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A Beginner’s Guide to Rock Climbing By Jake Allen: Book Review

A Beginner’s Guide to Rock Climbing By Jake Allen: Book Review

This morning, I listened to Jake Allen’s book “A Beginner’s Guide to Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Climbing Knowledge” on Audible. In the book, Allen seemed to take on the task of providing basic information that could help anyone get started with climbing. 

If you don’t want to read the full review, here is a quick summary. Though there is great information that can be helpful for the beginner climber, the information is basic enough that it can be found online easily. This blog, for example, has most everything that he mentions and it is available for free. You don’t even need an Audible credit to listen to it.

As for everyone else that doesn’t mind a quick read, this article reviews different aspects of the book as well as my thoughts on whether or not you should read this book too. 

Book Length and Price

The book is a short 1 hour listen and can be found on Audible for 1 credit or $4.87 at the time of writing this. The book is also available on Amazon in Paper Back for $6.49 and with Kindle Unlimited.

With the price being so cheap and the book being so short, it seemed like an easy enough decision to give it a try.

Target Audience

According to the description, the book is targeting anyone that is interested in rock climbing and doesn’t know where to get started or just wants to learn more about climbing. 

I’d say this is the appropriate audience since the information provided in the book is very basic and you’d probably learn all of the information provided within the first month of climbing. If you are climbing harder than V1 or 5.9 then this book is probably a little more basic than what you need to improve.

Content Overview

According to the description, Allen wanted to 1) provide information about the equipment, different types of climbing and 2) techniques used while climbing as well as 3) actionable items to help you improve “dramatically.” 

  1. It seems that 2/3rds of the book is a basic overview of the different kinds of climbing such as Trad, Lead, Top Rope and Bouldering as well as details for the gear. So he does fulfill on his promise to provide info about climbing types and equipment. The information is basic and if you are interested in climbing or interested in my review of this book, you probably already know that information.
  2. There is very little information about techniques for getting up the wall besides using your feet to leverage your body up the wall while using your hands to hold onto different holds. There were a couple of sentences about climbing techniques on overhangs vs slabs but the details were so basic that you can learn most of it by watching other people climb or by climbing yourself. No instruction or book needed. With that being said, I don’t think it fulfills his promise to “dramatically” improve your climbing ability. 
  3. When it comes to actionable items, this was blended with technique in the book. For example, one of the actionable items recommended was to look at your feet and make sure that you are leveraging them by watching placement as well as standing up on your feet to get a higher reach. This is a great actionable item but it is also found on many online blogs and videos, including this blog and many of my videos for free so I’m not sure it is worth the cost of the book. As for his promise to provide actionable items, even though I don’t think they are worth the cost of the book, he does provide them and thus, he fulfills that part of the promise.

Overall, it can be said that Allen fulfills his promise from the description to provide details about the different types of climbing, types of equipment, basic technique and actionable items. As for my said frustration about “dramatically” improving your climbing skills, if you consider someone going from V0 to V1 as doubling the climbers’ skill, it could be considered a “dramatic” improvement. Though I wouldn’t.

Should You Buy It?

I purchased this book as part of a series of books I plan to read to identify whether or not you can learn to rock climb from a book (article coming soon). When it comes to this book, I think it is obvious that it has been a long time since the author was a beginner climber and thus doesn’t remember what it is actually like to be a beginner and what actually helped improve his climbing skills “dramatically” when he first got started.

If you are climbing V0-V1 or 5.8-5.9 then this book will provide you the basic information you need to get started. However, this short book was too broad to provide any substantial help and most of the information provided in the book is already on this blog, which is free for everyone. 

If you are in academics or are trying to impress someone who climbs and don’t actually plan on climbing, then this would be a quick way to get a very basic overview of climbing as a sport. Though I’d recommend climbing as the best way to learn and be able to impress someone who climbs.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to spend a penny on this book. I was able to use an Audible credit from my Audible Unlimited to get the book and then exchanged the book for a different one when I was done, essentially making it free for me to listen to. Though I did lose an hour that I could have spent listening to a more in-depth book about climbing.

If You Are A Climber

Rock climbing, like most sports, requires practice in order to get better and like many technical-oriented sports, it requires both mental and physical dexterity and skill. This makes reading a book only helpful if the information provided can substantially help your climbing ability through actionable steps or training programs. Since this book is very surface level, being able to apply the information would only help you slightly.

I’d recommend reading a training book or a book just about technique so you can have the depth needed in a book to be helpful.

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