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wfinley

Random Climbing Partner(s) Stories

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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******.

 

Is that that guy with the dogs? Super nice, older guy, always shows up in the afternoons? He may have the record for accents up Godzilla :).

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I once had an internet partner tell me on an approach to our first climb in Yosemite "There's a 45% chance I might be bipolar."

 

By the end of the week I upped that estimate to 100%.

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WOW i just read a story about my self... ouch!

Just kidding. I shared a story from last weekend and I was told it was funny and given a link here so I just can't help but share it. As coppied from the email:

 

Subject: MP Match Dot Com

 

 

(disclaimer) I wrote a novel, read at your own risk...

 

Well, I how do I say it. I should have gone skiing with Ed and Austin. A few months ago I put out an ad on MP for an ice climbing partner. and a couple of people responded. I was wanting to ice climb this weekend and so I solicited them. One of them responded and said he could only climb on Sunday. Lets call him Duncan. Although I wanted to ski with Ed I had my heart set on getting some ice climbing in this weekend. So, we agreed on Sunday.

A bit later he sent me info on a route and said "check this out!" and seemed quite stoked about it. It was the north face of Longs peak. This a great solo, 2.5 pitches of low angle rock up Longs with a shit-ton of walking above and below it. But not something I want to waste a "partner" on... red flag number one. So, I called him up to discuss a route and details. As we were discussing routes in the area it was clear that I would be leading everything. Red flag but I was OK with that. Then I asked him a climbing credentials type question. To which he responded "well, I mean I climb 5.11 in the gym." (red flag #3) I was taken back to say the least. I mean we are getting ready to do a mixed ice climb and he refers to gym climbing?... totally unrelated to any skills you would need mixed or ice climbing on a bigass mountain. So I asked him "have you done much ice climbing?". And he said "yeah I climbed some ice a couple of years ago". (ambiguous and dated answer... red flag #4) I also ask him about this fitness and he quickly replies "Oh yeah I'm fit". We decided on Alexander's Chimney a 5 pitch M4/WI4 classic line up to Broadway ledge, from there we would take any number of routes up to the top from the ledge, likely Kiners (a mellow but big mountain jaunt).

I am out climbing dry rock the day before with a good friend. When I get home I have a message on my phone. Duncan left a message saying it was "urgent". So I called him back and he was concerned about the wind. Rightly so, high winds suckass. But what surprised me is that he was specifically concerned about "spindrift". He felt that spindrift was, i don't know... dangerous? I am still unsure what his concern was. We talked a little bit about logistics and hung up. I played hide-and-go-seek with the kids, put them to bed and went to sleep early.

0150 the next morning my alarm goes off. I juice some beets, carrots and apples and have a big bowl of fried rice with sunflower seed butter to fuel up for the big day of climbing. I roll into the parking lot about 5 after 0400 and walk up to a guy packing stuff at the back of his car and say "Are you Duncan?" He says he's not so I go back to my car to wait. It's almost 0430 and I am picking up my phone to call him when another car rolls into the lot. Of course its him, he apologizes for the late show. He is ass and elbows getting ready and he mentions he just brought a mountain axe. I was a bit shocked, I told him we would have to climb another route. He said some guy told him it would be fine "besides the route in the summer is only like 5.5". I explained to him that rock climbing in crampons and on ICE is not directly comparable to the YDS of rating routes. I said he would need a second tool for us to do the route. He said he had one and showed me his pack. To this pack were two 70cm axes, they were huge and hugely inappropriate for the route at hand. But you could climb the route with those. So I relented and he kept packing. I told him to leave any pro because I had the rack squared away. I also told him that he wouldn't need the chalk bag attached to his harness. I told him he didn't need to, but he insisted on putting on his harness in the parking lot before the 3+ hour approach.

We were about ready to leave and his pack was looking odd. There were a pair of gaiters hanging down to ankle level from one of his ice axes, helmet hanging freely from the other, a pair of traction spikes (the kind for trail running) and the rope wrapped up around all the clutter. I flaked the rope for him and secured it to his pack ,but one thing really bothered me. He had the traction spikes but no crampons that I could see. He assured me that he had a pair of "kick ass crampons". In fact he though it ridiculous that I thought he would show up to ice climb with traction spikes for crampons, they were "just for the icy trail". Honestly, Duncan, at this point I would have not been surprised one bit.

I am starting to get cold standing there as he does the final touches to his "kit". SLR camera slung over his neck and shoulder. Insulated water bottle on the belt loop, it falls to the ground, he picks it up, it falls against my foot, finally he has it attached to his pack belt. And to top it off a fixed blade knife attached to his waist... I shit you not. 0505 we leave the parking lot.

0506 "STOP" I stop, I think I forgot my crampons. Really? I thought we just covered this?! Pack bomb: he unbuckles his belt and his water bottle falls to the ground, camera, puffy, gloves. He occupies a huge section of the trail with all his crap and people are trying to get around him in the powdery snow. Yep he has them. 0508 "STOP" I stop, "I need to adjust my layers". He takes a full minuet to take off his hat and gloves, "OK I'm good". I continue to hike at a good pace to warm up and I notice he is falling behind. I stop at a short cut to wait for him. He shows up sweaty and heaving. "here's a short cut lets take this" we take it. He calls out to me but I ignore him. A short while later he calls out to me again. I respond back but there is no reply. So I walk down to him. We are MAYBE at 9,000 feet at this point and he is obviously hypoxic. I tell him that he has AMS and he defends himself stating, practically slurring, "I've climbed... hundreds of... peaks", "I'm usually the one passing people", "I'm in the top 5% for the 5K". I try to explain that fitness is not an indicator for adaptation to altitude and I try to give him an out because I see where this is going. I say to him that I have found a correlation between lack of sleep and poor altitude performance. I ask him how much he got and he said 1hr. "There you go" I said "You know, we have a huge day ahead of us there is nothing wrong with turning around". I look at him, he looks relived.

0525 I give him his second rope, he returns to the car. I stash my rack and harness and head up the trail to climb something alone.

 

for the record I dont blame him i blame me.

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-Leading shirtless when partner comments on how good my back looked; gaydar was off the hook

-Multiple partners who get distracted with the sights or people and have 10' of slack out and a loose hand on the belay device.

-One partner who led then belayed by just looping the rope through the anchor

-One of my errors was trying to help someone train for big wall aid and the first pitch involved a traverse with back cleaning. I took a swing cleaning and said screw this.

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1988 - Yosemite Valley lookin' for a partner for the Nose, because mine had developed some foot issue the prevented wearing rock shoes (turned out to be real - he didn't climb for two years). Put out the word in Camp Four, and hook up with a Canadian guy -- says he's mainly a caver, got a lot of aid experience. No worries, says I, I don't expect to be quick - in fact I tend to be slower than average on aid (although I did have a handful of walls under the belt at that time, including one FA in Alaska - Broken Tooth)

 

So we're off - packing my haulbag, I specify lining the bag with our sleeping mats, and packing soft stuff outside, hard goods towards center. At Sickle Ledge, after an afternoon start, I find a hole worn in the bag -- tuna cans he'd placed right against the bag. I bitched, he apologized, we moved on

 

Next morning, in the stovelegs, his lead slows to glacial pace. We get passed. I have a strict rule about second-guessing partners' leads, but in this case I make an exception: "trouble?" gets the response "I've never really climbed cracks before..." Whaaat? Oh - shit!?!? But, the next ledge we come to has a long line of lidded five-gallon buckets on it -- food and drink treats left from the Star Trek movie crew that had only vacated the route a couple of days earlier. We pronounce this a great reason for a rest day... even taking a day off and gorging ourselves, we leave the ledge hauling more food and drink than when we'd arrived.

 

I manage to make a complete clusterfuck of the King Swing - somehow completely miss the intermediate pendulum anchor, and do the whole swing as one humongous pendulum -- takes me several tries. We get passed again...

 

Higher on the route, we stretch a day past sundown. My hookup partner finishes to the ledge in pitch dark. Funny thing is, the darker it gets, the faster he gets... he REALLY IS more of a caver!!! We enjoy a great laugh after that...

 

He draws the Great Roof lead, and thirty - five years later, I swear I still feel the pucker from jugging that pitch. That means I get pancake flake, to which I have looked forward for years - but by this time, I just want off, so to hell with free, "french" is just fine!!!

 

Finally top out, get down a day later than planned (but worth it! Thanks Cap'n Kirk!!!) to find my (now ex) wife camped with some guy in his van...

 

As it turns out, though, I just heard from this climbing partner a month or two ago... after his FORTYY-EIGHTH lap on the Captain! "Pass the Pitons Pete" Zabrock has, since that first dubious wall, become something of a Valley fixture... somehow young Keenwesh got steered to Pete for beta in the Valley last year, my name came up, and I got an email from Pete. I'll be dipped in shit...

Edited by montypiton

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That's some good shit. I once had a partner who took my gf climbing when I was otherwise busy and I ended up without either the climbing or a gf. But I managed since climbing is forever while relationships unfortunately are not.

 

My favorite partner story was Yosemite and I just read about it at the time. A dude (American) and a chick (Latino) connect via bulletin board and can't communicate at all and get stuck on the Nose for a few days in a storm. Think about that scenario.

Edited by matt_warfield

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forgetting the rope. Oops
I met up with a random lawyer partner from New York 20 years ago at Red Rocks. On the hour long approach, he tells me he wears a butt plug when backpacking so as not to have the shits the whole time. I suggest a better option is just treat the water before drinking it. That was just about when I realized I forgot the ropes in the car. Oops.

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forgetting the rope. Oops
... On the hour long approach, he tells me he wears a butt plug when backpacking so as not to have the shits the whole time. ....

 

wtf wtf wtf wtf

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forgetting the rope. Oops
... On the hour long approach, he tells me he wears a butt plug when backpacking so as not to have the shits the whole time. ....

 

wtf wtf wtf wtf

Yeah, WTF. Who wears a butt plug period, let alone for days in the wilderness? In hindsight, I think maybe he was gay and that was his attempt to broach the subject. It was a one day partner affair...

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Anyone have new stories?

 

I've made out very well with the last several partners from CC.com but still have a couple from long ago:

 

Over 10 years ago I had a couple of experiences taking "5.10" climbers to Index on separate occasions that were awesome. One involved an Iranian who insisted on belaying me with his figure 8 device in belay mode while he stomped on my rope. He was pretty convinced the Iranian Army was the end all be all of climbing instruction. I wasn't quite sure how to respond and feigned a stomach bug.

 

The other one had never climbed outdoors (unbeknownst to me) and had a difficult time with the exposure on Great Northern Slab, which we climbed first. We then went over to the Lizard and he totally lost his composure on the roof/undercling while I belayed from above, oblivious and unable to hear his cries to be lowered until the train passed. I finally lowered him back to the belay and rapped over the roof to get him settled down and finish the rap. Kind of awkward ride home but he went on to climb a bunch of stuff in the ensuing years so it must not have been as traumatic as it appeared.

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Few years back I met a Russian online to climb with while in Chamonix for a few days. He said he was "new" to the sport, but I figured if you are traveling to Cham to climb you might be alps new, but not new new. He agreed to all the climbs, and knew the skill level involved.

 

Showed up at his hotel, so we could get in line for the first tram. He is late. 15mins later he opened the door and let me in saying he had to have breakfast first.

 

Then after breakfast he said he needed to pack his backpack. His school backpack- not backpacking/climbing pack.

 

Then he said his crampons didn't fit his boots and he had to find an extension bar before we left.

 

Find the crampon bar, spend $$$ and get on the Midi tram. He manages to loose his ticket at the halfway station (didn't tell me, just disappeared- I got on the tram thinking he was right behind me) so I go to the top and see he is not there. 30 minutes later he shows up saying he didn't check all of his pockets after all.

 

Manage to rope up, and get down to the flats, where I notice he is missing one of his crampons. He didn't notice until I pointed it out... Found the crampon, then proceeded to step on the rope a few times.

 

Get to the base of probably the most classic climb right off the Midi. Go up. "Running belays" the whole time, slow as Fcuk.

 

Looses a nut- just forgets to take it out of the rock. Make the committing rappel- find out he has never done one before.

 

8hrs in to a supposed 5hr climb, 2 or 3 pitches away from the top, and the tram, we hit the "real" climbing. 5.4 with fixed gear. I lead, and put in more gear to pull on, plus the rock has drilled crampon holes in it. Sit at the belay and wait... He gets 2 moves off the ground then says he can't do it. I tell him he has no choice and he has to. He tries- but can't/doesnt want to. I rappel back down and ask what the Fcuk is going on with him. Tells me he can't do it. I have a pounding headache from going from 3k-12.5k in 10 minutes and tell him to smarten up. We look to back off down a few gullies. Realize I would loose all of my gear and they were death gullies because of loose rock.

 

Decide to sit for the night and wait for people to come up the next day to help us out. Have no warm gear because again, this is the easiest route in Cham and we had 10hrs of daylight to do a 5hr climb.

 

Storm starts coming in. He calls the PGHM. They say they can't fly because it is too late at night but they will see if they can start up the tram. (2am mind you).

 

3am- a spotlight shines down on us, I give the Russian the middle finger. A rescuer is lowered down, and walks over to us and tells us to get going. I am waiting with all my shit. He can't get his crampons back on.

 

Ride back down the tram with all the PGHM, he exploded his backpack in front of them all and needed help stuffing it all back in there. I bang my head against the wall and try to apologize in what little French I speak.

 

Says he will meet up with me the next day to pay for the gear he lost of mine. Emails 2 days later to say he flew to the south of France. Never got any money or a thanks/apology.

 

Once back at the hostel/bar (when it opened) I proceeded to drink away my sorrows, and met a Brit who said he was going on a hut trip for 3 nights and wondered if I wanted to come. Fcuk it- I'd already been rescued can't get much worse than that, and this was just walking. Joined up with him, had the time of my life!

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not exactly a partner story, but close.

 

A couple summers ago, my friend Todd and I climbed and skied the Fuhrer Finger on Tahoma and encountered a very ill-prepared skier high on the Nisqually.

 

We had climbed the Fuhrer and the lower portion of the Nisqually and were melting snow when we saw a solo man below us on skis slipping and sliding around with every step. We had switched to boot crampons at this point and just figured the skinning was difficult.

 

He eventually caught up to us and the crevasse we had just crossed, which involved a steep traverse above it. He seemed worried and communicated as much so we offered him a belay but he declined. Still on skis, he pulled his ice axe out and started across the traverse. We watched in disbelief as his skis skated around on the hard snow. He then proceeded to slip and started sliding towards the gaping crevasse. At the last second he self arrested with his axe, one ski dangling in the void.

 

He sketchily gathered himself, finished the traverse, and embarrassed, introduced himself. "Coloradan. Climb 14'ers for breakfast, sometimes in winter."

 

At this point I noticed that his skins have not been cut to fit his skis. The skins completely overlapped his skis like the bun around a hot dog.

 

He then decided to switch to boot crampons. But his crampons did not fit his tele boots at all. We tried to tell him that the crampons did not fit his boots, but he completely shrugged it off and claimed he'd used them for dozens of 14'ers in winter.

 

He took off in a hurry and proclaimed he was off to ski the Kautz. We watched in horror as he bypassed the mellow glacier slope to the right and tackled a more direct AI 2 step with his shit crampons. His feet cut multiple times but somehow he made it to mellower terrain above.

 

We continued with our climb and descent and arrived at Paradise in the evening, where a ranger asked if we knew where the "sketchy solo guy" was. Apparently the rangers had been watching this guy all day with binoculars because he didn't register for a solo permit. He'd even triggered and almost been caught in a slide on the lower Wilson.

 

We saw him later that evening in Copper Creek restaurant. He'd successfully skied the Kautz but was stopping for a bite to eat before he headed to the hospital to have a self-inflicted crampon hole in his leg stitched together.

 

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In college, I was looking to head to Yosemite for Spring Break but needed a partner. One of my favorite classmates was a german exchange student, 'Michael', who was great company and always up for a good adventure, especially if travel was involved. He didn’t have much climbing experience, but was athletic and a quick learner. I figured he’d be fine company for the long drive and we could each find other partners if we weren’t a good match on the rock. All that was true, and we had a great week traveling, camping and climbing.

 

High on my list was the Nutcracker, and Michael was climbing well, so we jumped on it with me doing the leading. Things were going great and we were soon re-racking below the dreaded ‘mantle’, which I mentioned was quite famous and would be the crux of the climb. All was understood, so I led on up, fiddled in a decent nut, then tentatively tried the next couple moves toward the mantle. Figured out the sequence, but couldn’t quite commit to the big move, so backed down to the nut to shake out. Yelled down that this was it and to watch me closely; I could see he was nearly as excited as I was nervous.

 

Launched back up to fire the mantle and glimpsed down to check that the rope was pulling smoothely and all, and got the big surprise. Michael was leaning back on the anchor, holding a camera with both hands, adjusting the focus to capture the big move, with the belay end hanging there loosely. “What the hell are you doing, Michael?!? You’re supposed to have me ON BELAY!!” Without the slightest concern, he replied “Oh… but you vill not fall!”

 

I convinced him to humor me and put me on belay, regardless of his confidence in my skills. He shook his head, put away the camera, and grabbed the rope. I grunted through the mantle and completed the pitch, which only confirmed his prediction. I brought him up and gave him a firm lecture that he should NEVER release the rope until the leader was anchored. Though he complied, I’m not sure he ever quite grasped the urgency of my concern. Maybe that's a typical european attitude, but we had a hell of a fun week, regardless.

 

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don't know if i told this one way back up thread, but it's short enough:

 

years ago w/ this guy i'd recently met and seemed solid enough - drove all night from portland to get in position for a car to car on the east ridge of forbidden - we walked about 200 yards up the trail before he turned and said: "i think you've been reading too much mark twight" and promptly walked back to his car. following after him, asking excitedly what he was doing, he finally managed: "hey, let's just go climbing at broughton's today."

 

would say that was a total bullshit loss, but i met the great joshk in the parking lot that morning and it was the start of a beauuuuutiful relationship :)

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It's Baaaaaaccccckk! 

Be sure to read cfire's story on page 2. 

ALL TIME CLASSIC CC.COM

:noway:

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