The Perfect Climbing Partner
No matter who you are looking for, there is someone for everyone. It’s just a matter of dialing down what’s essential in a climbing partner to find that special belaysionship. Here are three crucial aspects to consider when finding a climbing partner: trust, support, and goals. The perfect climbing partner trifecta!
The Partner Trifecta
Finding a perfect climbing partner sounds like a dream, right? Ask yourself, what does the ideal climbing partner sound like for you? Is it someone passive and easy-going who doesn’t mind following you around to your many projects, giving you repetitive catches, all smooth as butter? Or is it someone who will lead you to different climbs, informing you which ones you should hop on so you don’t have to decide? Is it someone who motivates you on the wall by yelling or someone who supports you with gentle encouragement? No matter who you are looking for, there is someone for everyone. It’s just a matter of dialing down what’s essential in a climbing partner to find that special belaysionship. Here are three crucial aspects to consider when finding a climbing partner: trust, support, and goals. The perfect climbing partner trifecta!
Having mutual trust with your climbing partner is essential. This person will be holding your life in their hands. If you can’t fully trust them to catch them when you fall on the first bolt or properly spot you for a big bouldering fall, there is no way you can climb to the best of your ability. And it works both ways. It would help if you also trusted your partner not to make any decisions on the wall that could put you in danger as the belayer or spotter. Having mutual trust in each other means finding a mutual risk level that is comfortable for both individuals. Imagine this. Your climbing partner is comfortable climbing through a tricky 30-foot runout that would result in a close-to-decking whip if they fell. Does being the belayer in this situation make your skin prickle with fear and lack confidence in your ability to catch them? Or do you want to cheer them on, comfortable with the massive whip you would have to catch in the event of a fall? Make sure you are discussing your risk limits with your climbing partner, so neither of you is put in an uncomfortable and scary position.
The next element to consider in the search for your perfect climbing partner is support. They need to know the best way to support you on (and off) the wall. That is important because everyone is different in what kind of support they need to feel motivated and psyched. Some people need loud verbal encouragement on the wall. And others like to engage in thorough discussions of different beta options before they even get on the wall. And some like quiet to focus and prefer to figure everything out by themselves. If you and your climbing partner can cater to each other’s preferred support methods, you will create a deeper level of trust for each other. This specific support can be achieved by first discovering what keeps your own psych for climbing sky-high. Once you recognize what kind of support you require, share this information with your climbing partner so they know how to motivate you best.
The last, and arguably most important, aspect to look for in a climbing partner is similar goals. Suppose your climbing partner’s climbing goals involve big walls and lots of 5.9 multi-pitches, but all you want to do is go to your home crag every weekend, continuing to push the grade on challenging single pitches. In that case, your climbing partnership will not work out in the long run. Communicating about long-term goals and climbing preferences early on in the partnership is essential to creating a lasting belaysionship. Whether that’s sport climbing, trad climbing, bouldering, or multi-pitch climbing, share your dreams for climbing!