Overcoming a fear of heights when bouldering is no easy feat. At the end of the day, many people who suffer from acrophobia (extreme or irrational fear of heights) do not have the ultimate control over this.
Nevertheless, it is our duty to give you some tips in order to help you overcome this, whilst bouldering at least. What’s more, many of you may even develop some anxieties or other similar thoughts for the first time when bouldering.
Steps to Help Control Your Fear of Heights in Bouldering
Although there is no set guide on what to do, there are few techniques you can employ to help you overcome your fear of heights. We will detail a few below, and they should go a long way in getting you comfortable on the wall.
1. Start by Traversing
If you have never been bouldering before and are scared to approach the wall, then we recommend doing a traverse, to begin with. A traverse is basically climbing horizontally across the wall. This means you will be as close to the ground as you want.
Some bouldering gyms have dedicated traverse walls and some don’t. For the ones that don’t, you can simply climb across multiple different problems. As long as no one else is climbing there that is!
As time goes on you can gradually make your traverse higher and higher. Get yourself used to the distance between the ground and yourself!
2. Find a Patient Friend Who Can Help You Control Your Fear
Controlling your fear of heights when bouldering is helped immeasurably when you have someone with you. They should be understanding and patient. By offering you assurance, you gain confidence. Furthermore, they should be ok with watching you on easy climbs and guiding you through the baby steps.
It is a simple, yet effective tool. Reassurance goes a long way at keeping the mind at bay. Someone who overcame their fear of heights would be best in this situation, but any understanding friend will do!
3. Exposure! Attack Your Fear of Heights Bouldering!
The more you practice, the better the results. We do not recommend going straight for the jugular. Instead, baby steps are key. Set yourself goals, but make sure you get on the wall as often as possible. The more you do, the less likely you are to give up and walk away.
If you are starting to feel anxious don’t fight it. Acknowledge where you progressed to and come back to it.
4. Focus on Your Breathing
Focusing on your breathing has meditative qualities. Big deep and slow breaths with reduce your stress response. Try to block everything else out and use your breath as a guide. Not only will this help your fear of heights, but it will also help your technique in bouldering!
Two birds and one stone and all that. We cannot recommend this enough. Learning the art of using your breath is beyond the scope of this blog post, but once you master it, you will reap the rewards in all parts of your life.
5. Tell People About Your Fear of Heights When Bouldering
Ok, don’t walk into the bouldering gym with a megaphone, but do tell your close friends and climbing group about your fear. This will lift a weight off your shoulders and you may find there are many other people with the same anxieties as you.
Once you beat your fear you can share your progress too! This will be a great feeling and can be used as motivation too.
Overall Overcoming Your Fear of Heights Bouldering Takes Time
At the end of the day, you will not solve your fear of heights in bouldering in a day. It requires time, effort and patience. The sport of bouldering is often a personal battle and so it goes here. We have faith in your ability! Don’t give up, we know that you’ve got this!