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The World According To Chuck

Chuck Odette, 59, has worked at Petzl for over 12 years. In that time, he's built one of the strongest climbing teams in the world, successfully managed hundreds of events across North America, and, after work hours, climbed and bolted routes well into the 5.14 range. As of June 12, 2015, Chuck is officially retired from Petzl life, though he'll continue as a Petzl Team member, touring the country with his wife Maggie and their dogs. What follows is a very abridged list of "Charlieisms" that Chuck himself compiled. May we all learn from the master…

June 11 2015

Chuck Odette climbing in Maple Canyon, UT. Photo: John Evans.
Chuck Odette climbing in Maple Canyon, UT. Photo: © John Evans

I have been fortunate enough to ride this planet 59 times around the sun. This is no easy trick when you consider the fragile nature of life, particularly a climber’s life. The older I become the more I realize how little I know about the meaning of our existence. The infinitesimal amount of knowledge I have gained along the way came through interactions with many teachers. My mentors have been friends, family members, books, movies, climbing partners, life partners, lessons taught from tall mountains, tribulations experienced on steep cliffs and a countless number of other influential sources both real and surreal.

Now that I’m at a more advanced AARP eligible age, when I see someone struggling, I enjoy to sharing my life lessons with those who are receptive. My hope is to provide positive encouragement. My shared lessons have come to be known among friends as “Charlieisms”.

Below is a shortened list of my personal favorites. They apply to my life as a climber and as a struggling human being. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The entire list contains 443 (or is it 444?) Charlieisms. The list grows as life continues. Please understand that this is my first attempt to actually write some of these experiential life observations down. If one of my lessons shared is able to lend some perspective, then it has been well worth the time it took to publish this list…

Chuck Odette in his mountain climbing days. Photo courtesy of Chuck Odette.
Chuck Odette in his mountain climbing days. Photo courtesy of Chuck Odette.

The incomplete list of climbing Charlieisms:

  1. The worst day of climbing is better than the best day of work
  2. Climbing is an excellent metaphor for life, you try and fail repeatedly. You learn from failure, adjust, train harder, become smarter and try again. The way we respond to this process mirrors the way we approach failure in every facet of our existence… 
  3. A climber must learn to love and embrace failure 
  4. I often wonder how many times we have given up when the very next attempt would have yielded success 
  5. Succeeding is the simple reward at the end of a long journey 
  6. Enjoy the journey
  7. Sport climbing allows us to face our greatest fear: the fear of failure
  8. Work your weakness, it’s the most effective path to progress
  9. The real challenge for any climber is the ability to assess their personal weakness
  10. Take your time projecting a route by working out all the sequences through the entire route including the less challenging sections. 
  11. Take long breaks between intense highpoint or redpoint burns to allow for maximum recovery between attempts 
  12. The goal is to redpoint quickly, not beat yourself up
  13. Climb hard and rest harder 
  14. Time spent training or climbing hard requires equal or more amounts of rest; Training + Climbing x time is equal to, or less then, Rest x time, or, T + C (t) ≤ R (t) 
  15. If you do not schedule periodic long breaks (a week or two every six months) from climbing, they will eventually be forced upon you through injury, illness, or frustratingly low performance levels
  16. Don't walk away from negative people, turn and RUN! 
  17. An excellent way of elevating your own performance level is by positively supporting others around you
  18. Let go of ego 
  19. Forget about the outcome 
  20. Remain in the moment 
  21. The above three simple actions will allow your mind, body and emotional state to work organically in unison
  22. Self-imposed limitations are the only ones that are real. If you say you can't, you're probably right. If you think you can, you’ll likely find a way…
  23. A simple change of attitude can make a huge difference. This quote by William James is imbedded deep in my psyche, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his [her] life by altering his [her] attitude.”
  24. Your strength lies within. We all have the power within us to accomplish great things…
  25. Practice yoga for complete understanding of the importance of breath control and balance
  26. Vary your workouts and make them fun
  27. Do what you enjoy regarding your personalized exercise routine and make a long term commitment to it
  28. Enjoy your training routine so you can make it a lifelong process
  29. It’s important to recognize and let go of the things that are outside of our ability to control, after all, control is an illusion     
  30. Climbing rocks is a meaningless pursuit 
  31. I can't think of a better way to spend a life than to climb silly rocks
  32. “The only Zen you will find at the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.” --- Robert M. Pirsig
  33. Read the book Enter the Zone by Dr. Barry Sears. Sears is a genius and his book is the Bible on nutrition for athletes…
  34. You are better off to fuel your body precisely and not train at all than to exercise seven days a week five hours a day while fueling poorly
  35. Etc…


—Chuck Odette


Calvin Climber the 24/06/2015

Great thoughts Chuck! Enjoy your retirement.

Kevin Daniels the 25/06/2015

Thanks chuck Great to know you two are out and about

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