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Learn to Climb: Finding Climbing Partners

So you’ve decided you want to learn to climb. Welcome! But let’s face it, motivating to get to the gym on the regular is a lot easier when you go with someone else. And obviously if you want to to top-rope you are going to need another set of hands.

In this post Kerrin and Jamie will share advice on finding new climbing partners.

Kerrin’s advice: 

Take a course

While it’s never as useful or as educational to take a course with a host of different climbers, it does create a chance to meet fellow climbers who are probably in your skill level. Brooklyn Boulders offers a collection of courses, from the beginner Learn the Ropes to Lead Climbing, all of which you can sign-up with a group. While the private lessons Brooklyn Boulders offers may be the most helpful for your climbing skills in the short run, it will be the people you meet in the climbing classes that will continue to encourage you and help you learn in the long run. During my Learn the Ropes course, I met a new friend that I have met multiple times at Brooklyn Boulders for bouldering fun and to do top-rope climbing. Having at least a couple of people who you know in your skill level will almost always give you someone to climb with.

On Climb Find Brooklyn Boulders and other climbing communities nationwide have boards on which you can post that you’re looking for a climbing partner. Unfortunately, rock climbers aren’t as prevalent as we might like, so if it’s difficult to find a top-rop climbing partner when you first get into climbing, post a message on the board (“Looking for a climbing partner for Saturday morning!”) to find one!

Kerrin Sheldon bouldering at Brooklyn Boulders

Be Friendly!

Maybe the easiest and most consistent way to find a climbing partner is to go climb! Many rock climbing gyms, Brooklyn Boulders included, offer bouldering as well, which can be tackled solo and without a climbing partner. Here, there are plenty of other groups and solo climbers who are trying to climb the same problems and routes, giving you the perfect opening line (“What’s your strategy for taking on this V3?”). More experienced climbers are always happy to help, giving you pointers on where to pivot, what moves to use, or what tenacity you’ll need to get past a challenging route. The best way to meet new people is to do just that – meet them at the gym and engage them with your newfound climbing personality.

Jamie’s advice:

Meetup Groups

There are two Meetup Groups who consistently host events at Brooklyn Boulders, Rock & Ice and Crux. Rock & Ice is a volunteer NYC based group hosting all sorts of indoor and outdoor climbing events at Brooklyn Boulders and elsewhere. Crux is an LGBT rock climbing group and as their Meetup page explains, “We love climbing and we want to introduce more people to this incredible sport. In addition to creating an environment where all of our members feel welcome, this is the place to have a great time getting in shape and meeting new people. ” Sign up to these Meetup groups and check out the event that catches your fancy to meet new climbers. How can you resist Taco Tuesdays?

Brooklyn Boulder Events

You really can’t imagine all of the amazing events going on at Brooklyn Boulders. Take for example the Halloween Party, or the Cosmic Climbing (headlamps and lasers!) events. Ridiculously fun, these events are also a great way to meet new climbing partners. Follow the Brooklyn Boulders Facebook page to keep updated on upcoming events, such as the upcoming Ladies Climbing Night the first weekend of December!


Learn to Climb: Meet Jamie

by Jamie Hagen

After recently moving to Park Slope from Bed-Stuy I knew the time was right to give rock climbing a try again.  With Brooklyn Boulders in my backyard I now have the perfect opportunity to devote time to learning to climb and earlier this month I took the plunge and made my first visit to BKB!

More of a bookworm than a gym rat, over the next few months I’ll share my thoughts about climbing and some of the more social and behind the scenes aspects of Brooklyn Boulders. I’ll be blogging along with another new climber Kerrin Sheldon who was kind enough to take the photos in the post of some of my early attempts at bouldering.

I’m not totally new to climbing, but it’s been awhile. In high school I went rock climbing in Kentucky several times both indoors and out with my friend Carla and her mother, an avid climber. She first took us climbing at Rockquest gym to learn indoor rope climbing and later took us to the outdoor climbing hotspot Red River Gorge. The last time I heard from Carla she told me her mother  had just completed climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro while on their trip to Africa so kudos to her!


Photo Credit: Kerrin Sheldon

Rock climbing can be a bit intimidating for the first time climber, especially at a large gym such as Brooklyn Boulders. And we’ve all heard the, “But I don’t have any upper arm strength!” concern.   Fear not! There are lots of friendly people who are anxious to share all the awesome that is rock climbing with you and offer advice to new climbers. Also, that whole worry about lack of arm strength is a non-issue. The CRUX climbing group offers this advice on the “Do I need to be really strong and have a lot of upper body strength” question:

Not at all! If you can climb a ladder you can rock climb! While popular belief is that you need to be really strong and have a lot of upper body strength to climb, the truth is that you actually don’t. Climbing is more about balance and brains than brawn. When starting out, people who have a lot of upper body strength tend to rely on that while those that don’t will usually learn technique more quickly. People with many different body shapes and levels of fitness can all excel at climbing.


Photo Credit: Kerrin Sheldon

So far I’ve taken the Learn the Ropes course and gone several times with friends to complete my belay certification.  If you aren’t quite ready to jump into taking a course and belaying, going alone to boulder is also a great way to check out the gym and get your feet wet.

You may be surprised to learn how many people you know who are already climbers or have always wanted to try climbing, something I’ve certainly learned since I’ve started to climb.

Follow the “Learn to Climb” series on the BKB blog to learn more about the techniques of learning to climb and about becoming part of the BKB community from Kerrin and I!



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