Rock climbing is a sport best enjoyed with another person or a group, but finding someone to climb with can be difficult. You may be looking for an experienced climber to help you learn, a local climber at a new destination, or maybe someone to climb with regularly and test the limits of your abilities with.
Whatever the need, there are numerous resources you can tap to find the perfect partner.
Hiring a guide
If you are new to the sport of rock climbing, a guide or instructor may be the best route for you. While it may be expensive to hire someone to climb with, you can be assured of the quality of your partner, and receive quality instruction.
The American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) trains and certifies professional guides. You can search their website for guides and instructors in your area, and be assured that the person in question is qualified and legitimate.
Local and non-certified guides may do as good of a job as those certified by AMGA, but you should take the time to check up on them if you plan on hiring one. Asking around at local climbing shops, gyms, and asking other climbers is a good way to determine if the guide is safe to hire.
Climbers of all skill levels come together to participate at climbing workshops, so they can be a great way to meet potential partners. You get to see the attitudes and skills of your fellow climbers first hand, and determine if they might be a good match for you.
Workshops can be put on by local climbing clubs, retailers, and guide services. Some shorter workshops are free, while longer workshops typically exceed $100. Even if you do not find a partner at a workshop, though, the time and money is usually well spent because you learn or improve various climbing skills while attending.
Local climbing clubs
Climbing clubs are a great place to find like-minded individuals to spend your time on the rock with. Members will vary in experience, however, and you should try to find a partner who suits your current needs. If you are a beginner, you should try to find someone experienced who can help show you the ropes, while experienced climbers may be looking for someone to push their abilities to the limit.
Whatever the desired characteristics, make sure to get a good idea of who the person is and if your personalities mesh well. Listen to and ask others in the group about anyone you are considering climbing with, to get a better idea before climbing.
Before showing up to a rock climbing club’s meetings, however, make sure that you are qualified ot participate. Many clubs have minimum requirements that must be fulfilled in order to be a part of the group.
Local climbing clubs can be found by asking at local gyms, retail shops, and by searching online. A search of ‘rock climbing clubs’ with your city or state added will usually result in a few different options to explore.
Rock gyms provide a safe environment for training and a great place to meet up with other climbers. You can get a good idea of the skill level of a potential partner, and how well you interact with him or her. Make sure that the climber is interested in outdoor climbing, however, as some participants at rock gyms are only interested in indoor climbing.
Rock gyms typically allow you to rent the required equipment, but if you plan on frequenting the gym regularly it is less expensive to purchase and maintain your own gear. This may be a good idea, as rock gyms can allow you to train when weather is poor, if you can’t find a partner, and in a safe, controlled environment. They usually offer climbing walls that cater to all skill groups, so anyone from a beginner to a seasoned veteran can find something that is right for them.
If you are looking for a rock gym to try out, indoorclimbing.com has a list of many rock clubs organized by state and country. You can also search sites such as yellowbook.com or other business listing services for rock gyms in your area.
The final places to look for climbing partners are rock climbing forums. These resources are easy to access, free, and contain members from all over the world. Finding a good partner on these sites is a little more difficult, however, because you are not able to see their skills and demeanor in person.
When posting looking for a partner, or replying to a post, you should check the user’s profile and past posting history. Looking at previous posts and other people’s responses can give you a better idea of the person’s skills and personality before you ever meet him or her face to face.
If you do decide to find a partner online you should attempt to meet up at a local rock gym, workshop, or a public place for safety’s sake. If you meet up at a rock gym or a workshop you will have the added benefit of being able to determine their rock climbing skill, in addition to testing if your personalities mix well.
No matter what venue you choose to locate the perfect rock climbing partner for you, make sure you get a good idea of who the potential partner is, what their climbing skills are, and that your personalities mix well. When rock climbing, you often are putting your life in that person’s hands, and you want to be sure you can trust him or her.