Overcoming self-doubt when ice climbing

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“Let’s do this cool gully,” said Richard, discussing the Sunday adventure plans in the Lake District, while sizing up his crampons and ice axes.

We were still in the cosy confines of the hut, nursing hangovers and savouring strong coffee, yet I was absolutely terrified of climbing a wall of ice with just some spikey bits of metal being all that would stop me from falling down the mountainside.

Even before setting eyes on the beast, just the thought of my first ice climb was making my hangover worse. I felt positively bilious.

All the usual doubts rose up and crashed down on me like a tidal wave: I’ve never been ice climbing before, how was I going to cope? I’m not good enough yet so how can I possibly do an ice climb? I don’t have the right kit with me. I don’t want to let the others down. What if I freak out and get stuck? Or worse, what if I fall off the mountain?

To be honest, that last thought wasn’t the one that concerned me most. It was the others – the ones that were like neon signs pointing out that I just wasn’t good enough. Continue reading