Belay me, please!

Climbing partner etiquette and where to find partners. Recently, my very close friend moved to Germany. This friend also happened to have been my numero uno climbing partner - let me tell you, it's infinitely more emotional dealing with the loss of a reliable climbing partner than just a friend. In his absence, I have [...]

Climbing partner etiquette and where to find partners.

Recently, my very close friend moved to Germany. This friend also happened to have been my numero uno climbing partner – let me tell you, it’s infinitely more emotional dealing with the loss of a reliable climbing partner than just a friend. In his absence, I have been casting my “climb with me” line out there into every climbing pond imaginable. It took several attempts over a few weeks and some major scheduling muscles to coordinate just a handful of successful vertical trips with a mix of climbers from proficient to something less than adequate. I have decided I don’t require much out of a climbing relationship besides the following:

  1. Knows how to climb. This doesn’t mean you have to climb 5.12s, just don’t put my life at risk.
  2. Does not flake.  If you say you are down to climb and I go through the work to plan our trip, no last minute changes in heart.  I never realized just how much the average climber’s decision of how to spend a weekend parallels with the average high school girl’s choice of what to wear to school. I started to take it personally (maybe I should shower more?) but some other climbing buddies of mine echoed the same gripes. So, don’t say yes unless you actually mean it, because I could have found someone else.
  3. Attitude. Climbing involves being in beautiful places. It offends both me and mother nature when you whine or act like a mister (or misses) know it all.  I am not going to take your word for how awesome you were the other day, prove your ego humbly on what’s in front of you right now.
Happy Climbing Partners!

Happy Climbing Partners!

A few ways to reach out to the climbing community for potential climbing partners, in no particular order:

  • Twitter. This requires some knowledge of how this 140 character, micro-blogging site works. @sharpendwood  recommends using hashtags when looking for a climbing partner, such as #climb. Sometimes there are events like a climbing “tweetup”, for example the 3rd Annual JTree Tweetup where the hashtag #Jtreetweetup is used.
  • Partner finding websites. I have never had much luck with sites like these, but I do have a few friends who have. Some to try are Mountain Project, Climb Find, MeetUp.com and RockClimbing.com. My advice is to be honest about your climbing ability and start off with a single day adventure at a crag as close to your car as possible in case you need an out.
  • Local climbing gym. Most climbing gyms have a message board of sorts where you can post a “climbing partner for sale” ad. Hanging out in the bouldering area also leads to instant friendships, but I find that most boulderers don’t like to rope up. If you are extroverted and don’t mind striking up a conversation with a stranger, ask to work in with a climbing party of two.
  • Facebook. I have about 50 people that facebook says I am friends with that also climb. Two of my climbing partners this month were found via my facebook cesspool of friends, or friends of friends that either reached out to me or vice versa. When the going gets tough, start digging through the e-friendships.
  • The Crag. This way is by far the most efficient way of meeting other people to climb with. Two huge benefits to this method is you can scout out their climbing ability without being on the other end of the rope and they likely have the same availability as you (you are both independently there at the same time).

These are the top ways I know of to find a buddy to explore the vertical paradise with, but I could use suggestions  so tell me what works for you in the comments section – maybe they will make a part II to this post. With that, I leave you with an awesome post from Rock and Ice, “How to Lose a Climbing Partner in 10 Days”. Enjoy, and don’t be that guy!

Off to J-Tree (update to come)!

Article by

Ilana is a native of Southern California. She is an accomplished rock and ice climber and is the brains behind Thrillseekers Anonymous. Currently residing in Colorado, she is a Registered Surgical/Trauma Nurse, who can be found leading her own adventures on days off. Ilana is a sponsored athlete with GoMacro, WoolX, and an Arcteryx Denver ambassador. She has been featured in various media outlets including the February 2015 issue of ‘Climbing’ magazine, December 2013 issue of ‘Rock and Ice’ magazine, December/January 2013 issue of ‘Gripped Climbing’ magazine, Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons (How To Climb Series) by Dave Black and Pasadena Magazine as well as a Climbing Expert on MTV’s Parental Control (Season 7 – “Heather”).

Ilana has written 111 articles for Thrillseekers Anonymous.

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