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Natalie Clauss

Fear has me in its grip?

Almost 18 months ago I had an accident. I fell while bouldering and broke my ankle and tore tendons. Oh, for all those who do not know bouldering: It's like climbing without belaying but much lower (4,5m depending on the wall) and with soft, thick mats. It is totally rare that accidents happen. I was just unlucky. I have practiced falling and jumping and have done it many times. But as it happens... someone is just that one percent likely to have an accident (I haven't looked at any statistics on this, so the number is just an example).

I even have a fear of heights, but bouldering has always been fun for me. I was able to rise above myself, it was a challenge. I knew myself and my body, so I thought I could assess risks. I guess my ambition threw a wrench in the works. There was this one route, I tried it so many times and my husband showed it to me. I got to the second to last hold, but then I didn't know what to do. I was scared. But at some point I just decided to try it.

I was just alone in the practice room where this route was, so I tried it again at my leisure. I took my time. But I also noticed how my strength was getting less so it was now or never. I had it, I had grabbed the last hold, but then I slipped. I don't remember how, it all happened pretty fast. All of a sudden I was with my back to the wall, I must have spun in the air and I hit the bottom with one foot, crumpled right over. I was immediately in pain, but didn't think anything of it at first, I had had that many times before.

Unfortunately, the foot became thick very quickly and the pain got worse instead of less. Someone came into the room to get my husband. At first I thought it would be okay, but at some point we called an ambulance because it was rather getting worse. Then at the hospital after x-rays, the news of the ankle fracture and at least one torn ligament. I should be operated to straighten the fracture and fix it. Then it will be seen what else broke.

Weeks followed on forearm crutches with only minimal weight bearing. After a screw was removed, I was slowly allowed to put weight on again. Learning to walk again. It was a torture. Everything hurt and I was impatient. After a few weeks I went back to the climbing gym. I bouldered the easiest routes to the halfway point, noticing the effort, but it worked.

Then I got pregnant and took a break again. Bouldering and being pregnant is a no-go combination for me. During pregnancy, my thoughts on bouldering and climbing were quite mixed. While I initially planned to take a climbing course even while pregnant, that is, to learn how to belay and belay (there are special pregnancy harnesses for this), I noticed that I was becoming more and more anxious.

Now it's been almost six months since the birth and I've been bouldering twice in the meantime. I'm scared and at the same time I'm desperate to overcome my fear. Some say "You just have to dare and you'll be fine. As fast as possible." Well, as fast as possible wasn't really possible then and now it's like a huge shadow. Others say, "You don't even have to, it's way too dangerous anyway." No, actually it's not dangerous and I don't want to be ruled by that fear either.

I already realize that I'm anxious when my husband or son are bouldering. I don't want to transfer my fear to them. It is difficult. Last week I didn't do much bouldering. V.a. not high. I only went to a height of about two meters, everything else didn't work. I noticed how I blocked in the process. I discovered a few routes at my original difficulty level, but they didn't go up but rather to the side. I tried them. It went clearly better.

Might there be a point to the fear? Yes, certainly. But is it still realistic? I know I need to go back to physical therapy and also jump training for more bone stability. And yet I would just like to overcome my fear.

Have you ever had an accident and been afraid? How did you overcome this fear or how did you deal with it? I'm happy to hear your answer in the comments!

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