Ward has been a climber for 43 years. As a psychologist, he has helped
many people improve their performance/develop their potential. He is
published in over 25 countries. He has written dozens of articles for
specialist magazines, e.g. Climber, Climbing, High, Mountain, On The
Edge, Irish Mountain Log, Summit. During the last few years, he has
made over 100 First Ascents.
Middle-Aged, ‘Distinctly Average’ (“Bog Standard!”) Climber from
Sheffield Accidentally Discovered a Formula for Climbing Success,
where You Can Quickly Learn How to Climb Three Grades
He Improved by Six
Grades – from F6c (5.11b) to F7c (5.12d) and Others Have Done Much
Better. One Climber Went from F4 (5.7) to F7a/7a+ (5.11d/12a)
About 10 Grades!!!”
Dear Fellow Climber,
My name is Mick Ward and, in the next few
minutes, I’m going to show you a way by which you can improve your
climbing standard by three grades (or more).
Climb Three Grades Harder – Cruise Your
"The floodgates have opened - now I can do all those routes
I've lusted after for years."
"I want to climb harder - doesn't everyone?"
“Finally I’ve found a way of impressing my climbing buddies!”
“For me, it’s about personal satisfaction.”
“My mates are absolutely green with envy. They keep asking
how I did it. But I’m not telling them!”
“If I can climb so much harder… maybe I can do a whole lot
better in other areas of my life.” (Hmm – now that’s an
One thing I've learned about climbers. We all want to be better. We chase those elusive grades.
So which one are You ?
The VS climber who wants to lead E1?
The E1 climber who wants to lead E3?
The F6a climber who wants to lead F6b?
The 5.10 climber who wants to lead 5.11?
The F6b climber who wants to lead F7a?
The E3 climber who wants to lead E5?
The 5.11 climber who wants to lead 5.12?
Different Countries, Different Grades…
called ‘gurus' say that, on the internet, you should pretend to be
American (to chase US sales.) Well, I've never pretended to be anything
in my life… and I sure ain't starting now!
honesty is what you deserve; total honesty is what you get. So, for the
record, I'm an Irish climber, based in the UK, writing for fellow
climbers wherever they may be, US, UK, Denmark, Canada, South Africa,
Australia, etc, etc.
Most of the
time, when discussing grades, I'll use American/French sport grades
(e.g. 5.10b/6a, 5.11d/F7a). These days, climbing is international; it
crosses all frontiers, all boundaries.
are, quite simply, the most used grades. (So, if you've not used them
before, this will give you some useful practice!) And, where it's
applicable, I'll use UK traditional grades, (e.g. E1, E2, E3, etc).
truth is that the grading system doesn't really matter. What matters
are the principles and how you use them – because they apply across all countries and all grading systems.
Is climbing just about grades?
is climbing just about grades? No, of course not! Climbing is about
joy, the joy of movement. But if a climber tells you they're not
bothered about grades, well, are they really being honest?
It's basic human nature to want to do better. We've gone from living in caves to exploring outer space. We now know that the only limits to human progress are self-imposed ones.
Self-imposed limits in climbing? You may have heard a few. You may even have used them yourself…
So which one are You ?
“I'm too old. (I'm 25, 37, 49, 55, etc, etc…)”
“I haven't got enough power/reach/suppleness…”
“I can climb 6a but I just can't climb 6b.”
“I'm the wrong shape.” (usually means too heavy!)
“I can't climb overhangs/cracks/offwiths/slabs.”
“I haven't got time to train properly.”
“I've got weak fingers/arms/elbows/back.”
“My head's not in shape.”
“I can climb 6c but I can't climb 7a”
“I just can't seem to get any better!”
“I just can't seem to get any better!” Well
give me a new quickdraw for every time I've heard that one! Hell, I've
even used it myself… (And I was using that old “too old” routine back
in 1974, when I was a mere 21.)
So why can't You get any better?
All the reasons boil down to just two:
1. You haven't tried.
2. You haven't tried the right way.
“So how do you know?”
let's take the first reason. Recently, I met a Scots climber in Spain .
He'd started at the local climbing wall and found some buddies, before
deciding to enrol his long-suffering wife in the cause. He climbed F6b
and had led one 6b+. Night after night, he moaned into his beer, “I'll
never be able to climb 6c! I'll never be able to do it…”
night, I finally got fed up with all this crap and tersely asked, “Why
the hell not?” His reply was, “I can't. I just can't, that's all.” “So
how many 6cs have you tried?”
I asked. “Well I haven't tried any,” he muttered, glowering, as he belatedly started to get the message. “So then how do you know you can't do them?” Ouch!!! The plain fact was that this guy hadn't even tried. And one thing's for sure:
“If you don't try to climb harder, you won't!!!”
It's fair to say, though, that this guy is the exception. In my experience, most climbers try to improve but fail miserably – because they go about it in the wrong way. When
I used to train at a major climbing wall (The Foundry in Sheffield , UK
), on a busy night, there might be 120 people trying to get better the
wrong way and 5 people (if that!) getting better the right way.
When you try to get better the wrong way:
• You get injured (and give up!)
• You fail to make improvements (and give up!)
• You make slight improvements which don't last (and give up!)
• You sometimes even get worse (and give up!)
While such trying may be commendable (at least you're making an effort), it's misplaced effort.
It's just setting yourself up for eventual failure. Some people get so
frustrated with lack of progress that they give up climbing altogether
– which is absolutely tragic!
What standard do most climbers operate at?
the USA and the UK , the ‘average' grade seems to be about 5.9 or
HVS/E1. Certainly, in climbing walls and gyms, the most popular grades
seem to be F5 to F6b (sport, i.e. ‘French' grades) That's about 5.9 to
What standard could most climbers operate at?
experience is that, for people operating in this mid-range, gains of at
least three full grades are perfectly reasonable. For instance,
somebody operating at 6b(5.10d) could very probably raise their
standard to 6c+ (5.11c).
So why isn't everybody doing it?
a start, they don't know how! And, dare I suggest… life gets in the
way. Most climbers have careers, family commitments, domestic
challenges. Too much to do and too little time in which to do it. A hurried session at the gym here. A half day at the crag there. A half-hearted approach to (the wrong?) training.
on training? There's mountains of it! But again, most climbers just
don't have time to plough through all those mountains for the right
approach to help them raise their game. All too often, attempts at
improvement end up in failure. But it doesn't have to be like this, it really doesn't. Let's look at a few people who succeeded.
“Gains of at least three full grades!!!”
3 Grades in a Couple of Months
In 1974, I went from (barely) HVS to ‘Hard Extreme' (E3) in a couple of months.
3 Grades in a Week
At age 52, John went from F6b to F7a in 5 days.
3 Grades in 6 months – and then another 3!!
John, aged 60, returned to climbing after 25 years. Before, he'd led
HVS (i.e. Grade 5). Pretty soon, he was climbing F6b. He continues to
A Feelgood Factor?
are three examples of successful climbing improvement. Now some
people's success can be attributed, at least in part, to a feelgood
factor. Sunny days out on the crag with friends, can bring out the best
in us. (Please, never underestimate the value of being
supportive with other climbers. I've been to crags where you can ‘feel
the daggers in your back' and I've been to crags with warm, friendly
people. I know which I prefer. And I know which brings out the best in
6 Grades in 2 months!!!
about 30 years of climbing, I was stuck at about F6c. I spent one month
on a particular improvement programme which I devised myself. The next
month, I did a F6c+, F7a, a 7a+, a 7b, a 7b+ and a 7c.
I hadn't just got three grades better – I'd got six grades better within about two months!!!
A Formula for Success
But the last example – where I went up 6 grades – owed very little to a feelgood factor. The truth was that I was following a formula for success
which was always going to work, irrespective of whether there were
‘daggers in my back' or friendly folk at the crag. Talk to people who
climb 7c. They'll tell you that the difference between 6c and 7c is massive! Most people never make it . (But maybe they could, if only they went about it in the right way…)
often now, I see people 30 years younger, struggling on climbs that I
can do with ease. No, I don't feel in any way superior (there are
plenty out there who can kick my ass!) Mostly I just feel frustrated because I could help these people to climb harder, probably far harder than me, if I could only get to spend some time with them.
Getting to Spend time with people
I do get to spend time with people, it's just great seeing their
standard soar. (And no, I don't mind in the least, if they get better
HVS to E5
Ian (“HVS is hard enough for me…”) A year after we met, he was leading top-end E5.
F6c to F7b
Howard (“I'll never climb F7a!”) Well I got him up his first 7b…
F6a+ to F6c
Mark (“I'm nearly 50. I can't climb F6b.”) Led
his first F6c (although it was graded F7a) a few months after we met.
Now known, (and no longer in jest!), as ‘Strong Mark'. Now well capable
of genuine F7a+
E2 to F7c
Karl (“I haven't got any power!”) He'd
just failed on an E2 (Scoop Wall) when we met again. After a few months
of climbing together, is first F7c (Body Machine) Quite a grade jump!
If I Could Get Some Time with You…
I could probably help your
standard to soar.
for all those people with whom I can’t get to spend time, I’ve
written down the formula for success
What it Says is What It Does
It's not a work of climbing literature. It's not basic instruction. It doesn't ramble on for hundreds of pages. It gives you vital information in an easy to use format – so you can go out and make it work right away.
It's a manual of climbing improvement –
a formula for climbing success.
Will It Work for You?
Well if you read it and think, “Wow, that's amazing,” and put it
away and then carry on the same as before – then the answer is emphatically, “No!”
But if you read it and put it into practice (carefully!), the answer is, almost certainly, “Yes!” Everybody who has put this into practice has seen grade improvements. You've seen some testimonials above; we'll come to more soon
How Quickly Will it Work?
depends on you. It's quite usual for people to climb a grade harder,
within a few days. Within a few weeks, you should begin to see the real
improvements. Most people get 70% of the benefit within about 6 months.
But keep at it and you will continue to improve!
By How Many Grades Will I Improve?
Again, that depends upon you. Most people go up by about three grades and then get lazy because it was so easy, yet they're climbing so much harder than their buddies. But I went up by six grades. And if I can do it…
So can you
Cruise your Dream Routes!!!
When you move up a grade or two (or three or four!), suddenly the floodgates open. There are far more routes you can do. And now you can do the routes you've always dreamed about. You're no longer gazing at them from afar. Your worries about humiliating failure are gone. Suddenly you're climbing them… And guess what? They're so much easier than you could ever have imagined – because you've got so much better! That is what you want, isn't it?
I already climb V15, F9a+, 5.15a. Will this help me?
Come on, by now, you must know most of this stuff… Well maybe I can
give even you the odd tip, here and there. (For instance, I can think
of two things which I've never seen any climber – even world class ones
– do properly.) But honestly, you're doing just fine as you are. This isn't for you. It's for normal climbers, with limited time, who just want the easiest way to get better fast.
You know, it's so ironic…
top climber may have to go through years of agonising effort to make
even one grade improvement, say from 9a to 9a+. Whereas, using this
method, you'll probably improve by three grades, say 6b+ to 7a, (or
maybe more!) Who said life's fair?
Is This Just about Sport Climbing?
not! I climbed for 25 years before ever clipping a bolt. I was brought
up on traditional climbing (on big, remote mountain crags). I'll always
love it. I also love soloing and deep water soloing. But specific
training, allied with sport climbing, gives the physical ability to
climb harder – whatever your favourite climbing game is.
Seb Grieve ,
the undoubted star of ‘Hard Grit' is one of the boldest climbers the UK
has ever seen. But (despite appearances!) he didn't just get up one
morning and think, “Hey, I can climb E9!” The first dozen times I saw
Seb were all at sport climbing venues. Seb knew that mind control was
part of the equation. The other part was, “Let's get physical!”
The Huber brothers
have really shown the way forward on El Cap - and elsewhere. Again,
there's massive mental strength. Again, there's massive physical power.
How did they get it? Tried and tested methods!
was described by one rival as, “the strongest man ever to pick up (and
use!) ice tools.” Again, if you're privileged to know Stevie, you'll be
well aware that mental strength is not an issue. But when I first met
him, he was skinny and weak. Something happened…
The training methods of the elite
taken the best parts of the training methods of the elite, simplified
them and made them much easier for ordinary climbers like you and me to
use. Ultimately it's as simple as that. I build on the wisdom of dozens
of other climbers, many of them famous, many of them far better than I
am. For them, climbing is all of their lives. For you and I, it's just
part of our lives. But learning from them will save us years of wasted
So What Are We Talking About?
An awful lot. Stuff like…
What's Stopping You?
Is it physical? Psychological?? Let's analyse it properly this time.
Two Things Which will Send your Climbing Standard Soaring
Either one will bring vast rewards. (But don't do one of them in cold weather.) Do them both together and see what happens! You'll amaze yourself… and you'll amaze everyone else.
15 Profile Factors
Which routes are best for you? Profile matching will tell you. 15 Profile Factors will guide you to success.
9 Key Tactics
you learning to succeed – or are you learning to fail? Do you need to
break cycles of negative reinforcement? Ignoring tactics is the
difference between climbing smart and climbing dumb. Don't be a dummy!
6 More Influencing Factors
Pay attention to these. Heed them well. And see the effect on your climbing.
Don't just use one improvement strategy. Combine them for maximum impact.
Why the Conventional Approach May Well be the Worst One
This lesson was known way back in 1914 (clue!) And yet 90% of climbers never know it!
this one the easy way! I once learned it the hard way… risking a
stomach churning groundfall from (what should have been) the safest of
Getting into the Zone
moves – the hardest moves of your life – with sensual precision. Being
in the zone is an unbelievable intensity of feeling. If you've never
felt it, you've never lived!
Todd Skinner's Strategm
It was a key part of getting him up the First Free Ascent of the Salathe Wall on El Cap.
completely legitimate… and yet how many climbers do you see doing it?
Almost none! (You want to get your head straight? This will do it!)
The greatest words written in the entire history of mountaineering.
They're 130 years old… and they're just as relevant now as the day they were written. Heeding them will ensure your safety every time you climb.
A US cartoonist's 6 word environmental plea.
I've read thousands and thousands of pages about conservation and respecting the environment. And yet this guy said it all in 6 words. Follow them if you care about the future of this planet.
10 Rules of Good Practice on the cliff.
What to do – and what not to do.
There's Learning… and Learning.
one climber with very little natural ability (sorry!), became the
second best climber in the UK . (The very best was pure, undiluted
climbing genius.) And why this approach can pay big dividends for you!
Tony Yaniro's golden rule
Yaniro did the first 8a+ (5.13c) in the world – before 8a even existed!
He was years ahead of his time. What made him able to climb so hard?
His approach. His training methods. And, all the while, he followed a
Ethics, Ethics, Ethics
OK – and what's most definitely not OK. There are ‘ethical allowances'
which 99% of climbers don't even know about (e.g. the “one day rule”)
An Essential Device
For saving you time, effort, stress and anxiety. (Clue: it came from the trees!)
The Importance of Fine Tuning
Top climbers almost always do this. And yet almost nobody else does. But anybody can if they know about it.
And learning from them. (That's if you don't want to keep on repeating them!)
Letting go of your ego to succeed
(Don't worry, you can have it back later – when you've succeeded!)
Why Unclipping Certain Quickdraws can Guarantee Your Safety
Believe me – this is the way to avoid some really nasty, totally avoidable accidents.
The Commonality of Innovators
What did Jim Collins, Tony Yaniro, Antoine le Menestral have in common?
Maybe you could do with some of it…
Is Bouldering the Best Way to get Stronger?
I don't think so, I really don't. Let me introduce you to something far better…
Now You Might Think There's a Lot To Learn…
you'd be right! but the good news is there's absolutely no padding, no
fluff. I don't use long words. And I certainly don't use six words when
one will do. That's just not my style.
I'm a climber writing for other climbers. This isn't about me parading my ego. It's about helping
you to get better. That is what you want, isn't it? Oh and before I forget, there are a few other topics that get mentioned along the way.
• Learning to rest. And learning rests. (You may need to do both!)
• A Sufi proverb for grade breakthroughs.
• Why leaving a climb may be the best way of getting up it.
• Why the colour yellow may mean failure not success. How to avoid it!
• How Kurt Albert's paint pot changed climbing forever.
• How to use a piece of paper to climb harder.
• Which belay device are you using? Oh no!
• Can you hear a squeak? You should…
• A clip is a move. Learning clips. Extending them.
• What Monica Lewinsky said about a factor that demotivates many climbers!
A little exercise to improve suppleness for stemming and Egyptians.
(It's also brilliant for eliminating those pesky love handles!)
• Things not to do on a
scary trad lead... (I did most of them - on the same route
• Essential exercises for climbing.
• How to avoid finger injuries by using a kettle!
• Visualisation – not just for climbing but for everything in life.
• Transfer of training: 8 things to do.
• How every climbing day
should end. (And it's also the most enjoyable way!)
‘What Happy Clients Say About ‘How To
Climb Three Grades Harder’
A quick note of thanks for your book. It’s been a real help and
inspiration this last year. I’ve pushed my grade from F6c (with a
following wind) to on-sighting F7a+ in Italy this summer, and my trad
climbing has come on too. I’m really enjoying my climbing again.
Thank you Mick,
Is a very good read. Am itching to get to the wall this afternoon. And
am not going to worry about getting pumped - but will let my
hardworking belayer know!
“I read your book through once and found it very interesting and
inspiring. But I need to read it again more slowly and try to absorb
all the points...
I led my first E1 a couple of weeks ago (previously I had only led only
a few HVSs and mostly VS and below). Thanks for sharing all this
Just wanted to let you know that I recently got a part of a bouldering
problem right that I've been working on for a while! I knew I could do
it - I never gave up!
“Having not been able to do 6b before, I managed 4 last week.
Pleased with my improvements so far and obviously most important,
showing all my climbing buddies a clean pair of heels. I suppose I'll
have to share some secrets with them soon!”
Thanks again for your insights.
“Just a quick note to let you know that I have been putting some of the
stuff into practice as promised.
To my astonishment, I have already found myself climbing better. (6a to
6a+) I astounded myself last night… the moves I was pulling on that
climb seemed to come out of nowhere! Stuff I'd never done on a climb
Many thanks for the reply. I've read the book and it all seems to make
a good deal of sense. I would very much like to get to E1 or E2
moderately quickly. Basically, I suspect that if I put much of your
book into practice, I should wind up climbing at a much higher standard
than ever before. Which would be nice.
I read your book 2 hours ago, and I still haven't managed to solo
Reservoir Dogs! :) Enjoyed the tips - particularly the psychological
chains that hold us back - and am determined this is THE year I make a
quantum leap forward… a man with my physique (see my profile pic)
should be on-sighting F9a at least!
I just thought I'd tell you how I've been doing lately. Today I did a
19 (don't know what type of grading it is over there) for the first
time!! I've never been able to do a 19 and today I did it and I just
thought I'd tell you that so that you can spread the message that IT IS
POSSIBLE!! Whatever you put your mind to, it is possible!
Thanks for the speedy and helpful reply - I wish that I always got such
great customer service. Will definitely let you know how things
Jeff was thrilled at getting your book this Christmas morning - thank
you so much. I hope that today was all that you hoped it would be for
yourself and those that you love!
thanks. I got the book and read it last night. I do like it. I practice
a lot of the stuff already I have to say (maybe I'm not your target
audience as I've redpointed to 8b, and considering how long THAT took,
I'm reticent about getting straight on a 8b+ without consolidating).
However, I still haven't tried…
Good book and best wishes!
Thank you for the follow-up. We LOVE happy customers and attentive publishers!!
Have a great weekend!
CB Customer Service
"Wow! Thanks Mike, that is what I call fast
… I'm 43 and crank 8a, it took me a long time to get there, but now I
know where I went wrong and would like to give my experience to others.
… I'm a national route setter and instructor… this gave me a huge
insight into what the mind is really capable of. Goal this year is 8a+
maybe 8b, why not???!!!
You don't want to see some of the stuff I've climbed in in the
past, lycra tights with one pink leg and one yellow leg, I should burn
the photos :-)
Best wishes, from a sunny South Africa.”
“… if you remember my target for this year was a 6C (hoping that Sam
wouldn't beat me to it!) … so just a little read through and I have
already hit my 6C target... I am going to amend my target grade and
make it 7a.”
Your Formula for Climbing Success
If I could spend just one day
coaching you, we would sit down, do an assessment together and
target scope for improvement. A few days coaching and you would
probably have improved by at least a grade. A week would probably
yield two grades and a month would probably yield three - if not
But even one day’s coaching
would cost $300+ And ten days coaching would cost $3,000+
Your investment in climbing
improvement doesn’t have to be $3,000+… or even $300+. Some
internet gurus have told me that I’m crazy not to charge $97. But
my grandma always said, “Son, do the best you can for folk.”
And my best is $19.97. That’s right – only $19.97 + taxes.
That’s only about $6 for each climbing grade increase.
Will you ever, in
your life again, get such fantastic value for money?
PLEASE NOTE. A lot of internet
advertising rates have gone up by 100% to 200%. So I can’t guarantee
to keep this low price. It may (probably will) have to jump up
overnight. So don’t look foolish by having to pay more. Grab it
while you can.
Mick’s Unique 90 Day No
Ah, I forgot to mention that
you’re getting this for a whole 90 days on what is, effectively, a
trial basis. Yes – that’s 90 days – almost 13 weeks – almost 4
At any time in that 4
months – for any reason at all - if you’re not absolutely
delighted with what you’ve received, just email me and I’ll
arrange a full, no quibble refund. And you keep what you’ve
This means that, if you want to
cheat me, you can. I’m putting myself on the line for you. You can
take the download and ask for a refund at any time in 4 months –
and, of course, you’ll get it. But my fellow climbers don’t cheat
me - they’re honest.
Normally even very good internet
products have 5% to 10% refund rates. My refund rate is way, way
less than 1%. Over 99% happy clients – that gives you a good
An Extra Benefit
But wait, there’s
more… To date, I’ve given an individual reply to every
single email that I’ve received from all my readers. (The tone
of that sample of testimonials – all unsolicited – probably gives
you an idea of the friendly relationship we have.) That’s an awful
lot of FREE climbing advice. I haven’t charged a penny (or a dime)
for any of it. So, right now, you can tap into 40 years of climbing
In 2010 (six years after I wrote ‘How To Climb Three Grades Harder’), I’ve added nearly 60% more material. The original stays almost exactly the same – because, six years after I wrote it, it remains the simplest and best formula for climbing improvement that I know.
But, in addition, I’ve added The Compendium – your very own library of climbing improvement – the best tips and techniques that I can give you. Use these in addition to the original material to climb harder and better than you’ve ever dreamed.
So – what’s in The Compendium? Tons of stuff! Technical tips… The psychology of climbing… (I was a psychologist for 20 years) Techniques for injury prevention… Little rope tricks that make working projects so much easier… Tactics… tactics… tactics. (Tactics can make all the difference!)
Taking a random sample of the contents of The Compendium.
How just one climber – and just one route – put training and climbing walls at the top of every ambitious climber’s agenda for evermore.
Don’t Have Just One Maximum Grade at Which You Climb - Have Four (Yes – four!)
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone (You’ve got to do it – but hey, it’s fun!)
The Fear Factor: Controlling Your ‘Head’ (It’s no good being strong if your head’s all over the place.)
Maximising Your Performance: Using the Performance Curve To Go Into The Zone (Nobody seems to know about The Performance Curve – but me. And yet it derives from one of the oldest laws in psychology.)
The Crucial Importance of ‘The Want Factor’ (What can we learn from a guy who went back to his (F8b/5.13d) project 14 years later? I was privileged to belay him.)
Jerry Moffatt And The Power of Self-Belief (Yeah, I knew Jerry when he was very young, very brattish - and the best!)
People have told me to issue The Compendium as a separate Ebook, kind of ‘How To Climb Three Grades Harder’ Part Two. But I won’t - because I want to give you the best I can. And the new edition of ‘How To Climb Three Grades Harder’, including The Compendium, at exactly the same price, is the very best that I can give you. Fair enough? Yes!
Yes It’s Time to
It’s Time to Climb Three
It’s Time to Cruise Your
It’s Time to
Impress Your Climbing Partners
Yes, It’s Time to Be The
Climber You’ve Always Wanted to Be!!!
By now, you know exactly what to
do to dramatically improve your climbing performance. So do it. Do
In your own way, in your own time, just put it into practice. And be amazed at the results…
Climb safely. Climb well.
P.S. Now don't forget to let me know how you get on…
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