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leezerdgirl


Sep 13, 2006, 10:17 AM
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How to attract a trad mentor--be a great follower
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In another thread, it came up that it can be hard to find a mentor for trad climbing. My strategy for getting and keeping mentors has been to try to be the best follower I can be, and then learn as much as I can from the leader. So I was thinking, what would be good advice to give someone who is trying to be a good follower?

It would be great to get lots of people's ideas on what makes someone an attractive partner as a follower. To kick things off, here are some of the things I've learned along the way.

1) Learn how to give a great lead belay--never short roped, never too much slack, always ready to brake, anticipating what the leader is going to do next.

2) Learn how to retrieve gear so you never lose a piece, and have a system for organizing it as you gather it so that handing it back to the leader is orderly and efficient. This means paying attention and asking questions about how the leader racks his or her gear.

3) Know enough about rope management that you can anticipate what the leader needs and help out, for example by coiling ropes after a climb, reflaking or flipping piles of ropes as needed, keeping ropes out of cracks and from dangling off ledges, etc.

4) Know how to take care of yourself and keep yourself safe so the leader doesn't have to worry about you.

5) Research the climbing area and have good ideas about routes to try, but be up for anything that's safe and within your limits.

6) Always anticipate and be ready for the next thing that needs to happen so that you don't waste time, e.g. use the time you're on the belay ledge but not actively belaying or climbing to get a drink, put on your shoes, check the route map, etc.

7) Learn how the leader likes to communicate with the follower, e.g. what commands, what is the protocol if you can't see and hear each other, are jokes and beta appreciated or not.

7) Be willing to drive and split costs. Work out an agreement ahead of time about compensation if gear gets dropped, damaged, or lost.

8) Don't promise things you can't deliver.

9) Don't act like you know more than you do.

10) Be prepared for an emergency, e.g. both partners should know where the cell phone is, if it works in that location, know where the car keys are, be able to escape the belay, have some basic first aid skills, etc.

11) Be willing and able to carry half the load on the approach and descent.

12) Make sure you understand any time constraints, e.g. if you need to be off the top before afternoon lightning storms.

13) Be upbeat and supportive and have a good time no matter what happens even if you have to back off a climb, i.e. always have a good attitude. And extra snacks.

Other ideas?

(This post was edited by leezerdgirl on Apr 13, 2007, 2:49 PM)


Partner taino


Sep 13, 2006, 10:26 AM
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Gold trophy for you. :righton:

T


redlegrangerone


Sep 13, 2006, 10:33 AM
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You pretty much covered it. Being enjoyable to climb with will go a long way also.


caughtinside


Sep 13, 2006, 10:37 AM
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You kind of covered it, but I'd add:

be honest about your ability and speed.


pumpout


Sep 13, 2006, 10:51 AM
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Also,

Be willing not to do the routes you want, but what the leader wants to do, exploring-route cleaning, or helping to work out on a project.

AND

Be able to take constructive criticism and embrace learning.


svilnit


Sep 13, 2006, 11:00 AM
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14.) Bring the beer and ham sammiches


Partner rick_marsh


Sep 13, 2006, 11:15 AM
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15.) no whining


the_climber


Sep 13, 2006, 11:16 AM
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Here's a couple that I can add. Just stuff I've had experiance with through teaching some climbers trad.

-Show you are eager and call him/her with route sugestions from time to time.

-IF you have to cancel on a trip, DO NOT DO SO AT THE LAST MINUTE!!!!! Give them enough notice to find another partner for that day. Often times a mentor will forgo the chance to do a route on their ticklist because they have already made plans with you... they passed this chance so that they could teach YOU the finer points. (This is something that will help you keep good partners around. Blow it and you'll get a reputation as being a wanker)

-DO NOT BE A WANKER to your mentor.

The last two are particular pet peeves of mine.


the_climber


Sep 13, 2006, 11:17 AM
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Here's a couple that I can add. Just stuff I've had experiance with through teaching some climbers trad.

-Show you are eager and call him/her with route sugestions from time to time.

-IF you have to cancel on a trip, DO NOT DO SO AT THE LAST MINUTE!!!!! Give them enough notice to find another partner for that day. Often times a mentor will forgo the chance to do a route on their ticklist because they have already made plans with you... they passed this chance so that they could teach YOU the finer points. (This is something that will help you keep good partners around. Blow it and you'll get a reputation as being a wanker)

-DO NOT BE A WANKER to your mentor.

The last two are particular pet peeves of mine.


davidji


Sep 13, 2006, 11:40 AM
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Be ready to follow quickly after being put on belay. I think I've had 3 seperate partners take 15 minutes or more. The rule I try to observe is follow within 0 to 30 seconds. Teaching how to do this is part of the mentoring process, but some pick up the efficiency stuff easily, and some do not.


edited for clarity


icculus


Sep 13, 2006, 11:46 AM
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Being that I am currently a trad "follower" right now (I'm actually leading my first trad route tonight!) I will add the following to #8 & 9 in the OP...

HONESTY

It's important to be open and honest regarding your abilities, general knowledge, and overall climbing experiences. Don't let the ego take over and get yourself into a situation where you put you and your mentor in a tough situation.

During my initial conversations with my current trad mentor, I clearly stated my current ability level and goals for climbing. That way, your mentor knows exactly where you are at both physically, and sometimes mentally. It just makes for a more relaxed relationship when out on the crags.

My 2...


brushman


Sep 13, 2006, 12:05 PM
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Great Topic!

Many great suggestions! Here are a few more....

READ THE CLASSIC CLIMBING BOOKS...ie, How to Climb Series (John Long - anchors, technique, etc...).

Maintain a positive attitude in the face of difficulty.

Strive to be a good "student."

Be grateful that someone is willing to teach you, and openly express your appreciation.

Be a good conversationalist. (...lots of down time driving, camping, eating, etc...)

Oh yeh, ...and take awesome photographs! :D


Partner heiko


Sep 13, 2006, 1:09 PM
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16) Always underline your willingness to learn.

17) Don't question your partner while he/she's climbing! When you find you disagree, express that at the belay or after the climb.

18) If you find that you permanently disagree, move on.


johnny_jibba


Sep 13, 2006, 1:13 PM
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- I'll add: Don't be afraid to question him/her and don't assume everything they do is safe. One of my mentors was very appreciative that I didn't blindly accept their way of doing things and I always appreciate my partners checking me and/or asking about something.

- I'll second: Bring some beer... :D


caughtinside


Sep 13, 2006, 1:21 PM
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In reply to:
- I'll add: Don't be afraid to question him/her and don't assume everything they do is safe. One of my mentors was very appreciative that I didn't blindly accept their way of doing things and I always appreciate my partners checking me and/or asking about something.

this is good advice up to a point. However, having climbed with a couple seconds who didn't lead and were full of theory telling me I was doing a couple things wrong was pretty annoying. It's definitely ok to ask questions to understand what's going on, just remember that there are often different methods of doing things.

Just because you read it in a book doesn't mean it's the only way.


jt512


Sep 13, 2006, 3:06 PM
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19.) Be female.


Partner cracklover


Sep 13, 2006, 3:25 PM
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In reply to:
In another thread, it came up that it can be hard to find a mentor for trad climbing. My strategy for getting and keeping mentors has been to try to be the best follower I can be...

That's great, as far as it goes. And don't get me wrong, I'd be happy to climb with the person described by your itemization.

But there's another way to attract mentors: Get good as fast as possible. Me, I skipped following and jumped straight to leading. Sure, much of the stuff you mentioned still applies, especially since at the outset you're going to be leading stupid-easy stuff. But I gotta say that as a leader, I'd love to have someone along who can lead the 5.7 and 5.8 pitches, leaving me free to concentrate on the harder ones!

GO


mingleefu


Sep 13, 2006, 3:33 PM
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whoooo! this thread makes me happy.

Most of the suggestions can be summed up in a simple statement: Work diligently to be an equal member of the team.

If your mentor is leading every stinkin' route, he's doing 60-75% of the climbing work. Find ways to put your own effort in: flake/coil ropes. Get excited about carrying more than 1/2 the gear. Call the other guy and be the one to invite him out to climb! Show some enthusiasm, and enjoy the process.

I will say I had a bit of a humbling experience this last winter. I went climbing with an rc.com member (not to single him out) who was vastly stronger than me at a couple areas that he frequented and I had never been. It's hard to be the newb!! Still, by keeping as busy as I could, I tried to hold down more than 1/2 of the non-climbing work to lighten the burden of guiding me around. (whether I was actually able to is another story..)

Long story short, I learned that being the newb doesn't mean it's okay to stand around looking confused. Don't know what you can do to help?
ASK. Your trad mentor will be more than happy to get you involved.


iamthewallress


Sep 13, 2006, 3:57 PM
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20. Learn to accept and do what is best for the team even when it means that you need to give up some of the duties that one might normally do in effort to do their "fair share".

Something that I learned from my mentor:

21. Never be idle. If you find yourself just hanging out and daydreaming at a belay, ask yourself what you can be doing to help the team move forward. Do you need to pee? Do you need a drink or a snack? Is the leader almost to the belay, so the back-ups can start coming out of the anchor (when appropriate)? Try to minimize the time between your partner calling "off-belay" and you calling out "climbing".

22. Be a great leader...or at least care about becoming a great leader as much as you care about being a great follower.


stymingersfink


Sep 13, 2006, 4:21 PM
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In reply to:
Long story short, I learned that being the newb doesn't mean it's okay to stand around looking confused. Don't know what you can do to help?
ASK. Your trad mentor will be more than happy to get you involved.
Great thread! I'd give you another trophy, but it's not my day to rate.

Good suggestions one and all so far, though the one quoted above is really the key, IMHO. It's so much more enjoyable to share with another if you are better able to understand what areas they need improvement in. Sometimes it does no good to ask after the fact, as your mentor may be so focused on some other aspect of the climb that what concerns you hasn't even entered their mind yet. The tone and way the question is phrased can mean the all the difference, but don't be afraid to tell them you don't understand their answer or reasoning.


Showing a willingness to overcompensate for your own lack of knowledge goes far too, for it shows an eagerness to learn and the recognition on your part that the service your mentor is providing IS valuable. Do pack in more than half the weight, do anticipate what will be needed, do all those little things which show you appreciate the relationship you are involved in. Managed properly, it is a relationship which may outlast all others in your life.

I would say the golden rule definitely applies here: If you treat your mentor as you would like to be treated, everything else is moot.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone put gas in your tank, humped part of your share of the load to the base, let you lead all the pitches you're really interested in, cleaned gear efficiently, provided snacks/water at key points, then suprised you at the summit with a can of beer?




I think so. :wink:


tradrenn


Sep 13, 2006, 4:40 PM
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:lol:


davidji


Sep 13, 2006, 5:15 PM
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In reply to:
22. Be a great leader...or at least care about becoming a great leader as much as you care about being a great follower.
It's a lot more fun climbing with beginners who are eager to lead.


brushman


Sep 13, 2006, 5:49 PM
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Maybe another.....

If, upon thorough reflection, you realize you consistently neglect more than just a few of the suggestions and common courtesies listed above...

Offer an apology to your mentor (past and/or present), beg for forgiveness, and promise to end your slothful ways.

Or,

Start paying them as you would a guide!

(Don't take endless advantage of your mentor's generosity!)


jcrew


Sep 13, 2006, 5:55 PM
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be smokin' hot.


nedsurf


Sep 13, 2006, 6:10 PM
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In reply to:
-IF you have to cancel on a trip, DO NOT DO SO AT THE LAST MINUTE!!!!! Give them enough notice to find another partner for that day. Often times a mentor will forgo the chance to do a route on their ticklist because they have already made plans with you... they passed this chance so that they could teach YOU the finer points. (This is something that will help you keep good partners around. Blow it and you'll get a reputation as being a wanker)
-DO NOT BE A WANKER to your mentor.
The last two are particular pet peeves of mine.

I've got to second this comment. Also, unless the mentor is trying to take you up a big wall or something else not for your level of climbing, don't puss out because you have not been higher than the indoor gym wall's height.
As the trip is planned, research the climb and area, ask yourself if this is really something you really want to do, before you commit to the leader. It is OK to be scared on multipitch but do everything possible to mentally prepare yourself to not freeze up at the exposure.
This has happened to me too many times. I have found myself staring at the rock the rest of the weekend cursing that I cannot find another partner. It has usually happened when I went with some aspiring trad climber who has a mostly gym background. Now I am VERY aprehensive before setting off for a weekend climbing trip with someone I met solely in the gym. To set things straight, I don't take them up the hardest thing I can climb. I start them off on 5.3s or something.

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