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The Buddy List – The Do’s and Don’ts of Climbing with a Bestie

October 20, 2013
Andrea & Carol just hanging out on the Ingraham Flats, Mt. Rainier.

Andrea & Carol just hanging out on the Ingraham Flats, Mt. Rainier, 2013.

Climbing a mountain with a close friend, partner or family member can be an incredibly meaningful experience.  To be able to share a summit with someone you know will be something you will never forget.  Whether it is a spouse, friend, co-worker or family member, here are a few tips to consider when deciding how to best climb with someone you know.

1)     Don’t Share a Camera:  Each of you should carry one so you have photos of both of you.  If you do share a camera, trade-off carrying it so you get photos of both of you on your climb.

2)     To Rope or Not To Rope:  Sometimes you and your companion can work well together on a rope team, other times you do better off the mountain together.  Before you decide to tie in a rope together consider your communication styles, fitness level and trust in one another.  Sometimes your best rope partner is a stranger.  If you and your companion have successfully gone on many training hikes together and are of similar pace then there is a good chance you will work well on a rope team together.

3)     Have a Summit Plan:  What if one person has to turn back?  What if one person gets sick?  14,000 ft in 50 mph winds is not the time and the place to have that conversation, decide before you go.  Be honest about your own abilities, desires and strengths and that of your companion to determine the best plan if you think there is a chance you both won’t make the summit.

4)     Sharing Gear:  One benefit of going with a partner is sometimes you can get away with sharing gear on the mountain.  Collaborate with your partner to see if you could get away with just carrying one utility tool (knife/scissors), share a stick of deodorant (ew!?!), a magazine to read, only bring one extra set of shoe laces between you, etc.  Cutting even a small amount of weight from your pack can help make your summit chances even better.

5)     Be Kind and Patient: The mountains can bring out the best and the worst in people.  Going on a little bit of sleep, being physically exhausted, scared or hungry can make people grumpier than they are at sea-level.  Try to treat your companion as if they were any other stranger on the climb, don’t take out the little stuff on him/her.

6)     Put Yourself First:  Safety is of utmost importance on a climb.  Just like on an airplane where you “put on your own air mask before assisting someone else” be sure to do the same on a climb.  While it is our instinct to help our friends out, be sure you have eaten enough before you give away your last granola bar.  Before you offer up your warm jacket, be sure you have enough layers on.

7)     Support Your Dreams: Just because you are sisters, spouses or best friends doesn’t mean you have the same motivations for climbing.  Be aware that your companion may be perfectly happy with stopping half way.  Your companion may only want to climb to make the summit.  Your companion may just want to climb so they can raise funds for The Hutch.  Your companion might just enjoy eating instant oatmeal at 10,000 ft.  Honor the desires and motivations for your companion and don’t expect them to want the same things out of the experience that you do.

8)     Fundraise Together:  There can be power in numbers when it comes to fundraising for a climb.  If you plan a fundraising event or send out emails to friends and family be sure to include the buddy you are climbing with.  Some of your donors may end up donating to both of you and visa versa.  In the end, it can mean more funds raised for research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Becca permalink
    November 6, 2013 3:40 am

    Excellent article! Thanks for sharing these tips!

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