Backpacking Achilles Heel

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LMBSGV
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by LMBSGV » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:33 pm

None except for vertical exposure more than 50 feet. This is a totally irrational outcome from an experience in my teens. At that point in my life, I was absolutely fearless and even reckless. A friend and I were climbing a cliff by a long waterfall with me leading. At about a one foot wide ledge about 50 feet up we stopped to figure out the next section of the climb. With a route figured out, I continued climbing up. About ten feet further up, the rock I was grabbing above me and the rock my left foot was on gave away (my right foot was on air going to the next hold). It was one of those life-passing-before-me moments.

As I came down, my friend instinctively put his arms up and his hands caught me exactly on the butt. I went into the side of the cliff and slid the five feet down to the ledge (my hands ended up a scraped mess). After I thanked him for saving my life, we both stood on that ledge for several minutes collecting ourselves with me occasionally looking down the 50 or more feet with a sick feeling inside and imagining my body sprawled across the bottom. We finally followed the ledge sideways for quite a ways to a place that offered a safe descent to the pool where we began the climb.

Even since then, anytime I encounter a long vertical drop, I get a physical reaction. I’m fine if I’m more than a foot or two from the edge, but when I get to the edge and look down, it’s vertigo. Shorter drops are not a problem. If it’s not a straight vertical drop, it’s not the same reaction - it’s how are you going to negotiate this steep descent?








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The Other Tom
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by The Other Tom » Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:06 am

I have a healthy respect for all of those, especially lightning. I don't recall that my pulse increases, etc but I really don't want to be caught (again) in a thunderstorm. I monitor the weather closely and will make sure I'm out of harm's way if a thunderstorm is threating. I can control everything else on your list (ok, maybe not bears but they are generally more afraid of us than we are of them) but I can't control lightning.

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by Troutdog 59 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:51 pm

Not something I mention alot, but for me its a portion of B. Not river crossings themselves, but elevated log crossings. Dam things have given me grief since I statrted backpacking in the 70's. With the use of a walking staff, I have gotten much better at it, but its always in the back of my mind. I have to have walking poles to keep contact with the log or I get vertigo and off I go. I've had numerous folks give me all sorts of advice on how to deal with it, but it still gets to me. I choose wading anytime its an option if I can.
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SweetSierra
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by SweetSierra » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:27 am

I also don't do log crossings well. If the log is fairly low to the water I'm fine. If it's elevated to the point that a fall could be injurious, I'll cross in the water. I may start to walk across an log (and sometimes I'll be able to do it) but usually I back off the log and head for the water. I used to be afraid of heights or exposure many years ago before I began backpacking and after I first started to backpack. But over time, as I gained experience, I lost my fear of heights. I also hug a wall along a trail with a cliff but I don't feel panicky. I also used certain techniques, like tilting the bill of my cap to the cliff side so I don't see it the cliff. If I don't see it, I'm not fearful. I've been around bears quite a bit and I don't fear Sierra black bears. I don't have a fear of lightning, though I understand why others fear it. I do have an unreasonable fear of being lost (mainly in forested terrain) that stems, I think, from a childhood incident. But generally, being out calms and centers me. Oh, also crossing an extremely steep snow slope with a long runoff into talus or a lake is definitely a fear. I can climb and cross some steep snow slopes (depends on the terrain--if there's trees and such to break a fall, it doesn't bother me as much) and lower angled snow slopes with no problem.

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by papasequoia » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:33 pm

I have just enough healthy fear of each to keep me careful. However, I have made summits when the risk of falling solo or getting hit by lightning was high and realize now how lucky I was. And I have also turned back to avoid the risk at other times and wonder (still) if in each case I made the right decision or should have continued. I don't know if "fear" is the right word, but growing older and having children has certainly given me a different point of view about the dangers compared to when I was younger.
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by oldranger » Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:54 am

A & C are basically the same issue to me because they are issues that involve my judgement and skill and if I make a mistake either mentally or physically I am likely to die. For some reason river crossings don't affect me the same way and whether wading or log crossing I don't develop the same level of anxiety that steep angle exposure causes. lightening doesn't bother me because after taking the precautions there is a lot of randomness that I cannot control so"what? Me worry?"

My true "Achilles Heel" is my age related deterioration of my body and mind. I can sense the gradual loss of strength through the full range of motion which makes large step ups and downs associated with off trail travel more difficult, and certainly I travel much slower. I am also considerably less agile than I used to be. Thankfully trekking poles and lighter gear have extended my career and the financial security that came from work and good fortune allows me to use a horse boost on the first day of long trip has helped, too. But I know that my days of demanding off trail travel are limited but hopefully I will be able to do so well into my 70s. Mind? I managed to leave 4 pairs of cheapo light gardening gloves at rest stops along the trail this past summer.

Mike
Mike

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by rlown » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:02 pm

I'd backpack with you at any age. And look for your gloves. After all, you bring good booze and that amazing little boom box. :)
Last edited by rlown on Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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oldranger
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by oldranger » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:42 pm

Russ

The boombox was a one time thing but bob Dylan did make nice background music for Mark's "duck walk!"

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by John Dittli » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:23 pm

breaking through the ice, on skis, with a full pack. I was ok with that until I saw "Never Cry Wolf".
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rlown
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Re: Backpacking Achilles Heel

Post by rlown » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:31 pm

I'm a bit confused by that, John. Have you broken through on skis? Cuz that would be huge and then i get it. I'd be more fearful skating around on untested Ice? never saw the film, but, I have skied full pack back across Loon Lk in Deso. An amazingly scary experience esp when the ice is clear and clean. yeah, i'd probably do it again. :D

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