Author Topic: Caving and confidence  (Read 2465 times)

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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Online 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 :)

Online 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.
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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 :)

Online 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

 

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