The Dark Side of Climbing Partnerships in Chamonix


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Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 23, 2012 - 05:23am PT
Anyone can relate/emphatize/offer advice on how impossibly difficult it is for a newcomer to Chamonix to find some regular climbing partners?

It's yet another perfect fall weather day, and this week I didn't have even someone to hook up for a few pitches at Gaillands ... I have been here for 5+ weeks and have not yet touched at all the granite of Envers, satellites of Tacul (one partner with whom I had plans for a 3 day trip bailed at the last moment when there was no single cloud in the sky)

Paradoxically, it seems I was climbing more/in better shape before quitting that cubicle job in NY (that paid 3-4 times more than what I am counting on making through myself!) because I had some great regular partners (ok, perhaps it is easier to establish and keep regular partnerships when you both have the typical 9-5). I have tried a lot of different things: OHM book, C2C, writing in French, speaking in French when it seems like it will help the connection, asking directly people to connect me to someone they might know...The best that comes out of this effort is a partner to hook up with for 1-2 days of low key cragging or a route in the Aig Rouges...and then that person is gone. Perhaps to their regular life/partners or perhaps they perceived me as someone that they would not want to climb with again. And I had not even led with them, except perhaps smth incredibly easy, as I know that I can be very slow if I try smth that would be a challenge.

Obviuosly, the common denominator to all these human interactions is me, so I am trying to understand what I am doing wrong ...

perhaps I am giving out a vibe of desperation
perhaps, being in my thirties now, the people with whom I connect age-wise (-10 , +20) are all settled in their lives, spouses, relationships, climbing friends, and there is no chance of those barriers being broken to allow for newcomers.
perhaps since all my relationships with the opposite sex have been skin-deep at most and out of 8 years of climbing I only had one climbing boyfriend for like 1 year, I am just not capable of finding/keeping a climbing partnership that evolves and grows...

Ok, Supertopians, looking fwd to your climbing psychology consultation, while I go hide myself in a dark bar that has wifi, to sit and work on the computer. (And perhaps review in my head solo rope systems)

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 23, 2012 - 06:25am PT
Wishing you all Love, Adventure and Sucess!

Your post shows your feeling and your skin deep relationships show that you are bottling your feelings. That's fear. You're a climber, go beyond and the world will change shape around you.

So also meet people with an open heart, expecting to be accepted and "seen" and not taking it personally when you're not met, because your heart is true. Embrace yourself. People will respond automatically. Trust when you feel a persons heart is good that you can just engage and it's OK

It's always the change within that matters



Trad climber
Sep 23, 2012 - 09:51am PT
Its been said that Americans in France are about as welcome as a turd in a sandbox. Could be worse though, you could be English, ha! Of course thats a sweeping generalization, but Chamonix is perhaps a tough place to find a partner to master the basics, more of a place to go when you got your game on.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Sep 23, 2012 - 10:20am PT

Suggest same sex partners to avoid some of the non-climbing complications involved if all you want is a climbing partner.


See a couple gals climbing or who are climbers. Smile, say hello. Likely partnering conversation openers would be a light hearted complaint about men.

Complaining about men seems to bond women instantly.

Ok Most of the above is just off the cuff BS..

But not the Smile part.

Sep 23, 2012 - 11:27am PT
Even in the driest of desserts one can find a blade of grass...

I can relate and empathize. Instead of looking for general partners, try picking a specific climb that you want to do and post that you are seeking a partner for that specific climb. Meanwhile, solo stuff that's safe to solo, or do recon hikes to the base or the walk-offs of some of your dream climbs and scope them out. You may run into people while doing these solo adventures that might lead to fruitful encounters. In other words, don't wait around. Granted, it is a drag and can be lonely when you are jonesing for a like-minded partner, but there is something about being lonely that can push you into be more open and receptive to others. I don't think your age is a factor at all.

Don't despair and enjoy Cham!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 23, 2012 - 11:38am PT
Complaining about men seems to bond women instantly.

Too Funny and true!

Even guys can get away with complaining about guys to women and get bonded!

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Sep 23, 2012 - 11:45am PT
Walking up and complaining about anything would be a big turn off. He got it right up thread - smile. :) (Not to imply you don't already). Good luck!

Ice climber
dingy room at the Happy boulders hotel
Sep 23, 2012 - 11:53am PT
Never been to Chamonix, but(and this is probably a stupid question) do they have climbing gyms?
Have you posted your need at the climbing shops?

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Sep 23, 2012 - 11:58am PT
Many of us would love to be there and would surely climb with you. It is difficult to find partners no matter where you are when you are not part of the scene. Do not take it personally . . . get out and train on your own and work on fitness and moving quickly over different terrain. Solo something if you are able to do so safely. You went to a lot of effort to get to Chamonix so make the most of it and get off your computer and out of the bar.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 23, 2012 - 12:18pm PT
Plenty of nice easy routes to solo this time of year what with the crevasses
being open for the most part (at least until you get quite high), n'est-ce pas?
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 23, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
Do you know how to rope solo?

I'd show you but I'm trying to pick this blade of grass out of my dessert,...

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 23, 2012 - 01:24pm PT
It is France. Try the ex-pat scene. Socieities, even climbing ones, in insular places like Chamonix can be hard to break into. Don't blame yourself, keep smiling and keep trying, it will work out.
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Sep 23, 2012 - 01:36pm PT
I agree with Studly; it sounds like youíre not yet climbing at a level of difficulty that is commensurate with the competitive Chamonix scene. I havenít had an extended visit in Chamonix for several decades, so take my comments for what they are worth. They certainly are not au courant.

As you know, Chamonix is a serious place to climb, where objective dangers abound. I imagine that itís the same as it was long ago: speed, efficiency and proficiency are still the attributes that are sought in partners, primarily for reasons of self-preservation.

Maybe broaden your horizons to the Italian side of Mt. Blanc. Have you been cragging down the Val DíAosta? Itís got pretty good weather even when Chamonix is socked in, the food is superior, and the Italians have a deserved reputation for warmth.

Bon chance!

Sep 23, 2012 - 01:50pm PT
Just leave Chamonix.

There's nothing there anyways except rocks and ice.

Useless stuff.

Instead go to stony point in southern calif where everything is.

Medusa and Tom Cruise are there tooo ....

Trad climber
Sep 23, 2012 - 01:55pm PT
never easy to find partners in a new area, if yr doing anything more than casual cragging.

the boulders up at col d'martigny often draw folks who are in town w/o a partner and looking to keep fit. so long as the weather's good, you've no excuse for not being in killer shape.


Sport climber
Sep 23, 2012 - 02:01pm PT

Sep 23, 2012 - 02:03pm PT
this is why i pretty much quit climbing, got a dog and bought a mountain bike.

good luck in cham.

Trad climber
Sep 23, 2012 - 02:04pm PT
honestly, i've seen very few places with a a concentration of user-friendly boulders ideally suited for training for rock climbers wanting to climb anywhere from 5.8 to easy 13.

not a destination area for boulderers looking to buff their 8Bs, but ideal for rock climbers. probably why almost everytime i was there, i was always meeting locals there for the same drill.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Sep 23, 2012 - 02:26pm PT
I have found it easy to get partners for Chamonix and various other Euro countries in Camp4. Been invited a couple times by Cham locals but never got over there to take em up on the offer ../sigh

Yeah that helped ya a lot I know.. Fly back to states to meet partners for

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Sep 23, 2012 - 02:55pm PT
Go to the climbing wall in les Houches and look there - if you mean rock climbing, that is...
Remember, the official season is finished now, so there'll be fewer folk around now, but you could check out some of the popular campsites that Brits and Yanks use.
The very best cragging in the area is Gietroz and Barberine. Try just turning up at one of those crags, you never know...
Before you go thinking it's just you, it's not - it's difficult to find partners in such a short time. It's not a friendly place - not like the States, anyway.
Edit: Oh, I meant to add, I'm in California right now...
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