IF YOU HAVE AN OUNCE OF ADVENTURER in you, you’ve probably felt the pull of the muscled rock climber parking their van next to you at the campsite. But, if you truly have any ounce of sense in you, you’ve learned why to stay away:
Neither is a Five Year Plan, or even a One Year Plan for that matter. Unless you’re talking about which routes or problems they plan to send this season, most climbers have no clue what the future holds. All they know is that they are oh-so-close to finally finishing Twinkie, so you’ll most likely find them in the Red River Gorge this spring.
If you’ve got your eye on a partner who will treat you to fancy dinners and expensive gifts, you might want to rule out climbers. To them, a nice meal involves concocting a unique mix of whatever treasures were scored during the last dumpster diving excursion to Kroger. But don’t confuse this thriftiness with necessity — they are probably just saving up for a new pair of La Sportiva Solutions and a set of C3s.
“Did you stick the crux on the roof of Hillbilly Gang Bang*? You really gotta shove a hand in the crack. There’s no way it’s a 5.12d.” Climbers have their own lingo and unless you plan on double backing your harness and learning to tie in properly, good luck understanding them. One of these YouTube videos might help.
*We know this is not the real name of a climb, but just for the record, Hilbilly Sex Farm is.
Two weeks without a shower? Pretty standard. Don’t think for one minute that the state you met them in will ever change. Greasy hair, dirty clothes, and that unmistakable climber musk are all points of pride. Learn to love it.
Dating a climber means getting used to the fact that most of your nights together will be spent without freshly-washed sheets stretched across an expensive Sealy posturepedic. Instead, you’ll find yourself snuggled uncomfortably upon a couple of Therm-a-Rests, or if you’re lucky, an old futon mattress thrown across some plywood in the back of their van.
Similar to migratory birds, your life might start to move south for the winter. Sending temps are not something to scoff at. The wrong conditions might just be the one thing keeping your climber from sending their project. So, remember to check the forecast before planning any surprises, and get used to living on the road.
Not because climbers are not loving and romantic, but because their hands will NEVER be soft. Their palms and fingers will eternally be covered with callouses, cuts, and taped-together skin. Don’t even think of offering them some lotion, losing that layer of dead skin would wreak havoc on their performance. Better steer clear of hot tubs as well…
Modesty goes completely out the window when the closest indoor plumbing is an hour walk back to the parking lot. All couples eventually pee with the door open, but when you date a climber, you’ll most likely be faced with all sorts of publicly-displayed body functions very early on in your relationship. Fingers crossed they don’t want to take you big wall-ing straightaway.
And that is climbing. Don’t even think of heading to France to see the Eiffel Tower, not when Fontainebleau is waiting to be bouldered. Sure you’ll get to see the world, but it will mainly consist of the natural world. Cities won’t be anywhere on the itinerary.
Especially during stationary, “normal” periods of their lives, you’ll get used to hearing your climbing boo relive, for the millionth time, the time they summited El Capitan. Climbers need to be climbing, and when they’re not, they will most definitely tell you all about when they were.
Falling for an adrenaline junky is not for the faint of heart. Even if they are the safest climber you know, climbers are still risking their lives every time they tie in and start scaling another rock face. Heck, they might even get injured just belaying. Either learn to deal with it or move on, because they are not going to want some worrywart ruining their psych day-in and day-out.
Time after time you’ve vowed to never again fall for someone who takes you to the gym for a first date, yet you still keep finding yourself braving the crisp autumn nights in a tent by their side. Despite all the frustrations that come with loving a climber, you know there’s something magical in the way they see this world. Their fearlessness and commitment to such a spontaneously fulfilling lifestyle keeps you hooked, or should I say heel-hooked…