5 Best Books for Learning How to Rock Climb


The basic idea of rock climbing is beautifully simple: start at the bottom and make your way to the top. Of course, in practice, the sport is one of the most difficult to master. Every climbing discipline comes with its own unique set of skills to learn, gear to get familiar with, muscles to strengthen, and mentalities to adopt. So, we have put together a list of the best rock climbing books that cover these different areas.

The Rock Warriors Way

Best for mental approach. The Rock Warriors Way by Arno Ilgner offers a psychological guide for all aspects of climbing. It covers a wide variety of topics, including motivation, fear, focus, approach, and performance. It is easily one of the most popular climbing books, and many adopt Ilgner's philosophy. It is one of those self-help books that advocates obsess over, and some apply its lessons outside of climbing. Believe it or not, I have even seen a climber with a tattoo of the logo on their arm. So, if you feel like you have a hard time pushing yourself to your limits or your performance is being hindered by your fear of falling, buy this book.


How to Rock Climb!

Best all-in-one. Written by legendary climber John Long, "How to Rock Climb!" covers all the essential subjects for learning how to climb and best-practices for climbing safely outside. It is a perfect book for beginners who want to become familiar with the different climbing disciplines or add structure to their training. "How to Rock Climb!" is also an excellent resource for understanding which anchors to build and how to set them up in different situations. Read this book to learn the basics of climbing techniques, gear, and training.


Training for Climbing

Best for mental, technical, and strength training. This book is the most comprehensive guide to training for rock climbing. It's not just about how to hangboard, or developing a training schedule; it helps you understand your genetic potential and consider your life-long goals as a climber. If you are looking for a simple training schedule, this book is probably unnecessarily complicated. But, if your life goal is to climb 5.13+, its a must-read.


The AMGA Single Pitch Manual

Best for outdoor safety and gear. This book is for climbers learning how to become professional single pitch climbing instructors. However, it is also an essential book for any climber who wants to lead, set up anchors, or take friends climbing outside. Created with the AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association), this book has the best up-to-date information on how to climb single pitch routes safely. Definitely worth the purchase.


Logical Progression

Best simple training guide. Climbing coach Steve Bechtel details simple, easy to follow methods for organizing your training and tracking your progress. This book is excellent for climbers who want to understand the basics of training for climbing, design their schedule, and break performance plateaus. "Logical Progression" focuses on how shorter training cycles can benefit climbers who are unable to follow rigid periodization plans.


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