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Random Climbing Partner(s) Stories

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...Why are some of you willing to do this? Do you come to regret it at times? Do you keep doing it? Are you happy with the results?

 

I have never had a bum trip due to a random partner. Maybe it's just how I look at things, but if I can get out and away from the wife and kids for a few days, then hey, that's just icing on the cake. The trips I get out for now aren't mondo expeditions or throwing up radical new lines, but they come with an understanding that you are going out to have fun doing something that both of you enjoy, in an area that you both can appreciate, at a time in your lives when this sort of thing is important to you. That's all I need for bestowing the moniker of "A Good Trip" onto an outing.

 

My most recent hook-up with random partners? kurthicks and NYC007 at Lightning Dome last fall. I had a splendid time with these guys, and they put up two brand new lines, one of which I was thrilled to be rope-gunned up. I can only hope that they enjoyed my company as well, which I believe they did. So to answer your questions: No, I don't regret it. Yes, I keep doing it. Yes, I am happy with the results.

 

Oh, and random :pagetop:

 

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Tom, I think just about everybody has experienced the partner who wants to make a bee line home after the climb. All you want is to sit down to a nice dinner and have a couple beers to celebrate a fine day out in the mountains, tell a few stories, and savor the moment. But no, we have to rush home. For me it ruins the whole trip.

 

Yea! Unless one is cragging, bringing a cell phone or having evenign plans puts a damper on the day. It makes you not focus on where you are.

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I have had some less than optimal experiences with online climbing partners but I feel confident enough in my own abilities to identify problems quickly and alleviate or bail.

Denali was one such example. Two online partners. One didn't know how to use the hip belt on his pack. The other one was well read but unable to improvise and had a militaristic approach to being the "leader" of the team. We bailed at 17,000. Yes it was dissappointing but as Sobo said, I was out there. And more importantly, I lived to climb another day.

But beware! There are people posting on this site now who have no qualms about misrepresenting their experience level and taking out a newbie. I will mention no names.

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Tom, I think just about everybody has experienced the partner who wants to make a bee line home after the climb. All you want is to sit down to a nice dinner and have a couple beers to celebrate a fine day out in the mountains, tell a few stories, and savor the moment. But no, we have to rush home. For me it ruins the whole trip.

 

Yea! Unless one is cragging, bringing a cell phone or having evening plans puts a damper on the day. It makes you not focus on where you are.

 

Yeah, well, I've had to hurry home after an outing at times myself. But to wait to you're at the trailhead to announce that you're going to have to turn around in a couple of hours, well, to me that's just hostile. If he'd said something earlier, I could have driven my own car and at least gotten a decent workout.

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Yes. Communication is important. I went into the Enchanments with a guy from Chicago I met on this board. He warned me that he was slow. Good thing. Because if he hadn't I would have had to throttle him and hide the remains. He was NOT slow. He made glaciers seem quick. It took him four hours in Safeway to buy food for the trip just for himself. In the morning we had to drive to Leavenworth from Redmond to get in the lottery. He dragged and didn't eat breakfast, and generally pissed me off. I loaded his gear and asked him if he was coming or not. He got in but accused me of being tense and pushy. We got there 5 minute after they had started the talk before the drawing. Another five minutes and we would have been out. He never acknowledged that. He only point out the times I was pushy and tense trough the whole trip but did not ever acknowledge the times I saved our buts from a much less fun alternative. In camp, I had to get the water boiling and sort the rack and soforth. I felt like a guide with no pay. I finally lost it on him when he started the stove, put some water on and went for a walk. I had just layed down for an evening nap after dinner and climbing the south face of Prussick. I fell asleep and he came back much later and ragged at me for leaving the stove going. I told him I was not his F...ing mother and blah, blah, blah. He went on about how tense I was for being on vacation etc. He just didn't get it.

But, there I was in the Enchanments. We did climb Prussick and the Mole (slowly). I did not have to kill him. Later he posted on this site about how he was going to climb a huge ice face in South America and I warned him not to. He is too slow to be on a huge exposed mountain face in the winter. Stay there long enough and you are just another bolling pin. I was criticized for flaming but I did not ever hear how he did or if he even went. I can only hope that if he died down there, it was of natural causes.

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I have a wife, 2 kids, a house, a dog and a job.

 

You sound tense.

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I have a wife, 2 kids, a house, a dog and a job.

 

You sound tense.

 

 

I've been called a lot of things, but tense isn't one of them. I was trying to show that I have a lot of other commitments and getting out climbing is precious time. :tup:

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I have a wife, 2 kids, a house, a dog and a job.

 

You sound tense.

 

 

I've been called a lot of things, but tense isn't one of them. I was trying to show that I have a lot of other commitments and getting out climbing is precious time. :tup:

 

I'm tense. I have everything that cfire has, except instead of a dog, we have a cat. Unlike a dog, which would sit contentedly at my feet while I kick back in my La-Z-Boy swivel rocker, the cat sits atop the high bookshelf across the room watching me. Watching me... watching... always watching... :crazy:

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This was the most entertaining read (sometimes in a gruesome way!) in years. I guess I've been pretty lucky...but one time, I was a burden on people and it sucked terribly.

 

I just starting hiking, and somehow thought I should be in a "club:" The Mazamas. So I signed up for a Columbia Gorge hike I'd never been on, and joined the "fast" group. I'd learned that was good after a previous slow group trip with lots of stopping and flower-identifying and such. I didn't have a map or know the way, but I was with 6 people anyway, so that didn't matter. I carpooled from Portland with this guy who I really hit it off with. He talked about multi-day hikes and borderline climbing trips. I was psyched! Maybe we'd do something together in the summer!

 

We got to the trailhead and immediately set off with the Fast Group. Right away, I couldn't keep up. My heart was pounding, I was breathing like a locomotive, legs pistoning rapidly and full of lactic acid. Slowly I lost the battle, becoming the guy who appears around the bend just when people are like "wheres the other guy?" Eventually, I would catch up to the others who had clearly been resting for a while. They would see me and stow their Nalgene bottles and take off. I realized I'd never get a rest. Finally, I lost them for good. Then I didn't know where I was. I had to glumly hike down, though I was excited to meet the slow group. They'll take me, I thought. But no, they were already 12 people, a maximum for the Wilderness Area! "You can't join us or trail us, young man," said the wizened leader.

 

I spent humiliating hours at the parking lot, then another one on the drive home. There was no more talk of doing a trip together. I had achieved Pariah status.

 

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I have a wife, 2 kids, a house, a dog and a job.

 

You sound tense.

 

metoo meto I sound tense too.

 

Have all that with 2 two dogs, 2 business's and a cat.

 

Great stories, keep em coming!

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No seriousness was intended. I got your tone and frankly, you did better than I would have.

But then, I have two ex-wives, three kids, and no dog to talk to.

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I can't top cfire's story but I (as many people I suspect) have a similar one. Name changed to protect the guilty.

 

I had met Joe on my very first ever climbing trip to the North Cascades, with Jim's Select guide in my hand, in spring of 1994. I had just climbed the SW Couloir on South Early Winters Spire with my friend Kent after the highway opened, while Joe had climbed the route with his Canadian Navy buddy. I was excited about these newfound North Cascades; I had just moved to Oregon in Fall 1993 and the North Cascades were, well, different than Mt Hood! Joe and I got along very well, he regaled me with tales of his recent trip to the Bugaboos, and we talked about our mutual interest in posting information about climbing in the Northwest on the (very young!) World Wide Web. We got along so well, and seemed to be of similar ambition, that in short order we made some tentative plans to do more climbing. Joe lived in Victoria, so coming over to Anacortes to do some climbing was pretty easy. We climbed Mt Baker together that September, and that was a great trip!

 

The following summer we made plans for a week-long onslaught of all those alpine rock classics in the Stuart range. This was a big deal for me; I was pretty much a bum at the time and taking time off work meant just that much less cash to live off for the winter. But the prospects of climbing Prussik, Dragontail, and Stuart in one trip were just too alluring, so here we were hiking into Colchuck Lake with a week's worth of equipment and food (back before I owned anything that was actually lightweight!) on a very rainy July day. While we didnt get absolutely soaked, all around us the rock was wet. We got to the far end of the lake and found another tent, a fancy-looking Garuda single-wall tent, there and set up camp nearby, hoping for some company.

 

We lounged in camp, wondering where the other party was...the rock was so wet, they couldn't possibly be climbing. I was wearing my new/used Kelty gore-tex pants, hanging out, when out of the fog emerge two climbers, heading back from a long day in the hills.

 

Climber Number One looks at me a little strangely, and with no introduction says, "You are wearing my pants".

 

"Huh?"

 

"You are wearing my pants. You bought them at the Bellingham used gear swap."

 

And so I met Darin Berdinka, and his bud Owen. We told them we weren't sure what we would do if the rock didnt dry out the next day. Darin proposed we go climb the West Ridge of Prussik, as Prussik gets less moisture than even Dragontail and it would likely be dry. Sounded good! So next day Joe and I went and climbed the West Ridge. At the base of the route, I asked if we wanted first lead (a fourth class pitch) "Sure!" Off he lead, but after some time he placed a peice and lowered to the ground. I finished the pitch. He tried to lead the next (fourth class) pitch, but again backed off. I lead that pitch, and every other one. The climb was of course spectacular, but I was a bit bummed because Joe was turning out to not have his head on quite straight.

 

We headed back to camp; Darin and Owen had already departed, but the day was fine, the weather had turned beautiful, and I was excited for our next objective, the Serpentine Arete on Dragontail, which towered above us. Joe brought up how weird he had felt about the climbing that day, apologizing. "It's OK, you'll find your mojo". Joe then sheepishly explained that he actually had come to a decision that he thought alpine climbing just wasn't in the cards for him tomorrow,...errr....

 

Being the good supportive climbing partner that I am I said "Oooookkaaayyyy", and suggested that I guess we could spend the rest of the 5 days doing long trad routes in the Icicle. Joe agreed that was a good plan and was confident that with just a few days of some trad climbing he'd be back in form and we'd go knock off North Ridge of Stuart as a consolation prize. Next day we hiked back down to Mountaineers Creek trailhead, got back to the Icicle, and I decided that doing something basic, like the R&D Route on Icicle Buttress, would get us back to basics.

 

We racked up. I lead the first pitch; I think at the time Cocaine Connection had not been bolted yet (or I just didnt know about it), as I did the trad variation to the left, but either way it was nice and mellow. Up came Joe. Next pitch was his, and he got to the base of the chimney, before placing a piece and lowering back to the belay. He wasn't feeling it. So I lead up. From the next ledge at the top of the chimney, I again offerered him the lead, but he declined and we topped out shortly later, and walked back down to the car. Where we had another conversation.

 

"I was really scared up there", said Joe.

 

"Don't worry man, it will come back for you!", I said.

 

"I think what I need are some bolted climbs. Lets go and climb at Peshastin tomorrow. That will help me come around."

 

At this point I saw the writing on the wall, and I had had enough. "Dude, I can go clip bolts at Peshastin any fucking weekend, any time. I don't want to blow my vacation days clipping bolts at Peshastin." So I drove Joe back to the Tsawassen Ferry that day, and that vacation was over.

 

After a short time, Joe wrote me an email and told me he had gotten out of climbing. I would return to actually climb some of those routes I had hoped to climb that trip, but not with Joe and not for many years. Good climbing partners are hard to find!

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I actually got cfire's story first hand while on the approach to Dragontail at the weekend. Awesome yarn that killed a sizable section of the hike.

 

I wouldn't describe Chris as tense at all. He did a lot better than I would have. If it were my story it would have ended something like... "and that's where I buried the bodies".

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I confess that this is not my story, it is my partner’s. We were climbing partners, but now when I call her my partner I mean she is my life partner. We have one kid together and another on the way, and all the good stuff that goes along with that. But alas, that is another story for the “I just fell in love with my climbing partner” forum.

 

Some of the names have been changed…

 

In the mid 90’s DR was working in a gear shop in Portland and having just broken up with her boyfriend, she was looking for a climbing partner. In walks this guy we shall call the Boy Scout. BS is fresh off of K-2 and has a lengthy climbing resume. Besides he has a renowned reputation as quite an alpine climber, just ask him. They agreed to climb N Ridge on Stuart together.

 

On Friday they bivied at the trailhead in DR’s Subaru and then left real early in the morning, traveling light, planning to carry over and bivy on route. The approach and the first part of the route was a little slower than DR would have expected or liked, but she is a nice supportive person and willing to give the benefit of the doubt to someone she just met, especially a Himalayan hard man.

 

When they reach the Gendarme it is late in the day. The Boy Scout is pretty worked and he declines the lead even though it is his turn. DR figures “fine with me, the first is supposed to be the more straight forward of the two gendarme pitches”. DR leads without her pack, hauls it up and then belays the Boy Scout up. He struggles grunts and takes but manages to get up to the belay. At that point he again refuses to lead the next pitch.

 

DR can’t believe it because she has never really climbed an alpine route with someone who can’t hold up their end of the rope. She was a naive gal and never expected that someone would misrepresent themselves in that sort of situation. She leads the pitch and sets up to haul her pack. The Boy Scout shouts up that he can’t climb with his pack on, so he wants her to haul both packs. She begins to haul and immediately hears the sickening sound of a backpack falling a long ways down. It is her pack that fell of course, but miraculously the Boy Scout’s pack arrives at the belay intact. By that time it is dark and time to bivy. He actually makes a pass at her and so she declines to share his sleeping bag and suffers through the night on the rope with just her wind breaker.

 

The next morning they get up finish the route. DR descends the Cascadian Couloir in her rock shoes. Somewhere on the hike out she politely suggests that the Boy Scout let her wear his larger rock shoes to give her at least some minimal relief. The Boy Scout declines her request saying that he doesn’t want to ruin his rock shoes.

 

When they arrive back at the car, they don’t have the car keys. The Boy Scout volunteers to hot wire her car, which to his credit he does without too much trouble, the rub being that the steering wheel is locked. So he then proceeds to tear apart the steering column of her car.

 

DR never heard from him again. It was hundreds to repair the car, the electrical system never worked right again. We were all at the same party a few years later and he didn’t even acknowledge that he knew her!

 

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Nothing life threatening, just day bumming...

 

Early winter back East, a guy posts on NEice looking for a partner for a day of ice climbing in the Catskills. The season already had a lateish start so I desperately bite. We'll call him Trevor.

 

After a 2hr drive I meet up with Trevor about 30min from the trailhead to Bridal Veil falls and we carpool the rest of the way. On the drive over he talks lots... regales me with tales of climbing 5.12s, putting up new bouldering problems back in the day in CA, getting his knee stuck in some problem and having a hard time coming free, dating some crazy over-dependent bipolar woman from Florida... anyway, from the sound of it all he seemed like he had climbed much rock in the past (he was in his 40s) and just started getting into ice. The fact that he chases unstable women... well, who am I to judge.

 

So after our little chat I sort of assume that I'll probably be doing the leading. Although I had just started leading the previous season I felt pretty confident doing so now and he seemed to be just getting into it. We didn't explicitly discuss, but I guess we should've.

 

After a short 40min walk/bushwack we get to the base of the lower section of the climb and now Trevor is getting very excited - "Wow, that is just beautiful. Gorgeous! I just want to climb it right now"

 

He starts gearing up real fast... too fast and now he's already got his tools out, has his screws racked, is tied in to the sharp end and is rearing to go... Odd, I thought I was leading - well, who am I to argue with this very excited man. Anyway, low commitment, first pitch is short... let's go.

 

Trevor starts bashing up the first 15-20ft shelf. By his technique he's looking like he maybe needed another day of intro to ice. He stops at about 4' from the ground and says he's putting in a screw... fine. I notice that he failed to find some obvious good feet placements to cop out a good rest for placing the screw and then he proceeds to try to place it right above his head - oh man.

 

Trev- "I can't get it to bite!" - yeah, we know

 

me- "Try to place it near your hip, so you can get some leverage into it"

 

Trev - ignores me, proceeds to reach out to the left with arm fully outstretched at head level... tries to put the screw in there.

 

Trev - "I can't get it in. I'm getting pumped, I'm coming down"

 

Good, he was already getting the Elvis legs anyway.

Anyway, he starts his downclimbing sequence, which involved leaving his tools placed high where they were and first moving his feet as far down as he could. Did I mention he was leashless?

 

How one would manage to remove their tools from high up when full stretched on the tips of their frontpoints we'll never know and we didn't find out because at that point his feet skated out and he lost his grip on the tools. He fell maybe 4' onto the sloping base of the climb and slid off to the side, laughing.

For a second I thought he was fine, would get up and I'd lead the rest of the day.

Well, he was laughing... I asked if he was ok (expecting a broken ankle/foot/something), he said he was... until he tried to stand up and couldn't put weight on his right foot - dang.

 

So anyway, his tools were still stuck up on the ice and his consolation was "I can belay you up the first pitch if you want to climb it". Well, that's fine, but the longer and more fun part of the falls was the next pitch.

So I led up, threw his tools down. Rappelled down to him and we called it a day since he obviously had broken something.

 

We hobbled out slowly and he told me more about that girl he somehow was still attached to... mentioned something about wanting to write a story about it.

 

So yeah... 5hrs driving for 20' of ice... kinda still worth it :D

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Here is a trip that happened to me a couple of years ago…

 

I was new to the Washington area, so I decided to use the trusty CC partner link and see whom I could find (I had been pretty lucky in the past meeting competent and friendly rock climbing partners). I met up with a guy that appeared to be a strong ice climber, and was really excited to get out on some routes. So we made plans to head out really early on one Saturday morning in January.

 

I should have known something was strange when he picked me up at about 4 in the morning smoking a cigarette. I figured it wasn’t a big deal, he was likely just getting the first couple puffs in before driving. Of course, I was wrong about this; he proceeded to smoke like a chimney, lighting a new cigarette every 10-15 minutes. Normally this would not be such a big deal in the summer, you can roll down your window and get some fresh air. But the temperature was way too cold to have the window down, making a SUV hotbox. I thought, great now all my nice shell gear can smell like smoke, hooray!

 

The goal of the day was to head up to the Snoqualmie pass area and get on some of the ice described in the Washington guidebook. While in route, he suddenly pulled off at Exit 38. When I asked what he was doing, he mentioned that there was ice that sometimes comes in there, and we should go exploring. Even though I was new to the area, it seemed pretty silly; it was barely freezing there at night. Off we went hiking around Deception crags in the dark, aided by headlamps and his lit cigarette. After a while of hiking down the Iron Horse trail, we found little trickles of ice about 0.25” thick, filled with plants, and trees. In looking at a few of these, he suggested (several different times) that we rope up and get on one of these routes. There was no pro, no good top out, and the climbing looked bad; overall they just looked like pure crap “ice” routes. After some discussion, he eventually agreed (reluctantly) to hike down with me to continue on to Snoqualmie pass.

 

After another thirty minutes of hot boxing, we arrived at Alpental, and walked over to the Snoqualmie Falls. While there was some water running, the falls looked in and we were set to go. Since he drove, I offered him the first lead that he accepted. He got all racked up, and lit another cigarette for the lead. At this point, it was just becoming funny. He made his way up the ramp, through a little 10 foot vertical section, to the snow ice ramp above and set and anchor. I felt the rope come taught, and yelled up the customary, “on belay?” There was no response. After another minute, I smelled more smoke coming down. He had lit yet another cigarette before belaying me up. We rapped off a small tree, and looked for the next climb. Being totally new to the area, I wasn’t really sure where to go, but he kept eyeing a snow on the left side of Guye peak. The combination of high avalanche danger and the fact that we brought no sow protection seemed to make this a bad idea. After about a 30-minute discussion/argument, we agreed it was time to head home.

 

To my surprise, when we got near I90, he continued on to Ellensburg, not back to Seattle. He informed me that Ellensburg was 15 minutes down the road, and he knew there was ice there. Not knowing where Ellensburg was, I went along with it, coughing the whole time. An hour later when we arrived, he then mentioned that we needed to find a gear shop. He apparently had “heard” about the ice, but he had no idea where it was. After about an hour or more of asking random people where to go and driving in circles, we found a dirt road that led us down to the ice. At this point, it was nearly 3 PM, a little to late to hike out to the ice, climb something and come back (since it was getting dark at ~4:30). We hiked in anyways to take a look at what we had worked so hard to get to, and found a couple of tiny little ice falls near the river. Basically a waste of time. Whatever, now I knew, I just wanted to go home.

 

We got back in the smoke-filled car, and drove back to Seattle. On the way back, he started pulling off to go to his apartment, a good ten miles from where I lived. He informed me that he wanted to take a shower, and then he would drop me off. I sat there waiting in his apartment for about 45 minutes, and then he finally started driving me home. I figured I would get out of the car and this horrible day would be over, but to my surprise, when we got to my apartment, he said, “now I will come in while you shower and then we can get a beer.” I was trapped. To speed this up, I skipped the shower and we walked to the local bar. On the way I called a trusty drinking/climbing buddy to come down and meet us. Thankfully he arrived and we escaped after one drink.

 

 

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Not my story but I will tell it anyways. Back in the university outdoor club days (1990s) some friends were going to Skaha on a big VOC trip and got assigned to carpool with two guys they didn't know. I will call the two guys Driver Guy and Headphones Guy.

 

So they all meet up at UBC and get in the car and start heading for Skaha (about 5 hrs). On the way Headphones Guy, as soon as the car starts up, puts on his walkman's headphones and starts nodding his head and rocking out to something or other. Meanwhile the car is running low on gas and around Hope they stop for fill up. My friend C, figuring they are going to split gas, is like 'Hey I'll get this tank'. Driver Guy is all "NOOO! NOOOO! DON'T!" Then he proceeds to pull out this spreadsheet showing his costs per kilometer for insurance, gas, maintenance etc. (including oil, wear on tires, transmission etc.) and tells him they will be paying him each $50 round trip. This was back when gas was like 49.9 cents/liter and a trip for four to Skaha and back should have cost about $50 total & been split four ways. Hee hee.

 

So anyways they continue on into the night, arguing about this and other stuff, and somewhere as they are nearing Penticton my other friend J wonders why she has never seen Headphones Guy switch tapes in like 4 and a half hours of driving time. Is he just listeing to the same mix tape over and over? So she strikes up a conversation, yelling loudly so he can hear her over his music - and it is at this time that J, C and Driver Guy discover that for the last 4.5 hours, Headphones Guy has been sitting in the car with headphones on but the walkman was never turned on. He's been sitting there pretending to listen to music so that he can eavesdrop on their conversations passively without having to talk himself!

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So Top 3 Bad Partner Stories:

 

1. My Own Mistake

 

A partner of mine gave his buddy my number and told him I was generally down to get down in the backcountry. This poor guy called me way....way after sober thirty asking if I wanted to skiing near lolo pass the next day. My response..."Hell yeah I wanna go shkiing, why not get an early start at it, pick me up at 6am." Just to make sure I wouldn't forget I set an alarm then and there. God knows when I got home that night but in those days I was catching the occasional sunrise.

 

This part is a bit hazy, I was totally blacked out, but this is what I've gathered. I was awake and packed when he got there. However I forgot my goggles, gloves, shell, water food, basically everything except my headlamp little first aid kit and knife I always left in the top of my pack. I was ravenous and made him pullover so I could get a delicious gas station breakfast sammy (you'll hear more about this later, it came back). We were the first car in the parking lot and made great time over the first ridge.

 

After topping out on the top of second I needed a nap. He agreed to do a run and come back up and wake me up. I threw down my skis pulled the hood to my DAS over my head and passed out. Well before said partner made it back up another party found me and they must have thought I was dead because they went WFR on me (not it full ppe) I think they were a little let down because like most nonresponsive patients I was just tanked.

 

Well I came to, we did a few more runs, built a booter and headed home. It was 5 or 6 at night when my hangover decided to walup me. I was doubled over after a full day of skiing on the side of the road barf blasting the asphalt.

 

We did partner up again and of course I was sober, but I have met other climber skiers that have actually heard this story and it was told in good light. I would never do that do that to a partner without being in the condition I was in. So let this be a lesson. DON"T MAKE PLANS WITH SOMEONE YOU DON"T KNOW IF THEY ARE HAMMERED!

 

2. The Lonely Marine

 

I went to Red Rocks with a guy that was super motivated, somewhat in experienced but a good guy. It ended up being a sport climbing trip, but the prize is in the puddin. I awoke to heavy breathing in our two man tent. After a seconds awareness I realized he was rubbin one out. So I made every conceivable "hey I am waking up sound." It didn't work, he just kept after it, so I finally piped up and shot out a laundry list of profanities then got out of the tent and slept in the dirt. We don't together anymore.

 

3. Headwound Hippie

 

A dear friend of mine had a tragic ground fall that resulted in some brain damage. At least that is the excuse use to describe Nick behavior. Nick is 6' 5" manimal. You can smell him from a block away, he lived in the woods, and had/has a pretty organic view of the world. Anyone that has met him has at least 10 Nick stories. After my first Nick experience I swore I would never tie in with him again..... I was wrong.

 

We shuttled from the Tokositna to the Kahiltna to meet some friends on the Buttress. My partner was going to climb with his wife and I was going to climb with our friend Mike. At BC we learned that Nick's partner hadn't showed up and he was now soloing. He had taken off the day before. All the way to 14 camp we found Nick Artifacts, you know the things he didn't think he would need like his skis, his shovel (borrowed), his saw (also borrowed), and his rope. and rather than bury them he just threw them on the side of the trail and put a wand next to them.

 

We found Nick at 14 recovering from some mild AMS. He had almost made it to 17, 3 days after leaving BC, and coming in from sea level. his reasoning. He reasoning, he brought 12lbs of various grains and that is it for food. He bought and I tent and a -35 degree feathered friends bag but didn't have money for anything else. He was wearing a 1960 drab green arctic suit with a white fake fur collar and bunny boots. Somehow he ended up climbing with us and eventually short-roped to me. At 17 camp I awoke to a pooping sound. Upon further investigation I discovered Nick sitting on his CMC dropping a bomb.....while cooking breakfast right outside his tent.

 

Then on summit day I led and broke trail avoiding the autobaun to Denali pass. I was rope to Mike then Nick and the weather was such that once we got around the pass the visibility wasn't so great and the wind was blowing so hard that I was only able to communicate with Mike. We summited in a lenticular and it was on the summit that finally saw how messed up Nick was. He sat down around 19,500 or somewhere near the bottom of pig hill and was done moving on his own. So helped him along for a while, then had to load his 6'5" frame on my 5'9" stick figure and carry him back to the fixed lines that we would now have to use.

 

Thank god we ran into some other people that helped us get him back to 17 camp, because after breaking all that trail and then Carrying his huge ass down 1500ft I was beat and Mike and I probably wouldn't have been able to safely get him down.

 

 

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Im not gonna mention any names or what trip this was b/c I think some of the climbers on that trip may use this site.

One time, I got invited to go with a group of people (one of which is a regular partner of mine and I have climbed with before) to do a grade IV alpine route. On the approach I listened to many stories of climbing long alpine routes... I eventually went up ahead and reached the bivi sites quickly. I then waited for an hour for my partners to arrive b/c a couple members decided to have a 1/2 hour 'decision making' time. They then persuaded the others to climb a different route to the bivi site up a long krumholtz slope insted of easy 3rd class rock. We bivied for the night and got up early for the climb. For some reason every small choice required a long 'decision making' time. It took forever to reach the base of the climb and I led the first pitch. It was fairly steep and you had to hang on your arms a bit but it was no more than 5.7. After spending 5 minutes on this short pitch I belayed the first person who tried it in mt boots, lowered off, changed to rock shoes, then re-climbed the pitch. Somehow the rope got put on the wrong side of some blocks and trees and the rope drag got terrible. After an hour of sorting out rope drag I just unclipped from the belay and started soloing up the next pitch (hauling a rope) and set up the next belay. I slept on my belay ledge for another hour while my team all changed shoes, repacked, sorted out the drag and climbed to me. I walked up the next easy (5.5) pitch without placing gear to save time and belayed another guy up, he told me how hard he was finding this climbing, then we belayed everyone else up. I soon realized that everyone was expecting me to lead everything and a couple members were not confident doing any leading or simul climbing one this long route... I suggested we go down after taking 10 hours (seriously!!) to get from camp to the top of Pitch 3.. after an hour 'decision making' time we started rapping down. I set up and found all the stations, went first and fixed the ropes ect.. Once off the rock I walked to camp... an hour later my partners show up by headlamp... These people were all really nice but were not prepared (except for a couple) to do this route, they asked me to go so I could ropegun (without being told).... I would climb with them again on easy routes but not on anything big again.

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These are some great stories and gives me some perspective on what a messed up trip really is. I've been lucky in having relatively sane climbing partners so far...

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Considering all the random partners I've picked up, at least 50 or more, I can only think of one that was a bad experience (of course some of those random partners may be telling horror stories of getting stuck climbing with me!)

 

I went down south to visit the folks for a couple of weeks and posted on rc.com looking for partners to hit Tallulah Gorge for the only multipitch stuff in GA while down there. My only requirements were that they could lead 5.8 and follow 5.10 and were experienced on multipitch trad. This guy, I'll call him "Joe", replied with enthusiasm. He claimed to be a solid 5.8 leader, has a rack, and could follow mid .10 no falls.

 

Great! So we arrange to meet, he's going to swing by my folks' place to pick me up since I don't have a car there and it's on his way anyway. He shows up mostly on time, but what's this? There's another guy in the car. The other guy is his buddy, we'll call him Cheeto, cause the tubby fucker has surely been eating his share of them. "Uh yeah this is my buddy Cheeto, he wants to get some climbing in with us".

 

Well, I'm not super keen on parties of 3 on multipitch routes, but I'm also not in a position to make a fuss. So I climb into the back of the jeep wrangler that Joe is driving, the jeep wrangler with the rear windows off. I'm dressed for a day in the south facing gorge, long sleeve capilene over a t shirt....and proceed to freeze my ass off in a fetal ball on the backseat for the hour trip to the crag while Joe and Cheeto sit comfortably in the front seats out of the 70mph wind with the heater blowing on them.

 

Getting into the gorge requires a short little step of downclimbing some 4th/low 5th stuff, maybe 30ft worth. I've been down there before and go first. Cheeto is sketchin, wants a spot, maybe even a rope. Joe and Cheeto have the ropes anyway, so I wander on down the cliffline to make sure Cheeto doesn't land on me if he pitches. We drop packs below the classic warm up, a 4 pitch 5.8, and Joe breaks out his rack....his incredibly shiny, incredibly new rack. Let's use my rack, I suggest, since I actually have more than 4 cams and am not running a double set of tricams like Joe. I offer him the first lead, and he's psyched.

 

He racks up, and starts up the pitch, a short bit of chimney to a little roof, balancy traverse under the roof for 8 ft or so edging and underclinging the crack at the back of it, then pull around the side of it on giant jugs, about 5.8. He chimneys, he places a piece in the back of the roof, and then another, working hard to get the gear in what appears to be a perfect finger sized cam placement. He's a little wobbly, but shit, he's climbed all of 15ft and starts talking about getting pumped. WTF?! So he grabs the biggest jug you can imagine, but they always look like jugs from the ground, and starts trying to pull around the roof...and pitches. "I was just too pumped to pull it".

 

At this point, I'm thinking this is either way sandbagged, or it's going to be one of those days. So I look at Cheeto.

"Ok, you're up champ."

"I dunno"

"Come on, the gear's already in so you can just motor across"

"Let me take a look"

 

So Cheeto makes a show of racking up and and tieing in. He looks up, he adjusts something on his harness, looks up, fiddles, looks up, fondles the first holds. Pulls one move off the ground, "I don't think I can lead this".

 

Ok, give me the rack. I get to the rooflet, check the piece, backclean the first one, balance across and reach around the roof, expecting some horrendous sloper and find a giant incut jug...and another...and another. WTF? I can't believe he fell off this. I motor to the anchor. And with the benefit of a toprope, a little tension, and fighting off a wicked pump, he makes it up to me. "Ok, Cheeto, tie in". But Cheeto has decided he'd prefer to spend the day spectating from the ground.

 

Since I had to finish his lead, I offer the second pitch to Joe. He racks up and takes off on this 5.7 pitch. 30' off the belay, at the crux he starts building an anchor.

"What's up Joe?"

"I think this is the belay"

"You're only 30ft out, keep going to the ledge, its 50ft higher".

"It doesn't look like a good spot up there, I'm going to belay"

WTF?!

So I come up to his semi-hanging belay, grab the rack and try to get around him to get back onto the route which is stemming at this point. I think about kicking him in the head as I move past, having to do some insecure 5.9+ stemming looking at a factor 2 onto the belay, because his body's blocking the holds you would normally climb that make it go at 5.7 or so. But I supress the head kicking urge and link the rest of this pitch with the one above.

 

Following, he gets to the crux of the 3rd pitch, a short diagonal 20' lieback out a flake, maybe 5.8ish. He gets to the base of the flake and starts with the "I'm really pumped" talk.

 

"Just try dude, it's not that bad and you're on toprope"

"I don't think I can do it, maybe we should go down"

"We're not going down, my gear is in that flake and you're GOING to clean it even if you have to hang 20 times to get up the pitch"

"I'm too pumped, we can leave some of my gear".

 

At this point, I've lost patience. This "solid 5.8 leader" is pumped after following 60ft of 5.7 and whinging about trying to follow something with a toprope.

 

"You F$&* pu$#y, grow some balls and TRY. You're on TR, you can fall and it doesn't matter" So he starts off and climbs through it without falling. I'm ready to hang it up, but the day is young, and I have maybe one shot to climb here during my visit before returning to PDX, so I agree to do another route, resigning myself to the fact that we won't be doing the 4 star classic I came for since he's getting bouted on the warm up.

 

We rap off and he's suddenly forgotten about his inability to follow 5.8 and starts recommending a 3 pitch 5.9R. "Yeah, that sounds good man," I say "You leading the first (crux) pitch?"

"Uhh, well, ummm."

 

So we move on to another 4 pitch 5.8 job. Cheeto is still content to lie in the dirt, napping and watching the river flow by, so I link the first and second and bring up Joe. This puts him looking at the crux of the route about 8ft off the belay. Why I let him lead again, I don't really know. He gets to the crux, sinks some gear, and quickly decides he ain't got it. I try to encourage him to go for it, but he lowers to the belay.

 

When I reach the crux, I'm thankful he didn't go for it, his gear (that he lowered off) is a dubious small wire that would never have held anykind of real fall and he would never have pulled off this crux, which was more like 5.9+ for anyone under 6'2". I set a slightly better wire, climb through and bring him up with full tension at the crux. We collect Cheeto from the base and call it a day.

 

I still got e-mails from the guy for a couple of years after that, informing me of his various moves, new phone numbers etc. All the way home he seemed oblivious that he basically got guided all day, and was reveling in his heroic exploits, reliving them in detail for his loyal compatriot Cheeto, who again occupied the front seat as I froze ass in the back all the way home. The End.

 

But maybe ask Terminal Gravity about the time I left the tent with no sunglasses on a snow/ice route (discovered that around sunrise about 800' up), and dropped a glove (had to downclimb about 100' to fetch that), water bladder leaked, borrowed replacement bladder's hose froze solid (discovered that about 45min into a half-day long route) all on the same day. We all have our days.

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I've changed a bunch of stuff about this trip to prevent people's feelings from being hurt. I'm pretty "tense" compared to some here, but I'm not trying to make people feel bad. I've got to note up front that I'm no hardman. In fact I pertty much suck at climbing, but I do like to climb fast in the mountains. At least reasonably quick.

 

I was working and going to school at the time, and had been working two jobs to pay off some debt for about 10 months. I was fried, summer was coming around and I really needed to get some climbing in. My girlfriend had a 4 week paid sabbatical coming up from work in exchange for staying at her miserable job for 5 years (she's still there, god help her). Not wanting to miss out on good times, I file my two weeks notice with my employer and they agree to give me a leave of absence if I'm willing to stay. 4 weeks off, unpaid of course, seems like a good deal.

 

I shoot off some emails to people about climbing in Wyoming. 4 weeks becomes 5 weeks, and then I decide to tack on an extra week at the front end using vacation time. 6 weeks off in late summer...can't beat that.

 

I get a partner from WAY out of state who is fresh off a course from AAI and has done some stuff in the Cascades. He likes ice, I love ice. Let's get on some alpine ice someplace. He flies out, I pick him up, we roll to Wyoming. We pack up our shit the next morning, loaded for 3-4 days in the mountains with full ice gear, boots stowed in the pack, etc. Heaviest pack I've ever carried in my life.

 

I should have known something was wrong when we head out of the parking lot. It's almost 80 degrees and this kid is wearing pants, and a fancy baselayer undershirt for the hike to camp. It's a 5,000 ft slog I've done several times with rack and rope in ~3 hours. I'm excited cause I think we've gotten an early enough start to do a short climb that day.

 

30 minutes on the relatively flat trail and he wants to rest for a minute. He quotes AAI's recommendations "10 minutes of rest every hour." Well....it's been 30 minutes dude. Bear in mind this is the widest, most popular trail in the entire range probably.

 

A bit later he's downing more water. He asks me if there is water along the way, which there is. He asks me how far. I say I don't really know, there's a stream along the trail. I never get water from it so I don't really know how long it might take to get there. An hour later and he asks to stop. He needs to get a clif shot out. "I think I'm starting to bonk." Oh shit, here we go. ("I need a clif shot, I'm starting to bonk" is now a running joke with my girlfriend, even though she doesn't climb or anything). He runs out of water and seems concerned but then we stumble onto the stream.

 

Okay, fast forward to 3-4 hours into the hike. I'm thinking we should have been there by now, but the steepest part awaits. I suggest, for the second time, that I take my pack to camp and come back and get his. He declines, saying he wants to make it under his own power. A bit later, I suggest I just take some of the gear off his pack. I've got the rack and rope and he has the tent already. I take his tools, his crampons and the tag line, adding it all to my own tools, crampons, rock and ice rack, sleeping bag, etc. I keep trucking, and see that he has stopped to fill up his water bottles again, at another flow. I swear he must have drank a gallon and a half of water that day.

 

The last bit of the approach includes a fixed rope up a rock headwall that is pretty easy but with big packs perhaps more daunting. I get up there, set my pack down near our campsite, drink some water and head back down. He is preparing to get up the fixed rope. I offer to take his pack and bring it up with me. I brought the rope down from my pack and offer a belay even though there is a handline. Much fumbling ensues and he gets his harness on, the belay is on, and we get to camp. It's now 6 pm, and we've been hiking for 7 hours. Good lord.

 

We set up the tent and climb in. I'm already angry because I wanted to climb an easy route that day. It rains and hails overnight. We wake up and decide we're not going climbing. I'm not real good at waking up, so that was fine with me. At 8 am I get up and see that some people are high on the route we were going to do yesterday. I ask him if he wants to give it a shot and he says no. I decide to solo it, and tell him I'm going to go have a look around. I'm back in camp 4 hours later, meeting a nice group on top, whose ropes I ride down on.

 

He seems upset that I abandoned him. Whatever. He's been telling me about how difficult his school and major are for awhile now and I'm getting tired of it. The next day we plan to climb our "warmup" route, involving a bit of rock and some moderate alpine ice. I'm ready to go down afterwards, and quietly push for that option.

 

We get up, and I'm getting racked up for the first lead. He's standing on a flat area. No scrambling involved to get here, the first pitch literally starts off the trail. I climb about 40 feet up and he begs me to put in some gear. Alright, fair enough, I ought to protect the "belay." Two pieces later, I stop to belay. Pitch 2 traverses so I protect it more judiciously, but when he gets to the belay he requests that I start placing more gear. He asks me to beef up the belay before I head off again. He's standing on a 4 foot wide ledge, and there's a bomber stopper and a cam in. What more does he want from my meager rack? I start to get irritated again. We finally get on the ice. It's sloppy, lots of snow, no thick ice. The gully is melted out enough that I can't reach the good rock higher on the sides, and everything is rotten. The fixed pin on P2 of the gully is fully 6 feet over my head. There is no gear. I run it out, set a sketchy belay and ask him to please not fall. We establish a better belay higher up. I start running up a snow slope, wondering why we haven't unroped. He asks me to place a second piece, and then a third. I can't. I get angry. I put in 2 pieces later and tell him to start simulclimbing. He takes a two steps, and I move up. He stops. This repeats, until it's only one step. I look down and he has his head on the snow, resting. He's been at the belay for 10 minutes and took 4 steps and rested twice. He complains about acclimatization. I tug hard. I encounter ice, and keep tugging. I swear if he pulls me off i'm going to kill him if the fall doesn't. I top out, and set a belay of a slung horn and a giant boulder. He coms up, looks skeptically at my belay and advises me that I scared him and that he doesn't trust my gear. I've belayed people on much less and been belayed on much less and I recognize that in the mountains that's sometimes the way it goes. We chat on top and it comes out that all of his Cascades experience was part of the AAI course for a week. Well, that makes a little more sense now.

 

We start heading down and things are taking forever. We can't seem to find the way off that gets us back to our packs, so I suggest we descend the other side and hike back around. It's the only way without leaving a lot of gear.

 

Hiking down the class 3 gully takes forever. I am slow at this, but he falls far behind me even. It's loose, but come on! I wait for him and tell him that I want to go home when we're done. I want to rest for my next trip, with hopes for something better. He agrees. I tell him I'll go down, hike back up to camp and get our shit and meet him at the trail junction.

 

I get to the junction and stare up at the 3000 feet of vertical above back to camp. I drop my pack, and it starts raining but we dont' have a lot of options at this point. A couple of hours later, I get up to camp, pack everything into one giant pack that he left there and head down. The guides at camp seem sympathetic when I tell them a fraction of my story.

 

I meet him back at the trail junction, where he has been resting for an hour. He is tired and wants to stay the night there and hike the rest of the way in the morning. I tell him I'm going down now. He's staying in Wyoming and meeting friends, so I don't really care if he comes or not. I'm going to my car. He agrees to come down, but doesn't relieve me of all of the gear that I carried down for him. I've got the rope, the rack, the tag line and the tent. I pack it all back up while I watch him waddle away into the darkness and down the trail.

 

Hiking out takes forever. There is silence. He nearly twists his ankle on the superhighway that is the Garnet Canyon trail several times. We get to the car. I drive him to a campsite, where I leave him. There are no stores open in Jackson, so I eat what little food I have left, drink some water that has been in my car for far too long and head out. I start the 5 hour drive home and fall asleep 30 minutes in. I have a history of sleeping at the wheel, so I pull over and sleep for a few hours, completing the drive in the morning.

 

I am only slightly less angry by the time I get home.

 

3 days later my next partner arrives at my house from Flagstaff for another trip to the Tetons. I've climbed there with him before. Things go relatively smoothly, although I am again disappointed by our pace and ambition. We canoe across Leigh Lake on day 1, climb the CMC route on day 2 and canoe back on day 3. One route in three days is not my idea of a good time in the Tetons. He wants to check his email in the afternoon on day 3. Then he wants to catch a movie. I read a book in a coffee shop instead while he watches Batman. The next day we hike a peak and drive home. He stays at my house that night, where my girlfriend has prepared a bed on the couch for him. I'm angry again, but nearly as bad as the last trip. My girlfriend says she admires my ability to keep cool, since I am notorious for becoming frustrated to the point of rage.

 

Trip #3 starts 2 days later. My good buddy Brian, a better climber than I, suggests we go for the Cathedral Traverse and the E Ridge of the Grand. I'm getting tired of this drive, but lets go for it. We take two days on the Cathedral Traverse, spending a night in an excellent bivy spot just below Mt Owen. The route is exquisite and the N Ridge of the Grand is fun and straightforward.

 

We're almost down from the Grand and Brian says he is toasted. Let's not try for the E Ridge. He's satisfied. Fine with me. We head home, and I win points with T (the girlfriend) for getting home earlier than expected.

 

Lessons learned:

1. Don't partner up on a real trip without knowing someone.

2. Don't partner up with people from the flatlands and expect speed.

3. Try to contain rage when neophytes critique my gear placement, especially with bomber boulders or horns being slung.

4, and most important. A good partner makes a huge difference. Even if Brian and I had failed it still would have been a good trip because I know Brian can carry his own weight (literally and figuratively).

 

I climb almost exclusively with Brian now. I exchanged pictures with the partner from Trip #1 but no words.

 

After these three trips my girlfriend and I spent 6 days in the Winds backpacking and being lazy and then 8 days in Yosemite and San Francisco. My car got pulled over on the way home for doing 95 on I-80 and I've got illegal wine in the trunk (you can't bring wine across state lines into Utah). After searching my car for drugs the cop lets me off with a warning and lets me keep the wine in exchange for wasting my time.

 

Anyway....6 weeks off.....pretty excellent, even if it had its ups and downs.

Edited by builttospill

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I usually climb with friends. But, sometimes no one is available and Index is the best place to be in my mind.

I showed up one day with a rack and rope, planning to solo my typical climbs. I solo the GNS and walk off.

I saw another solo climber lurking around the base of the lower town wall. He approached and introduced himself. I can't remember his name. He had a rack and rope as well, though it looked newer than mine. He said something about Godzilla and we headed up and climbed it. It was just another lap for each of us. And we both sent.

Then off to Japanese Gardens. Nice little lap.

Then we go to Princely Ambitions. About this time Peter and Todd show up. We chit chat and they run a lap on our climbs. Turns into a typical climbing day.

We move on to Roger's Corner linked up with Breakfast of Champions in one monster pitch. Lots of gear, enduro fest (at the time).

I sent on lead clean. It was a hard climb to link. But I pulled it off.

No big deal. We rap down and part ways. I still see that old guy around Index from time to time, never with a partner. But always somehow attached to the climbing essence. He didn't place much pro, he climbed hard, and he chit chatted like a mother f******.

 

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weird and spooky to reread the thread and realize that one of the posters may be dead. Didn't dave trippet die a couple years ago? forgive me if I am wrong about the status of dave.

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