The Routes and Rules to Becoming a Pro Climber!

So, you want to be a professional climber!  Congratulations, and kudos on your audacity tenacity!  It’s going to be a long hard road, but it’s going to be a lot of fun, too!  Full of exclamation points, and completely void of the dull periods that punctuate normal life.  Strap on your jetpack, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime!  And don’t worry, if the first route you try doesn’t work out – there’s always another, softer one, more suited to your abilities.

Route #1: Be Really Strong
The easiest route to climbing bliss is probably to just climb 5.15 or V15.  Now it used to be you could just climb 5.13 trad – making that the easiest path to climbing gloridom – but Tommy and KJ’s Dawn Wall have effectively upped the ante to 5.15 levels for trad as well (Rule #1: from now on, refer to other pros via their first names alone, last names alone, or nicknames alone… When in doubt, add #).  Sick, bra!  The sweet thing about Route #1 is, all you have to do is climb – as #Sharma has successfully proven for like 20 years now.  Don’t worry about training, just keep sending your proj’s with a film crew in tow.  You can fake it til you make it, and by then, you’ll have it easy enough as a pro athlete that 5.15 will be a piece of cake.  After all, the only thing Ondra has to do is climb – how hard could 5.16 be if you didn’t have to, like, go to high school?

Route #2: Be Really Brave
So, you’ve tried really really hard for a really long time, and plateau’d at 5.12?  No worries bro, all is well.  Not all of us have steel tendons (steel tendons are the only thing that separate them from us, BTW).  Luckily, there’s still a way.  So pack up your mate and your cojones and head down to Patagonia!  That’s right, it’s not just a clothing company, it’s a place.  And you don’t need to be super strong to be a pro climber when the game is alpinism – all you have to do is be the first to climb something!  It doesn’t even have to be that hard. Just make sure there is plenty of R and X, and it’s definitely advantageous to almost die on your route.  Take a couple photos that make your shiver-bivy look like a beach sunset, laugh about the time you almost blinked out of existence altogether nonchalantly, and start planning for your next dance with the reaper before you even get back home (Rule #2: never climb anything again, or tell any climbing story again, without at least one ‘dawn patrol’ or ‘shiver bivy’ tossed in to the mix).  What you lack in raw talent (I mean tendons) you can make up for in daring.  Alpinism is your path to success, and you’ll be a Patagonia Ambassador (I mean the clothing company) in no time.

Route #3: Be Really Annoying Funny
Okay, so after a few close calls with ol’ man death you’ve soured on Alpinism.  Didja try free soloing? Just kidding, everyone knows #Honnolding totally ruined that path for the rest of us (#ClifBar, ##WTF, #LIKE SERIOUSLY ISN”T THAT WHY THEY SPONSORED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE?!) (Rule #3: Always speak with authority on any matter related to climbing).  Where was I?  Oh, right!  Cedar!  How nasal is your voice?  Look, if you can’t hack it as a certified badass, maybe play up the opposite angle?  I mean, every shakespearian drama needs its comic relief.  You can be that guy that teams up with really strong climbers on all their wicked journeys.  You only need to climb as hard as Cedar (seriously, 5.13 trad first ascents really aren’t that bad, guys).  But make sure you have a “look”, a “voice”, and at least the rudiments of video and photo editing skills.  Welcome to professional bandwagonery – the perks are just as good, and there’s no 401K, but who needs a retirement plan when you’ll be a famous climber for the rest of eternity?

Route #4: Be A Photographer
You’re weak, you’re chickenshit, you’re not funny.  Hmm.  Well, have you considered being a pro photographer?  Look, the truth is, all you need is a lot of money.  Photography is an art, yeah yeah, yadayada – but guys, seriously, buy the most expensive friggin camera you can find, get like 12 lenses, and go to Indian Creek!  Or better yet, Thailand.  Chicks in bikinis climbing rocks – need I say more?  Being a pro photographer is totally like the second-easiest path towards climbing stardom.  There aren’t really that many people doing it, and if your scantily clad female subject gets in a wide enough stemming position, your gold will be sold.  (Rule #4: have a trust fund – it’ll make it easier to get both the dopest new camera equipment, and chicks in bikinis.)

Route #5: Be A Writer
Seriously?  You’re down here too?  Well – fear not – there’s plenty of room here at the bottom!  After you come to terms with your total inadequacy at all things holy to the climbing industry, you’ll find that you have a sardonic wit and enough cynicism to fill the completely meaningless empty void of space the internet.  Okay, so it’s taken me years to figure this out – but being a writer is definitely the least sandbagged route to fulfilling your climbing dreams.  You don’t even have to be seen.  You could be like those Daft Punk guys.  Shit, you don’t even have to climb – all you need to do is talk the talk.  Just make sure to toss in some really eye-catching photos when you write your blog-posts, or nobody will click on the link. In the end, all you have to do is say something totally played out and repeated ad nauseam in a completely fresh, unique, and funny way (Rule #5: if you don’t have a trust fund, bemoan trust funders ad nauseam, in a completely fresh, unique, and funny way).  Jon Krakauer did it, Kelly Cordes did it – why can’t you?!

Route #6: Just Give Up!
Oh my god – it feels so good!  You have no idea how easy it is, just try it!  When the weight of your dearth of talents, abilities, uniqueness, dedication, aspiration, perspiration, etc becomes too much to bear – just give in to that wondrous, luxurious, single word that we all know and love so well: TAKE!  Last but not least, the final rule to being a pro climber, Rule #6: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Everyone falls, everyone fails, and everyone sometime, somewhere, somehow, yells ‘TAKE!’  Have you considered working a desk job for a climbing company?  I hear it’s not that bad, and definitely not that competitive…

Fringe’s Folly’s 2015 resolution is to never promise never to do a fluff piece again.  As Marie Antoinette said – let them eat big fat fluffy cake!  Happy New Years everybody – keep your eyes open for more solid gold from FF in 2015.  Good luck on your own personal quests in the year to come, check your knots, and wear a friggin helmet.  Cheers!


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