Jen Alger is a whimsical and hilarious commentator on training, climbing, and all things LIFE related.  Jen’s background in theater scrupulously shines throughout her storytelling and writing. We are fortunate to be able to share Jen’s three part series on her past, present, and future endeavors in climbing.  For a more detailed look at what Jen has been up to, check her out on Instagram @chubbygirlclimbing 


Now. Now, I am better. Not the best. Still a beginner…but better.

Oh, I mean, don’t get me wrong…I still kinda suck, but a little less. And farting on the wall
incidents are at an all time low.

Clap, clap, clap.

I clap my hands to dust off some of the extra chalk. Turns out chalk isn’t JUST to look cool? And you can have too much of it? I’ve learned these things now.

I stand in front of a V5. I mime my hands to the route and I’m pretty sure I have the correct sequence in my head to get to the top. I place my hands on the…

What the hell kinda bs is this?

I move my hands to the left…to the right…not even the slightest indentation to get a good grip on.

I hold onto it anyway, put my feet on the chips and…slip and fall immediately. I give it another go. I put my hands slightly to the right this time, I put one foot up, then…I slip and fall immediately. To the left? No.

Now I’m just standing with both feet on the ground, patting down this hold like an over
enthusiastic TSA agent.

“Mind if I give you some beta? Put all your weight downward on the hold, then bring your rightfoot high and quickly pivot for your back is against the wall and your left leg can…”

The cute guy behind me has spoken. What is he saying? Just respond, dummy.

“Oh, d’uh. Thanks, I’ll try that.”

I can’t try that. I know his beta won’t work for me. Why did I act all casual about pivoting
backwards and putting my legs in a near split like that’s totally a logical thing to do? Why did I even fathom a V5 when the highest grade I’ve completed is a V3? Have you ever foreseen your coming humiliation barreling towards you like the Indiana Jones Boulder?

I grab the hold. I put my weight downward and sink in. I lift my right foot and…slip and fall immediately.

He’s really watching me now. “Ah man, you were so close. Did you feel it, though?”

“Yeah! I definitely felt it.”

I am a huge liar.

“So, you’ll definitely get that today. You gotta lift up and get into that nice pivot as soon as you drop your weight…”

How do I lift up AND drop my weight?

“Right, right, of course,” I lie again, boldly.

“And as soon as you pivot that left leg shoots up, you launch with your right foot…”


“…still backwards. Then you grab that hold there with your right hand…and here you can flip forward again so you’re facing the wall. This also puts you in a great position to frog hump…”

“Frog hump?”

Man, I guess my initial “hand miming” the route beforehand is still just a lot of pomp and

“Yeah, you know what a frog hump handlebar is?”

“Of course.” I think people seek treatment for fibbing this much.

“Right, so you frog hump handlebar before you unicorn horn with your left THEN right foot and…”

That’s it. I can’t live like this anymore. I have to come clean.

“I’ve never done a V5. Actually, the highest I’ve done is a V3. And that was like…twice. Ha ha ha…”

Silence. He is in shock, I know.

“Oh, ok…anyway, so you’re going to unicorn horn with your left THEN right foot and…”

Wow. Look at that. He kept explaining his absolutely insane beta. This guy put no limits on me, even when I told him I was an amateur climber.

And isn’t that what I should keep doing with myself? Sure, I’ll try a V5 when no one is watching (well, when I think no one is watching), but as soon as anyone gazes my way I fall apart, lose confidence, make excuses for myself.

I’m not saying we should always try to do a route twenty grades above our top, but if something looks fun or inspires us, why not attempt a frog hump/unicorn horn up that sucker?

“So, you gonna go again?”

Yes I am. I put my hands on the hold. I bring my right foot up and…slip and fall immediately.

But, you know, this time I think I actually felt it.

*All beta was completely made up by me and makes no sense.

~Jen Alger, AKA @chubbygirlclimbing


  1. Mediocre is never ok for long periods of time. One should always do more with each passing day. Mediocrity is what society in general is embracing. The species is weakening. They give awards to everyone now, and tell young people that they can achieve anything. Bullocks! Some people do not have the capacity for greatness. By lying to youths, it gets them thinking that if they fail that there is something wrong with them. No. Everyone is different. Do we really want to be lying to a young person and risk them thinking that they are a failure as an adult? We risk them becoming so depressed that they choose suicude. Always be realistic with communicated expectations. Live honestly and with reasonable goals that are suited to each person’s talents and skills. Sometimes, one has to aim for Mars and settles for the Moon. And be ok with it. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow. Some people are above and others are below being Mediocre. Therefore, being Mediocre is not acceptable (and shouldn’t be acceptable) for a lot of people, even though, by definition, it is just OK. 😠


    1. Not to say you should actively try to stay mediocre and not strive for more, but that it’s all right if that’s where you’re at now. Hence the end of the article where I keep pushing on that same route. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just be sure that ultimately you are not selling yourself short, or conversely do not feel bad if you cannot make it far beyond your present state. In other words, know your true limitations. 😎


  2. This is absolutely marvelous, Jen. I was laughing so hard half way through my dog thought something was wrong. And yes, I find one of the keys for me to keep going and thus keep improving in my renewed passion of photography is that I get excited with each new skill I’ve learned. Even if I can’t yet do the photography equivalent of a frog hump/unicorn horn. Taking risks is how we improve. Keep going, girl!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A fantastic correction to the perfection-oriented achievement culture which can develop even in the midst of our most beloved pursuits.

    Why do we do the things we love? Is it primary because we’re good at them? Because they bring great rewards and glory?


    We need realize this and reorient from time to time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great rock climbing blog! I always struggle to find the balance between “taking risks” and “stay in yo lane.” The “patting down this hold like an over enthusiastic TSA agent” bit killed me!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great rock climbing blog! I always struggle to find the balance between “try new things” and “stay in yo lane.” The part about “patting down the hold like an over enthusiastic TSA agent” killed me!

    Liked by 1 person

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