We were 80 meters off the ground on a multipitch climb and could hear them, knowing all too well what was coming our way. A full blown domestic was under way as a climbing couple was abseiling down the same climb we were going up.
As they reach our anchor and ready the rope to go down the next pitch, they paused their argument and put on smiles while we all discussed what a beautiful day it was. Not awkward at all. As they both leave we could hear them start up again at the anchor 30 meters below us.
Friction within climbing couples can be pretty common. It’s already something we have to work with with our regular climbing partners sometimes. Oftentimes, emotions come to the forefront when things get stressful on the wall.
But it doesn’t always need to come to that! Being a good climbing couple takes work and commitment, just like your regular relationship outside of climbing.
So, are you ready to be an awesome climbing couple? Read on!
TIPS ON BEING A GOOD CLIMBING COUPLE!
The is the most important aspect of not only romantic climbing couples, but all climbing partners in general. Communication is the key in having enjoyable days and working through issues and stress. This means talking with your partner about your worries and fears and both of you working on solutions. It means taking the time to make sure you are ‘all good’ with each other before tying in.
Always sort out your problems from home BEFORE you get to the climbing wall!
When you are literally holding another person's life in your hands, I would say it's pretty important to make sure there's no issues lingering in the others mind. Talk. it. out.
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The reason climbers around the world connect so well with each other is the level of trust we impart to one another. Belaying is a big responsibility, and the trust that goes with it should be respected. Just like every other climbing partner, your romantic climbing partner needs your undivided attention while belaying. No texting and belaying. No distracted chats with the people on the ground while you leave out enough rope slack for a bungy jump. Your partner is relying on you, so be there for them.
Know Your Dynamics
Every climbing couple has a unique dynamic to their relationship. And the longer you are together, the more (hopefully) you will know about each others personalities to know what gets them excited or equally, gets them scared or stressed. Climbing really magnifies these dynamics and you quickly see how you operate as a couple under stress. Its OK to have rocky starts. Just focus on making progress and figuring it all out, together.
So if you know how to motivate your partner then help them out when they need it. If you know how to calm them down, help them out with that too. It’s important to remember it’s their way of doing things, not yours. Yelling “just make the goddam move” is not encouraging. We all think differently, so by asking our partners what they would like, or not like us to do, its making it easy for everyone involved.
Being patient is a skill. It is something you will gain as you work on it. Be patient as your partner works those moves on the climb. Be patient when they are getting stressed on their first multipitch. It makes a world of difference when your exercise patience. This also means having consideration that if one of you is less experienced, you take the effort to show them how to do things instead of berating them when they do it wrong. There are no bad students, just bad teachers.
We all have strengths and weaknesses so we need to be mindful of our partners abilities and mental limits. Climbing can be scary sometimes, so when your partner says they hate overhanging roofs, don’t drag them time and again onto big overhanging roofs! The same goes for other things. When your climbing partner is tired and wants to come down, let them down. Sure, a little encouragement is fine, and we can all use practice on an overhanging roof or get pushed a little, but when they say they are done, you need to respect that. At the end of the day, no means no!
Have Different Partners
Counter intuitive to some people, spending some time apart is healthy and good for a relationship. In climbing couples, this can be important as you both may be at different levels in your ability or skill. Spend time with one another on things you can both do, but then also have your own climbing friends to work on your own abilities. Not doing this can make it frustrating for one, or both of you. And besides, climbing with new people with varying skills teaches you a lot you wouldn't otherwise learn.
Keep it Fun!
Nothing makes you a better climbing couple than keeping things fun. Share stories of the less serious aspects of your relationship when driving to the crag with your friends. Be the couple that's psyched for climbing. Seek the fun together and everyone will love having you around!
Got your own experiences or tips to share? Comment below!