No matter what style of outdoor adventures you prefer, rock climbing seems to fit right in. You can do it virtually anywhere there are rock formations, you can start with a minimal amount of affordable gear, and it gives you a full-body workout that’s challenging yet fun. Check, check, and check.
Rock climbing is also inherently dangerous, however. Even when you’re climbing indoors, there’s the ever-present possibility of a misstep, slipping or falling, and rocks (or even other people) falling and hitting you.
To be clear, this isn’t meant to scare anyone out of rock climbing. On the contrary, it’s intended to encourage you to try it, but safely — ideally, by finding a climbing partner.
Do You Need a Rock Climbing Partner?
This question isn’t quite as straightforward as it seems.
Do you need a rock climbing partner?
Well, technically no — but it’s highly recommended from both safety and fun aspects. Aside from physically having someone with you in case of an emergency (there’s a reason for the saying, “safety in numbers”), having a climbing partner is huge in terms of moral support.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hike and climb the infamous Half Dome Cables Route in Yosemite National Park with a group of friends. I said multiple times throughout the day that if I’d been alone, I would have given up and turned back. And I meant it! Having adventure partners there with me made me more accountable and helped push me through the most challenging moments.
Plus, from a more selfish standpoint, finding a climbing partner means having someone to take pictures of you for a change. There are only so many selfies you can take!
How to Find a Climbing Partner
If you’re anything like me, deciding to find a climbing partner isn’t the hard part — it’s actually finding one. Here are a few strategies that worked for me.
Social media has become one of my favorite ways to find a climbing partner. Facebook has a number of groups that center around climbing, including location-specific, niche (think climbers under age 25 or single parent climbers), and training groups. For example, there’s the massive Climber’s Crag group for general tips and fellowship and, in my area, Phoenix Climbing Scene, with over 2,000 members.
Instagram is another wonderful tool in helping to find a climbing partner. Follow climbing-related hashtags and accounts, such as #rockclimbinglife, @rockclimbing_addicts, and @rockclimbingvideos to connect with like-minded climbers.
If you’re interested in connecting strictly with local climbers, it’s hard to do much better than your local rock climbing gym. Not only can you connect with someone in your area who shares your interest in climbing, but it’s also a great way to find a climbing partner with a bit more experience than you. This also works in reverse, and maybe you’ll end up connecting with a newbie you can help “learn the ropes” — pun very much intended!
Don’t dismiss climbing gyms when you’re away from home, either. Even if you’re just passing through somewhere for a short stay, many gyms offer day or weekly passes. Make a new friend and get a great workout, it’s a win-win!
Join a Climbing Group
A lot of social media groups have real-life climbing clubs, where people meet up offline at the nearest crag. Along the same lines, climbing gyms often organize group outings to local climbing destinations.
One of my personal favorite aspects of these clubs is that they tend to be all-inclusive; they’re generally geared toward all climbers, regardless of age, skill level, or experience. This provides an awesome opportunity to connect with all sorts of rock climbers and, yes, potentially also find a climbing partner.
Bonus: you get to be outside, getting fresh air and checking out new scenery!
There’s one final tool in your arsenal for how to find a climbing partner: online “finder” websites. Mountain Project’s Partner Finder is a great example, but a quick Google search shows it’s just one of many.
My Partner in Climb
So, have I convinced you to find a climbing partner? Awesome! I honestly can’t imagine adventuring without mine. We frequently go out on weekend mornings or after work during the week to find new crags, and she’s always my first call when I feel that distinct sense of wanderlust creeping in. Usually, before I’ve even finished explaining what I have in mind, she cuts in with, “Where should I meet you and who’s bringing the snacks?”
That reminds me of one final thing: don’t get so caught up in how to find a climbing partner that you forget to be a good one yourself! Keep in mind, all the qualities you’re looking for in a partner — reliability, experienced with their preferred belaying method, good communication skills, fun to be around — are likely things they’re also looking for.
Stay safe out there and good luck finding a rad climbing partner!