Climbing is at times a very personal experience. There is a head game to work on and specific goals to achieve. Plenty of times up on a route I have been aware only of myself. I know, though, that is only achievable because I have full faith in my climbing partners. Expanding your crew of climbing partners is always nice and opens up options for getting on different climbs; it is nice to acknowledge what an important impact your partner has on your relationship with this sport.
One of the most important factors for wanting to continue climbing with someone is when they know what the right kind of support looks like. There are times when I’m not thrilled about the spot where I’ve put myself and don’t want to move, much less take risks with a big fall looming. When my partner knows what I’m capable of and isn’t fighting with the same headspace as me, they can remind me that I just need to stick a move or two and will be out of the situation. These reminders are huge for me while I’m trying to push my grade. This can even happen off the wall. It can be easy for me to think something is out of my grade and steer clear, only to have partners remind me that it isn’t and giving it a go is a good idea. On the opposite side of this, it sometimes means I’m met with a ‘job well done’ after being lowered from the middle of a route when something really just shut me down. Having a partner who knows the best ways to support you on any given climb is worth its weight in gold.
It is often as simple as a nod of confidence before setting up a climb that solidifies that I’m with someone who has my complete trust. For me, there can be very little talk once my partner and I are watching each other, checking each other’s set up as we go, etc. This in no way means that a simple nod can replace safety checks. Even if the exchange is silent, I don’t ever want to climb with someone who is comfortable with not addressing good knots and belay set ups.
Before we even get to knowing that we communicate at the rock effectively and don’t mess around with safety, I like to know if my partner is reliable. Showing up for plans and doing what you say you will makes me think that they will do the same if the going gets tough out on the wall.
One of the best things about having a great partner is them knowing what sort of rock you will thrive on. Having a partner excitedly come up to me saying they know I’ll love a route is an amazing feeling, because they’ve seen my style and I trust their excitement. Being able to pick out lines that will keep each other enthusiastic is such a spectacular addition to any climbing duo. The psych will be high and you will both be able to stay at the top of your game. Not to mention, you’re going to end up with a really, really great friend.