Warrior's Way Trad and Mental Camp


A lead climber silhouetted against a deep blue sky in Joshua Tree

A lead climber silhouetted against a deep blue sky in Joshua Tree.
Ian Mceleney

The Trad and Mental Training Camp is designed for beginning traditional rock leaders who want to learn how to lead trad climbs without being paralyzed by the fear of falling. After this short, two-day course you'll take the sharp end with a stronger, smarter, safer, more efficient mindset. And you'll have the skills you need to improve your leading on both traditional routes and sport climbs, through the application of the Warriors Way methodology.

The Warrior's Way method, pioneered by Arno Ilgner, author of the 2003 climbing best-seller The Rock Warrior's Way, is a set of techniques for managing stress, risk, fear, and for advancing as a climber. One major source of stress in rock climbing is trusting your protection when leading. Is that piece bomber or is it going to pop? The Warrior's Way is, in part, a method for assessing risk and making appropriate decisions based on that assessment.

The management and flow of attention is at the heart of a skilled climber's mental toolkit. Every time we place a piece of protection, our attention is diverted to that piece. Once finished placing gear, we must consciously choose to redirect our attention to the next move.  For this reason, it's imperative to trust your judgment when it comes to assessing your placements, so that your focus can be deployed appropriately among movement, risk awareness, and preparation for taking a lead fall.

This course is designed to give you the skills to practice placements, to fall on them and to use the Warrior's Way in your decision making process while climbing trad lines. 

Warrior's Way Trad and Mental Camp

Course Curriculum

A climber staying focused and moving carefully on lead.

A climber staying focused and moving carefully on lead. Josh Wonner

You'll learn to:

  • Place and assess trad lead protection.
  • Build belay anchors.
  • Lead traditional routes safely and efficiently.
  • Take practice falls on your gear to develop confidence in your gear placements (with a back-up toprope).
  • Cracks of all sizes from finger cracks to offwidths.
  • Assess risks effectively, allowing you to take appropriate risks.
  • Improve self awareness, rest effectively, make deliberate decisions, improve commitment, increase climbing momentum, and improve problem-solving skills.
  • Improve safety awareness.



  • Able to lead 5.8 sport climbs or top-rope 5.9 with no falls; ideally, students have first taken AAI's Learn to Lead course.
  • Climb indoors/outdoors at least 1-2 times per week
  • At least 6 months of continuous climbing experience within the last year

Climbers who are comfortable climbing at their limit and falling on top-rope and/or who are novice sport leaders will benefit most from this course once they have learned the basics of leading trad climbs. Even those who are already leading trad climbs 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:


Warrior's Way Trad and Mental Camp

Dates and Details

Public Course Dates:

Dates TBD

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

Cost: $500/person

Private: $790 for one climber (1:1). Two consecutive days of instruction are needed to cover the Warrior's Way curriculum.

Shorter, single-day non-Warrior's Way instruction in leading, following, and the whole gamut of rock-climbing skills can also be arranged ($395/day at 1:1).

Max Ratio:  6:1 (Climber:Guide)

Capacity:  6

Warrior's Way Trad and Mental Camp

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