In many ways, your climbing partner is like your romantic partner. You must trust your partner and communicate effectively to have a good relationship. There’s no better feeling than that consistent climbing partner who was always ready to go when you were. They have the snacks and the psyche that meshed well with yours, and you push each other to be better climbers.
Whether or not you have found your way into a belaytionship, here are some tips to help you find the climbing partner of your dreams.
What are you looking for in a climbing partner?
Start with being upfront when considering potential climbing partners. State what you’re looking for and what you enjoy being around. If you’re more of a quiet, down-to-earth climber who doesn’t care about what grades they climb, then you likely won’t last long climbing with people who are always trying to send their most challenging projects. The same goes for the projectors! If you’re looking to push yourself every time you climb, you may not enjoy it when your partner wants to take it easy on some 5.Fun.
Express what you like to do before you get out to the cliff and realize the projects are at one crag, but the moderates are at another, and you can’t agree on which one to hike to. (However, if you’re primarily gym climbing, this type of climbing partnership can work well because all the routes are in the same building).
Consider looking for somebody with a similar experience level as yourself. It’s fun to learn things together instead of feeling like you’re being mentored every time you go climbing. While you can learn a tremendous amount from a mentor, maybe that’s not your preferred partner style.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a mentor, this can be a perfect way to find a trustworthy climbing partner when first starting out. Somebody with more knowledge than you will help you excel quicker and inform you of the best safety practices than somebody utterly new to climbing.
If you’re incredibly picky about sharing beta, you may want a climbing partner with a similar build. A 6’2 climber will have much different beta than a 5’4 climber. You may be able to trade some beta, but the height difference will likely cause a barrier to this.
“How do I know they’ll be trustworthy?”
Finding a trustworthy climbing partner is the same as finding trustworthy people anywhere: you give them a chance to be trustworthy. You can ask potential partners specific questions to determine if you’ll mesh. Do they believe using an assisted breaking device means leaving their brake hand off the rope is okay? Do they think climbing with a helmet is unnecessary? You can find out a lot about a climber by their responses to questions regarding safety. If their answers don’t align with yours, maybe it’s not meant to be!
“Where do I find climbing partners?”
There are plenty of places to find climbing partners! A great way to find a climbing partner is by visiting a climbing gym and getting to know the people there. During this, look for somebody who fits your style and availability.
Another way to find climbing partners is online! You can look for groups on Facebook, Reddit, or you can comment on routes/areas on Mountain Project and say that you’re looking for somebody to try it with!
(Obvious disclaimer: Always be cautious when meeting people online)
Use your best judgment when deciding on potential climbing partners. If they flake on you several times just as you were supposed to meet up, consider looking for a more reliable partner. Finding somebody with a similar schedule to you can also be a dealbreaker. If you work mornings and they work nights, you’ll only get to climb together on your off days (if they line up).
If your first few potential partners don’t work out, don’t give up! Plenty of climbers are out there; it may just take some time to find the right one for you.