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Trusting new partners?

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Trusting new partners?

Postby Jaskic » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:42 pm

Hi All,

I "met" a climber on another site, and after some back and forth messaging we're discussing meeting up and trying out a local rock formation top rope route. I have little experience on vertical rock (a bit more on the alpine mountaineering side for me), but I really want to learn more and get better on rock. I was totally up front that I am looking for a mentor type climber, that I am not that experienced, etc. He seems more than willing to meet up and such. But I will be trusting him with putting in anchors and cams and such (not even sure the route requires much more than a single anchor at the top), and I don't think I know enough to actually evaluate his construction of said anchors.

How do you folks get a sense of trust, that they know what they're doing and am willing to put your weight on the rope and system they setup?

thanks!
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby Matt Lemke » Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:10 pm

I'd recommend reading up on anchor building for toproping and get an idea on how it's done then have him explain what he will do when he constructs the anchor at the top. If what you read sort of matches what he tells you then you will feel more comfortable. Now there never is a way to inspect anyones' anchor no matter how close you may be to your climbing partner; until of course you have climbed the pitch!
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby jesu, joy of man's desiring » Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:02 am

Jaskic, for a top rope you should always have more than a single anchor on top; this will keep you alive longer!
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby WyomingSummits » Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:14 am

Simple. Make him climb first.....he set the anchor, he's the mentor, he should test it first. I do this on alpine routes where I'm setting suspect rap anchors. Typically, I'm the one leading/guiding so I set the anchor and test it first. It's only fair. :) On toprope, you get lowered after topping out and lowering is about as much loading as a toprope anchor is going to receive. Just make sure the rope isn't rubbing over a rock edge.....in which case he'll weaken the rope for your ascent. ;) That's the thing about leading trad.....some people get away with placing poor gear because they never fall. Then one day they decide to climb near their grade limit.......Anyway, at least on toprope you'll get live testing on his anchor. You could always take pics of his setup and post them on here! ;) Don't let Chief see em.....
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby BigMitch » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:53 am

Take a lot instruction from a good guide so that you will know what to do and how to do it and be able to spot those who don't.
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby Scott » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:58 am

Learn the code phrases.

Phrases like "this looks safe" or "this anchor looks bomber" really mean "you go first". :wink:
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby Vitaliy M. » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:10 am

BigMitch wrote:Take a lot instruction from a good guide so that you will know what to do and how to do it and be able to spot those who don't.


How about try reading a book on anchors or watching some videos on youtube. There is plenty of free material out there to be 100% efficient without paying someone 650$ to show you how to place cams.
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby DudeThatMustHurt » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:05 pm

Scott wrote:Learn the code phrases.

Phrases like "this looks safe" or "this anchor looks bomber" really mean "you go first". :wink:


HEY! Didn't you say that when we did that canyon some years ago? Ha!
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:44 pm

One thing I do with new partners is I run through my anchor setup (belay, toprope, etc) explaining how each piece is placed and equalized. This is not only for my partner's edification, but also to foment discussion on different styles and approaches to building anchors so that as a team we can come to a mutual understanding. Ask your partner to do the same. If he/she is unable to give you logical, reasonable explanations for their processes, they may not have a solid understanding of the physics/theory/art of protection and anchor placement.

Reading up on anchors (John Long has written a good book and Freedom of the Hills is decent) will allow you to be at least conversant and should allow you to spot grievous errors (single piece anchor, single non locking carabiner, rope running over a sharp edge, etc).
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby Clark_Griswold » Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:13 pm

Isn't trust earned, not the other way around? I climbed 1 time with a guy from CO a few years ago in Wyoming. We were going to do a route that required us to get up early around 0200, but the alarm mysteriously malfunctioned and we slept to after sunrise. My guess is that he realized that he had no idea who I was, and no idea of my experience (which was and is limited) and smartly did not want to trust his life to me. We did a much easier route, and I had a great time. I think he enjoyed himself. Unless the other guy is so arrogant and inexperienced, he ought to realize that you need to build trust and he shouldn't get insulted if you don't trust him and don't want to put your life in his. I certainly wasn't insulted about someone not wanting to put their life in my hands.
...
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:05 pm

I think the OP was interested in vetting new partners, not so much how to trust them.
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby Jaskic » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:26 pm

Thanks all- trust is the first step, vetting is second. I'm not quite knowledgeable enough to really vet, but I'm getting there.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I really appreciate it.
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby AndyJB444 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:41 pm

Huh? Shouldn't it be the other way around when climbing... trust through vetting?
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby Jaskic » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:46 pm

Personally, I think you can come to trust someone based on basic interactions with them. For example, I might be able to discern that a new climbing partner is trust worthy based on time spent talking and getting to know each other, and then that trust applies to me trusting that he knows the limits of his ability. But this only goes so far. Vetting relies on me being knowledgeable about the particular subject to actually be able to vet (or judge) his work. That comes with experience.
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Re: Trusting new partners?

Postby jvonrueden » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:47 pm

You can get a general idea of someones attitude, knowledge, decision making, and risk tolerance just by talking to them. Questions you should be asking yourself are
Does he sketch me out?
Has he been here before?
Has he done this before?
Can he explain why he does something a certain way, or is he just parroting?
Do I trust this person's decisions?
Can this person manage the situation/get help if I get injured?

This gives you a sense of what to expect from a particular partner. Talking in person is best. Talking on the phone gives you less information, and talking on the internet gives you even less information.

The above gives you an idea of whether or not to get out with a person. Let's assume your comfortable with this guy, have a little confidence in him and yourself, and have decided to go out on a trip, climb, cragging, what ever it may be.

Now at the climb/crag/route, you continue observing and talking to your new partner. If something doesn't look right, ask. It doesn't matter how long you've been climbing with another person, or how much more experienced he is- speak up. Are you worried about rock fall? AVI conditions? Difficulty of a route? Anything related to safety? Speak up. Talk it over with your partner. If you disagree, explain your reasoning. If you can't agree, the most conservative, risk averse decision should be the default.

If you're in a new area/environment (you said you were new to vertical rock) Then you are leaning on your partners experience and judgement. New to anchors? Read up on them in Freedom of the Hills or watch some instructional videos on youtube. Cam placement? Same. Giving yourself a basic understanding allows you to have discussions with your partner and will better arm you to spot red flags.

When selecting a partner, the three most important things to me are my partners judgement, compatible risk tolerance, and if our combined experience is adequate for the objective.

I've climbed with several strangers in the gym, at the crag, and on big mountains. The process is the same.

With any new partner, I have them demonstrate to me how they belay. It maybe awkward, some might be insulted, but if my life is in their hands, I like to know how they'll use them.
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