John Reeve

Musician, Artist, Technologist


Finding Climbing Partners

Finding Climbing Partners

On the climbing forum someone asked:

As far as grade goes, I’m aware, and I was undershooting what I’m capable of just cause I didn’t want to make someone deal with a dude that can’t send 11a yet. Which is kinda why I’m posing the question of how you get past the beginner valley.
Such as, nobody wants to climb with someone worse than themselves, so I can’t go climb. I can’t get better without climbing so I’m stuck.

My response is that the claim isn’t really true… people climb with me, and I climb with people and only very rarely do I climb with people who climb at the exact same grade as me. I often find myself climbing with folks who are safe but not ready to lead what I lead, or who are way stronger than me, but who put up with me because I have a lot of stoke and am willing to try stuff that’s uncomfortably hard for me.

I dunno how old this person is, or what kind of organizational or communications skills they have… but:

  • a) those skills are things you can work on and
  • b) those are the most relevant skills when it comes to finding people to climb with.

My decisions to keep climbing with people has a lot to do with “can the person agree to a specific time and place” and “do I think they will show up”, and, importantly “do I think this person is going to hurt me or themselves while climbing”. That’s followed by “can I get along with this person” and “do I personally enjoy hanging out with this person”. Cause the first 3-5 times I go climbing with someone, I don’t know them personally and I am just trying to figure out if I like them or not.

If I don’t have a super regular partner (I am working on developing a couple relationships like that right now), I usually have a list of 5 or so folks who I will annoy with an “I am looking to climb at this time and possibly this place, let me know if you’re interested”. Usually I will get a response a day or two later LOL… but that’s okay. A lot of the folks I climb with are living in cars and only get into town every once in a while. Or they have kids, or whatever, or a spouse… they have lives.

So it takes some work on my part to manage that relationship with folks.

I generally try to line folks up a couple of days ahead of time, cause I am a nerd like that… not everyone likes that, and I’m cool with that, too. But I try to be both flexible and, at the same time, ask folks to go and get out, and have some awareness of what folks may or may. not do, and some empathy when/if they bail.

Organizing outings to go climbing is a pain in the ass. It requires doing things I don’t like; asking random strangers if they want to go hang out isn’t comfortable for me.

But I want to climb more than I want to be comfortable, so I keep at it.

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