How To Be The World’s Greatest Climbing Partner

How to be the world's greatest climbing partner? It takes practice. Chicks participants learn how to belay attentively during 2017 Chicks Maple Canyon Clinic, Utah © Louis Arvevalo

How to be the world’s greatest climbing partner? Diane Mielcarz and Olga Lopatina, belaying attentively during the Chicks Maple Canyon Clinic. Maple Canyon, Utah. © Louis Arvevalo

Best climbing partner ever!

I’m often asked, “How can I get outside and climb more?”

Become a climbing asset and you’ll be well on your way to climbing to your heart’s content.

The best climbing partner is competent, psyched, and able to perform a wide range of technical skills.

The best climbing partner can shoulder the responsibility of a day at the crag.

How to be the World’s Greatest Climbing Partner – 5 Tips:

1. Be an Ace Route Caddy

Just like golfers need someone to help them call the shots, your climbing partner needs you to be proactive and useful.

If your partner is going to lead, then get things ready for them to simply shoe up and tie in. Prep the rope by flaking it out and tying a stopper knot in the end. Stick-clip the first bolt. Do a draw count or gear assessment to make sure she has everything she needs. And, once she’s back on the ground, pull the rope so it’s ready for the next person to top rope.

If the route is a top rope, make a plan to set it up from the top.

2. Know How to Clean an Anchor

This will help keep the climbing train rolling and you’ll get more pitches in.

Remember, the leader bears the burden of getting the rope up. This is hard enough. Taking the rope down shouldn’t rest on their shoulders too.

Don’t forget to communicate your plan. How will you clean the anchor and get back down. Will you lower or rappel?

3. Be Positive, Try Hard and Don’t Make Excuses

We all have bad days. Keep your excuses to yourself. No one wants to read that book.

4. Don’t Bail

If you make climbing plans, keep them. Life happens but there’s nothing worse than a climbing partner who bails, especially on short notice. If bailing is unavoidable, notify your partner ASAP and help them find a replacement partner.

5. Be a Good Belayer

Give your climber your undivided attention. Don’t chat up others when belaying. It’s distracting and can compromise safety.

Know how to give a soft catch.

Don’t spray the climber down with beta (unless they ask for it).

Do offer words of encouragement (but not too loudly).

Do remind her to breathe.

Finally, if you’re still not comfortable approaching strangers to make climbing plans, try connecting with partners through the Chicks Alumni Facebook group, “Friends of Chicks Climbing & Skiing.”

It should give you confidence knowing that everyone in the group has received the same high level of instruction and should be on the same page with climbing best practices.

See you at the Crag!

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