Will You Be My Partner?
Finding an adventure partner regardless of the sport can feel a bit like dating. Like many modern relationships, the first meeting can often be done online. Having profiles with epic shots from one of your most daring adventures paired with tag lines to catch potential partner eyes such as "I like big cracks and I cannot lie" to "Ain't no mountain high enough". Hopefully, this witty pairing catches someones interest. Sure enough, it does. An inbox message is sent with a brief introduction. "Hi, my name is Blank and I've been climbing for Blank years and have Blank goals. Want to climb together sometime?'.
This online conversation continues to unravel and eventually a date to meet is set. Normally a gym setting or coffee or beer is the starting phase of this soon to blossom relationship. Picking an outfit out can be it's whole endeavor. How to match dirt-bag climber with not a total mess? It's a challenge. Finally, the Chaco's and flannel game is strong and you're off for your date.
After a few in person hang outs and perhaps gym climbs, the looming question begins to crawl out of the depths. Is it too soon? Can I trust this person not to hurt me? Will they still like me after we do this? All the questions, all the concerns! Suddenly, like word vomit, it just comes out - "Will you be my partner for this epic backcountry trip?".
They say yes.
O shit, you're committed now.
Like any strong partnership, communication is key. Leading up to an epic outing requires collaboration and preparation.Most importantly too is honesty. What skills can you bring to the team? What are you apprehensions and perhaps weaknesses? What are you confident taking charge of for the trip and what is expected of your partner? All these elements seem like common sense but can often be left out of initial phases of discussion. With so many different styles of adventures and outdoor activities, find a partner with similar goals and styles can be key. Additionally, knowing one another skills can make for a lot less of a surprise in dire situations.
The trip is planned, your partner and you are strong and committed. Driving to the start point feels almost rose colored.It was destiny for the two of you to meet. You'll crush this goal and forever bond from the experience. Nothing can stop you! Right?
Well, maybe. The last element that one can never truly analyse of a potential backcountry partner until the adventure unfolds is how they respond to suffering and discomfort. There are those who thrive on the disgruntling side of a sufferfest and are true masochists. On the other hand, some prefer not to endure pain and the moment a feeling of discomfort arises - they are ready to abandon ship or at least abandon a positive attitude about the situation. Ultimately, finding a partner who can endure the shit to appreciate the good is the true soulmate of any adventurer. Pushing limits and meeting remarkable goals isn't easy and it sure as hell isn't pretty. Just like my grandma always said; "When the going gets tough, the tough get going".
A partner should be someone who even through suffering is there to support, encourage and again be open with communication. Sitting in camp after a grueling day while comparing battle wounds and blood blisters, shooting back whiskey and laughing deliriously from exhaustion is a type of bonding that only true backcountry partners can relate to. Once that backcountry bond forms, you know you have a solid partner for life.