The Masters

Jeff Ward - IFMGA/AMGA Guide

Jeff Ward is an IFMGA-licensed and AMGA-certified Alpine, Ski and Rock Guide. He grew up in the Northwest and is co-owner of North Cascades Mountain Guides ( based in Mazama. Ward is a lead instructor for the American Mountain Guides Association and serves on their technical committee.

Martin Volken - IFMGA Guide

Martin Volken is the founder and owner of Pro Guiding Service and Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, WA. He is a certified IFMGA Swiss Mountain Guide and guides over 120 days per year in North America and Europe as a ski, rock and alpine guide. Volken has pioneered several steep ski descents, ski traverses, alpine and rock routes in the Washington Cascades. He has been a member of the AMGA examiner team since 2000 and has authored and co-authored three books on ski touring and ski mountaineering.

Got a question about climbing? Submit your question in the Ask the Master forum and either Jeff Ward or Martin Volken will supply the answer.

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Leading Fears

19-Dec-2016 11:56 AM


Posts: 1

I'm relatively new to leading, just for about 4 months now. I have lead in a gym very briefly just to learn and practiced some falling and have lead outside 25+ times, with my hardest climb on lead being a 5.9+. I really struggle with controlling my nerves and fear in general while on lead. Now I realize this isn't necessarily a uncommon thing but my climbing partner is not even close to having the fear I have and I am feeling like my fear is really holding me back from my climbing potential. 

My question is,

What can I do to work through the nerves and calm myself when I climb? 

Thanks in advance!


22-Dec-2016 08:53 AM

Jeff Ward

Jeff Ward
Posts: 46

Fear is one of the most frustrating but also one of the most rewarding things about climbing.  Finding ways to function while you are scared is quite difficult.  This is something I have to work on constantly.  

If you really want to improve you should look into the research done by Arno Ilgner.  He has written several books on the subject and offers training camps for learning how to fall safely and deal with the mental side of climbing.  I recently took a course from one of his trainers and it helped my climbing tremendously.  I just wish it didn't take me 20+ years to find some help.  

Start with one of his books.  I'd recommend Espresso Lessons then take it to the next level and take a Falling a Commitment Clinic.  If you really want to improve this would be a good place to start.