An Antidote for Route Anxiety
“The present is yours to with it as you will” –Grenville Kleiser


Eventually there will come a time when you feel anxious about a climb.

Maybe it is a project you are close to sending, a route at your limit, or maybe it’s a long multi-pitch that you are responsible for guiding.


Anxiety for a climb feels like any other anticipatory feeling you know; a tightening of the stomach, sweaty hands, nervousness… Those feelings are triggered by thoughts of the climb, and often stem from thoughts of a doubtful outcome.

Anxiety is a form of fear, and as you have experienced before, fear disrupts your climbing performance.


So this summer as I was racking up to do a crack climb at my limit, I felt the anxiousness start to set in. In fact, since I had planned to do this climb days ago, mild anxiety about the climb had already shown up. Just thinking about the climb put a knot in my stomach.

Since this route was in the popular Bluffs, I knew there would be lots of people around to either witness my success or “failure”. It was my first time on the route and it was at my limit, so I figured there was going to be some flailing. This added to my nervousness.

I finished racking up and started walking toward the climb, but my mind was racing with outcomes and thoughts of gear placements. I couldn’t seem to chill. Eventually I took a deep breath and realized what I needed to do.

I needed to stay present! I needed to stay in the moment.

I wasn’t up on the route, I was walking the trail.


So next time you get that feeling, that anxious and exciting feeling about a route, keep it if you like, but if it is not serving you, remind yourself to stay in the moment.

Close your eyes for a bit if you need to, and be mindful of your breathing. Take notice of where you are in this moment; don’t think about future engagements, you will get there.


Stay present the night before a climb.

Stay present as you rack up.

Stay present as you walk to the route.

Stay present as you climb the route.

Move by move, stay in the now.


Staying present anchors you in the now, which is all there is.


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