“If you could give one piece of advice as a professional climber, what would it be?” This is the question we asked five professional climbers from a range of climbing styles. Here’s what they had to say.
These days, the default setting for the majority is indoor climbing. It seems that the better climbing walls become, the harder it is to break free and get outside. Climbing on rock requires effort and motivation but that’s the whole point and the reason why the rewards are so great. Try to experience as many different climbing areas and styles as possible and don’t narrow down your options too soon. As much as you may love bouldering or sport climbing, you may find that trad or ice climbing takes things to a new level.
“Try to experience as many different climbing areas and styles as possible and don’t narrow down your options too soon.”
Identify your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
Anyone can climb, it does not matter if you are tall or short, big or small, old or young. We all have different prerequisites and to become a better climber, a good piece of advice is to try to identify what it is that YOU need to improve and turn that “weakness” into a strength. It could be, for example, finger strength, dynamic climbing, foot technique or body tension. I am very tall for being a climber, 1.77 m. This means I need to do a lot of core/body tension training to be able to use my length and keep a good position on the wall – especially in overhangs where body tension is crucial.
Incorporate some exercises for what you need to improve a couple of times a week before or after each climbing session.
If you are just starting to climb, try to spend as much time as possible on the wall, climbing different styles and angles, that is the best way to learn how to move and build a large repertoire of movements.
“Identify your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.”
When working as a professional mountain guide, the most important thing is to keep having fun. Guiding is pretty demanding, in times dangerous and at some points, you will find yourself wishing you had taken that desk job years ago. The reward on the other side is to be outside in the mountains all day and enable others to reach their goal. Not to speak of the beautiful views you’re able to experience in the mountains.
So, no matter whether you are an aspiring guide or a young climber: Fun is the most important part of what we do because in the end, nobody except ourselves cares about what we do in the mountains.
“Fun is the most important part of what we do because in the end, nobody except ourselves cares about what we do in the mountains.”
Steno (AKA Josef Pfnur)
Advice for someone who is just starting to climb:
First and most important rule, just enjoy what you do. Since everyone has the desire to get better, I recommend to work on the technique first and then on the strength. This is best if you are travelling with experienced climbers or visiting a course.
Advice on motivation:
It is not always easy to motivate yourself for training but always have one goal in mind for what you need to train. Be it for a special tour, for a competition or just for a climbing trip. If you stick to something and really believe in yourself then you can do it. Everything is possible.
Advice on fear:
It’s funny, because when I started climbing I was afraid of heights. That’s why I initially only bouldered in Berchtesgaden where I lived. I then had to overcome my fears and overcome the altitude slowly. The versatility in the sport helped with this. You never have the same movements or the same wall. It is always unique. This versatility can be your focus and help you overcome your fear.
Advice on technical climbing:
Your technique can, and will, always be improved. That’s the great thing about climbing, you never have the same experience twice. It is always unique. You have to adapt constantly. If you push yourself out of your comfort zone into new challenges then you will definitely improve. This is one of the most beautiful things about climbing.
“Your technique can, and will, always be improved. That’s the great thing about climbing, you never have the same experience twice. It is always unique. You have to adapt constantly.”
When you have to leave your personal comfort zone whist climbing, always focus on the next moves. Thinking ahead, planning, rising to the challenge and being in that moment is what it takes. Nothing else matters in this situation!