Last update: November 2021
So, you’ve recently picked up climbing as a sport. How exciting! You’ve got all your gear, your gym membership and even tried out a new route on a top rope or two. Now it’s time to find good climbing partners.
Connecting with other people that climb is the best way to integrate into the local climbing community, find people to join you on your next rock climbing trip, or have a regular group of new friends to meet up with.
The best partners will be those that are always up for a belay, can give you beta on that boulder problem you can’t quite figure out, or someone to share a beer with and talk about the next route you’ve got your eye on. Above all, it’s imperative to make sure you are working with a climber you can trust.
A Lesson on Finding a Partner in the Climbing Community
I once made the mistake of not choosing a new partner well. I went to the local gym one day and walked up to the first climber I saw. We made quick friends. Before giving myself a chance to ask them questions or learn more about their skill set, we immediately hopped on a route.
Everything went well until I climbed a particularly hard route on an overhang. While reaching for the next hold, my foot slipped, and I knew I was going to fall. There was no sign that I should be worried, but my partner failed to catch me as I fell.
They noticed a twist in their rope and let go to try and adjust it, causing me to fall 10 feet, swing towards the wall, and hit my head. The drop scared both of us, but thankfully there were no serious injuries. After that incident, I decided to be more careful in choosing trustworthy partners.
Why Finding a Good Climbing Partner is Important
Finding a consistent climbing partner is crucial to your safety, personal progress, and overall enjoyment of the sport. It is good to find climbing partners that are knowledgeable and know what they are doing. There’s nothing worse than working hard on a crag and having the wrong person on the other end of the rope. After all, they are holding your life in their hands.
Making friends with similar interests allows you to challenge each other while also having fun. Whether in the bouldering area working on boulder problems or a lead climb outside, a good partner can help push you to reach for that next move or cheer you on as you send a route.
A good belay partner will make or break your climbing experience. It is a bad sign if you feel obligated to hop on a rope with your new friends and are incredibly nervous the entire time. Take the time to feel out climbers in a group setting before committing to an official partner.
Finding someone you trust and also like spending time with can be quite tricky. Anyone can learn to climb, but not everyone will be a good fit for you.
The Best Places to Find Climbing Partners
While looking for potential climbing partners, it’s best to start by identifying your resources. Take some time to check out your local gym and think about who your ideal partner would be. Use these tips, categorized below, to guide you depending on where you intend to climb. Here are the top places to easily find your next climbing partners.
For Weekly Indoor Sessions
- Check out any climbing gyms in your area. If there is more than one, get a day pass at each and spend some time there, observing your surroundings.
- Scout the gym for others climbers that have a similar skill level to you. If you feel socially up to it, introduce yourself and see if they are open to hopping on a belay for top rope or lead climbing.
- Talk to the front desk staff about upcoming classes or groups that meet weekly. The staff are usually very knowledgeable and can be a great help.
- Join an instructed course or group for solo climbers. Introduce yourself to the climbing scene and share that you are interested in finding climbing partners. There will, undoubtedly, be at least one person who would be interested in meeting up with you for a climbing session.
- Participate or spectate at local climbing events. This is a great way to easily connect with others. You may even meet other new rock climbers who are searching for belay partners.
- Spend time in the bouldering area. People often like to sit and watch each other climb. Start up a conversation, ask for help with a specific problem, or give advice on any of the climbs.
For Outdoor Climbing or Bouldering Trips
- Get on social media and interact. Check Facebook Groups or Instagram for local groups or others looking for a partner. Create a post for yourself and list what you are looking for.
- Become an active part of an online local climbing community to learn about current events, good areas for climbing, meetups at the gym, and find the best advice on gear.
- Tag along on a group climbing trip organized by the local gym or a local group. Use this as an opportunity to connect and get a feel for others who may be good new partners to climb with.
Relevant to Country and Location
- If you’re located in the US, check out Mountain Project’s Partner Finder. Through this site you can search for a partner in your area or make a posting about what you’re specifically looking for; a belay partner, other experienced climbers, or a bouldering buddy.
- If you’re located in Australia, check out SportsMatchMaker.com.au. Here you can search by location or sign up to create your own profile and posts. You are also able to send messages to user listings that fit you preferences.
- If you’re located in the UK, check out UK Climbing forums at ukclimbing.com. There is a specific forum to help others find a climbing partner. Create an account to post or reply to a relevant topic. Search for a belay partner, a climbing community, or for new climbers. Ask for advice on a belay technique, lead climbing, or a particularly difficult crag.
Important Things Keep in Mind when Searching for Climbing Partners
- Make sure you are using trustworthy sources and don’t forget to check out reviews if they are available. This will help you maintain safety.
- Go to the climbing gym at peak times for the best chance to meet people. If you don’t like crowds, going during the ‘off-peak’ times will give you a more laid-back environment.
- Meet people in a public place, never in a private area or your place of residence, until you have deemed them trustworthy.
- Join a group at the gym first to become familiar with other climbers and get a grasp on their skills before asking them to climb with you. Familiarize yourself with each individual and get to know their personalities or quirks. Take note of who would work well with your personality and are the kind of climbing partner you’re looking for.
- When searching for potential climbing partners, watch for poor communication. When top-roping or leading, communication is a must to keep both you and your partner safe. Your life is more important than making a friend. Make sure your communication is seamless and you’re able to easily understand each other before committing to any new belay partners.
- Don’t forget to thank your group or new partner for introducing you to a fun crag, helping improve your skills, sharing snacks, or being willing to give you a ride.
- Do your research. Look up more info on a route, scout new areas to climb, or brush up on your knowledge of climbing techniques. Your climbing buddy can be a great resource for you, but make it mutual.
Finding the ideal climbing partner can be difficult at first. With a bit of research and putting yourself out there, you can connect with a great group of people that you trust, get along with, and that can ultimately push you to be a better climber.
Check out our other articles:
- Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide (2021)
- Rock Climbing at Smith Rock: All You Need to Know (2021 Guide)
A native of Indiana, Carolyn has been traveling and climbing around the US since 2012. She has worked at high ropes courses, climbing gyms and spent several seasons in Southeast Alaska working as a Tour Manager for a remote zipline. While traveling, she likes to climb at both indoor gyms and outdoor crags. She now runs her own business, Avanelle Co., and writes about her experiences.