What exactly is a climbing partner?
Is it just someone you can trust to belay you? Is it someone you can rely on to give you chalk? Or is it the person with the in-jokes, that matches your stoke, that’ll sit for hours with you and talk plans and rubber and grades like there’s nothing they’d like to do more in the world?
Last year I took my first climbing trip with Matt.
It was to a competition. We hadn’t spent much time together previously. The car drive was a little awkward, we didn’t really know what to talk about.
We spent 5 hours hammering route after route, and when we were done I could barely move my fingers. He out-climbed me then, and he still does now, but the one thing that stuck with me from that day was the hype.
We were both so hyped.
The next trip we took was to a local crag, bouldering of course. It was a sunny day, one of the hottest of the summer. The smell in the car on the way back must have been horrendous.
Again, I was out-climbed. Again, we went to McDonalds after to replenish vital vitamins we’d sweated out during the day long session. We spent hours afterwards planning future trips, and that was were the belaytionship started – dirty, disgusting and full of fast food.
Our summer was almost instantly planned out – weekly competition rounds and Wednesday nights at the local wall. It’s a summer I miss when the winter hits and we both have much less time to worship the controversial sport of pebble wrestling.
We trekked our way to the Wainstones, to Skugdale, to anywhere we could find nice looking rock. The rubber on the soles of my shoes started peeling away with wear.
It was hard work, it was ridiculously fun. It was sunburn and sweat and adventure.
And, naturally, it was a lot of falling off.
The thing about a climbing partner, more so than within other sports, is the trust you instill in each other. There are few other past-times in which you truly put your life into another persons hands. Finding somebody you can unequivocally turn to, and rely on, is a magic moment in any persons journey through this awesome community.
We are a society filled with vagabonds and misfits, a quirky personality is a must-have before you get on the wall: but when the hype is high, and the passion right, these are friendships that we can categorically say will last lifetimes.
I learned an awful lot from last year, and I continue to learn from Matt every time we climb together.
I like to think I push him too, but the friendship we formed and the level of stoke we share is second to none. Nobody else will let me hang off stupid things by my feet, nobody else would encourage his strange tradition of a celebratory dab. We are stupid together, we look out for each other, through one another we have have learned the true meaning of a climbing partner.
A climbing partner is someone that’ll keep dragging you on when you’re not feeling productive, that’ll love your new shoes almost as much as you do. It’s a person that continues to remind you why the climbing community is so great, and why you never want to leave.