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Cultivating Courage With Climber and Filmmaker Noah Kane

Four tips for building bravery and conquering everyday challenges

Abby Grifno

What would it take for you to make a 2,300 ft. grade III climb? A lot of courage, that’s what. Luckily, we’ve got seasoned climber Noah Kane to share some of his top courage-cultivating tips. The best part is you don’t even need to climb a mountain to utilize these tips. They can be applied to everyday scenarios, too, like playing Scrabble against your Scrabble arch-nemesis or trying a new recipe for the first time right before a friend’s big potluck party.

Noah Kane’s Top Courage-Cultivating Tips

Noah Kane still remembers one of the first climbs he ever made, “it was one of the most central trees in our community on the property of the school we all went to [in Costa Rica].” Noah didn’t consider himself a climber at the time, but now he avidly climbs boulders and trees, filming documentaries about his experiences in North and Central America. However, that first climb holds a permanent place in his heart.

“I remember feeling how cool and temperate the forest felt,” said Noah. “I remember this cool breeze in the trees but also the heat of climbing.” 

Since that moment, Noah’s been hooked. But how does he cultivate the courage to challenge awe-inspiring climbs like Mexico’s Time Wave Zero and Adirondack’s Wallface Mountain? Here are four tips from Noah that give him the courage to climb (he frequently uses them in everyday life too).

Tip #1: Develop a Strong Mental Game 

For Noah, the most important part of a climb is mental preparation. 

“I like to think I’m always working on that,” he said.

Letting go of stress from events beyond his control is something he tries to “embody in [his] entire life.” Noah focuses on trying to keep a level head in every situation. He suggests starting small by applying this mindset to everyday situations. Starting small and taking the steps needed to build a solid mental game has allowed him to channel a calm demeanor during high-stake scenarios.  

With Noah's climbing type, which always prioritizes safety, he says, “The fear is mostly in your mind.” Noah can stay logical even when things get dangerous by realistically thinking through his actions and potential consequences. The takeaway? Conquer your mindset, and everything else will start to fall into place.

Tip #2: Be Prepared

Climbing is actually not as dangerous as it may appear. According to Noah, while some inherent risks are associated with climbing, there are ways to increase safety.

 “I wouldn’t consider myself a daredevil by any means,” said Noah. “I try to manage [any] risk as best as I can by never taking unnecessary risks.” 

While there are different types of climbing, Noah always uses ropes and protective gear. He also eases pre-climb anxiety by carefully planning and training for each trek. By working on his knowledge and climbing skills, he’s built confidence.

 “I really control my fear through research and knowledge, whether it’s strength or technical skills, or knowledge of the route.”

Preparation is key, whether you’re working to summit Mount Makalu, presenting a project idea at work, or getting ready for that high-stakes Scrabble match. Take time to understand your route, gather helpful information and make a plan—your future confidence will thank you. 

Tip #3: Save up Courage for the Big Day

Noah views his courage as a “non-renewable resource.” So he likes to ensure he has as much courage as possible before a climb. He relaxes as much as possible and says, “I like to be really lazy and uncourageous so that when I go climbing, I feel like I’ve saved the courage up.”

When Noah does start climbing, he feels more energized and more accomplished. By pacing himself throughout his daily life, the moments during the climb, even at their toughest, feel like a rewarding endeavor worthy of his expendable courage. For Noah, saving his courage also goes back to mental preparation and giving himself the time to feel ready for a challenge. So take some time to be utterly un-courageous right before a challenging life moment. Try going for a walk, chatting with a close friend, or binge-watching your favorite comedy. 

Tip #4: Build Courage Through Trust

According to Noah, having reliable supporters makes a huge difference. 

“Having the right people there is one of my favorite things,” he said.

Noah says that having a belayer—the person who controls the safety rope during a climb— who "you can trust, that you know will have [your back] is great.” Many of Noah’s climbs are done with good friends who also help Noah record his documentaries. His films always showcase stunning views captured by aerial drones; all pieced together while Noah narrates the journey. You may not need a reliable belayer in everyday life, but having a group of people you can lean on during challenging times is a guaranteed confidence booster.

Reaching the Peak

Noah says that arriving at the top of the peak of his climb gives him an almost indescribable feeling. He’s always with good friends and loves sharing the beautiful views with people he cares about. For Noah, climbing is all about the team and his partners, “You’re all on this quest together.” 

After reaching their goal, Noah and his team can all breathe, have a snack and get ready for the descent. Noah has some exciting upcoming trips, including climbing giant sequoia trees and pushing his sport-climbing grade in Europe. You can keep up with him by following his YouTube channel

As a writer and teacher based out of the Washington, DC, metro area, Abby Grifno has had work featured in the Washington City Paper, Bethesda Magazine, and others.

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