Conversations with Climbers: The Best Advice

Pro climbers answer climbing questions.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

What is the best piece of climbing advice you’ve ever received?

Chris Schulte

“You gotta want to do it.”

Chris Weidner

“Be learning-focused and curious about the process rather than being result-focused.”

Heidi Wirtz

“Always tie a knot in the end of your rope.”

Will Stanhope

“‘It’s OK to get scared, but never let yourself get gripped.’—Jonny Simms. There’s a critical distinction between being frightened (and still being able to make decisions), and being deer-in-the-headlights petrified, which is to be avoided at all costs. I’ll never forget that one.”

John Dickey

“Don’t fall off the mountain. “

John Glassberg

“‘Never Let Go!’ Didn’t Chris Sharma say that? Even if he didn’t, I still think about it a lot. I try and remind myself to try hard and fail rather than backing off or letting go. So many people just let go and give up. I guess it’s just easier to give up?”

Kai Lightner

“The best piece of advice that I’ve ever received is to not stress over things that I can’t control. When put in stressful situations, you must trust that the preparation and training you put into conquering your goals will work out in the end. You can’t control outdoor conditions, the routes that you get at competitions, or many other factors that determine your success in climbing—so it’s pointless to stress yourself out about it. Instead you should focus on enjoying the moment and doing your best.”

Matt Segal

“Enjoy it! At the end of the day if you’re not having any fun whats the point?”

Nina Williams

“One of my coaches always told me to ‘climb pretty,’ meaning execute every move with style and make it look good. I feel like that phrase helps define my movement to this day.”

Paige Claassen

“You have what it takes to do the route now, the only thing in the way is your mind and doubts.”

Jesse Huey

“There have been a few great pieces of advice that I have gotten from friends and climbers I looked up to. One was told to me as I was approaching a long multipitch that I really wanted to redpoint. My partner could tell I was nervous and looked at me and said, ‘It’s just a rock.’ At the time I thought it was a really weird thing to say, but then something stuck in that that really made sense. At the end of the day they are just rocks and all the noise in our heads is us and our egos. The second piece of advice that sticks with me is from Leo Houlding. I was nervous as hell sitting in El Cap Meadow before trying to free climb the Freerider in a day. Leo could tell I was nervous and came over and told me that the moves that were the most important, were the ones right in front of you. He then said make sure to remember to enjoy it. The next day I heeded his advice and really had one of the best days of my life.

Sonnie Trotter

“When in doubt, run it out.”

Read more Conversations with Climbers.