5 Ways to Look Like You Climb Hard

Getting stronger is such a fucking pain the ass. Who has time for 4x4s? I don’t even have time for 1x1s.

Beyond finding time to train, there’s the even bigger, ego-punching pain of actually going to a crag and sending a real rock climb. First you have to drive there. Then you have to pick a route. Then you have to find someone to tell you what the beta is. Then you have to fail 400 times. Then you have to, like, actually do it.

UGH! So hard!

Face it. You’re stuck on a serious plateau of mediocrity. And it’s a plateau that you are going to ride through your 30s, your 40s and your 50s, until you finally give up and decide to go free solo El Cap. Summit or die, either way you win.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t fool everyone into thinking you climb much harder than you do. And, let’s be honest, for all intents and purposes, making others think that we are radder than them is 99% of the reason we even get out of bed every day, not to mention put ourselves through the groin-chaffing humiliation of wearing a harness, or squeezing our feet into tensioned rubber shoes.

Most people know WHAT NOT TO DO in order to avoid looking like the gumbies that, deep down, they most certainly are. But in case you’re new to this game, or just want a refresher on how not to be a gumbo, let’s review:

Unless you are currently in the midst of aid climbing, don’t wear a daisy chain.

If you are bouldering in the gym, don’t wear your harness.

Unless you are doing a multi-pitch route, don’t climb with a belay device clipped to your harness.

Don’t clip your chalk bag to your harness with any kind of carabiner, especially not a locking carabiner.

Don’t walk into Miguel’s Pizza aprés climbing still wearing your helmet, Mythos, harness and full rack of quickdraws.

Don’t pull the rope and stand underneath it, trying to do that thing where you catch the very end of it, while meanwhile 100 feet of rope avalanches onto your face while you stand there giggling like a fool. (Just stop playing that game. It’s fucking stupid, OK?)

And so on …

None of these tips should be revelatory to anyone reading this blog. This is base line, climbing 101 material here. OK, ma dudes? Solid.

So now that we know what NOT to do, the question is, what DO we do?

Glad you asked!

I have compiled a list of ideas that will help you elevate your climbing game.  No training, no skill and no actual redpointing is required. Whether you climb 5.5 or 5.15, you can take these tips and automatically make yourself look like you climb much harder than you really do. You’re welcome.


Wear Two Different Shoes

You know how when cruxes get hard—like, really hard—you find yourself in a situation where you need the edging power of a La Sportiva Miura on one foot, and the heel-hooking sensitivity of the Futura for the other foot?

Of course you don’t, because you’re not Adam Ondra.

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But so what? Anyone can pull off this trick of wearing two different shoes.

Just because your project has basketball-sized footholds that could be easily used even while wearing Danskos doesn’t mean you can’t fool those around you into thinking that your footwork is so world-class and fine-tuned, you’re just a few ticks away from going to Norway to give Change a few working burns.

Wear two different shoes and people will be impressed. Trust.


Take Your Shirt Off Mid-Route

Shirt Off

This is a slightly more advanced move, but it’s sure to impress the living hell out of everyone around you. Taking your shirt off while at a mid-route shake is super baller. It exudes confidence. It’s a move that says, “I’m about to keep it real up in this mothafucka!” Double points if you also actually say “I’m about to keep it real up in this mothafucka!” after taking your shirt off.

Just make sure you don’t get stuck inside your shirt.



Casually Throw Around The First Names Of Professional Climbers

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Get good by proxy. Let people around you think you’re friends with—and therefore climb as hard as—the pros.

You don’t actually need to be friends with Dave Graham, Nalle Hukkataival and Daniel Woods. In fact, you’ve probably never met them. All you have to do is drop their first names super casually when talking about your own climbing project.

“Oh, dude, Daniel, Dave and Nalle all thought that sloper move was suuuuuper hard.”

After all, you could be talking about your good friends, Daniel Clownpuncher, Dave Markersonberg, and Nalle Henderson, from Cincinnati, Ohio. So what?

The trick is simply to let those around believe what they want to believe. Do this, and you’ll instantly become a better climber in their eyes.


Sit Around Filing Your Skin, Talking To No One


Another easy, surefire tip that requires no actual strength, skill or even much movement. The key to pulling this one off is to be silent and not make eye contact with anyone else at the boulders. Just sit and stare at your fingers like they are about to tell you the secret to growing a bigger cock.

Tape them. File them. Tape them again. File them again. Don’t say a goddamn word. And definitely don’t give yourself away by actually climbing.


Wear a Scarf


If you’re an American, and you wear a scarf, you’ve probably spent a lot of time in Europe and you must climb really hard. There’s no other explanation.

  • Michael Ryan

    tee hee

  • TheHaven

    Stick to Everest slamming Andrew

    • This wasn’t very funny, was it? Everest is much funnier

      • TheHaven

        Your Everest article was good. This one seemed like it was taken from reddit/climbingcirclejerk, plus it seems about half a dozen other bloggers have tried to write the same thing in the last year.

        • Well, I thought this article was funny as shit, so fuck off! :) Glad you liked the Everest article, dude.

  • Erik Wolfe

    “Unless you are doing a multi-pitch route, don’t climb with a belay device clipped to your harness.” Umm… you really want to lower off those sawn-through open shuts? Go right ahead, I’ll rappel.

  • Delila Pozderac

    I totally try to catch the rope. Hilarious otherwise.

  • Ben Mace

    Gold mate! Hahahaha! Love it!

  • Mike

    classic JDI footage. whats that from?

    • It’s so old it’s become public domain, Mike

      • Mike

        aged like fine wine

  • Giles Tilling

    Haha – I’ve seen Scarf Boy in action too!

  • Kombucha

    I’m surprised you left out ‘Drink heavily and smoke weed under the local undone mega-proj whilst bitching about skin and conditions.’
    And the jokes on you, because my fingers DO know the secret to growing a bigger cock. Mwahahaha!!

  • Patrick Bagley

    Hasn’t D Clownpuncher been climbing pretty well lately?

  • Sean Patrick


  • Erin Monahan

    I got a good laugh. Thanks, again. I often sit silently for hours and hours under boulders intently waiting for that one day my fingers will finally tell me the secret to growing a bigger cock.

  • Jeffrey Ison

    Rule #6 to looking like you climb hard…leave a comment after the article mocking it and talking about how you already saw the same article on another climbing blog since you clearly read them all!

  • Hati

    Get a dread mullet and a dog on a climbing rope leash. This is certain sign of Spanish sport climbers who will climb 8c