Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Five Steps to Becoming a Real Climber and Sending All Your Projects

I asked the old man for advice, and he came through with five tried and true panaceas.

Lock Icon

Unlock this article and more benefits with 25% off.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

25% Off Outside+.
$4.99/month $3.75/month*

Get the one subscription to fuel all your adventures.

  • Map your next adventure with our premium GPS apps: Gaia GPS Premium and Trailforks Pro.
  • Read unlimited digital content from 15+ brands, including Outside Magazine, Triathlete, Ski, Trail Runner, and VeloNews.
  • Watch 600+ hours of endurance challenges, cycling and skiing action, and travel documentaries.
  • Learn from the pros with expert-led online courses.
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Climbing is a grand metaphor for conquering summits and fear and obstacles, or whatever. Just think back to that inspirational climbing poster that was tacked behind your fifth grade teacher’s desk. It made two things evident: (1) We can acquire strength from what we overcome (which is literally what the poster said). And (2) People who overcome summits look like ethereal gods, basking in the halo of human achievement and possibility… and also basking in the literal setting sun.

Naturally, the question is how do we become those climbing lords? How do we conquer more summits and send more cool shit? I wanted to find out, so on a solo spirit quest at the local crag, I happened upon an old man who, according to myth, hasn’t stopped trying his project for the last 10 years. He subsists off of foraged watercress and berries and he sleeps under a rock. I asked the old man for advice, and he provided Climbing with these five tried and true panaceas.


1. ABP (Always be peaking).

You could spend your time going into the gym to climb circuits and do hangboard workouts and lift weights. But the energy spent doing that means less energy available to send more stuff outside. Rather than stressing about training cycles and reps, the best way to achieve both actual spiritual enlightenment and a brag-worthy scorecard is to just go outside and always-be-peaking. 

2. Always do the same exercises.

Sometimes, though, it rains, so you’ll occasionally have to do a quick workout. But let’s not lose our heads here. Changing things up is unnecessary, so when you do go into the local fluorescent-lit mega gym, you can just fall back on your same five exercises you’ve been doing for the past 20 years. Don’t look up the latest pull-up routine or four-by-four variation. The key to staying injury-free and mentally balanced is rote repetition and a deep skepticism for new-age training methodologies. Stay away from coaches. Be wary of friends offering training advice. You know better. You know what works for you. 

3. Forgo rest days.

This one should be obvious. Every rest day you take is another day you get weaker. Anyone who takes a week or a month off should sell their shoes and admit that they’re not real climbers. Real climbers, as you know, climb all the time. Injuries are for weaklings. Burnout is for the insufficiently zen.

4. Make sure you don’t eat, drink, or sleep enough. 

Climbers—real ones—are basically monks. As all monks know, depriving yourself of nutrients and sleep will teach you discipline and will get you closer to that perfect automatic flow state. Your thoughts will arrive so slowly and with such fogginess that you won’t even care that you’re about to send your proj—which, of course, makes sending that much more likely. You will start to feel weak and lightheaded, but that is the price we must pay.

5. Feel immense guilt when you don’t execute steps one through four.

If you start to slip up and stagnate, you have already failed step one. If your project isn’t coming along, you’re probably already on your way out. If you think it would be fun to go try the new bouldering set at the local gym with your friends, you have failed. If you’re tempted to purchase a Lattice training program or watch a climbing course by Jonathan Siegrist, then you’re failing both yourself and the rock masters who came before you. Thanksgiving is coming around. If you so much look at that pumpkin pie, you’re no better than the poser in your yoga class who always beats you into a headstand. Always remember that in order to send more summits, you must be relentlessly perfect. 


Since writing these aforementioned steps, the dusty old man at the crag has had a chance encounter with a 11-year-old competition kid who, despite coming in just 163rd in her category at Nationals this year, easily flashed his project. After a tearful heart-to-heart conversation with the child, the old man quietly recanted all the aforementioned recommendations.

Also Read