On Wednesday morning I packed up my climbing bag and headed off to the gym, not having arranged for a partner, just hoping that I’d have folks to climb with.
This particular Wednesday was a magical day. Not one, but seven folks that I knew showed up. All great climbers, all positive folks, and all people who push me to climb better and harder. Seven fantastic climbing partners. It was a great group.
When I climb with a good group of people, I climb harder. I’d love to say that I’m not affected by those around me, but we’re all connected. It’s just the way it is; we affect one another. And this group of folks consistently have a really positive effect on my climbing.
For example: I’m a pretty solid 5.9 climber, but at one point I found myself on a 5.10c, which I never would have picked out for myself. I grunted through it, but I finished it, and I know that I wouldn’t have even considered climbing it had I not been pushed to. Now I know that I should be choosing tougher routes for myself.
At another point, I was leading a route out of the pit, and when I pulled past a roof, a huge cheer went up below me. I didn’t even realize that I was being watched, but there they were, watching from below, or from up on their own routes, cheering me on through the crux.
These are the kinds of attitudes and support I love when I’m climbing. Positive people, happy to be climbing, happy to be supporting one another. It helps, too, when I climb with folks who are stronger climbers than me. They push me to my limits and I learn a lot.
I find that the people I climb with are just as important as the work I do myself while I’m climbing. Attitude is everything and can be the difference between phoning it in or really climbing hard. It is mostly my responsibility to create that attitude for myself; to push myself harder, work through my fears, and climb hard. But, if I surround myself with the right kinds of people it makes that work a whole lot easier. And I try to be that kind of partner for others as well.
So… choose your partners wisely. Or, be like me and hope the perfect ones just happen to show up. 🙂
Here’s a piece put together for a local tv station of some of these great climbing partners scaling Devil’s Tower. With lots of funny special effects.