36 Questions to Ask Your Climbing Partner
The “36 Questions That Lead to Love” list went viral a few years ago. In recent years it’s fallen off, but it is still an interesting guiding light for couples that want to reignite their love and passion for each other.
In climbing, your belaytionship is a lot like a romantic relationship. It’s a relationship that requires constant communication, mutual support and mutual interest, compatible skill levels, and commitment. It’s basically dating. You’re dating your climbing partner. Process that however you need to.
This list of 36 questions is inspired by that list. It should help you better understand each other as climbers, and help you create harmony in your belaytionship. Please use wisely and enjoy.
The list is broken down into three sections.
Each section goes through important questions so you can better understand your potential climbing partners’ needs. Oftentimes you will find some of your partner’s needs that are incompatible with your own, that’s ok! That means the list is working, and you can spend time and effort looking for a different climbing partner, or working on compromises
At the end of this list you should be able to clearly see how you and this person can work well together, or find the places where you need to find someone else to achieve your individual goals.
Before you start diving into “the meaning of climbing” and “why are we all even here anyway?” you want to make sure your basic needs align. If your goal is to lead trad, you don’t want to start climbing with someone who just wants to boulder!
- What is your favorite style of climbing? (ex: Trad, Sport, Bouldering, Ice, Top Rope, etc)
- What days/times can you go climbing?
- Do you have any climbing certifications that I should know about? (SPI, AMGA)
- What commands do you use for multi-pitch climbing?
- What commands do you use for single pitch climbing?
- How old is your climbing gear?
- Does your climbing gear need to be replaced or repaired?
- What climbing gear do we have between the two of us?
- If we go climbing together outside, whose car is more practical? Should we trade off using our vehicles?
- Do you have a National or State Parks pass?
- Do you have any pets that you’ll want to bring to the crag with you? Kids?
- Where is your favorite place in the whole world to climb? Why?
- Where is your least favorite place in the whole world to climb? Why?
Having a climbing partner that is around your same skill level is really helpful, although not necessary. Identifying strengths, weaknesses, and physical limitations will help you and your partner figure out where each of you can improve.
- What is a short term goal in climbing for you?
- What is a long term goal in climbing for you?
- Are you interested in training on our off days?
- Are you working with any injuries right now?
- Do you have any past injuries I should know about?
- How much do you weigh? (for safe catches)
- What is your ape index?
(Your ape index is the length of your arms, tip to tip, in relation to your height. If your arms are longer than you are tall, then you have a positive ape index)
- Do you do any other sports in the off season?
- What is your greatest strength in climbing?
- What is your greatest weakness in climbing?
The mental and emotional side of climbing is where we begin to go deep. Finding out your true motivations for climbing is important to finding harmony in your climbing relationship.
- When did you start climbing? Why?
- How do you like to be belayed?
- How do you like to be encouraged while trying hard?
- What about climbing gets you the most excited?
- What about climbing makes you the most uncomfortable?
- What are you trying to get out of climbing?
- What is the most important thing you’re looking for in a climbing partner?
- Are you a person who doesn’t mind their belayer saying “Are you sure?” when the leader says “Take?”
- How can I make you feel most supported when we climb together?
- When was the last time you took a practice fall?
- Would you like to do practice falls with me?
- Who are some of your climbing idols? Why?
- What is the biggest barrier for you in climbing?
In the end, what’s important is that you have decent communication with your climbing partner. This person will hold your life in their hands, literally. And vice versa. Make sure when climbing with someone, that you are genuinely excited for them, and that they are genuinely excited for you. If you aren’t stoked, or when you finish climbing with them you feel uncomfortable or bad about yourself, then it is time to find a new climbing partner.
Best of luck to you all!
Cover Photo credit: John Wester
About the Gear Tester
Kaya Lindsay is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker with a passion for rock climbing and the outdoors.
In 2016 she converted a Sprinter Van into a tiny home and has been traveling around the US & Canada to pursue her passion for rock climbing. Since hitting the road she has begun a career in filmmaking and is currently working on her One Chick Travels series, highlighting solo female travelers who live and work to pursue an adventurous lifestyle. Her films have been highlighted by major brands such as Backcountry and Outside TV. To fulfill her passion for writing, she chronicles her many adventures in her blog. Professionally, she writes for the adventure sports company Outdoor Prolink and The Climbing Zine. Kaya hopes to spend many more years in her tiny home on wheels, Lyra, and is currently living in Moab Utah.