Finding partners and learning to lead


Original Post
Cody Nichols · · Chaumont, New York · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 20

SO I've top-roped a couple times and do some rather impromptu indoor climbing at a local bike shop that just happens to have a climbing wall. Granted, its a cool locals only kind of place, but the routes probably haven't been changed in years and I'm not really learning how to climb and read rock. I want to get on the sharp end, place gear, you know just get out and climb. Unfortunately, partners are far and few between where I live and I don't have proper instruction. I plan to hire a guide when I'm ready to learn to lead, but that'll be a one time thing and I still won't have a consistent partner. I've thought about taking some friends top-roping just to see if they'll get into the sport and then at least I would have someone to climb with. But I'm still not learning from someone more experienced... and it'd take some time for them to get up to my level. I'm already out of college and feel like most more experienced climbers don't want to take people who don't climb on their level out for a "learning" day. I guess what I'm getting at is two things: 1. I'm confident in building anchors for top-rope and rappelling, I "practice" and have read the basic how to climb books, the falcon guides on anchors, etc. I have the knowledge that's for sure. Should I just go out and set it up with friends and climb? 2. How do I get someone more experienced to teach me to lead? 

John Lombardi · · Cheyenne, WY · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 163

I know exactly what gym you climb at from your profile picture. Last time I checked SUOC (Syracuse University Outing Club) has people with experience with trad climbing and they have done classes for anchors in the past. I don't recall if you need to be a university student or not. In addition, there are a ton of people I know in Syracuse who climb trad, are experienced, and willing to take people out. Do you not live in the city? I know Cortland or Cornell, I forget which, just got a new gym also. I know by April you can get out consistently in some of the southern ADK if it's a light winter.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Partners can be hard, it shouldn't be that way, but it is.

Did you post in the forum for your area?

Put a note up where you climb?

Consider starting a climbing meetup?

Consider teaching your mom/dad/sister/anyone who loves you dearly, to belay?

Sift through the partner finder by zip, and just cold call someone?

If the routes haven't been changed for ever, ask if you can set some new ones. Look for moves you'd like to learn in books, like drop knees, Gaston's, using an undercling, and set yourself some practice. No, it isn't the same as outside, but a drop knee, for example, does transfer from one to the other.

Best of luck! OLH

DaveBaker · · Durham, NC · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 8
Old lady H wrote:Consider starting a climbing meetup?
Please don't start a climbing meetup if by your own words, you don't even consider yourself to be a climber.
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
DaveBaker wrote: Please don't start a climbing meetup if by your own words, you don't even consider yourself to be a climber.
He can say that up front. Maybe flush out locals who do have experience.

And he should think of himself as a climber, crux one! A total beginner, sure, but willing to learn, or even try, is the first jump your brain has to make. You are, or you aren't. Most of us fell into one or the other almost immediately. Then, the grand pursuit!

Best, H.
John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 888
Old lady H wrote: He can say that up front. Maybe flush out locals who do have experience. And he should think of himself as a climber, crux one! A total beginner, sure, but willing to learn, or even try, is the first jump your brain has to make. You are, or you aren't. Most of us fell into one or the other almost immediately. Then, the grand pursuit! Best, H.
That's right!^^^^^
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Sorry, Dave. I should have stated the meetup bit better.

If the OP can round up the start of a local "climbing club", by hook or by crook, then, based on experience they could proceed.

If he even gets 2-3 other beginners with enough interest to share that guide, then they are off and running, with people who are on the same page for safety.

Best, H.

John, I take it you're one of the hopeless ones?

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 888
Old lady H wrote: John, I take it you're one of the hopeless ones?
Something like that. It gets in the blood. Cody, when I started bitd there weren't many people to climb with. I did exactly what you discussed in the OP. I took friends, if they got into it I "made" a new partner. Sounds like some good folks in your area to get on with. JB
Tyler Kempney · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 90

Hey Cody, welcome!

I am from Carthage, NY and currently living in Boulder, CO. So unfortunately, I am not much of a partner but I am from the area so I can give you some pointers.

1.) Eagle Falls is located near Lowville-Stillwater area and that may be your best bet for a local crag. Also, check out Moss Island in Little Falls.

2.) I've never climbed at the Ledge, but worked at The Edge Halfmoon near Albany, and I highly recommend going there. Great atmosphere, great gym, great setting. Its a great place to start building climbing partners even though its about 4.5 hours from Watertown. (The Ledge should work in the same way). You could even check out the Red Barn at RIT just to change scenery.

3.) Personally, if I were you, I'd start my climbing career by bouldering. You have access to the Ledge as a closer gym to build strength. But then you can go to Nine Corners Lake, Saranac Lake, Indian Lake, or Moss Island and boulder to build climbing strength and technique until you find a reliable sport/trad partner.

4.) There are local military guys that climb from Ft Drum, you may be able to get into contact with them somehow. I had a pretty reliable partner from the Army and I met him on Mountain Project.

I hope this helps!

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 888
Cody Nichols wrote: Idk, I just want to climb.
You're a climber.....;)
Kevin MP · · Redmond, OR · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 178

Born and raised in Watertown myself, I feel lucky to have stumbled upon climbing and stayed with it.

Lots of good advice here already. Great idea to hire a guide for a day! Keep looking for people and learning on your own. Finding an active/smart friend to take out is a good idea too, just be conservative with route choice/decision making and be honest about your abilities. Get a small rack (plenty of slings) and the Adirondack Rock guidebook. Climb everything from 5.0 to 5.5, start with single pitch and move to longer routes like the stuff on Chapel Pond Slab. Look for opportunities to put topropes on harder pitches! The adventurous nature of climbing in the 'dacks will give you a great foundation for traditional climbing in other areas.

Long term you may want to think about relocating; there can't be many things better for your climbing than living under an hour from a good crag and around other people that are psyched. Or get into ice climbing (there's climbable ice much closer than climbable rock to where you live!). Or develop a lifestyle that allows you to make many trips throughout the year. Or build the ultimate home wall in a barn, invite friends over to help/climb and create your own "scene".

Good luck!

normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 50
Cody Nichols wrote:I'm already out of college and feel like most good climbers are already a total badass by that age
Not sure why that matters. So you did not have climbing parents who started taking you out at age 3 and you will not be doing 5.15 by age 15. Do you not just enjoy climbing for its own sake or do you need to compare favorably to others? I am 53 and started two years ago. I am probably having as much fun as anyone else here.

The subject of partner finding as a beginner is near and dear to me since I've worked pretty hard to figure this out. What I learned is
1. Climbing appeals to a small fraction of people so looking for partners among general public (i.e. friends, relatives, and other associates) mostly does not pay off. My low point was propositioning my dentist although recently I found a partner in the hospital recovery room when out of surgery for climbing injury. Luckily, the recovery room nurse was undeterred by my injury.
2. If you are a good belayer, experienced climbers will partner with you.
3. I found most of my partners either on MP, climbing gym, or climbing clinic. I started going to climbing gym alone to boulder or get belayed by a staff member when available before I met partners there.
4. I took TR and then leading clinics from an outfitter. I did some reading and practiced clipping and cleaning on the ground. My first real sport lead was with outdoors on a 5.2 with a new partner from MP doing 5.11/5.11

Hope this helps. Good luck!
Nolan Huther · · Clarkson University · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 567

I started climbing at Moss Island. Nice little crag, very nice community. There's a Facebook group, Little Falls Climbers, maybe you can find some people there that are local. Its also great for practicing setting topropes. There's also plenty of places to practice placing gear from the ground. Though short, there are a few climbs that take gear pretty well, and you can practice mockleading and leading - Jeff Loves Eileen is a good climb on its own, and I can think of about half a dozen pretty good leads that I enjoyed. There's a good deal of bouldering at Moss Island too, you'll have no problem finding good problems to work on. There's more than in the online guidebook... If you want more variety to lead, I'd recommend going to the Dacks, where there is a good concentration of early leads in the greater Keene area, as well as the Gunks, which have many excellent early/easy leads within a few moments walk from each other. Of course you'll need a partner.

As for finding partners, hang around at climbing gyms and talk to people, use Mountain Project, and you might also have luck with the Adirondack / Little Falls climbing Facebook group as well.

Kris Fiore · · Burlington, Vermont · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 1,393

Hey Cody,

So if you're from Watertown and do end up needing a guide this summer let me know. I am the Director of a summer camp nearby and I climb at Eagle Falls on the regular. I am also an AMGA SPI so with that and a comprehensive knowledge of Eagle Falls I feel like I could give you a good few days out if you wanted. Almost everything there can be toproped and there is excellent trad/mixed trad and bolted stuff as well as a few straight sport routes.

Anyway, let me know when things get closer.

-Kris

Tyler Kempney · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 90

Cody,

Reach out to Kris. He's the man.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

And, if you are intimidated by the prospect of those college badasses at the advanced age of HOLY CRAP! You're 22!

Own it, kid. Moves do not a badass make. YOU ARE a climber!

Advice above to my 57 year old self, from...one of the super kind college kids, when I was brand new.

60 now, still hanging in, still lots of great people out there to climb with.

Like....You.

Best, OLH

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438
Cody Nichols wrote:As for the out of college bit, you're totally right normajean, I shouldn't focus on that, just have fun instead. Although,the feeling of climbing something hard and/or high is super thrilling to me and gets me so stoked to climb I'll just focus on getting people out with me and trying to have a positive day and the skill improvement should come with it.
It sounds like you're on the right track, just be careful to not get caught in the "hard grades" trap. You can learn a lot more while climbing a bit below your limit, not to mention have more fun.

As for the age part, I didn't start climbing until I was 33. Sure I wish I had started sooner (when I could recover faster). You're still very well off starting now, your capacity to recover is great in your early to mid 20s still.
David Fogel · · Lake Forest, CA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 515

Adirondacks! Be ambitious and find a climber who knows some parts of that area and go get lost in that wild country. As mentioned, there is a partner search as well as partner wanted post on MP. Post yourself and respond to others posts. It'll work out man. Have you checked out Payne Lake? There is a 5.6 Trad and some harder routes and perhaps undiscovered routes. Its close to Chaumont. Watch out for the loose areas, kayak approach is fastest...sounds like a fun little day trip.

PS- Listen to Old Lady H. She's awesome.

BTW you're not that stuck. These folks are stuck. So keep your chin up!

fugginStugg

Nolan Huther · · Clarkson University · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 567
Ranivorous Troglodyte wrote:Have you checked out Payne Lake?
FWIW, I know someone who went there and reported sharp, exploding choss. YMMV
Seth Jones · · New Lenox, IL · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5
Ranivorous Troglodyte wrote: BTW you're not that stuck. These folks are stuck. So keep your chin up!
I literally just laughed out loud in my office thinking about that dude shitting himself while the guy below was trying to help him get unstuck.
David Fogel · · Lake Forest, CA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 515

Cool! Payne sounds like a pretty place, undocumented climbs (keep em that way) totally cool. I say buddy up with that local bolter you spoke to. Local beta only bro haha. Sounds like you could start up a climbing group of sorts (meetup/MP/school/etc) and ya bouldering is a good way to get to know others. Keep up the stoke man, post more if things come along in the future, it would be nice to hear about it.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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