All climbers are scared of falling in a way.
It’s natural, because falling always feels dangerous, even if it isn’t.
It’s like when you’re on a roller coaster. You know those parts where it slowly climbs to the top? Those are the parts where you feel the fear of rushing down the other side, but just like every climber out there, you’re not actually scared of something bad happening when that happens.
“Why is that?” you ask.
It’s because your safety is already taken care of in advance. It’s the same with climbing as it is with a roller coaster. The only difference is that with climbing, it’ll be your buddy that’s got your back. They’ll be holding your rope, loosening it or tightening it whenever you need, but always ready to catch you when you fall.
That’s what belay devices are for. The rope runs through them in a U-shape so that you can lock it in place if the climber falls. That’s how you catch them.
Without a belay device, you’d burn your hands trying to catch the rope manually. Besides, you’d never get even close to enough grip to hold someone’s entire body weight – and that’s still true even if they weren’t falling.
So, anyway, the point is that falling shouldn’t be dangerous if you’re doing everything right. Falls can happen at any time, but you’ll always be ready for them whenever they do happen.
What Should a Beginner Do if They’re Scared of Falling?
What I’d recommend is that you try indoor bouldering first, before you go on to any sort of climbing that has ropes, harnesses and all that.
“What? You mean there’s a kind of climbing that doesn’t use ropes? Surely that’d make it worse.”
Well, here’s the thing. Indoor bouldering has a limited height to it. You can never get high enough for falling to be dangerous if you land on your feet and bend your legs.
Of course, if it weren’t for the bouldering mats that line the floor wall-to-wall, it’d be pretty boring since the height would be too limited. As it stands, you can get a height in bouldering that feels really high up, but is actually safe to fall from.
Over the course of several sessions, falling now and then, you get used to it. Suddenly, falling isn’t quite so scary anymore.
You still get that roller coaster-like adrenaline rush that I was talking about earlier. However, the important thing is that you can now take a fall when you need to. It’s something you don’t worry about anymore, because you know what to expect, and you know everything will be alright if you land properly.
My top tip for dealing with falls while you’re getting started with bouldering is to look at the floor and be mindful of your legs as soon as you feel yourself slipping off the wall.
If you stayed looking up, you’d get caught off guard and land on the ground before you’re ready. That means landing unevenly or not even landing on your feet. Ouch.
As long as you’re ready for the fall, you’ll be able to take it just fine. Looking down and being aware of your legs as soon as you slip off lets you prepare for landing on your feet properly and bending your knees as you land.
Outdoor bouldering requires a little bit more finesse since you can only bring so many mats with you. However, if you’re looking to get some crash mats to have a go at outdoor bouldering, then everything you need to know is in this article here.