This crossword clue is a play on words. The phrase “social climber” is often used to describe someone who strives to move up the social ladder, gaining status and influence. However, in this puzzle, “APE” is the answer to this clue, which is a clever twist on the phrase. This is because apes are known for their ability to climb trees and other structures, making them natural climbers in a physical sense. Therefore, the answer “APE” is a humorous and unexpected play on the phrase “social climber“.