All of sudden scared

Need some ideas

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Hi I am brand new to this site. I own an tree service in Washington state. In the last few days my best climber has all of a sudden developed a fear of climbing. He shakes and gets bad anxiety. It all started on a windy day with a big Pine tree. We didn't do the tree that day. But he refuses to climb it. I put him in a smaller less dangerous Cedar and he still got scared and came down. I have seen him do WAY bigger more dangerous trees. What is the problem and what can we do to get him back in the trees and restore his confidence. He is the best climber I have ever seen. Its got me puzzled.


Well-Known Member
Probably tough to do from a business perspective but it sounds like he needs a little vacation. There's a strong chance he's got something going on in his life away from work that is undermining him. Serious anxiety is a big problem, likely he could use some professional counseling to help him get to the bottom of it and try and get past it. I don't think trees are the cause, just the trigger, straw that broke the camel's back.


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Got it. I will look into it. I think he is just overloaded with some serious life issues. hes a new dad. I am putting him on ground crew for awhile and rest him. Would you recommend paying him the same for ground as climbing under the circumstances or adjust it?
I certainly would ya. If you think he's mentally overloaded now, watch what happens when you take some money away.
Best of luck with your guy. If your reaching out looking for ways to help him (not just getting your climber back to hammer jobs) then you guys are hopefully on the right track


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Years ago I had a fall and consequently got scared of climbing. Went out on a limb and got 2 hypnotic treatments and it worked!!

Not sure if this would help him but it was relatively cheap
My husband handed me the phone to write a post on anxiety
I agree with some of the comments here. I have suffered for years
I like how you have handled the situation so far by bringing him back to his comfort level on the ground. The fact that he is a new dad is likely giving him the anxiety. Talk to him and suggest a mild anti anxiety medication. Remind him that as long as he is doing everything safely and has trust in his team, he is going to be ok
Also encourage him to get some counseling, it will make a world of difference for him
If it is left untreated, you could lose him as he will look for another job. Also, it could lead to much more serious problems
Good luck to you and him.


De' Island Buzzer
In the summer of 2014 months after my youngest child was born with Down Syndrome I had a mental block for climbing while visiting Tom Morra and Eric Whipple doing some work...I just felt overwhelmed and could not focus...I kept thinking about how much she needs me and what if what if.... well came home early and started working doing my own stuff...I had a relief climber at the time who could do a bit and that gave me time to sort my head out....years have past and she is a beautifully well adjusted strong feisty child.... that feeling went away and I was able to get back really did not last long....just needed a break to put things in perspective. Hope your climber gets his mojo back...I am sure he patient....


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I can only add to the main discussion by suggesting you commend his love for his family, and do something to show you care. Obviously, giving him time on the ground should help, if done with communication. Don't assume he sees your good intentions, verbalize them and have him affirm that your intentions have been communicated. I've heard it said that one of the worst enemies of progress is believing communication has happened when it hasn't. Once he clearly sees your support for his family, you will have his trust as you encourage him back into his primary role.

I commend your thoughtfulness and flexibility toward him in this situation. Whether through him or other means, I believe you will see return for your stance.


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His mortality has crept in.
If he dies, what happens to the baby/ family?

He's very, very, very tired, presumably.

A break from stress can do a lot.

A climber could be able to be a rockstar ground worker. He might become a great asset if you end up with two competent climbers to share the work, if you have the work. Ground work might go smoother with a climber on the ground, running ropes, knowing when to do one thing versus another, thinking to offer to send up water or a snack if the ground crew is drinking and eating, able to tip-tie stuff quickly or set a remote rigging point in another tree, if he's good with a throw weight, saving the climber some climbing.


Well-Known Member
His mortality has crept in.
If he dies, what happens to the baby/ family?

He's very, very, very tired, presumably.
I have kids. My mind has everything to do with everything. When I haven’t slept well (which is pretty much always). My brain is sending signals that I am not at peak performance. Without the energy or strength my mind knows I am vulnerable. Each signal reporting back to the brain subconsciously makes me feel afraid. Afraid of height. Afraid of the tree structure. Afraid. I can definitely tell the difference between that and when I am rested. I can be totally fine on a good day in a huge tree, and afraid of the heights of even a small tree on a day after not getting as much sleep.

Can you tell from my repetitive writing that this is one of those days I haven’t gotten much sleep.


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@John_KAYS; Really great post. I'm not a pro climber, and as such get to pick what & when I'll climb. I really only ever like to climb when I'm feeling good and well rested. Climbing is such a challenge, even when all of the conditions are in the climber's favor.

There's a whole lot of jobs in this world that people can do in a marginally effective way when they are really poorly rested, or hung over, or whatever. How you climbers manage to be reliable, climbing every day no matter how you are feeling, is really beyond me. I'm an older guy, too, so a big part of the equation for me is energy level. I feel as though I need to feel good and energetic before considering doing all of the setup required and climbing some 80 or 90 foot tall tree. I remember this kind of energy level being much easier to come by when I was a younger man.

All of which leads me to say that I get the strong impression that most of you pro climbers are not getting paid well enough. Very few people could do what you all do on a daily basis. You are all my heroes.