climb up the ladder

climb (up) the ladder

To become increasingly powerful or successful. I'm an artist at heart, so I have no interest in climbing up the corporate ladder.
See also: climb, ladder

climb up the ladder

or

climb the ladder

If you climb up the ladder or climb the ladder, you become more and more successful or important. There's no need for the sort of competitive behaviour you get at companies where people are trying to climb up the ladder. He became the first man to climb the social ladder from a log cabin to the White House. Note: You can also say that someone moves up the ladder. If you think you can do more than you are doing in your present position, you owe it to yourself to make the effort to move up the ladder.
See also: climb, ladder, up
References in classic literature ?
Sir Walter's private secretary seemed more and more threatened with inappropriate slumber, and, having been the last to climb up the ladder, seemed now to lack the energy even to climb down again.
Burger Time(TM) -- The arcade classic is now available as "Take Out" on your mobile phone with 36 stages of burger-building joy -- your job is to climb up the ladders and assemble an order of giant hamburgers.