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The Rock Warrior's Way: Mental Training for Climbers Paperback – June, 2003

62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Arno Ilgner was introduced to climbing in 1973 and has been actively involved since then, climbing in areas across the US and Canada, and in France and Korea. Some of his significant first ascents include the 1100-foot east face of Cloud Peak in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, the team free ascent of Glass Menagerie on the north face of Looking Glass Rock in North Carolina, and numerous headwall routes on Whitesides Mountain, also in North Carolina.

Arno has developed his Rock Warrior’s Way mental training method over the course of ten years, working with hundreds of students. He also teaches courses on movement that help climbers improve their balance and create more energy-efficient performances. He lives with his family in Tennessee and conducts courses mainly in the Southeast, but also travels to other areas of the country to teach clinics and make presentations. Climbers have attended his courses from as far away as Canada, California, Florida, and New York. Recently he has been working with young competition climbers.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Desiderata Institute (June 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974011207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974011202
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,609,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arno Ilgner distinguished himself as a pioneering rock climber in the 1970s and '80s, when the top climbs were bold and dangerous first ascents. These personal exploits are the foundation for Ilgner's unique physical and mental training program--The Warrior's Way®. He has helped hundreds of students sharpen their awareness, focus attention, and understand their athletic (and life) challenges within a coherent, learning-based philosophy of intelligent risk-taking. Ilgner considers the joy and satisfaction in the effort - the "journey" - intimately linked to successful attainment of goals, the "destination."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jim Okel on June 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a casual acquaintance of Arno's over the years, I was gratified and pleased by how good his book turned out to be. It stands as a high water mark in the human potential genre. Well written and clear, Arno and Achey bring high theory down to earth (or the high cliffs as it were). As most people can imagine the challenge that hard rock climbing is, the lessons in this book could well be applied to help one deal with any challenge. In other words, you don't have to be a climber to get allot out of this book.
Regarding the falling issue mentioned a few reviews back, I have to defend Arno and make it very clear that he does not advocate taking falls willy nilly. What he does advocate is taking responsibility for one's willingness or unwillingness to fall and making that choice based on the best possible information at hand, unfettered by an irrational fear of falling that prooccupies attention and leads to the dreaded 'overgrip'. His fall drills are designed to lesson that kind of fear by making falling a known experience rather than a boogie man that robs one's attention and strength.
Where a climber likes to be on the safety - risk continuum is unavoidably a personal decision. Better to come to that decision with as much skill and information as one can gather. Nevertheless, regardless of how much you know and how strong you are, if you are challenging yourself at the edge of your abilities, you will still have to make your move and shove off into the unknown. That's the beauty of climbing.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David on March 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ilgner's book is definitely not something you'll just breeze through in an afternoon. Some of the concepts are pretty abstract, and a lot of the book's power lies in helping you to look at your own weaknessess and bad habits...which is not something all of us are eager to do. However, if you take some time with the ideas and let them sink in, you may be very surprised and grateful for what you find.

One particularly powerful concept is what Ilgner calls "wishing behavior": wishing that a hold were bigger or that the pro was better or closer to you. Once you become attuned to this you will be amazed at how common, and how unproductive, this kind of thinking is. All around you at the crag (and perhaps in your own mind), you'll suddenly hear voices wailing about how hard and impossible it all is, and how they wish the climb or the climber were different.

Well, the holds are the holds, the pro is the pro, and you are you. That's the challenge you came for, and this book can help you learn to savor it and thrive in it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Since the day I started climbing I always felt there was a strong mental aspect to our sport. It became obvious to me when I started following Eric Hörst's mental tips and found jumps in my ability. I felt more powerful even though my muscles had not grown any stronger.
After breaking through small barriers, I realized there was another world of mental training, but I had no idea where to turn. There were authors putting out psychological books for other sports, but climbing has always been more complicated. Arno Ilgner has filled this gap with his new book, The Rock Warrior's Way.
Don't let the cover fool you. When I first picked it up, my impression was that this book was dedicated to old school trad methods. This could not have been further from the truth. This book is for all climbers. Some of his themes are self observation and the importance of separating our identity from our experiences and responding to them with patience and intelliegence.
Ilgner finds a way to make order of chaos. He's found a way to express our mental habits that everyone can understand and he's created simple and effective ways to address our problems. Whatever your level of climbing, you will walk away from this book with valuable lessons.
--Sonnie Trotter, Gripped magazine
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
Who hasn't, at some point in their climbing career, felt the cold knot of fear in the belly, and an internal dialogue that goes something along the lines of, "I wish I wasn't here; the pro sucks, just get me through this and I won't climb again, or at least for a week." And yet, as Arno Ilgner points out, you chose to go up that route. Once you make the choice, you should contrinue to stay in charge of choices, and this internal dialogue can sap your ability to do the route. Ilgner's "The Rock Warrior's Way" is an excellent primer for mental training for climbing.
Ilgner addresses seven processes of what he calls "the warrior's way" that can lead to better climbing: becoming conscious, life if subtle, accepting responsibility, giving, choices, listening and the journey. Ilgner's main thesis is that the ego seeks glory without effort, and that the ego distracts you from learning from the experiences you undergo. By learning to turn off the ego, and climb for the challenge alone instead of the rewards of being able to say you did a hard route, you become more attuned with your climbing. Once you learn to accept the situation as it is, instead of wishing for it to be easy, you can learn how to deal with it. After all, if all climbs were easy, you might as well just climb a ladder.
Ilgner does seem to have more of a sport climber mentality in at least one area--his acceptance of falling. He even encourages you to practice falling so you can learn to deal with the fear of it. For me, at least, this casualness about falling can have serious consequences. On ice, for instance, falling is a really bad idea; so too in the mountains.
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