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Manuals for the mind

Last month we shared playlists of podcasts and videos on the subject of mental health and mindset, but what about those avid readers amongst you?  There have been lots of incredible books written about sharpening the mind for climbing. The mind has often been overlooked when it comes to training, so we have compiled a list which will get you calm, collected and ready for your ascent.


Recommended reading

Our top picks for lockdown reading

Maybe you’ve encountered fear in the past. Maybe you’ve had meltdowns mid-route and couldn’t face going either up or down. Maybe you regret grabbing the quickdraw instead of braving the fall or the next move. Or you jumped off a boulder problem early because you didn’t trust the last hold. Or maybe you just fancy reading something inspirational.


1. Arno Ilgner 

The Rock Warrior’s Way 

No list about climbing and mental training would be complete without The Rock Warrior’s Way. Arno spent years researching mental training methods and ancient warrior traditions, and applied his findings to outline a mindset fit for climbing. In his book he takes you through a training programme that will help you to overcome fear of falling and shed performance anxiety. He has also written a snappier version, Espresso Lessons, for those of you who prefer your reading short and with a kick.


2. Steph Davis

High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity 

In this book, Steph takes a look back at some of the routes she has attempted over the years. Down to the tiniest, most painful detail. More than anything, it is a relatable, autobiographical look into the way a climber’s mind works.


3. Roanne van Voorst

Fear!: Extreme Athletes on How to Reach Your Highest Goals and Conquer Fear 

In her extensive look at fear and how extreme athletes manage it, Roanne interviews several fearless climbers, including Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill and Hazel Findlay. She digs deep and tries to summarise each athlete’s personal tactics when coping with fear. The result is a useful collections of tips and techniques you could try out for yourself the next time you face that niggling feeling.


4. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience 

Not technically a book about climbing, but an in-depth look at what we call the ‘flow-state’ –  an almost meditative feeling of being completely absorbed in the activity at hand. Something I think we as climbers can definitely relate to. Entering that pure state of flow is something worth aiming for, and Mihaly does a beautiful job of describing what it feels like.  


5. Jeremy Collins 

Drawn: The Art of Ascent 

With gorgeous illustrations, this book tells of a four-year climbing journey that spans the world. Jeremy attempts to answer how one can draw a compromise between family, career and personal dreams. If you’ve ever asked yourself similar questions, this is the artistic exploration for you. 


6. Libby Peter

Rock Climbing: Essential Skills and Techniques 

For those of you that want to tackle lockdown boredom by preparing yourselves for outdoor endeavours, you might prefer a more practical approach. Why not start learning or practising essential skills, from basic scrambling to single-pitch or multi-pitch climbing, and how to descend a climb safely. 


7. Richard Powers

The Overstory 

Not a climbing book at all, but for those of you who enjoy shredding through a good novel, this is an amazing read about trees and how nature can add meaning to our lives. Perhaps not climbing rocks, but the brave characters of this story are known for harnessing up and climbing the tallest trees to protest their destruction.


Buy now – We have intentionally not added links to buy. We encourage you to google the titles and look for local retailers who may need your support at this time.