11 Ways To Let People Know That You Climb 5.12*

Are you tired of everyone you encounter not recognizing the fact that you climb 5.12? It’s notable enough that climbers and non-climbers alike should at least know about it, don’t you think? But sometimes they don’t, whether it’s your co-workers, people who sit next to you on public transportation, or the barista at your favorite coffee shop. Help them understand, with a few simple tactics:

*these tactics also work if you climb 5.11, or 5.10, or 5.8

1. Get a personalized license plate for your car. Since many states don’t allow you to use enough letters to spell out “ICLIMB512,” you might end up with something like “ICLIM512,” or “CLMB512,” but don’t worry, people will get the message.

drawing of a car with a license plate reading "512CLMR"

2. Get a Twitter or Instagram handle (preferably both) like “jennifer_climbs_5.12,” or “timothy_n_jefferson_jr_climbs_5.12.”

3. Get a tattoo on your neck that says “I climb 5.12.”

4. Work the fact that you climb 5.12 into everyday conversation. Examples:

  • “I work in marketing during the day, but on evenings and weekends I climb 5.12 routes. What do you do?”
  • “Well, when I was working my project, which is a thuggy/crimpy/reachy 5.12b … I’ll have the eggs florentine.”
  • “So, do you like driving for Uber? I climb 5.12.”

5. Put up a flyer at the gym that says you’re looking for someone who’s comfortable belaying a 5.12 leader. Put a photo of yourself on the flyer.

drawing of a climbing gym flyer

6. Before heading to the climbing gym, prick a finger and use the blood to paint “5.12” on your forehead.

7. Tell everyone it’s part of your nickname—i.e., “My name is Rick, but everybody calls me 5.12 Rick.” Do this even if it’s not actually your nickname. Politely correct people if they forget:

“You’re on belay, Rick.”
“Ah, actually, it’s ‘5.12 Rick.’ Thanks.”

8. Start a band and make your nickname part of the band’s name, ex. 5.12 Rick and The Finger Locks

9. Make T-shirts for your kids that say “my mom [or dad] climbs 5.12 and all I got was this T-shirt.” make them wear the shirts to the climbing gym, the crag, and also every day at school (may require multiple shirts).

drawing of shirts that say "my mom climbs 5.12 and all I got was this t-shirt"

10. Buy a yacht and name it “I’d Rather Be Climbing 5.12”

11. Pay for an ad on the Goodyear blimp that says “Ice Cube climbs 5.12.” If your name is not Ice Cube, substitute your name in that spot.

drawing of the Goodyear blimp with "5.12" in lights


More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.