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"Of course there is going to be fears and doubts.  But that's where the opportunity for learning lies "


Arno Ilgner w The Rock Warrior's Way

LET'S FACE IT.  Fear is one of the most powerful emotions in the universe. Left unchecked, fear can be weaponized to sway votes for a candidate that ran on a platform of bigotry and hate, divide a country that was once united, start trade wars, build walls along our borders, or worse yet, give cause and reason to preemptively strike another country militarily, or to choke in the crux of a climb you’ve got totally wired, all because you are afraid of falling or failing in front of your peers.

Which is why it gives me great pleasure to talk about this subject.  It focuses on the one topic I’ve been dealing with my entire life.  I’m still dealing with it, when I really think about it.  I’ve just gotten really good of dealing with it.  In fact, I firmly believe I wouldn’t have experienced one tenth of my achievements, if it weren't for fear.  

When I spoke with Dr. Roanne Van Voorst, the author of the runaway best seller, FEAR!...what her definition of fear was, this is what she said. "In essence, fear is nothing more than a physical response to stress. But then, I think a different layer is as soon as your body gets the impression that something is at hand, that there is a danger going on, you will immediately have mental constructs and mental associations.  You will have a steam of thoughts that can increase the fear, so that can increase the physical response.  And that to me together, is fear."  To hear the entire interview, please listen to the Podcast, or purchase Dr. Roanne Van Voorst's book if you prefer reading this incredibly well written and researched piece on 15 of the most extreme athletes and coaches in the world today.   


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STEP ONE: LYNN HILL, the first person, male or female, to free climb The Nose of Capitan, a feat that has only been repeated by a handful of people, knows a thing or two about fear.  With over thirty international titles to her name, Lynn developed a technique to help calm her nerves.  In this podcast, she describes "If I'm in the negative thought, taking a breath of air always helps, shake out the fatigue that helps too, and then, what I do for the negative thought, I ask myself the right question once again...what is it that I need to do right now?  What is the solution?

STEP TWO: HAZEL FINDLAY is undoubtedly one of the boldest female climbers in the UK.  She climbed many of the Britain's hardest test pieces, such as Spice Girls E9 (see video below),  and she has free climbed four routes on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, a feat that hasn't been repeated by any other woman.   Besides being a professional climber, Hazel is also a 'Mental Coach' for climbers wishing to overcome fear.   In the Podcast, Hazel describes one of her techniques for quieting her mind. "If you just try to focus 100% on the next move, and how to do it better, then that negative chatter quiets down."  To learn more about Hazel Findlay, please visit her profile page

STEP THREE:  ARNO ILGNER with the Rock Warrior's Way is one of the most sought after mental coaches in the world of rock climbing.  As an avid climber who sowed his oats on many of the scariest routes in the country during the 70's and 80's, Arno developed a course, which later became a runaway best seller known as the Rock Warrior's Way, and a institute devoted to helping athletes overcome their fears by analyzing their motives.  In this Podcast, Arno says "Of course there is going to be fears and doubts, but that's where the opportunity for learning lies."

STEP FOUR:  ALEX HONNOLD is undoubtedly the most prolific free soloist in the world today.   With over a hundred free solos to his name, Alex is the only person in the world to free solo Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite Valley National Park, in the heart of California.   If there's anyone on the planet that knows how to deal with fear, it's Alex Honnold.   As he states in the Podcast, "If I'm super afraid.  I just won't do it."    In other words, never feel like you have to do something.   Trust your gut intuition.  It's rarely wrong. 


To watch Alex Honnold videos, and learn more about him, please visit his profile page

STEP FIVE:  STEPH DAVIS, one of the most accomplished female big wall free soloist is known for her incredibly bold and daring base-jumps off the very cliff she free soloed.  Her approach is to over prepare, both mentally and physically.   "If I am on the scale of being under confident versus over confident,  I would probably lean towards the under confident side.  For me, it's always been really important to feel like I belong there, if I'm going to do something that's scary or difficult.  It usually starts with a lot of physical training, and that gives me a lot of confidence.  It's not like I'm just showing up.  Yeah, there's a good chance I'll pull this off.   I'm showing up, totally prepare.  I've done everything possible to be ready for this, and now I just need to keep it together. 


In other words, fear can be a reflection of your preparedness.  If you haven't prepared properly, you are more likely to experience more fear.  If you want to minimize that emotion, you need to prepare yourself, both physically and emotionally, as if your life depends on it.  To watch Steph Davis videos, and learn more about her, please visit her profile page.  

STEP SIX:  The late UELI STECK - aka The Swiss Machine, the man who soloed the North Face of the Eiger in 2 hours and 22 mins, gives us a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the world's greatest alpinist.   In what considered as Ueli's last interview before his tragic death, Ueli shares his secret on how he deals with fear.  "I need to have good physical preparation, and then I feel comfortable.  I have to do that approach just to get the self confidence that I can do it.  And this only comes from physical training.  Physical training I can measure.  Mental training, you can not measure it.  And it's always different."   When asked if there was a particular technique he uses to keep his mind quiet he replied "I think that's my strength.  When I'm climbing, I can really avoid any emotions.  I am just focused on what I am doing."

In other words, if you can get yourself into the present moment with all your attention focused on what you are doing, you find yourself in a world of tranquility, and completely void of any negative emotions.  To watch Ueli Steck videos, and learn more about him, please visit his profile page

STEP SEVEN  DAN GOODWIN - The Host of the Show has a long history is dealing with fear.   In Chapter Seven of Dr. Roanne Van Hoorst's runaway best seller FEAR!...I share something I believe will be extremely useful in not only climbing, but in every aspect of your life, especially if you are launching a business, which can be a terrifying experience.  Just ask any Start Up founder in Silicon Valley.   It's called Negative Thinking.  I didn't realize it, but from a very early age, I developed this technique for dealing with the unknowns, like scaling the world's tallest skyscraper.  The only thing I knew was...the fire department would attempt to capture me by blocking my path with a massive window washing machine.  On my very first skyscraper, the Sears Tower in Chicago, I developed a pair of suction cups to circumnavigate the window washing machines.   Then I imagined the worse case scenario.  What would I do if my suction cups failed?   For that, I taped a pair of skyhooks to my chest and practiced traversing back and forth on a building, rehearsing the imaginary scenario.   If I hadn't taken that precaution, there's little doubt, I wouldn't be alive today, because that's exactly what happened on the 63rd floor.   And I applied the same technique on the John Hancock Center in Chicago (see video below), but that's a whole other story, because if you look close, you'll see that I'm wearing a WET SUIT!   

To watch Dan Goodwin videos, and learn more about him, please visit his profile page. 


Right on! Thanks for taking that leap of faith. If you have an idea or lead to a story, please send it our way. We want to be your News and Entertainment source for eXtreme Sports!

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