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Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

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Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby climbxclimb » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:43 pm

I am writing this after giving a lots of thoughts to the way we get in contact with potential partners and the level of expertise we comunicate to them in order to climb with them. I felt that I wanted to write this also after an exchange of e-mail I had with a guy I met a couple of years ago and with whom I went ice climbing one time in Catskill and a few times in the gym.

When we first met he made a lot of noise about big expeditions in remote areas and alpine climbing, therefore I understood that he had enough climbing experience not only to climb outside but also to lead some stuff.
We started the day with a solid WI4 and after leading it I asked him to follow me instead of top roping because I wanted to show him the top of the other climbs around and the descent route.
To my surprise he had a lot trouble following, leaving even a screw behind and when he got to the belay he had a hard time anchoring himslef and giving me the gear. The excuse he gave me, was that it was the first time ice climbing in two months and that he had to get re-aquainted with the whole thing....
Later that day I asked him if he wanted to lead something but he refused even in front of a WI2...than he revealed that i had never led something before....
After that day he asked me to go out climbing again several times, but I put it off until another time the next year, this time we where a team of 3 and I felt more confortable having this guy with me (The story though was the same...with him talking the whole day about big expeditions in India and not doing much else...), other than this we only climbed toghether at the gym.
While climbing at the gym I got to know the guy a little better, and I got a good feeling about the person but a terribile feeling about the climber…He went out climbing in famous places several times during the year (Black Canion; Bougaboos; Cody, Wyoming; Boulder, CO) always with guides and always with a superstar guide (Vince Anderson, Steve House, to name some of them…)
I kept asking him if he had starter leading, or if he had a chance to learn gear placements, self rescue, or other necessary trick for climbing during these trips, but he said he just climbed….
Now a more than a year has passed since the last time I saw him, and I got an e-mail from him telling me that he was coming to Geneva for a few days and he wanted to go alpine climbing with me or, he asked, if I was not available if I could suggest somebody to climb with him.
I replied that I was not available that week since I am at the seaside…but I also replied that I could only hook him up with people if he could lead and take care of himself on the mountain because alpine climbing is not like roadside climbing…No response from his side…
Recently I saw the pictures he published on Facebook about the climbs he did with a guide in Chamonix that week he was around Geneva…
All this bring me back to a discussion I had with SP’r WouterB about the possibility of rating partners on Summitpost, in order to have a system the help us taking the right decision about climbing with a new partner…

What do you think?
Last edited by climbxclimb on Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:24 pm

It sounds like you are advocating a rating system for an actual person based on ratings submitted by other climbers. I think this may work if it is done right, but I can already see serious abuse of something like this.

Anytime I climb with a prospective new parnter, I take them up an easy trad route, one that I would be comortable soloing. Simply observing your new partners' habits says a lot. Is (S)he dressed, and packed, and ready to go in a reasonable amont of time. Divide the pitches from the guide book or the ground and stick to it. You will find out right away if your new parnter shirks pitches, can't place/clean gear, is slow, whiney, smelly, etc pretty quickly.
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Re: Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby Dow Williams » Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:11 pm

He basically used you as a free guide. Non an uncommon experience. The fact you continued to go out with him, I assume you must have enjoyed his company. To devise a rating system to warn the rest of us about his abilities? I see his kind coming a mile away. I sure would not need or use it. Seems a bit foolish to me. It would just cause bad feelings, etc.

As far as the other. Veteran SP members add routes to SP that they have been guided up all the time, even such popular routes as the 50 North American classics. Written as though they climbed it in style or led part of the route. Pride, honor, self worth, all mean different things to different folks. That truth is probably best left unexplored on this site.
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Re: Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby brenta » Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:23 am

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Re: Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby climbxclimb » Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:04 pm

borutbk wrote:
knoback wrote: ... If someone can belay safely, why not climb with them? ...

+1
That's also my definition of what a climber is: someone that can belay safely.



Well...I agree with this if you are doing roadside climbs or few pitches in a non remote area...But when somebody asks you to go and do a TD route on a North Face, long 15-20 pitches, traversing a crevased glaciers.....belaying is not enough...
Good and fun reading about EpicMike though....from here...I am sure being with him on the climb was a different thing...

What I was thinking about the rating system could be that each time time you climb with somebody you share the contact info of that person you climbed with, like it would be the reference for a job search, therefore your future partner could shoot him an e-mail to ask about your past performance...There are short falls with this system as well...but not system is perfect...
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Re: Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby phlipdascrip » Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:16 pm

climbxclimb wrote:When we first met he made a lot of noise about big expeditions in remote areas and alpine climbing [...]

Start with a simple principle: stay away from people who babble a lot about themselves (not only in climbing but in all areas of life). people with personality complexes rarely tell the truth about themselves and are never easy to get along with.

climbxclimb wrote:All this bring me back to a discussion I had with SP’r WouterB about the possibility of rating partners on Summitpost [...]

http://hotornot.com/
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Re: Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby Dow Williams » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:21 pm

You folks need to take responsibility for your own decisions. If you climb a "TD route on a North Face, long 15-20 pitches, traversing crevassed glaciers" with someone you met on the internet and had no reference or knowledge about their skill set outside of that source.....you best be capable of guiding the route. Don't blame an inadequate partner for any of your own shortcomings.
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Re: Climber a not a leader...does it work...?

Postby mvs » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:48 pm

This is so entertaining! I can see I've been pretty lucky. Thanks for the hilarious links. Epic Mike...the routefinding skills of "a bowl of lumpy oatmeal" :D :D
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