you get all the way there and the final 100m or so ends up stopping you, isn't it still a great achievement? I bet a lot of people would never be able to get a few km past the carpark.

Glass half full stuff... If you are fortunate enough to get the summit, then consider it a lucky bonus. If you pin all your hopes on overcoming your fear and making the summit, then:
1. You are setting yourself up for disappointment
2. Your fear of heights will be associated with success/failure, which will heighten your fear and prohibit good decision making
3. You're less likely to take things on face value (ie small achievable steps, rather than one huge insurmountable goal)

Good luck.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby vicrev » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 8:00 pm

Being an ex high rise rigger,never look down while climbing......it worked for me.... :)
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Tortoise » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 11:09 pm

South_Aussie_Hiker wrote:Another thing is to consider that you might not make it to the top - but you will have covered some pretty formidable terrain to get there and given it your best shot. The once or twice I've turned back from a summit due weather or conditions or exposure, I've NEVER regretted that decision.

You need to look at it differently. If you get all the way there and the final 100m or so ends up stopping you, isn't it still a great achievement? I bet a lot of people would never be able to get a few km past the carpark.

Glass half full stuff... If you are fortunate enough to get the summit, then consider it a lucky bonus. If you pin all your hopes on overcoming your fear and making the summit, then:
1. You are setting yourself up for disappointment
2. Your fear of heights will be associated with success/failure, which will heighten your fear and prohibit good decision making
3. You're less likely to take things on face value (ie small achievable steps, rather than one huge insurmountable goal)

Good luck.

Thanks, SAH. Thanks for the reality check. Yes, I do have to keep reminding myself that it'll be amazing just to get to such a beautiful area. But...for me it's the ultimate destination, the only 10-pointer (on the Tasmanian Peak-Bagging list), sooooo iconic, etc, etc. This will be my Everest - and I'm aware that getting to the top is not the hardest bit! I've been able to make good turn-around decisions on other peaks, but this will be a tougher decision unless the weather is too dodgy.

Ok, so bite-size pieces. Making it to Bechervaise Plateau would be great. If i have to pull out of the summiting group, I'll hopefully have more time to sit and soak in some of the best views in the country - and beyond. :D
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Tortoise » Sat 05 Sep, 2015 11:15 pm

vicrev wrote:Being an ex high rise rigger,never look down while climbing......it worked for me.... :)

Wow, I tip me 'at to you, vicrev. Not a job I'd pick. :shock:

I generally managed to not look down too far when I was doing the actual scrambly bits on the Anne Circuit, but it's harder on Federation. You have to look where you're going to put your feet (and hands sometimes) on the way down, and there's Lake Geeves, sparkling in the line of view 600m below. :( It might be easier if there's some mist in the valley.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Zone-5 » Sun 06 Sep, 2015 3:17 am

Tortoise wrote:Any practical suggestions, big or small, gratefully received.


Yep, watch the Youtube in this thread at least 20 times over in HD full screen and you'll be much better for it...

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=20105

;)
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby north-north-west » Sun 06 Sep, 2015 8:23 am

Getting up is mostly a matter of not thinking about the fact that you have to get back down - which is where it really gets dodgy.

One thing I've found helps with this sort of thing is to push the envelope a little at every opportunity on the way in. You don't do anything dangerous, but just get closer to the edges whenever they turn up, whenever there's scrambling you pick a slightly more exposed route (if possible). Condition yourself before the trip, but also during it so that by the time you're doing the main climb you know you can achieve more than you expect because you did so an hour ago, you did it yesterday, you did it the day before, blah blah blah.

Given how my vertigo is worsening, I don't really expect to ever get up Fedders. I'll be satisfied to get to the start of the bad bit.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 06 Sep, 2015 5:16 pm

I can sympathize with you Tortise.

I can get dizzy standing on a milk crate! Not a particularly handy attribute for a bushwalker in Tasmania that's for sure!!
I recall quite happily walking through the clouds for a whole day on the Everest Base camp track a few years ago. As I sat munching on some lunch the clouds slowly peeled away to reveal the gut churning drop off that the tiny little ledge I was perched upon was skirting around. With in a 10 minute time frame I went from happily skipping through the mountains without a care in the world to trembling in morbid fear that I was certain to die if I just stood up!!!
Your best hope is that it's clouded in on the way up to Fedders summit, the clouds miraculously part long enough to admire the views from the ridiculously crazy predicament you have managed to find yourself in, and then a cloud band moves in just as you steel your shattered nerves for the decent !!

But seriously, I find the notion that you can somehow reverse the hard wiring in your brain to overcome something like a fear of heights to be B.S. That doesn't mean wimping out on a challenge though. It just means knowing that your extreme limits maybe well inside the comfort zone of others.
When ever I read accounts of mountain climbing or any adventure pursuit that has ended in disaster it is generally because those who have shuffled off their mortal coil failed to recognize they had reached their limits.

Good luck with it and I hope you make your summit......wherever that maybe!

( the name Michael Groom and ' a fear of heights' are 2 things I never thought I would read in the same sentence! )

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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 06 Sep, 2015 6:55 pm

I don't much like heights. Some days are better than others, some, not so good. But Heights are often where I work, the thing is, I don't focus on beating the fear, I focus on what I have to do. In fact a lot of my co-workers are not comfortable at heights, slap on a harness and some solid tethers and yes, we will do the job because we trust the gear, not because we are comfy standing on an 24 inch square platform 12m up a tree on a windy day. As I tell kids, fear keeps us careful, careful keeps us safe. As for dealing with fear, find something else you are also afraid of, and work on that. The same mindset will apply, be it public speaking, snakes, or heights. as you get more used to facing that fear, it becomes easier to face others.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Nuts » Sun 06 Sep, 2015 7:41 pm

It's debilitating, i'm not any more than reasonably fearful but have seen it paralyze others, even trying to get back down off Marions LO :shock:
In that instance, after many failed starts it was achieved by facing the rock from top and on hands and knees. Along the chain I physically placed each foot in it's respective safe step from below while her companion held a piece of cord tied to the (emptied) pack harness from above. Not at all a viable option anywhere serious but the reassurance just made possible what was otherwise incredibly looking like ending in a heli lift :oops: No answers in there I can see though so, anyhow, good luck!
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Lophophaps » Mon 07 Sep, 2015 8:32 am

My first rock climb was in 1971, and when I got used to the process it was a source of much enjoyment. I've taken beginners out heaps of times. One way to tackle fear of heights is to start gradually, with a very easy small face and a top rope. A ten metre grade three is enough. Very slowy make the climbs steeper, higher and a little harder. This will hopefully give you enhanced climbing skills and better mindset. Learn the knots so that you can confidently manage a bowline, double fishermans (aka ring knot) and figure eight. Learn how to make a harness out of tape, a swami seat. Learn how to abseil with crossed krabs or twisted krabs. When you've done all that, go back to the ten metre grade three and downclimb with a rope.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Tortoise » Mon 07 Sep, 2015 8:24 pm

Thanks very much, folks - I really appreciate your thoughts and good wishes. :)

I've been checking out some youtube clips of the climb as well - hmm - I will need to seriously consider my limits when I get there, but I want to do whatever I can beforehand to maximise my chances. I never got around to a few rock climbing lessons from a friend before he went sailing around the Pacific somewhere... But I will look into that as well - once my current injuries resolve. :roll:
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby corvus » Mon 07 Sep, 2015 10:05 pm

Acrophobia can most certainly be debilitating :( personally never experienced it till the day I fell when on an easy rock climb with no real injuries (almost lost the end of my nose ,fractured a wrist and hurt my bum ) head was still intact according to the Medicos however lost a week of work (with pay) and decided then that I would let my walking /climbing companions do the "photo shoots" up past and down those interesting tops and that I would wait for them at a non threatening to me spot, often with magnificent vistas :)
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby RonK » Mon 07 Sep, 2015 10:56 pm

Mechanic-AL wrote:I recall quite happily walking through the clouds for a whole day on the Everest Base camp track a few years ago. As I sat munching on some lunch the clouds slowly peeled away to reveal the gut churning drop off that the tiny little ledge I was perched upon was skirting around. With in a 10 minute time frame I went from happily skipping through the mountains without a care in the world to trembling in morbid fear that I was certain to die if I just stood up!!!

My head spins if I get too close the the balcony railing of my 16th floor apartment.

In Nepal I eventually became blase about walking along narrow tracks cut into the mountain with a 300 meter drop alongside. On the Himalayan scale of things such drops seem insignificant, but I would surely not have survived a fall.

This slip on the way back from Kangchenjunga really spooked me - I made it across...

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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Zone-5 » Tue 08 Sep, 2015 3:04 am

Mechanic-AL wrote:That doesn't mean wimping out on a challenge though.


Like hell it doesn't! If you're not comfortable about it then walk away. There is no shame in realising your limitations before you fall off a mountain and regret (if you are lucky) attempting it in the first place.

So I say respect your fear as it will keep you safe! Chance it without good experience and you may risk your own and possibly someone else's life in your rescue or remains recovery afterwards.

Be careful and trust what that 'little voice' inside is screaming at you to NOT do...

:wink:
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Lophophaps » Tue 08 Sep, 2015 6:22 am

Zone-5 wrote:So I say respect your fear as it will keep you safe! Chance it without good experience and you may risk your own and possibly someone else's life in your rescue or remains recovery afterwards.

Be careful and trust what that 'little voice' inside is screaming at you to NOT do...


Agree. Training can only take you so far, and to proceed beyond that point is risky. I've seen this with beginners on rock where they were given a gentle nudge to climb and then froze part way up. On a crag it's relatively easy to assist and get the beginner off the rock, but at Federation it's much harder. Bushwalking is about enjoyment, not being placed in danger or being scared. While a challenge is good, going to an extreme where pleasure is compromised is ill-advised.

There should be a fence on that cliff top. Abseil points would ne nice. Maybe an escalator. Or maybe buy fish at a shop.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Orion » Tue 08 Sep, 2015 8:11 am

Overlandman wrote:You could try skydiving. :D

I know that was meant as a joke but it's what I did. I was terrified of heights. I've never climbed a tree. I stayed off of the playground climbing bars at school. Then in my late 20s I took up skydiving. It was really hard for me. Most people seemed to relax after about half a dozen jumps but I had to struggle with feelings of panic for closer to 25. I never fully relaxed. But it was a kind of stepping stone for me. A few years later I started scrambling relatively easy peaks that were quite scary to me, at first. Eventually I became relatively comfortable on sheer cliffs. It's weird though, I still get scared on high ski lifts and ferris wheels.

I could have never climbed Federation when I was younger. No way. Now it's a very easy climb, at least in good weather.

Anyway, I think repetition and exposure to the exposure over time dampened my fears. A kind of desensitization treatment where I slowly realized that I was safe in those situations. But it took time. I'm not sure there's a faster way, except maybe a big shot of whisky. That sometimes takes the edge off the nerves. I had to use that approach to get myself to do some climbs that really frightened me. I'm not suggesting that though.

Good luck. It's a cool place to visit even if you don't stand on the summit.
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby north-north-west » Tue 08 Sep, 2015 8:45 am

Orion wrote:Anyway, I think repetition and exposure to the exposure over time dampened my fears. A kind of desensitization treatment where I slowly realized that I was safe in those situations.

I'm going the other way. Twenty years ago I'd have done it easily without a second thought. But now . . .
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby Zone-5 » Tue 08 Sep, 2015 5:35 pm

Orion wrote:
Overlandman wrote:You could try skydiving. :D

Most people seemed to relax after about half a dozen jumps but I had to struggle with feelings of panic for closer to 25.

Now it's a very easy climb, at least in good weather.



...see, it's real easy if you want it that bad! :lol:
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby vicrev » Tue 08 Sep, 2015 7:09 pm

There really isn't any answer/instant cure for fear of heights...I have helped to bring experienced climbers down from multi-stories,all of a sudden they seem to realise that it's a long way down & freeze & grab at anything nearby,you have to just about lever their fingers off whatever they have grabbed......the only advice I can give is if you do not feel comfortable with it, do not do it...I suppose that applies to just about everything.... :D
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby corvus » Tue 08 Sep, 2015 7:47 pm

north-north-west wrote:
Orion wrote:Anyway, I think repetition and exposure to the exposure over time dampened my fears. A kind of desensitization treatment where I slowly realized that I was safe in those situations.

I'm going the other way. Twenty years ago I'd have done it easily without a second thought. But now . . .


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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby pazzar » Wed 09 Sep, 2015 12:31 pm

Grab yourself a bouldering mat and find some small ledges that you can practice scrambling down on that aren't going to be an injury risk if you fall. Sisters Beach/Rocky Cape area has plenty of little rocks you could practice on. Or you could try taking a few side routes at Mount Murchison, I'm sure there are plenty of non exposed scrambles you could have a bit of practice on up there.

As others have said, going down is the hardest bit. I found it a little daunting coming back down, and even with my fearless approach to life, I found myself being very cautious. The best advice I can give is to take your time. Let your more experienced walking partners go down first so they can guide your feet down. The summit climb is all ledge work, but they aren't nearly as steep as what the photos suggest. I only found myself climbing down rocks backwards on three occasions, and that is where it is most difficult.

I'd recommend going in via Luckmans Lead, that way you can tackle the Four Peaks before you summit. You are climbing through them with a pack on, and there are several scrambles to do there, albeit a lot more sheltered. If you get through there with little trouble, I think you will be fine. The Eastern Arthurs are a great range for preparing you for the final climb.

And as others have said, there is no shame in turning around. Many have before, and many more will in the future. Just being able to get out to the southern traverse is a great effort in itself!
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Re: Overcoming a fear of heights for Federation Peak

Postby eggs » Wed 09 Sep, 2015 3:50 pm

We've probably all seen the money shot of climbing Federation Peak:
Crux9943.jpg
Looking down


But we went as a group of 6 and there were 3 who decided to sit it out. So as I took that photo someone below took this one. Doesn't look all that bad.
CruxFromBelow_DSC_0308.jpg
Exactly the same time but viewed from below.


I agree with others who talk of the scramble through the 4 Peaks. Given we were doing that with heavy packs in the wet, I though it was more dangerous than the actual climb of Federation.
However, I can understand the exposure thing. A lot of the climb is very vertical, but only a few parts require a steady grip and particular care.

But the most dangerous part of the climb for my part was the climb up to the ledge and its traverse before the money shot.
Particularly coming down.
It is all in view here - the lines indicate a couple ways to get up to the ledge - either in the corner or hanging onto the nose. We did both routes and they are fine, but do take special care here.
LedgeFromBelow_Dash_0304.jpg
My idea of the worst bit


Having done it now, I had an objective to map out the climb route on an aerial photo as per a very old thread, but I am afraid it all happened a bit quick and I did not take enough photos or notes.. :roll:
But I do cope fairly well with rock and I felt it was a great climb.
The young fellows with me - one of whom had been quite cavalier through the vertical backpacking sections on the previous days - were very, very careful on this climb and descent. Very much taking their time with every move.
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