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lena_chita
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Jun 26, 2007, 7:05 AM
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How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners?
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I used to say that as long as the person was a safe belayer I would climb with him/her. Still true, I guess.

But as I'm contemplating my choices for the weekend, I realize that in reality I am looking for so much more than just the safety issue... Yet I usually end up going with whoever is available, b/c hey, I want to get some climbing done!





Kinda makes me wonder about how many people on my short "love to climb with them" list actually climb with me as a 'last resort' b/c they don't have any other choice either.



So, my ideal partner would be someone who:
-safe and knowledgeable
-climbs at approximately the same level of difficulty as I do, plus/minus a couple letter grades
-has similar climbing goals and attitude (e.i. plans things ahead of time, wants to get to the crag and start climbing right away, not wandering around still chit-chatting and puttingon harness an hour after getting to the crag)
-interesting person to hang out with
-not a whiner


Feel free to add to the list.


gogounou


Jun 26, 2007, 7:22 AM
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I agree with all of the above, though a best case scenario is when my partner is 'plus,' rather than 'minus' a few letter grades. Not so much better that I feel like I'm holding them back, and compromising their day of climbing, but I find that if they're just a bit better, I push myself all the more.

(This said, by no means am I suggesting that I have a problem climbing with a partner that who is a bit less experienced than me... maybe, based on my skills, there's just a greater population ahead of me in the ranks than behind... Unimpressed)


notapplicable


Jun 26, 2007, 7:26 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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Yeah, I would also like to be alot more selective when it comes to my partners but no one in my regular 3 likes trad or is as motivated as I am so I pretty much get stuck with who ever I can find.

Second to safety, which is always first but sometimes hard to evaluate in a new partner, is motivation. I hate it when I have all of the gear sorted, water bottles filled, food packed and breakfast cooked before anyone else is out of there sleeping bags. Beyond that aslong as you dont talk alot, I'm not to picky.


binrat


Jun 26, 2007, 7:30 AM
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lena_chita wrote:
So, my ideal partner would be someone who:
-safe and knowledgeable
-climbs at approximately the same level of difficulty as I do, plus/minus a couple letter grades
-has similar climbing goals and attitude (e.i. plans things ahead of time, wants to get to the crag and start climbing right away, not wandering around still chit-chatting and puttingon harness an hour after getting to the crag)
-interesting person to hang out with
-not a whiner

- willing to buy post climbing drinks after a good days worth of climbing Cool

Binrat


LostinMaine


Jun 26, 2007, 7:31 AM
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Re: [gogounou] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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When I lived in NY and split my weekends between the gunks and the 'daks, I had 2 climbing partners that were both safe, climbing the same grade, and good people. Since moving to Maine a few years ago, I have found that I'm commonly on doorsteps looking for partners.

Unfortunately, this means that I climb with nearly anyone. I have had to teach a lead belay maybe 20 times in the past few years just to get someone to get out there with me. I tend to vary the routes greatly between partners. Most of my climbing lately is on <5.10 rock to make sure I don't fall on the new guy. I just like to climb and I don't really care about chasing grades anymore.

My perfect climbing companion these days can follow 5.5-5.9 rock while concurrently swatting black flies and mosquitoes.


dingus


Jun 26, 2007, 7:49 AM
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Re: [LostinMaine] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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Compatibility far outstrips climbing ability in my little over-the-hill world. I couldn't care less how hard someone can pull down.

All of my regular climbing partners are my friends.

So I guess that's my first and primary consideration.

I'd rather 'waste' a day scrubbing lichens and trail-building with a friend than I would being towed up some five dot whatever line I couldn't have led has I wanted.

But that's just me.

DMT


pro_alien


Jun 26, 2007, 7:53 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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I'm not all that picky - after all they also have to put up with me... If I haven't climbed with someone before, I am conservative in what route / area to pick.

That said, I also stopped climbing with one partner who came badly prepared for one multipitch climb (two left shoes - to his credit he did rather well with one climbing and one approach shoe) and had somewhat skewed ideas on safety.


Partner jammer


Jun 26, 2007, 7:56 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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Hope you realize that you'll be getting a whole gambit of responses, like mine ...

Living when I do, there are a lot of climbers, but no "climbing group" to say. Thus, I have to search real hard or teach new climbers. I do the latter. Then, I know who is trustworthy and who is not.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you can pick and choose, then here is what I look for:

Attentiveness.
Willingness to learn and be corrected if need be.
Willingness to share knowledge and correct me if needed.
Willingness to share both the expense and load.
Truthful (I really hate it when a climber boasts of climbs but flail on easy climbs.)
Practices Leave Not Trace.
And, of course, we have to get along.

That is where I start from ... hope this helps.


zeke_sf


Jun 26, 2007, 7:58 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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I've been pretty lucky as far as partners lately (you know who you are Wink).

I think basic enthusiasm for climbing works pretty well. I can't really think of any other unifying theme amongst my partners other than that. I appreciate the different takes on what makes a climbing day. Sometimes being all business makes it fun, but other times a relatively relaxed attitude can result in good times. I have partners where we're on the rock before 7am (early for me) and others where we get in an awesome day starting at 2pm. I suppose I'm picky as far as wanting to climb with people I like. I've been recovering from injury as well, so in the back of my mind I think whether my climbing partner would still be a cool person if I pulled my tendon first climb out. Or at least act cool.


Partner j_ung


Jun 26, 2007, 8:00 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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lena_chita wrote:
So, my ideal partner would be someone who:
-safe and knowledgeable
-climbs at approximately the same level of difficulty as I do, plus/minus a couple letter grades
-has similar climbing goals and attitude (e.i. plans things ahead of time, wants to get to the crag and start climbing right away, not wandering around still chit-chatting and puttingon harness an hour after getting to the crag)
-interesting person to hang out with
-not a whiner

That's pretty close to my list. I'll add one thing, though. I have these sort of unofficial "tiers," of climbing partners.

For me to really push my limits -- onsighting -- I have to be with one of those in the top tier. I don't pick the people in it. My trust in them, which is absolute and unflinching, is not something I can choose to give. When I'm maxed out, cruxing way above gear and I know the catch will have to be a gold glove winner, I'll either trust or not, commit or not, and there isn't an iota of conscious thought that goes into the decision. It's all gut instinct.

My second tier is a big one. I trust those folks, but only enough to push through a hard redpoint burn or on routes that are a little below my max. I have to convince myself to go for it. They hear, "Watch me," fairly often. They're close to top tier, but they just haven't quite earned my subconscious trust. They haven't done anything to not be in the top tier, but I like I said, I can't choose who's up there. Most of my regular partners are in this tier.

Third tier contains many people I've never climbed with and people who I think are good belayers, but maybe they haven't proven themselves yet. I'll climb with them, but I want to see them belay and hold falls first, and even then, I probably won't push it.

I won't let anybody in the fourth tier belay me without a back-up belayer who I trust. These folks are either inexperienced belayers or I've seen them belay and it scares me. Some of them are accidents waiting to happen. Some of them have dropped climbers. Some of them just don't seem quite comfortable with it yet, or maybe they use a belay technique that I don't like.

Anywho, my ideal partners are in the top tier.


(This post was edited by j_ung on Jun 26, 2007, 8:03 AM)


dlintz


Jun 26, 2007, 8:24 AM
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Re: [j_ung] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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I've got people separated much like j_ung does except the 3rd and 4th tiers are kinda bunched together. My first tier doesn't contain a lot of people which isn't to say that the second tier peeps aren't safe, I guess I'm just a little picky regarding the sublties of how someone belays me.

d.


Tree_wrangler


Jun 26, 2007, 8:50 AM
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Re: [dingus] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Compatibility far outstrips climbing ability in my little over-the-hill world. I couldn't care less how hard someone can pull down.

All of my regular climbing partners are my friends.

So I guess that's my first and primary consideration.

I'd rather 'waste' a day scrubbing lichens and trail-building with a friend than I would being towed up some five dot whatever line I couldn't have led has I wanted.

But that's just me.

DMT

As usual, dingus has spoken for me........

Since I've started solo-ing, my standards for partners have gone waaay up. After all, we're building a life-support system here, and the whole point of having a belayer is to build a better system. If my soloing anchor belays better than a partner (and it usually does), then forget about having a partner. The partners I do trust are close friends. We're in it together, through thick and thin. They care about me and I care about them, and not just on the usual, superficial, "I like people and care about everybody" sort of bullshit. We're true family with long histories together.

Occasionally I meet new people that I really click with. They're strong, smart people who stand out in a crowd. It's a priviledge that they usually seem to see the same qualities in me. They're honest about their climbing/belaying abilities, and moreso, about the world in general. They know where they are, and what they're doing. These people earn my trust immediately, and I'd trust them anywhere on the planet in any situation.


saxfiend


Jun 26, 2007, 9:30 AM
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Re: [j_ung] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
I have these sort of unofficial "tiers," of climbing partners.
That's a very sensible approach. I think I've unconsciously developed a sort of similar tiering system. I'm least picky about partners when I'm out with a group for a day that includes mostly moderate leading and toproping. Hard leading on single pitches is where I start narrowing down to known competent partners. And anything multi-pitch has to be people I absolutely trust (not just as a belayer/climber, but as a person).

Some additional requirements in a partner that I don't think I've seen mentioned:

-- good judgment and self-assessment skills; I don't like climbing with someone who (willfully or ignorantly) tends to get on stuff way over their head, putting both of us in a risky situation.

-- cool-headedness and dependability; aside from not wanting a whiner for a partner, I don't want to be with someone who's going to panic and lose their shit when the going gets tough (especially on multi-pitch).

JL


richardvg03


Jun 26, 2007, 10:29 AM
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lena_chita wrote:



So, my ideal partner would be someone who:
-safe and knowledgeable
-climbs at approximately the same level of difficulty as I do, plus/minus a couple letter grades
-has similar climbing goals and attitude (e.i. plans things ahead of time, wants to get to the crag and start climbing right away, not wandering around still chit-chatting and puttingon harness an hour after getting to the crag)
-interesting person to hang out with
-not a whiner


Feel free to add to the list.


I like that list... although I have to admit if it's a long ass walk to the crag I complain a little but it's mostly cause I'm in pain (torn acl/mcl/hernia/concusion)

I don't care if they are knowledgable so much as they are safe. I can teach them how to belay and how to set up a basic anchor...


coastal_climber


Jun 26, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Ideal Partner:

-Climbs around same grade.
-Safe climber/belayer with good record.
-Doesn't complain or bitch.
-Interesting
-FunSmile

>Cam


lena_chita
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Jun 26, 2007, 12:08 PM
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Re: [j_ung] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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j_ung wrote:
I have these sort of unofficial "tiers," of climbing partners.

Yes, that's how I have it in my head, too. The first tier really is very very small. And it is amazing how much better I climb when someone like that is holding my rope. Yet people in second tier are 100% safe and great. They just don't make that first group.

The third group is tricky.
Sometimes I think -- if people who have taken me climbing, back when I was an inexperienced, unproven, etc, etc, belayer, who taught me to lead belay and then climbed with me belaying them-- if they were as picky about it as I am now, I would have never had a chance to learn...

dingus wrote:
Compatibility far outstrips climbing ability in my little over-the-hill world. I couldn't care less how hard someone can pull down.

I am not anything spectacular when it comes to climbing grades. But this is not strictly about grades.

I have friends who go to the New and every time go to the same handful of places-- and then climb the same small handful of routes, routes they have climbed cleanly many times before -- and never get on anything new.

I would climb 5.7 that I have never climbed before, even though it is not part of the redpoint piramid I'm trying to build. I would climb the same 5.9 I have climbed before, if I liked it -- why not? Obviously at a small local crag I climb the same things over and over, for the lack of choice...

But it is incomprehensible to me that with a slew of beautiful routes that I have not tried yet, I would be just repeating the few routes that I have climbed already-- over and over again. And yet some people I know are like that.


dingus wrote:
I'd rather 'waste' a day scrubbing lichens and trail-building with a friend than I would being towed up some five dot whatever line I couldn't have led has I wanted.

That's a false dichotomy.


And as far as "wasting" a day, it really depends on how precious that day is to you. If I were alone and unattached with plenty of free time on my hands, I would spend some (large chunk of it, LOL) of it climbing, and some of it doing other things.

But to get that climbing weekend, I have to go away from my family, and I can only "afford" 2 weekends a month like that -- at most. So no, I wouldn't rather "waste" that day scrubbing lichen. And I wouldn't rather spend it with people who think that 4 pitches of climbing make a good day, even though those people might otherwise be very pleasant people to be with.
When I go climbing, I want to get as much climbing done as possible. I can scrub lichen some other time -- WITH my kids and husband, and make that a family outing--and a lesson about volunteering.


stymingersfink


Jun 26, 2007, 9:32 PM
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richardvg03 wrote:
I don't care if they are knowledgable so much as they are safe. I can teach them how to belay and how to set up a basic anchor...

I've been in that position, and eventually that will change for you. Until then, try not to get into teaching them much more than that just quite yet. Wait till you have a bit more experience to draw from.




Generally, when climbing with a "new" partner, I will allow them to lead whatever they feel like leading. This will give me the time to assess their style and approach to safety, as well as their abilities in general. If I find that there are areas where they show deficiencies, their attitude in regards to learning will determine whether we will climb together again. If there are no issues in these areas, then the next consideration would be:

How well our personalities mesh.

I'd much rather climb with someone of lesser ability (with a willingness to learn) and compatible personality than someone of excellent ability with a shit personality... just don't feel like wasting my time with that. Skills improve, personalities often don't. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy climbing with those who's ability far outstrips mine, but in those situations it's not really my choice whether we will climb together again, is it?


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Jun 26, 2007, 9:34 PM
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oops! what i meant to say is i'm not picky at all...


I'm a CLIMBING SLUT!Wink


tavs


Jun 27, 2007, 10:00 AM
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lena_chita wrote:
And as far as "wasting" a day, it really depends on how precious that day is to you. If I were alone and unattached with plenty of free time on my hands, I would spend some (large chunk of it, LOL) of it climbing, and some of it doing other things.

But to get that climbing weekend, I have to go away from my family, and I can only "afford" 2 weekends a month like that -- at most. So no, I wouldn't rather "waste" that day scrubbing lichen. And I wouldn't rather spend it with people who think that 4 pitches of climbing make a good day, even though those people might otherwise be very pleasant people to be with.
When I go climbing, I want to get as much climbing done as possible. I can scrub lichen some other time -- WITH my kids and husband, and make that a family outing--and a lesson about volunteering.

I think that depends on what your climbing priorities are. For me, scrubbing lichen, forging a trail, cleaning a new route are part of learning more about climbing--it adds to the things I want to know and do within climbing, so it'd absolutely be worth it to me. So I guess, more on topic, I have different partners that are "in it" (the climbing game, that is) for different purposes, with whom I enjoy different types of climbing days. And that's something valuable to me--having partners that I can turn to whether I'm psyched for a day/weekend of FAing, cleaning stuff and getting out there into the unknown; partners I call when I'm looking for a high motivation, high mileage day; partners that I go out with to just have a fun day climbing a long mellow route; and so on. (Of course, my main partner (and life partner) fits all of these categories, though we're not always in the mood for the same things on the same days.)


lena_chita
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Jun 27, 2007, 10:04 AM
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richardvg03 wrote:
I like that list... although I have to admit if it's a long ass walk to the crag I complain a little but it's mostly cause I'm in pain (torn acl/mcl/hernia/concusion)

I don't care if they are knowledgable so much as they are safe. I can teach them how to belay and how to set up a basic anchor...

No offence-- but that's exactly what scares me. You learned to belay HOW long ago? And you already think you are qualified to teach someone?

I've seen more then once a scenario like this: Oh, it's not rocket science, it's just like regular belay, only you pay out the rope instead of pulling it back. Here, you just keep some slack in the rope, maybe this much, and if the guy yells "clipping" you just pay out a bunch of slack. (End of instruction Crazy)


dingus


Jun 27, 2007, 10:10 AM
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lena_chita wrote:
richardvg03 wrote:
I like that list... although I have to admit if it's a long ass walk to the crag I complain a little but it's mostly cause I'm in pain (torn acl/mcl/hernia/concusion)

I don't care if they are knowledgable so much as they are safe. I can teach them how to belay and how to set up a basic anchor...

No offence-- but that's exactly what scares me. You learned to belay HOW long ago? And you already think you are qualified to teach someone?

It isn't rocket science. If he can't teach it he doesn't yet know how to do it right.

Don't coddle the noobs!

DMT


dingus


Jun 27, 2007, 10:43 AM
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lena_chita wrote:
dingus wrote:
Compatibility far outstrips climbing ability in my little over-the-hill world. I couldn't care less how hard someone can pull down.

I am not anything spectacular when it comes to climbing grades. But this is not strictly about grades.

My only comment to this is I don't equate the grade you're climbing with 'over the hill' or not. There are phases in climbing careers, different for everyone I suppose, but I bet there are similar themes.

lena_chita wrote:
dingus wrote:
I'd rather 'waste' a day scrubbing lichens and trail-building with a friend than I would being towed up some five dot whatever line I couldn't have led has I wanted.

That's a false dichotomy.

What makes you think that?

In reply to:
And as far as "wasting" a day, it really depends on how precious that day is to you.

Lena, I broke my neck in 3 places 2 springs ago, including 2 fractures in my C1 vertebrae. EVERY DAY in the mountains is as precious as my last breath, every single one of them. I take the time to smell the roses now more than I used to. Its hard to avoid comparing, but we should avoid it. What you and I find precious may exactly coincide one moment and wildly diverge the next.

In reply to:
But to get that climbing weekend, I have to go away from my family,

Me too.

In reply to:
So no, I wouldn't rather "waste" that day scrubbing lichen. And I wouldn't rather spend it with people who think that 4 pitches of climbing make a good day, even though those people might otherwise be very pleasant people to be with.

I understand perfectly Lena.

In reply to:
When I go climbing, I want to get as much climbing done as possible.

Right on. I've been in that place in my climbing career too, many times. All I can say is, if you stick with it, this too will pass.

In reply to:
I can scrub lichen some other time -- WITH my kids and husband, and make that a family outing--and a lesson about volunteering.

We *may* be talking about slightly different sort of scrubbing here. The people I climb with are mostly into first ascents. We have been blessed with a 'local' happy hunting ground. I have been blessed (through hard work and a 20 year history) with a thorough knowledge of this area.

Trail building is to get to the cliffs we're exploring. Scrubbing lichens occurs on rap, on the sharp end, etc. on the new routes we find. And on some days a half a pitch is big progress.

But other days it just comes together like magic. Allow me to relate a different sort of joy (yours is good too Lena! Great in fact!)

I've been driving by this set of cliffs for years. Can't tell you the number of times and the number of partners who declared 'I'm gonna check those out some day.' But we always find something more interesting to do eh?

So early last spring I made my initial foray up toward the wall and made it 3/4 of the way through deep brush. I made it far enough to know it would go and the next weekend I was back with an old reliable partner in tow - Burl Guido.

That day we reached Crackistan and our mouths watered. Since then me and a very small group of friends have been returning. They, much more than me, have been on the sharp end of sending some amazing climbs.

So from this area, trial now well established, I had long spied a higher crag, I called it High Rock at the time.

Earlier THIS SPRING I made that hike too.

OMG! Nothing like Crackistan (which is hard, intimidating and well, hard), more like a Fairy Tale.

This 100' crag sported 7 cracks, hands to OW to chimney plus a number of knobby faces on golden granite.

Trail thus worked out 3 of us returned the next weekend and the weekend after that and thence 2 weekends ago and bing bang boom 11 new roped routes and several solos of high ball OWs have gone down.

None of this would have happened were it not for that initial foray up the brush choked approach gully.

Its more about farming I guess, or hunting if you will, then it is volunteering or wasting time.

Not all that long ago I would have been unwilling to spend my time thus. I would have been in the valley, doing as you like to do, knocking off as many pitches in a day as possible. Or I'd be on the suffer machine of a wall, or humping into the backcountry.

I still have those other things in me too. But consider Yosemite...

at the grades I'm climbing? I've done most of the accessible routes many times over the years. I love those climbs and don't mind doing them again. But you get to a point where sending the E Butt of Cathedral for the 13th time loses some of its charm. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to that 13th trip up the route. But over time my focus has shifted from earning my stripes, to pursuing the legendary climbs of my areas of interest, to knocking off milestone routes (in my career, not world class anything of course) to now a focus on new ground, new things, the dirty end of the sport.

I came full circle (never really left actually) back to the roots of my climbing - adventure. For me climbing is far more about adventure than performance. Always was though it took me a long time to recognize my own wants from those foisted upon me by other climbers.

Its all good eh? Mark my words Lena, if you stick with it the time will come when 4 pitches in a day sounds pretty dang good, but the appeal will fade if you can't find someone suitbale to hang with.

At certain points in my career I have realized that my partners MAKE the sport for me. Without them I would be half a man, a Quarter of a Man!

I realized once, maybe a decade back or so, that the bonds of a close partnership can be bedrock, love in the literal sense. I cherish those bonds.

Last tale: this past weekend my partner of 20 years Angus Carbide, induced me to Tuolumne Meadows for a run up some classics. Which we did.

Maybe 2 hours into our first climb (West Crack on Daff) he says....

"20 years and 2 weekends ago, we climbed blah blah for the first time."

My buddy Angus has an ability to remember dates, its freaky. But he has been counting the days and we actually climbed together on our 20th aniversary weekend.

Sounds gay I know, but there you go. I would have turned down a free ride up a grade V to climb one boulder with Angus that day and I wouldn't have thought twice about it.

Phases. May you enjoy them all!

Cheers!
DMT


(This post was edited by dingus on Jun 27, 2007, 10:46 AM)


jcrew


Jun 27, 2007, 10:45 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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depends on my ambitions.........


when running well-known routes at my local sport cliff, i'm usually partial to the most attractive............

hard red points and trad.........solid belayers who also lead a lot.......... so they know what it's like........

alpine and long trad. routes..............my main partner of the last 15 years, ............or someone who is very easy going, can keep their suffering to themselves, pulls their share of the weight, and is easily contented.


lena_chita
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Jun 27, 2007, 11:07 AM
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Re: [dingus] How picky are you when it comes to climbing partners? [In reply to]
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dingus wrote:
Dingus, thanks for taking the time to write it! I doesn't really require a response, except I wanted to say that I think I DO understand - even if most of it is still theoretical for me.


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