photo by @bhartstudios

photo by @bhartstudios

"I trust that guy with my life."

Common phrase, typically used when describing a good friend. But how often is that phrase put to the test? If you’ve never served, or experienced some sort of traumatic accident, chances are you may not truly understand the expression.

In the climbing community, this is daily, and if you can’t say this about your buddy, you may want to rethink your crew. For this reason, I personally believe that climber relationships are immediately intimate, romantic or not.

Anyone following my personal media account’s knows this rule-of-thumb certainly applies to me. Between my suicidal depression, my immanent luck for disaster, an online diary, and in the spicy section of kd’s kitchen; reintroducing myself into the dating scene; I have to be willing to trust people with very personal details of my life. So, after nearly getting swept down a river (Thanks for grabbing me, Deven!), getting lost on the Oregon Trail (Thanks for finding me, Ryan!), and fainting in the middle of nowhere (Thanks for reviving me, Mr. Handsome EMT)…I think it’s safe to say, “I get it.”


Not to say other sports don’t have the same effect on people, but you’re bound to learn something about someone who’s 100+ feet off the ground and doesn’t know where to go next. Maybe you learn how they handle stress/fear/problem solve, or maybe even some underlying daddy-issue or something. Point is, when you’re pushing yourself to your mental/physical limit, you bond with the people struggling alongside you.


We make friends with people we can project with, people we can help, or people who can teach us, and sometimes you get to know the, “them outside climbing,” and you discover that you really don’t enjoy this person’s friendship at all. You find out who’s faking, who’s real great with plastic not so much with rock, who’s great for conversation other than beta, and who’s just using you to meet the hawties.


Here’s where this entry get’s fun, I already mentioned after all the time off/limbo of dating I’m starting to go out again, so naturally I’m observant of interactions romantically. I’ve talked in a previous post about flirting at the gym, aggressive/passive behaviors, so let’s circle back later to the getting preyed upon at the crag and gym and fast forward to the part where we pretend that you and another climber have mutual interest in one another.

How is this any different?

Well, we normally refrain from showing our love interest any make-or-break characteristics such as stress management, failure, and extreme physical trials…all of which you get up front in the climbing scenario.

Why aren’t these relationships fool proof then?

To start, these relationships begin a little backwards. You see the extreme pieces of a person, but miss out on the little details that would typically inspire intrigue and attraction to begin with.

“What is your life?”

Because outside of dirtbaggery, what is important to you? You walk onto the b-ball court and you have a pretty good idea of who grew up playing street rules vs the playground. There is no shirts-vs.-skins in climbing, and aside from small, almost undetectable details of conversation, you basically have no idea of who lives a high class society lifestyle or is crashing on their friends couch. Which, in loo of making decisions of a life partner, we make opinions and judgment calls if even subconsciously of the people we meet at the coffee shop. We like to have common interests with people, more so than just one sport. Chances are, if you enjoy a refined wine lifestyle, going to a kegger may not be up your alley, and you’re less likely to take interest in someone who would bring you to that scene and visa versa.


But this is also to say in reverse, because you get to know so many personal pieces of someone so quickly in extreme sports, you also find yourself taking interest in someone who in the, “real world,” setting you wouldn’t take a second glance at. It’s a paradox, and you could find yourself going in circles about whether how opposites attract or having more common interests creates a soul mate or not.


I think that makes the life lesson here that feelings are complicated, friendships or romantic. While it’s already complicated enough in the real world, it’s really complicated in a small community, it’s like a small town where everyone dies famous. So, I’ll be collecting thoughts, opinions, experiences from you all, and surely together we can figure this whole people thing.

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stay positive.


KariDane Matlock