Finding Your Own Path in the Climbing World


The famous Triconi Nail, Needles, SD.

There are as many different paths to take in climbing as there are climbers, so why proceed down a path already traveled? Master climbers, both famous and anonymous, all establish their own path–and I hope you will, too!

If you’re a beginning climber, it’s natural to copy and emulate the expert climbers you know or the professionals you read about in magazines. While you may be able to successfully model some elements of their technique and climbing tactics, becoming truly competent—and someday even exceptional—demands that you explore and experiment to develop your own style and modus operandi. To continue indefinitely in the mode of copying others and climbing with the crowd is a form of self-sabotage.

After a few years in the sport, real growth requires that you form new partnerships, explore new climbing subdisciplines, and develop your own climbing style in order to launch into a totally unique and lofting personal trajectory. This is what master climbers of every generation have done, including greats such as Willi Unsoeld, Yvon Chouinard, John Gill, Jim Bridwell, Wolfgang Güllich, Todd Skinner, Lynn Hill, Peter Croft, Steve House, Chris Sharma, and Tommy Caldwell.

The aforementioned climbers are proof that dreaming big works. All lived a rather ordinary early life, but through the power of climbing, and the will to fulfill their dreams, these individuals forged a distinctive course in the climbing world. You can, too, but beware of naysayers and also-rans who attempt to douse your fiery passion. Whenever critics sound off, take solace in knowing that at some point all great climbers are criticized or have their dreams dismissed as “unlikely” or even “foolish.” It’s also important to remind yourself that compulsive critics are but meager mongers of negative energy, whereas doers are believers, fulfillers, and spreaders of positive energy and big dreams.

So I implore you to find your own path and believe in it! Emancipate yourself from cultural programming and peer pressure. Unleash your imagination and live your passion, while holding little concern for image or what other people think. Be a compulsive doer, and avoid being unnecessarily critical. Persevere through adverse times, and always keep faith in a positive endgame. While no dream is guaranteed to be fulfilled, in doing all these things you are guaranteed to find uncommon success, experience, and joy in climbing.

Copyright 2010 Eric J. Hörst. All rights reserved.