Author Topic: Caving and confidence  (Read 2464 times)

Offline Keris82

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Caving and confidence
« on: June 12, 2021, 10:58:04 am »
Hello all! I've been caving for a few years now but being from London we haven't been able to get underground as much as we'd like in the past 18 months and I seem to have lost some confidence along the way.

So I want to know who here has confidence issues when it comes to something particularly challenging like traverses or free climbing in caves and how to you get past that wall of lacking confidence?  :dig: I feel absolutely fine being attached to a rope but present me with a gaping chasm and no safety and I get a bit freaked out.

In particular I'd like to hear from the ladies on this forum because our bodies and minds react differently depending on those annoying female hormones!   :chair:

Offline rhychydwr1

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2021, 11:18:07 am »
Come to Mendip, crawl and squirm and get your confidence back.

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2021, 11:35:13 am »
I am not a lady. Worries about confidence never leaves you nor should it. It helps you to be safer by analyzing the risks and coming up with solutions. I have been caving nearly 60 years. With age comes a respect for mortality as you realise that your life expectancy is dwindling. Currently my confidence issues are concerning squeezes. I know I cannot pass those I could negotiate even ten years ago. Its not due to size or weight. Its more to do with the flexibility in the rib cage. I was so concerned on a recent trip that I took in a capping kit in case I got stuck. Of course I never used it. Diving was worse. The more I did the more my confidence drained away. Losing about eight of our extended group along the way did not help. I used to walk around my garden before a deep trip trying to get my head straight and wondering if I would ever see my garden again. In the end I just could not cope. So its not time or experience that necessarily build confidence. Sometimes the more you know the more you have to worry about. Life always presents boundaries to push. Thats partly the satisfaction we get from activities like caving. Its also worth remembering that action conquers fear. When you  are over confident then that is the time to worry ( or let others do it for you . )

Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2021, 12:57:17 pm »
Not a lady, but have also lost confidence having not been underground in some time.

I've since started a few more trips, and for me courage comes from trying things that scare me but that I objectively known are safe. They inevitably go well (or don't go badly...) which acts as a positive feedback loop, making those things easier and expanding what I feel able to take on. This obviously takes some courage, but the less scary the thing the less courage required to try it. If something's too scary then even if it goes well it doesn't make me any more confident so there must be a sweet spot of courage for max confidence payoff!

Offline kay

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2021, 08:37:34 am »
I am a lady, and those who know me know that I take lack of confidence to extremes, to the extent of being, effectively, a non-caver. There will be raised eyebrows at me giving advice, but I know I have increased my confidence even if it's imperceptible to those around me  ;)

Like you, it's the traverses and free climbs that freak me out most, and I understand Aricooperdavis's "If something's too scary then even if it goes well it doesn't make me any more confident". I have memories of people around me all saying "You did it! Well done! It wasn't so bad, was it!" and I'm  just a quivering heap thinking "I never want to do that again."

Where I have been able to build confidence, it's two things 1) knowledge and preparation. Knowing what I am going to do, that it's within my capabilities, and having done all the necessary preparation to be able to do it 2) Small steps rather than big leaps. Do something that's slightly beyond what I'm totally comfortable with, and keep doing it until I become comfortable. Then move on to the next step.

I'm not sure to what extent female hormones come into it (though I'm too old to  recognise a female hormone if I met one). I think, in my case, apart from a timid nature, it's physical size  - I'm 5ft 4. So s step over a gaping chasm the average man will take with ease, it being within their normal stride length, is beyond my stride length, and I know I have to commit, because if I lose my nerve I won't be able to regain my starting position. Or if someone is spotting me down a climb and says "there's a foothold there", it will be somewhere that pulls me off balance and I have to have blind faith that I will be able to reach it. On the other hand, I'm not too fussed about crawls (though I don't like  water-filled on-your-back nose-following-a-crack-in-the-roof crawls) whereas I've met confident male cavers who carry a dislike of low crawls into an actual fear. And others with an irrational fear of spiders. I think most people have an irrational fear of something. Yours is a fear of falling - which seems pretty rational to me.

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2021, 11:44:10 am »
Thanks Kay. I'm glad there's someone who can relate and I'm exactly the same. I'm 5'4" too so what a man find easy with s big stride is difficult for me.

I'm glad to see there are some men here who also have fears when it comes to caving too. Even the most experienced.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2021, 02:57:41 pm »
Remember small size can have its advantages too. Many men I'm sure have a fear of being stuck in tight slots or beddings due to deeper/broader ribcages, and which women of similar height would just slide through. First time I ever did the bottom squeeze in Winnats Head I thought I would be there for ever. We have a couple of female 'ferrets' in the club who are just perfect for investigating tight spots, and we'll be doing that again soon. If it goes, we can get the capping kit out so the rest of us can get through :)

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2021, 03:09:57 pm »
I used to be able to get through tighter squeezes until my bum has got too big! Lol!  ;D

Offline caving_fox

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2021, 04:05:39 pm »
Also not female. On my first trip back I found the Giant's Windpipe (crawl in water) much more intimidating than I'd expected. I've done this several times and it's never pleasant or fun, but this time I could really feel my elevated heart rate, which I'd previously only experience in far more committing/unknown situations. I really hope it just goes away with incremental steps as above.

I'd done a few indoor climbing sessions and they'd all been fine, and I was happy on all of the underground climbs. Learning/practising a few different techniques that suit your body will help with challenging climbs, or at least provide alternative solutions to the helpful 'just reach for it'.
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Offline Alex

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2021, 10:47:02 am »
not a women myself either. As some may know I like to think of myself as quite a "hard" caver nowadays, though lockdown has definitely knocked my confidence a bit in some places, or it could be that I am almost 40 and passed my prime which may explain why I struggled so much getting off the second pitch in Trapdoor recently (I had to remove my over suit to get off of it, was lots of swearing).

When I started caving I was useless at climbs and therefore they caused me the most fear, especially if they had the dreaded "knotted rope". I was just not strong enough to hold on and one time I found myself at the bottom very quickly. Luckily that 3 or 4m drop only resulted in a cut finger (rope burn) and sore feet. It was so bad I was often referred to as T-rex, due to the T-rex's little arms. However, what really helped was going to local climbing wall to improve my technique, core strength and getting used to heights something I recommend anyone doing if they struggle with climbs underground, that boosted my confidence when it came to climbing and the more I did it underground the better I got, I also lost the bloody nickname. I am not that tall either about 5ft 7. Still small size helps in other ways in caves that's for sure, my other advice is stick to the caves that fit you until your confidence comes back. If you like the small squeezy ones, then do those.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2021, 10:59:36 am by Alex »
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline kay

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2021, 11:49:20 am »
I wonder why there have been relatively few answers to this? Is it A: because most cavers have never had problems with lack of confidence or B: because those that did have never found a solution  C: that cavers who had a loss of confidence in the past because it doesn't fit with their caver image now?

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2021, 12:01:15 pm »
I wonder why there have been relatively few answers to this? Is it A: because most cavers have never had problems with lack of confidence or B: because those that did have never found a solution  C: that cavers who had a loss of confidence in the past because it doesn't fit with their caver image now?

I was thinking the same. I'm sure we aren't the only ones who lack confidence in some form or other when it comes to caving. Do you think people might be afraid to admit it? Or are most people genuinely confident and nothing phases them? I would be interesting to hear more

Offline mikem

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2021, 12:41:20 pm »
Or D: a lot of cavers don't actually read / post on the forum.

The best way to get over it is do it more often (or things like it), with people you trust.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2021, 12:57:05 pm »
I don't have confidence issues underground any more - other than the above-mentioned getting stuck in tight squeezes. I do rope-access too, which in terms of exposure can often be far worse than caving as it's usually outdoors in daylight, and often in a city centre, with the public far below! So the relative darkness (and irregularity) of caves can also be a blessing in terms of mental calm. I suspect many who've dropped Titan were probably helped by the fact that they couldn't see most of it :)

Generally now if I don't think I can safely make something I don't try it. I'm good with free-climbing, but had a slip a few years back from being impatient, and dropped 2m onto a rubble floor - onto my feet, thankfully, but a few inches either way and I could have broken my back - but I couldn't walk properly for a week, and it hurt like hell. So I'm a bit more cautious now in terms of my personal safety, but I don't find myself worrying very much about the philosophical stuff of' should I be here at all'? any more. Too many boulder chokes and stacked deads.

Online Speleofish

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2021, 12:57:34 pm »
As a 'retired' caver who still can't resist poking about in unexpected holes in the ground, I've found myself much, much more cautious than I used to be. Simple climbs take on epic proportions, my definition of 'tight' has changed considerably and I have developed an aversion to crawling through water in normal clothes. The last has nothing to do with lack of confidence, the first two undoubtedly do.

Offline ttxela2

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2021, 12:57:58 pm »
I wonder why there have been relatively few answers to this? Is it A: because most cavers have never had problems with lack of confidence or B: because those that did have never found a solution  C: that cavers who had a loss of confidence in the past because it doesn't fit with their caver image now?

I was thinking the same. I'm sure we aren't the only ones who lack confidence in some form or other when it comes to caving. Do you think people might be afraid to admit it? Or are most people genuinely confident and nothing phases them? I would be interesting to hear more

I'm also not female and also not the most confident person in terms of caving, I'm much happier in mines for some reason although still inclined towards caution. I found I lost a bit of confidence after I felt rather unwell on a trip a while back and found it quite hard work getting out from what was a very simple trip really!

I've not been underground since a single short trip last summer and before that not since March 2020. Living a long distance from underground sites is quite an obstacle in terms of building confidence. I suspect if you live near a cave/mine region it's relatively easy to pop on a series of short, easier trips to steadily get back into it. When one has to make a special trip and drive for multiple hours there is a bit of extra pressure to 'do something worthwhile'.

Just my thoughts....

Online Tomferry

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2021, 01:12:03 pm »
@ttelexa

Your not the only one trust me I have had a bad day also before,  was going around a local mine I had done many many times,  on this certain day I didn’t want to go anyway as I felt really I’ll , my mates convinced me into be because 1 of their mates was down visiting their was a small area I had never got round to viewing so I thought I’ll make the most of the bad day and do that part , their was a ouija in their I don’t believe in the things but because I was ill that day it just freaked my head out and I got all hot so had to make my way out never been back their since !

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2021, 03:08:28 pm »

Living a long distance from underground sites is quite an obstacle in terms of building confidence. I suspect if you live near a cave/mine region it's relatively easy to pop on a series of short, easier trips to steadily get back into it. When one has to make a special trip and drive for multiple hours there is a bit of extra pressure to 'do something worthwhile'.

Just my thoughts....

Yes I think you are right. It's difficult to change the mindset of fearing something when I live so far away (London) and don't get to go down caves often enough.

Offline FionaH

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2021, 08:41:50 pm »
I don't come on the forum very often, so I didn't see this when it was first posted Keris! I think there's been good advice in every response.

I am a lady, and closer to 5'7" in height. My first trip underground in eight months will hopefully be next weekend! My caving confidence is rarely high, but it's been much worse in the past than it is now.

There is something to be said for pushing yourself a little on every trip to build confidence, if a particular aspect bothers you. My confidence is related to caving generally rather than specifically climbs, squeezes, ducks etc. I've never tried to make my arms stronger for free climbs, but I've found pilates to increase core strength very useful in all aspects of caving.

I find enjoying myself in a cave without trying to push myself does me a lot of good down the line, though. Makes me remember I like caving and I want to keep doing it. So I pick people I like and trust but also who want the same thing out of the trip as me. The people I pal around with the most in the hut aren't always the ones I go caving with: often I don't actually want to push myself, but sometimes I do. I've employed tactics such as suggesting a cave that is less 'hard' but novel to all companions, or choosing one companion to cave with to practice a particular skill (usually rigging or ladder-work), or doing trips with photographers, or deciding my turn-around point and declaring it beforehand, etc. I guess it helps to have many cavers in the hut to pick from! :lol:

At times of low confidence I also do short trips regardless of the distance traveled. I understand the sentiment of "we should do something worthwhile because we traveled all this way" because I started caving as a student in London myself! What makes a cave worthwhile though? That's different for everyone, but these days I'm pretty simple - I just overall enjoy being in caves. I'm not doing it for the exercise or exploration etc.

On hormones - wonder if anyone else will reply on that? Yeah, frankly my ability to handle stressful situations is way worse at particular points of my menstrual cycle. When is obviously specific to each person. I don't cave alone so those stressful situations includes the pressure of being "social" during caving weekends as well as the actual physical parts. I sleep even more poorly than my typical bad caving sleep, I get so much more emotional, I'll be worried about my body and might be in pain too. It can really suck tbh and I try to complain even more than normal at the annoying parts of caves to direct my frustration at an inanimate object rather than at people - though only my companions can comment on if that works haha. I always take a hotwater bottle to the hut, try to always have painkillers and basically always have all the stuff to deal with it with me even when not due, which makes me feel better about the potential. And in the end nobody usually presses if I change plans last min.

Personally I'd rather not cave on those bad weekends, and sometimes I don't even if I'm at a hut. I accept that sort of sucks too. But even with my best predictions sometimes the timing just doesn't work out that conveniently. :lol:

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2021, 10:53:39 pm »
I'm glad I'm a bloke   :blink: :blink: :blink:.
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Offline kay

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2021, 07:25:28 am »
Or D: a lot of cavers don't actually read / post on the forum.


Given that this topic is still on its first page whereas some topics rapidly go to three or more, that can't be the only explanation

Offline mikem

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2021, 07:48:02 am »
No, it's not the only reason, but a lot of less confident cavers (& others) have been put off using the forum in the past.

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2021, 08:27:52 am »
Also if you have confidence issues you are less likely to comment on the forum, so it's actually big of Keris82 to open up a discussion about it  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2021, 09:53:14 am »
And of FionaH to bring up menstrual cycles, which are a major part of women's lives whether caving or not, but could also have additional significant impacts on their caving too - I can't say whether confidence would be affected positively or negatively by this as everyone's different, and I'm a man, but background pain/stress must surely play a part in how some trips are approached. Many guys are often ignorant or ambivalent about the overall effects of menstruation, and many women no doubt have learnt to not bring the subject up due to a perceived lack of interest/sympathy, possibly to the detriment of both sides. Also many men do have some sort of hormonal cycles themselves, though not usually as obvious. However, one thing I really like about caving is that it can break down a lot of societal 'norms' about behaviour, modesty, perception of risk, cleanliness etc., and so there is an inbuilt advantage in our activity for dealing with issues like this maturely and openly, if we want to. We're all in it together at the end of the day.

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2021, 09:59:45 am »
After taking a fall onto my thigh/backside in Slovenia in 2009, and my mates helping me get out. My friends spotted me falling the couple of meters to the floor off a muddy hand line and had the presence of mind to throw me against the wall to stop me falling further down a hole in the floor.

This knocked my confidence for a few years, and put a gash in my wellies, I remember still caving with the large hole in my wellies for a while. I was still scared of handline climbs and would always wear a harness & cowstails so I could clip into every handline that was going. Over time this dissipated.

But I'll never forget a trip down giants before I decided to get rid of the wellies. We'd taken a while to get there, but I was freezing in the wellies as fresh cold water was washing in all the time. And we got to the comic act cascade in giants and decided that was enough for the day. (Some can get to this part of the cave in 20mins!)

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2021, 10:42:11 am »
I expect that most people have lacked confidence at some point or other.

For some people it's heights/ climbs, for some people it's squeezes and for others it's water. I know many very experienced Mendip cavers who have never passed sump 4 in Swildon's for example. With confidence, this is an easy free-dive and opens up a huge amount more cave. It's also an easy line to draw, without admitting to a lack of confidence.

I was wholeheartedly in the scared of water camp until fairly recently (maybe 5 years ago). I gained confidence in Swildon's sump 1. Rather than rushing straight through, I started to stop half way and look around. Simple as it sounds, this really helped me. Regular easy exposure to my fear, took the edge off it. I'm now a  fairly confident free-diver and a member of the CDG, but last time I went to Yorkshire, I bottled Pipikin Pot at the first squeeze, having done it without issue dozens of times before...

Admittedly, if you don't live in, or near, a caving area, that regular easy exposure is not going to be easy...

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2021, 02:42:18 pm »
Thank you cavemanmike and pwhole for your understanding :) It is a shame that women's natural cycles are still taboo and we shouldn't feel afraid to talk about it. I find it does really affect my mood and confidence.i don't think my other half really gets it and so isn't very sympathetic when I don't feel comfortable doing something. It can be quite frustrating when I know I've done it before but on that particular day it's a problem.

Offline kay

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #27 on: June 21, 2021, 10:20:47 am »
Also if you have confidence issues you are less likely to comment on the forum, so it's actually big of Keris82 to open up a discussion about it  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
isn’t that confusing a general lack of self confidence, meaning that you’re unlikely to post here, with a lack of confidence in one specific area of caving, which is unrelated to lack of confidence generally?

Or are you saying that people who may be generally confident or active on the forum are reluctant to post that fact? Why would that be?

Offline kay

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #28 on: June 21, 2021, 10:24:55 am »

 Rather than rushing straight through, I started to stop half way and look around. Simple as it sounds, this really helped me.

Yes, agree with this. Turn a scary space into a familiar space

Offline kay

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2021, 10:33:37 am »
Thank you cavemanmike and pwhole for your understanding :) It is a shame that women's natural cycles are still taboo and we shouldn't feel afraid to talk about it. I find it does really affect my mood and confidence.i don't think my other half really gets it and so isn't very sympathetic when I don't feel comfortable doing something. It can be quite frustrating when I know I've done it before but on that particular day it's a problem.
trouble is a) it’s pretty recent that women’s cycles were a reason not to employ women (alongside the whole pregnancy thing), so I feel worried when I hear talk of accommodation in the workplace. Our situation doesn’t feel quite secure enough to be asking for special accommodations. But I know I’m a product of the time I was brought up in, so I’m probably wrong

Offline Maddoghouse

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2021, 11:42:35 am »
Regarding the free climbing and traverses, one thing we did with my uni club was go to local bouldering wall regularly. Once you've made it to the top of the boulder problem, we'd try to climb back down rather than just jumping it..! Think this not only helped with technique but also got people use to the sensation of "showing gravity who's the boss" if you get my jist    ;)

One thing that helped me a lot to gain confidence clambering over often slippery boulders (Ie the entrance of OFD II) was trail running/jogging over uneven ground. Defo helped me learn what I can/can't put my foot. Granted the have been more than a  few times where I've fallen on my arse but better to learnt that way above ground rather than below it...

Finally, don't forget to say well done to yourself, and others for that matter, after the tough bits! Caving is not a competive sport and, despite what we may say in the pub afterwards, is a fun way to spend a Sunday! As has been alluded to, what some find hard, others find easy etc so from my experience an acknowledgement and tap on the back goes a long way in a cave!

Offline ttxela2

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #31 on: June 21, 2021, 04:31:42 pm »

I was wholeheartedly in the scared of water camp until fairly recently (maybe 5 years ago). I gained confidence in Swildon's sump 1. Rather than rushing straight through, I started to stop half way and look around. Simple as it sounds, this really helped me. Regular easy exposure to my fear, took the edge off it. I'm now a  fairly confident free-diver and a member of the CDG, but last time I went to Yorkshire, I bottled Pipikin Pot at the first squeeze, having done it without issue dozens of times before...


Yep, never doing a sump, don't want to, can't make me.... :ras:

Didn't learn to swim until my late teens, apparently during pregnancy my mother had daily nightmares about drowning, this may be an explanation? Happy enough these days in a swimming pool but not putting my head under water, oh no, not never ever!

Had various points in my life when I have made determined attempts to 'get over it' with and without the assistance of well meaning friends. Now comfortably resigned to the fact it is not for me. I'm relatively happy wading in deep water but if I can't stand up and breathe I'm out!

Online wormster

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #32 on: June 21, 2021, 04:54:43 pm »
I bust my collarbone, a few years ago, on the short round trip in Swildons Hole: falling out of Vicarage Pot, hitting the landing and coming to in the streamway, We managed to self rescue to Barnes loop before deciding I could not go any further (Sump 1 and the double pots were painful to say the least!).

It took 8 weeks for my body to heal and another 6-8 months to get my caving mojo back, the fall made me all too aware of my own frailties, confidence levels etc. It made me a much more careful caver, not afaid to "Hoi" a group trip and bug out when the going gets dogy!
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Offline mikem

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #33 on: June 21, 2021, 06:58:59 pm »
trouble is a) it’s pretty recent that women’s cycles were a reason not to employ women (alongside the whole pregnancy thing), so I feel worried when I hear talk of accommodation in the workplace. Our situation doesn’t feel quite secure enough to be asking for special accommodations. But I know I’m a product of the time I was brought up in, so I’m probably wrong
That's pretty much the reason that women weren't employed a long time beforehand (until the world wars intervened & there weren't enough men left to fill vacancies). Unfortunately there still aren't enough jobs to employ everyone who wants to work (but now we are replacing them with computers & automated systems).

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #34 on: June 22, 2021, 07:16:42 am »

I was wholeheartedly in the scared of water camp until fairly recently (maybe 5 years ago). I gained confidence in Swildon's sump 1. Rather than rushing straight through, I started to stop half way and look around. Simple as it sounds, this really helped me. Regular easy exposure to my fear, took the edge off it. I'm now a  fairly confident free-diver and a member of the CDG, but last time I went to Yorkshire, I bottled Pipikin Pot at the first squeeze, having done it without issue dozens of times before...


Yep, never doing a sump, don't want to, can't make me.... :ras:

Didn't learn to swim until my late teens, apparently during pregnancy my mother had daily nightmares about drowning, this may be an explanation? Happy enough these days in a swimming pool but not putting my head under water, oh no, not never ever!

Had various points in my life when I have made determined attempts to 'get over it' with and without the assistance of well meaning friends. Now comfortably resigned to the fact it is not for me. I'm relatively happy wading in deep water but if I can't stand up and breathe I'm out!

Yep sumps aren't my favourite thing either! I've done sump 1 I. Swildons a couple of times. You can stick your leg through to the other side but it doesn't make it any more pleasant!

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #35 on: June 22, 2021, 07:18:07 am »
Regarding the free climbing and traverses, one thing we did with my uni club was go to local bouldering wall regularly. Once you've made it to the top of the boulder problem, we'd try to climb back down rather than just jumping it..! Think this not only helped with technique but also got people use to the sensation of "showing gravity who's the boss" if you get my jist    ;)

One thing that helped me a lot to gain confidence clambering over often slippery boulders (Ie the entrance of OFD II) was trail running/jogging over uneven ground. Defo helped me learn what I can/can't put my foot. Granted the have been more than a  few times where I've fallen on my arse but better to learnt that way above ground rather than below it...

Finally, don't forget to say well done to yourself, and others for that matter, after the tough bits! Caving is not a competive sport and, despite what we may say in the pub afterwards, is a fun way to spend a Sunday! As has been alluded to, what some find hard, others find easy etc so from my experience an acknowledgement and tap on the back goes a long way in a cave!

Yes, going to my local climbing wall is the plan when I can get round to it! My other half doesn't believe it will help because "it's not the same" but I would disagree. I'll try anything to help with my confidence issues

Offline E McK

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #36 on: June 22, 2021, 12:52:42 pm »
Interesting thread,

My personal fear is totally irrational as it's doing any SRT pitch where I can't touch the wall! Mines like Oxlow I'll do any day of the week but I did Meccano and up the Hillocks engine shaft and I was a total wreck, took approximately an hour of swearing, wailing and crying to get up and ever since any pitch where the wall is out of reach has killed me.

I have often thought I should just drop Titan and face the fear head on but I don't want any witnesses if it all goes south  :chair:
Where there's a will there's a way :)

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #37 on: June 22, 2021, 02:12:45 pm »
That's an interesting issue, as we have 'one of those' in our gang too. Speaking as someone who has slid down a wall in freefall, you end up with fingerless gloves, and you still hit the bottom. So I would try and get over that one if you can! Maybe do it with your eyes shut? I know it sounds daft, but it might be the constant sight of it always being out of reach that's the problem. Years ago one of our mates took his twelve year-old son down Titan, and we rigged two ropes so someone could go down alongside him - he did it all with his eyes shut, but he managed it - possibly the youngest-ever. Other people I've gone down with just whooped and yelled all the way to the bottom, like it was a fairground ride, so there's clearly a variety of responses possible! But if you did manage it, no other sites would ever be a problem again.

Offline E McK

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #38 on: June 22, 2021, 03:42:25 pm »
Weirdly going down is not an issue. Going up on a bouncy, free hanging rope I'm convinced I'm going to die!
Where there's a will there's a way :)

Offline Fulk

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #39 on: June 22, 2021, 03:52:08 pm »
it's very interesting how people are affected differently by different issues. On short pitches, it doesn't make much difference to me, but on long (especially free-hanging) pitches I feel safer going back up – after all, to the best of my knowledge, no-one ever prusiked out of control.
When you say, E Mck, you have to be within touching distance of a wall, is this the literal truth, or more a general, 'Not too far away, but it doesn't matter too much if it's only just out of reach'?

Offline Alex

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2021, 03:56:53 pm »
I get that sometimes, always in my head I think that my harness or rope is going to break for no real reason on the big open pitches. Really hard to push those thoughts out of my mind, but I only think this going up. Also, I keep getting paranoid of my helmet falling off my head on big pitches leaving me in complete darkness, again only on big open pitches >30m.

Stop it brain, you are being irrational!

Going down, often I have a more rational fear when its over 50m (straight drop, with no rebelays) that I won't be able to control my descent because the rope was too heavy, especially if the stop is a little worn. My arm gets tired forcing it through the first half of the pitch only for the rope to start moving more freely but my arm is getting tired. This is worse at deviations as it requires more strength to lock off. In my early days when I went down titan, I wrapped the rope below me around my leg, to have more control. No issue going down 100m+ if separated by re-belays, that's fine, would prefer Titan to be rigged with 10 re-belays than those free hangs weirdly.

So for big drops, I prefer to rig if possible then the very heavy rope below me is in the bag and not having to be forced through my stop, that's why I volunteered to rig Nick pot both times I did it, it felt safer to me.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline E McK

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #41 on: June 22, 2021, 04:04:27 pm »
it's very interesting how people are affected differently by different issues. On short pitches, it doesn't make much difference to me, but on long (especially free-hanging) pitches I feel safer going back up – after all, to the best of my knowledge, no-one ever prusiked out of control.
When you say, E Mck, you have to be within touching distance of a wall, is this the literal truth, or more a general, 'Not too far away, but it doesn't matter too much if it's only just out of reach'?

As you say, short pitches, not an issue really. It's more when the walls are way out of reach and I'm having and bouncing it feels like I'm totally out of control and I have irrational fears of kit failure which is made worse by the exposure. Really weird as I know the kit is bomber!

Going down I guess because I'm headed for floor it doesn't matter!
Where there's a will there's a way :)

Online Speleofish

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #42 on: June 22, 2021, 04:19:12 pm »
I'm another one who never overcame the loneliness of the long-distance prusicker. I've managed to get up some very long free-hanging ascents and usually managed to keep a smile on my face but if I'm honest (which I never was at the time) I enjoyed them far more in retrospect than I did at the time. From the comments being posted here, I suspect there are more people like me out there than I had realised.

Offline E McK

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #43 on: June 22, 2021, 05:32:54 pm »
The long distance prussiker! I like that.

Ye it's strange as prussiking normally suggests you're heading out and to daylight but, god knows why, it does terrible things to my head. Anything over 40mtrs and it feels like the ends of the earth. I think when I pack ropes and look at how long they actually are it makes me feel even more silly as 70mtrs of rope isn't actually that much!
Where there's a will there's a way :)

Offline mikem

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #44 on: June 22, 2021, 06:08:26 pm »
Taking punters on top rope climbing sessions is always interesting, as some don't trust the system to lean back & come down, & others are perfectly happy to abseil but don't have faith in themselves whilst climbing up.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #45 on: June 22, 2021, 07:46:41 pm »
Also, I keep getting paranoid of my helmet falling off my head on big pitches leaving me in complete darkness,

This actually happened to me once (well the first bit anyway). After a filthy digging trip, I was unable to fully close the buckle on my Ecrin but I figured it would be alright. I was last out up a 40m pitch and as I looked up to the Y-hang bolts, my helmet fell off, complete with my main and (only) back-up light. By some miracle, it wedged between my shoulder and the cave wall and I was able to grab it before it fell, leaving me alone in total darkness, with the others well ahead by this point and unlikely to come looking for me for quite a while, as we tended not to wait until back outside... Since then, I've always worn a head torch around my neck, so one less thing to be afraid of.

I had a similar run-in with an Ecrin buckle free-diving sump 3 in Swildon's. My helmet bumped the roof and fell off. I reached for the only thing I could see in the brown water and promptly plunged myself into total darkness as I managed to switch off the Duo as I grabbed it. One hand on the dive-line, one hand on the helmet, I was bloody relieved to surface on the far side. Ironically, I had a Pixa around my neck. Since then, I've not only always carried a head-torch around my neck, but I switch it on before free-dives now. Little things to make you feel (and actually to be) safer and therefore more confident  :thumbsup:

Fortunately in both the above cases, they occurred at a point when I was very confident in that particular aspect of caving. Had these things happened when I was less confident, I would probably have jacked it in for good.

Offline AlexR

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #46 on: June 22, 2021, 07:56:01 pm »
Quote
Also, I keep getting paranoid of my helmet falling off my head on big pitches leaving me in complete darkness

I don't think that's an irrational fear at all, and the exact reason why my helmet is attached to my chest harness at the shoulder with a bit of bungee cord/ shock cord/ whatever you want to call it.

Surely everyone has irrational fears that occasionally come to the surface (no pun intended), it's just a question of whether they take on a form that is extreme enough to impede your enjoyment or maybe even safety - a panicked mind is prone to bad decisions. Even though Titan is effectively my commute, I very occasionally get into weird though loops along the lines of "the rope feels weird, the bounce feedback is wrong, the rope will break, etc. etc.". Personally I've found stopping for reflection unhelpful, if I keep going the thought loop eventually stops, but it's nothing I seem to be able to have any conscious control over.
Still don't like proper tight spaces and never will, long constrictions make my heart rate skyrocket. That is, if I have to take my helmet off for 2m+ I'll be one unhappy caver.


I particularly want to thank FionaH and Keris82 for bringing up the effect of the menstrual cycle on women cavers, it's fantastic that there are a growing number of women in caving (my partner being one of them), and it's an aspect of caving with women all blokes should be aware of. And I don't meant that in the sense of "women need to be protected", but "consider how much you'd enjoy caving if it felt like somebody was ripping out your insides".

Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #47 on: June 23, 2021, 08:09:02 am »
Quote

I particularly want to thank FionaH and Keris82 for bringing up the effect of the menstrual cycle on women cavers, it's fantastic that there are a growing number of women in caving (my partner being one of them), and it's an aspect of caving with women all blokes should be aware of. And I don't meant that in the sense of "women need to be protected", but "consider how much you'd enjoy caving if it felt like somebody was ripping out your insides".

Exactly!

Offline caving_fox

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #48 on: June 24, 2021, 10:08:14 am »

I find enjoying myself in a cave without trying to push myself does me a lot of good down the line, though. Makes me remember I like caving and I want to keep doing it. So I pick people I like and trust but also who want the same thing out of the trip as me. The people I pal around with the most in the hut aren't always the ones I go caving with: often I don't actually want to push myself, but sometimes I do. I've employed tactics such as suggesting a cave that is less 'hard' but novel to all companions, or choosing one companion to cave with to practice a particular skill (usually rigging or ladder-work), or doing trips with photographers, or deciding my turn-around point and declaring it beforehand, etc. I guess it helps to have many cavers in the hut to pick from! :lol:


This^
One of the joys of caving for me is the team. I only cave with people I'm happy with and trust. Making sure we're all in agreement about what we're aiming for on a trip beforehand, but also knowing that anyone for any reason or none at all, can abort whenever they've had enough / can't /won't get past an obstacle. Some are happy to wait while the rest push on a bit, some happy to turn back on their own, but equally sometimes we will all just call it a day. I have felt disappointed when the team hasn't made it to somewhere I've been trying to get to, but I'd rather this and know they'd turn back with me on my bad day, then be pressurised into attempting something I'm too uncomfortable with.

If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #49 on: June 26, 2021, 09:19:30 am »
Period about bloody time by Emma Barnett

Offline Paul Marvin

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #50 on: June 26, 2021, 06:58:16 pm »
I find a healthy sense of fear goes a long way stopping doing stupid idiotic things and also not succumbing to peer pressure
I dont know where I am going, but will know where I am when I get there.

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Caving and confidence
« Reply #51 on: June 26, 2021, 09:55:04 pm »
Respect the fear it will save you

 

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