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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.