My Story: When I decided to Get Good at Climbing

My Story: When I decided to Get Good at Climbing

In 2017, I graduated from Ohio State University. I left Columbus Ohio with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, many great friends that would soon scatter throughout the U.S., and the mission to never become a boring grown-up.

Most of what I learned in college, I don’t really use anymore. There is one skill that I learned in college that I use just about every other day. I learned this skill outside of the classroom. That skill is rock climbing.

It all started with Skiing

My life as a climber ironically started when I joined the Ohio State Ski and Snowboard Team. Ohio is an abysmal place to be a skier. Many members of the team found another outdoor sport to stave off the blues in the off-season. Between longboarding around campus, partying, and rock climbing, we kept ourselves plenty amused.

Me and my fellow well-decorated officers taking home the hardware at Midwestern Regionals my senior year.
Lauren Abernathy Longboard
My favorite graduation photo, taken as an homage to how much longboarding I did around Ohio State’s campus.

Fortunately for me, I had plenty of senior ski team members who were much better climbers than I was. They were well-equipped to teach me how to climb. They quite literally showed me the ropes.

The First Two Years

My first two years of climbing consisted of me having practically no upper body strength, hurting both of my shoulders, and climbing inconsistently because of the demands of an engineering degree.

About a year into my foray into vertical adventures, my friends started taking me on trips outside to the Red River Gorge and the New River Gorge. Those weekends spent camping and climbing sparked a deep and passionate love of the sport.

Red River Gorge Climbers

At the beginning of my senior year, unencumbered by the rigor of a junior year class scheduled, I was at the gym a lot more often. In the winter I began pondering what I would do with myself in the two months between graduation and starting my job in Cincinnati. The decision was easy: I was going climbing.

Preparing for Spain

By the time graduation came around in the Spring of 2017, my friend Eileen and I had firmly etched the details of our 2 week post-grad climbing trip into a google sheet.

In accordance with our plan, we purchased round trip tickets to Spain. I decided that if I was going all the way to Europe, I had better be in good shape.

This is when I followed my first ever training program. I chose a program that I had heard of from friends and other climbers: The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. It was a rigorous program and the book was as thick as a textbook. It did not intimidate me, however. I was ready to do whatever it took to become a better climber.

Starting in the winter of my senior year, I set to work. I plodded through the training program. I made a crazy hangboard setup in my college apartment—much to the confusion of non-climbing roommates and I would regularly be late to various – ahem – social outings to make sure that I got my scheduled training in.

It took commitment—and it was sometimes hard to balance job interviews, studying, climbing and competing with the ski team, but I did it.

I went through about two cycles of the Rock Prodigy Program between December and my in June. The trip was wildly successful. I accomplished my trip goal by sending not one but two 5.11a, exceeding my expectations. Before that trip I hadn’t even managed to send 5.10c.

Lauren Abernathy Rodellar Climbing
Me working my project on the last day of my trip to Spain. I fell so many times, but I bagged the send before I left. It was my second 11a ever.

While I attribute much of this success to The Rock Prodigy program, I also made great strides in my fear of falling. Climbing regularly and falling regularly for two weeks outside helped my mental game significantly. Much to the credit of our Rockbusters climbing guide, Jan. With the support of Eileen and Jan and the other group members, I went from literally crying on top rope to becoming a confident sport climber. Before the trip I was perilously afraid to lead. When I left it was my favorite way to climb.

Rock Climber’s Training Manual and Beyond

Since then, I have gone on to more successful ascents, climbing further up the grades. In 2018, I changed my training strategy from the Rock Prodigy Program to Steve Bechtel’s Logical Progression . (you can find a comparison of these here)

In 2018 I increased my hardest redpoint from 5.11a to 5.11d. I bagged quite a few ascents I was very proud of including Hercules, a 5.11b deep water solo in Mallorca, Banshee 5.11c which I accomplished in just two tries at the Red River Gorge, as well as Rich Bitch 5.11d in Mallorca.

Lauren Abernathy Banshee Red River Gorge
Me on my first attempt on Banshee in the Red River Gorge.
Lauren Abernathy Hercules Mallorca
A shot of me projecting Hercules in Mallorca.
Lauren Abernathy Rich Bitch Mallorca
Me on my send-go of Rich Bitch, my first 5.11d.

The satisfaction of sending when you try hard on a rock face is why I started this blog. When I topped out on Hercules in Mallorca, I was alone at the top of a cliff face looking out a Mediterranean sunset crying tears of joy. It was pure ecstasy. All that time spent in the gym training was all for moments like that. My hope is that with the information I share in this blog, I can help someone else have the same experiences that I have had. Behind the minutiae of hangboard protocols and linked boulder circuits is a bigger goal that has nothing to do with looking cool on Instagram. These training details are important because if you train properly you can climb more and climb harder. I want to help people climb more, climb harder, and climb longer.

Why start a blog?

My hope for this blog is to grow a community of motivated climbers working to support each other in improving their climbing. Additionally, I would eventually like to provide online training programs for those looking for more specific support (and possibly in-person consultations for those in the area).

I plan to continuously provide well-researched information on a variety of topics in climbing to help you and inspire you to become the best climber you can be. I want this blog to help you improve your climbing and enable you to have as much fun on rock as you possible can.

I would love to get in touch with you. Feel free to leave a bit of your story in the comments or reach out to me via email at

If you found this post valuable and you want to get consistent with your training to send harder sport climbs, then you are going to love my self-guided program, Crush It Sport Climbing.

This program will help you develop both your strength, technique, and tactics for maximum improvement. Click here to learn more about this 12 week program for sport climbers.

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