Friendly competition among a small group of climbers will sometimes yield surprising results, as each individual's imagination, creativity, strength, and motivation are gently pushed, prodded, and inspired by others. However, any kind of score-keeping attitude among the group is usually counterproductive for all, except the top dog who makes the hardest moves of the day and is in a position to reap temporary ego benefits at the others' expense.
It is better when everyone is let in on the secret of just how a move was done-—what it felt like to accomplish it—not in the sense of good/bad or easy/hard, but more along these lines: "As 1 was lay-backing around the lip. I found that my left crampon held better when 1 placed it out onto the thin ice and just sort of shifted my weight onto it without kicking it in. I just sort of pushed and stood up. It felt like the points melted their way in."
Sooner or later your progress as an ice climber will seem to halt, no matter how much you try to improve. The first thing to remember is that this is natural, and that one of the causes for the plateau may be that you are trying too hard. These cycles in performance may be due to a stagnation in your acceptance of the experience, your senses may have become dulled by what you think you already know. This is the time to back off, get loose, and remember that it is all a game and should be fun.
Commonly, planning involves drawing up lists of equipment, food, and so forth in the hopes that some important item or detail will not be overlooked. This is great as far as it goes, but such paperwork should be supplemented (and can eventually be almost entirely replaced) by what I call "longrange imaging." or taking the skills of visualization you have learned to use in dealing with technical problems and applying them to an entire climb, trip, or even three-month expedition. It is simple, really. You just do the climb, imagine the trip, or run the expedition in your head a few times, letting all the possible scenarios run their course. Actually it is only controlled daydreaming, but it is a powerful and effective tool.
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