Dow Williams wrote:Vitaliy M. wrote:Out of all people I have ever met PW had probably the most horror stories I have ever heard
That in and of itself reflects poor judgement and is as big of a red flag to me than any.
Pretty harsh judgement there based on a very general statement. "Horror story" without more details can mean a lot of things to different people. I've been mountaineering for 10 years and lived in several different states (plus in the Bay Area people are constantly coming & going), so I've had plenty of time to climb with a lot of people and have plenty of good experiences, but rack up a good number of horror stories as well.
Probably 90% of my horror stories were people being unreliable and flaking. The climbs never even happened. Sadly that aspect of a person doesn't come through unless you already know them. Also more likely to be repeat offenders if they are safe & qualified enough and I can't find someone more reliable for a weekend since then I just take my chances. Frankly I'd say I'm pretty good at screening & judging abilities but I'm pretty weak on assessing the character & personality side.
Probably half of the remaining 10% were just that they were up to the technical challenge of a route but not the physical challenge - often expected ahead of time, but one can only tell so much. My regular theme that Vitaliy might be considering a horror story is me humping all the group gear to & from a climb and breaking trail to speed things up, and sometimes even then having the partner get tired out. These partners are usually very strong crag trad climbers that are not accustomed to alpine trad. Annoying and frustrating, but not exactly a horror story. And I've only chanced this on climbs were I felt confident that I could lead all pitches, we could retreat, and the objective hazard was very low. I've gotten used to this as the price to pay to get out, with the idea that I am pseudo-guiding, but as long as the partners are safe and enjoyable, that is fine.
The rest? It is still a probability game and since I still end up climbing with lots of new people to keep getting out, there's a good probability that some will not work out. I'd say having a bad run-in 5% of the time is not a bad figure since there can be oversights in questions or blatant misrepresentation. Even then that is one reason that I never jump on a serious climb with a new partner unless they have a long proven track record (e.g. Steph Abegg).
So out of 10 years of climbing with probably 100 different people, I've only come across 2 partners who I'd say were truly dangerously inept/unqualified/misrepresenting and those were big learning experiences.