Whether you are new to an area or you are new to climbing and looking to get more into the sport, you will need one key item: a climbing partner. But, finding a quality climbing partner can seem daunting, especially if you aren’t a natural extrovert.
There are a few different ways to find climbing partners, including by meeting people at your local climbing gym and using social media or climbing apps to meet other climbers in your area.
In this article, we’ll cover the etiquette for recruiting new climbing partners, where you can find good candidates, how to be a good climbing partner yourself, and some red flags to look for when choosing climbing buddies.
Head To The Climbing Gym
One of the easiest ways to meet other climbers in your area is to head to a local climbing gym – you at least know that everyone there is into climbing! Some gyms have special sessions or events for climbers looking to meet partners, or they have tags that you can affix to your harness while you climb on the auto belay, so other solo climbers can easily identify you and you can team up.
It can also be easier to start a conversation and make friends in the bouldering area of a gym, since people will often be hanging out on the mat in between attempts. In the sport climbing area, most people are either actively climbing or they are focused on belaying their partner, so it’s not the most ideal place to socialize.
Use Social Media
Social media is also a great way of finding climbing partners, and you don’t even have to strike up a conversation on the mat – which can be anxiety-inducing for some. Mountain Project has a dedicated partner finder forum and Meetup.com is popular with climbers in some areas. Additionally, there are tons of Facebook groups designed for this express purpose, with regional or local groups, groups specifically for women and other climbing community subsections, groups that are specific to types of climbing (slab, trad, sport, bouldering, beginner routes, etc.)
So, check out the groups in your area and either make a post that you are looking for a partner or comment on other peoples’ posts to get connected.
Have a Positive Attitude and Contribute What You Can
Even if you are a new climber and you are looking for a partner as well as a mentor or teacher, you can still contribute to the partnership in other ways. For example, you can volunteer to drive out to the crag or contribute gas money, bring snacks and beer, bring your climbing gear, and so forth. And, of course, having a good attitude and generally being fun to be around will serve you well.
Pay It Forward To New Climbers
Especially if you do benefit from a skilled climber in your area taking you out to show you the ropes (literally), be sure to eventually pay it forward by taking new climbers or those who are new to the area out yourself. Of course, only do so once you feel that you can safely instruct them in techniques if necessary and if you feel confident in their ability to belay you. Or, invite them out as part of a group for a lower pressure setting. Remember how good it felt to be included and have someone take time out of their schedule to climb with you and teach you, and pay that forward!
Keep an Eye Out For Climbing Partner Red Flags
Most members of the climbing community are great people, but there are a few red flags to look out for when selecting a climbing partner or when considering whether you should go climbing with someone that you don’t know. For example, if the person doesn’t take safety seriously, that’s a big no-no. Everyone has different comfort levels with risk and different safety expectations, so look for someone who has a similar outlook to yours so that you both feel safe and comfortable while climbing.
Big egos are another thing to look out for and avoid. If someone won’t admit that they are wrong or realistically assess their skills, that can lead to dangerous situations. Self-confidence is one thing, but a healthy dose of humility is a key thing for a good climber to possess.
Finally, watch out for climbers who don’t communicate well. Climbing requires effective and clear communication on the wall, and plenty of communication to plan an outing as well. You don’t want to drive all the way out to a crag only to find that neither of you brought a rope!
Frequently Asked Question
Can you rock climb without a partner?
You can boulder or free solo outside without a partner, although these activities can be quite dangerous. You can also boulder in a gym on your own, and you can use autobelays to top rope in a gym without a partner.
However, for most indoor sport climbing as well as outdoor sport and trad climbing, you absolutely need a partner. And, it’s a good idea to have a partner or a group to spot you and help carry in crash pads for outdoor bouldering.
How do I find people to climb outside with?
Make friends at your local climbing gym or hop on social media. Dedicated climbers will almost always be looking to get outside and will probably welcome your offer of partnership – especially if you sweeten the deal with gear, gas money, beer, etc.!