Warrior's Way Falling and Commitment Camp


Lead climbing at the limit.

Lead climbing at the limit.
Warrior's Way

The warrior is an archetype for courage that we all act through when facing challenging, stressful, and risky situations. Sometimes we act powerfully as a warrior would and sometimes we feel overcome by stress and therefore ineffective.  We all desire to be courageous when challenged. By learning how to embody the warrior's way we rally our attention and therefore our courage.

Every rock-climber knows that there is an element of fear that intrudes as one nears the upper limits of one's ability. In some cases, the fear is justified. But in others it's not. Part of the warrior mentality is an ability to categorize fear, to identify true risk vs. perceived risk and to isolate these elements within one's mind appropriately.

This course was developed by Arno Ilgner, a renowned rock-climber and author from Tennessee. Ilgner distinguished himself as a pioneering rock climber in the late 1970s and 80s, when the top climbs were bold and dangerous first ascents, with few of the bolts and other fixed protection many modern climbers expect. These climbing exploits, together with Arno's personal struggle to find a adventurous and meaningful life, became the foundation for his unique physical and mental training program: The Warrior's Way.

In 1995, after a thorough study of the literature and practice of mental training and a survey of the great warrior traditions, Ilgner formalized his methods and began teaching his program full-time. His 2003 book, The Rock Warrior's Way, became a best-seller in the climbing community, garnering outsize praise and testimonials from a who's who of famous rock climbers, from Jim Bridwell and John Gill to Tommy Caldwell. Since then, 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". Alumni of his courses now include some of the nation's most prominent climbers.


Warrior's Way Falling and Commitment Camp

Course Content and Curriculum

Course Content

  • Are you afraid of falling?
  • Are you making appropriate risk decisions?
  • Do you find it challenging to stay committed?


This 2-day camp addresses the fear of falling and helps you to improve commitment. We'll practice falling, movement, and resting exercises and apply all learned skills to a challenging route. We'll do this in small increments creating appropriate progressions for each individual student. You'll leave with a structured method for taking appropriate risks with diminished fear.

A climber leads with ease and confidence on Longs Peak in Colorado.

A climber leads with ease and confidence on Longs Peak in Colorado. Dylan Taylor

You'll learn:

  • To fall safely
  • To give a cushioned belay
  • To distinguish between no- and yes-fall zones
  • How to engage no- and yes-fall zones
  • To break a climb into smaller risk events
  • Better risk assessment
  • How to rest effectively
  • To improve breathing
  • To trust the body
  • To create flow and momentum
  • To commit more deliberately
  • To reduce fear


Warrior's Way Falling and Commitment Camp


Prerequisites and Objectives

This course is for climbers who have been climbing at least six months consistently and who know their knots, basic belaying, and movement skills. Students should be able to climb about 5.7 to 5.11. Lead climbing is not required. Most exercises are on toprope. The instructor will determine which students can lead based on our risk matrix. The aim of the course is to improve commitment or overcome fear of falling.

Climbers who are comfortable climbing to their limit and falling on top-rope will benefit most from this course once they have learned the basics of leading trad and sport climbs. Even those who are already leading may fill in gaps in crucial skill areas by taking our four-day Learn to Lead course, which includes intensive practice placing protection, building anchors, and taking falls on gear. 

On the other hand, many people who are early in their climbing careers need mileage on the rock as much as they need new skills.  For those people, we recommend private guided climbing and instruction, where the guide balances instruction with optimal climbing goals, tailored to the needs of the individual client.

Consider one or both of the following programs:


Suggested Preparation

Read Espresso Lessons with emphasis on Preparation and Action Chapters, and the exercises in the Appendix for these chapters.

Equipment Notes

At minimum you will need a harness, shoes, belay device, and a helmet and rope (if you have one). Please see the gear list for additional gear information.

If you have any questions on gear, please call the AAI Equipment Shop, (360) 671-1570, Monday - Friday, 10:00am to 5:00pm Pacific Time. For additional information on the clothing and gear that we sell, please visit our the Equipment Shop website.

Warrior's Way Falling and Commitment Camp

Dates and Details

Red Rock

Public Course Dates:

Dates TBD

Additional dates may be available on a private basis. Call for more details.

Cost: $450/person

Max Ratio:  6:1 (Climber:Guide)

Capacity:  6

Warrior's Way Falling and Commitment Camp

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