I wish I could do one-armed pull-ups like the 16-year-olds at the gym. Then maybe – just maybe – I could send my damn project. On the other hand, physical strength is just one aspect of rock climbing. Mental strength is also crucial. Unfortunately, most of us have only a vague understanding of what this means. Arno Ilgner’s audiobook, The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers ($18.95 for the book and $29.95 for the CD), warriorsway.com), helps remedy that.
Ilgner details seven well-researched methods that sharpen our mental skills. He brings his technical dialogue to life with entertaining (and relevant) anecdotes gleaned from his years as a bold trad climber. Although I tripped up on some of the more abstract language, such as the phrase the "1,000-headed dragon of the ego," the valuable insights make such trifles well worthwhile. For example, I was skeptical when Ilgner says the climber’s highest goal is learning. “Actually, Arno,” I thought to myself, “I just want to send hard!” But by the time I listened to the sixth and final disc, I was rapt. He’d convinced me to develop awareness, direct my attention in a productive way, and value learning over achievement.
Don’t plan on listening to the whole shebang at once: The Rock Warrior’s Way is dense and the information so valuable it’s best digested in small chunks. I consider this one of the most important training manuals I’ve encountered. Every climber would benefit from it – and if you’re not careful, you might find yourself applying warrior principles to everyday life.