Enjoy unlimited access to Climbing’s award-winning features, in-depth interviews, and expert training advice. Subscribe here.
Ed note: If you want to climb harder, and for that matter, live a healthy life, take none of the following advice. Also, if you don’t have a sense of humor, read no further.
Climbing used to be easy. A decade ago, I’d stay up until 3am hanging out around the campfire at Miguel’s Pizza with a bunch of rando college kids and wake up five hours later to send my proj. These days, I stay up until 3am hanging out around the Miguel’s campfire with a bunch of rando college kids and wake up 10 hours later with a food hangover and an awkward suspicion that I’m too old to be hanging with college kids.
I’ve been told that if I really want to keep getting better at this extremely esoteric sport, I have to start getting a good night’s sleep, stop eating so much pizza, and start training. But homegirl here is deeply committed to her relationship with pizza, and let’s just say that I’m not a big fan of training. It’s extremely difficult and it makes me sweaty and cuts into my socializing time at the gym, which is the only opportunity I have to shoot the shit with people about things that aren’t adulting. I’m generally just not a huge proponent of trying hard. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve tried trying hard. Several times in my adult life, I haven’t been able to cheat through a long move by getting high feet and locking off, and for whatever reason it didn’t occur to me to just give up and get on a different climb, so I tried really, really hard. And, 999 times outta 1000, I still couldn’t do the move. 0.1% is a terrible success rate.
Fortunately for you, who is also averse to trying hard but also interested in #infinitegains, I’ve spent the better half of my life being both a rock climber and also only exerting extremely minimal physical effort. As my strong-seeming friend often says, If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying. So, here are a few tips to help you on your effortless journey to climbing success.
#1. Try out route setting.
We all know that those guys only seem so good at rock climbing because they set some morpho junk that perfectly suited their strengths. My home gym’s new hire with the +7” ape index hasn’t put more than three holds on a boulder problem since he started working. The untrained eye might mistake him for a Dave-Graham-grade wizard, but I see him for who he truly is: a cheater. Gimme a drill and I’ll throw a crimp ladder made up of 40 razor blades in the gym’s overhanging dihedral, and we’ll see who looks like a magician now. Route setting is a fast-track to hero status.
#2. Become a photographer.
There’s no better way to look like a really good rock climber than to have tons of photos of other people rock climbing hard on your Instagram. This is especially true if the other people are pros. All you need is a decent camera, a willingness to jug up a fixed line, and one moderately good photo of J-Star on some rarely repeated linkup and boom! You look like you climb with J-Star and you have 40 new followers. Be sure to hashtag every variety of #climbing_is_my_passion you can think of, and you’ll be making the rounds on the Insta bots in no time.
#3. Memorize all the beta of the hardest rock climbs at the crag.
You don’t have to have actually tried the rock climb yourself, just be able to regurgitate which left-sidepull-right-smear combo gets you to the three-finger-dish-crimp for your right-hand-back-three at the sixth bolt. If you can provide a detailed explanation of precisely how to execute the crux for every person who gets on the route, everyone at the crag will assume you’ve done the rig yourself. Just make sure you share the beta loud enough that folks outside of your immediate vicinity can hear you.
#4. Avoid your weaknesses, and only climb your strengths.
Do you boulder v12, but have zero endurance? Go to Lander. Scared of pockets? Ditch Lander and go to Rumney. Really tall? Head to the New. An aversion to any type of hold that isn’t a down-pulling crimp? Check out Ten sleep. For that matter, everyone interested in scoring some quick, pillowy soft ticks should check out Ten Sleep. There’s no better place to go from being a 5.10 climber to on-sighting three 5.12s in a day than this little limestone paradise.
#5. Quit your job.
Live off of your parents’ cash. Those friends of yours who are seemingly always crushing rigs on a climbing trip in some exotic destination are most definitely still getting a monthly allowance from their parents. When asked how they support themselves on the road, they may say they work remotely doing coding work for an app startup, but we all know that’s complete BS. They’re only taking their pro-masters out of Rifle Canyon for a few hours on rest days to catch up on social media and restock their overpriced snacks supplies from the Natural Grocers. It’s quite a lot easier to be a successful rock climber when you have more than 10 days of yearly vacation time and your 9-to-5 doesn’t get in the way of perfect mid-week sending conditions.
When all else fails, just talk about rock climbing. A lot. Remember: the best rock climbers are the ones out there sharing the most spray. So, grab a large pizza, find a seat at the Miguel’s fire pit, and let those college kids know what a crusher you once were.