In a recent article by Jason Hayes in the New Yorker, a number of points are made about how to cope with someone who is starting to climb.
The article is called Warning Signs That Your Partner Is Getting Into Rock Climbing, and How to Cope and points to a number of ways to change the subject from climbing.
If you’re partner can’t handle climbing, best to get out now before the two-month road trips start, the ice climbing gear starts piling up and you start spending nights on mountains with other people.
Who wants to be with someone who doesn’t climb anyway?
The very first warning signs that your partner isn’t into you getting into rock climbing can be hard to spot. It may start with them turning down a chance to go to the climbing gym. Don’t take this lightly, they don’t realize this isn’t like some other trend, this is a lifestyle change. If they don’t want to be on your train, best let them off now. When they try to bring something else up, just say, “I’m moving into the car, you’re either in or your out.”
If you just got back from the climbing gym, be sure to make eye contact. Eye contact will lead to a conversation about climbing. Be sure to start the talk with something benign, like “it’s scary!” The more you talk about climbing the better you’ll get at it. And talking about climbing is one of the best parts about being a climber. Be sure to panamine the moves while explaining what you did, “Then I gastoned up to the undercling and smeared my right foot to the edge before making a desperate clip.”
As things progress, you’ll want to be sweaty and hunched over a laptop, watching videos of people screaming. “Please be pornography,” they’ll think. “Please.” But, no, it’s a video of Adam Ondra working on Silence 5.15d in Norway and talking about his “journey.” If they ask what is so special about someone climbing a rock in Norway, close your laptop and leave.
You and your partner used to have mutual friends. You all could get drinks and talk about television or your bosses, like “normal” people. Now you spend your time with flip flop wearing, car living strong people who have tools to file their calluses and more tight climbing shoes than fancy “goin out” foot wear. Your new friends will want to spend more time climbing than talking about television shows. When your partner brings up the that you’re hanging around with bums, hit the road.
Callus exams are an important part of the climber’s day. When not at the climbing gym, you should be raptly gazing at your hands—the way comic-book villains do when they acquire a new power. Be sure to show your calluses off to your partner. Hold up your hands, both of them, and say, “Look how rough my hands are, you like them rough, right?” Every scratch on your hand has a story to tell, share those stories with everyone.
The climbing gym is a great place to get started, but don’t stop there. Just because you never liked being outdoors and your partner would rather sit in a coffee shop all weekend, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start being more outdoorsy. By now, your partner will be starting to understand what a huge life transformation you’re going through. They might try to shrink your favourite T-shirt in the dryer, but that’s a good thing because you’ve trimmed down since going vertical.
The Climbing Gym
If you really want to know if your partner can hack it then take them to the climbing gym. Once they let their guard down then you’re in and they can begin to embrace the sport of climbing. Hopefully they get distracted by the man who, in this climate-controlled warehouse, is wearing a wool beanie but no shirt. It’s confusing to outsiders but they can’t look away and want to be part of whatever world he belongs to. Once your partner starts climbing, get your new friends to cheer them on to the top. If your partner comes down with a smile then you have a road trip buddy. If they come down and say, “It’s scary, I’m done,” then you know what to do.