Tomer’s Trails: The Right Climbing Partners

COLORADO - The right climbing partner can make or break a climb.

What characteristics should you look for?  Mountaineer Alan Arnette has 20 years of high altitude climbing experience all over the world and says there are three bulletpoints to focus on:

  • "What I look at in a climbing partner are 2-3 things.  The first is communication.  Are you able to communicate with your partner?  Are you clear, concise, honest, and are you willing to tell your partner that you're not feeling up to it that day and you need to turn around and get back?"
  • "The 2nd is risk tolerance and your attitude towards safety.  If you're partner is risk averse and you want to go for it all the time then that's a mismatch."
  • "And, I think the 3rd thing is a sense of humor."

Your climbing partners are your life-lines.  Arnette also says, "I'm a big believer in diversity in climbing, and going with 2-3 people as your partner is often better than just two people because if there's a problem you have more people but also you have more diversity of opinion and experience."

Don't be afraid to turn around on a climb if there's a mismatch.  Arnette says, "I've been on climbs where i met a partner in the parking lot and we were mismatched, made it half way up the mountain and we made that collective decision to turn around."

Arnette operates a consulting service called Summit Coach.  For more advice on climbing in Colorado or anywhere in the world please visit his website.