Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dissecting a Climbing Mantra

The past four and a half years have seen long weekends, shredded fingertips, sore muscles, and an endless string of pull-ups. I have listened to those further along than I, and continue to learn and develop every day as a climber. Each trip is leaves me with something to finish up next time. Each training session is increasingly brutal, but I am continually amazed by what the body can withstand.

Reaching progressively harder levels has always been my main source of fun and enjoyment of climbing, however throughout the years I have realized that there are two fundamental aspects to acknowledge before I can push myself to the limit. My personal climbing mantra formed from each of these organically settling into their order.

Stay humble.
Stay healthy.
Work hard.

This simple six word reminder has helped tremendously to keep me focused, grounded, and thoroughly psyched.

Stay humble: It's far from coincidence that professional climbers are among the most humble climbers out there. There will always be a stronger or more experienced person to learn from. The second that I stop learning, listening, or observing is the second when my ego will slowly begin take over. Progressing to the next level after the take over is similar to wearing a permanent weight vest.

Stay healthy: Healthy can be a lot of things. For me it's a combination of mental and physical health. Keeping this in the back of my head helps me to recognize that I can't climb my hardest every day, and to monitor my body's needs. Simple things like getting enough sleep, maintaining a suitable diet, and keeping stress levels to a minimum are essential before performing at my limit.

Work hard: Without the first two I cannot reach this stage. That said, my aim is to stay in this "work" mode for as long as possible. Regimented training, pulling harder and harder movements, and most importantly celebrating the small breakthroughs have been key in chipping away at harder levels. Sometimes I'll only stick one or two moves in a row on a problem and leave happier than if I had sent. I have the most fun with these small victories and they do wonders for my motivation.

I hope that this very personal and specific mantra spurs you to share your own thoughts on the subject. I look forward to reading them!



  1. LOVE it.
    The climbing mantras I often repeat in my mind (and sometimes aloud) I learned from an old climbing hero of mine, Jared McMillan, back when he used to manage the then "Powerhouse" gym in Vegas.
    "What the mind believes, the body can achieve," is my favorite, followed closely by "success without expectation."
    Max, keep up the psyche and training. I look forward to climbing with you again in the (hopefully near) future.

  2. Thanks Ike!

    I'm glad that you posted because I remember you mentioning the "success without expectation" more than once in Hueco and I thought about it before writing this post. It's a good one.

    I look forward to your return to the states so we can crush. I'm tentatively planning on guiding in Hueco this winter so hopefully I'll see you there!

  3. Success without expectation: