Ok so clearly when I say climbing partner I’m not talking about a climbing buddy who stands at the end of the rope to make sure you don’t die, hauling insults, patronizing tips and occasional words of “encouragement” that are meant to make you feel motivated, such as “You’re nearly halfway there!” No. I’m talking about being with someone who is a climber. My partner/boyfriend/guy who seems to hang around me a lot, is sadly afflicted with chronic vertical obsession syndrome. This can sometimes lead to complications in our relationship, though there are also benefits (the six pack is coming along nicely honey!) and I guess it keeps him off the streets so to speak. Needless to say, I’ve had to adapt my behaviour over the past few years to cope with this debilitating illness. I thought nothing short of 12 tips would be a pertinent and useful beginners guide for those enduring a relationship with someone who prefers spending their time clambering up walls than pretty much anything else…
1. If you’re planning on actually seeing your partner during the week or weekend make sure you give them warning – don’t be offended if they had not thought about how they were going to “fit-in” seeing you between:
“Wednesday, no that’s definitely out, there’s a bunch of us going down to…”
It’s not their fault, its part of their condition. Just remember, planning time for you and them without walls is essential.
2. Be suspicious of weekend “romantic getaways” to the blue mountains.*
3. Be more suspicious of the getaway when you see an ill-disguised rope, harness and “climbing shoes” aka. torture devices for toddler feet, piled up in the boot.
4. If you’re going to get your hair done, buy a new outfit, get a new job, move out of the state for a while, let your partner know about all the plans and preparations so when you turn up to see them (with red hair or after being in Perth for 6 months) you can say something like “what do you think?” or “did you miss me?” and they’ll have an idea of what you’re talking about instead of giving up and looking at the stone wall behind you with eyes flitting eagerly from side-to-side.
5 If you hear the words “one sec darling” whilst wandering through the streets, that’s climbers talk for “I just want to see if I can climb up this telegraph pole.” You must immediately walk away and pretend not to know who this monkey is. Why not walk up to a random group of people to ask for the time or help an old lady cross the street? If no-one is around, slip into the nearest pub or liquor store to drink away any embarrassment that you, naturally, may be experiencing.
6. The white powdery stuff really is chalk.
7. When it’s your turn to plan a holiday, go somewhere flat.
8. Warning: Belaying is a bitch, your neck is really not meant to be bent back at the angle required to ensure your beloved does not fall to any harm.
9. Just don’t belay ok?
10. If you ever get dragged into belaying make sure you are the worst and most annoying belayer ever. Don’t acknowledge the fact that your partner just completed the “23” with the 90° overhang and toothpick sized “rocks” that everyone else had been unable to complete. When they look at you for the expected “Oh my god you are amazing, holy art thou! I cannot fathom to understand how you could be with such a lowly non-climbing human as myself, I must be the luckiest person on the planet” as you bow down to the ground; instead, simply smile and nod and ask when you can have a break for ice cream.
11. If my 10th tip has not deterred your partner and you’ve been roped in to doing another rock climbing session, then its time to step up your game and pull out the big guns. I suggest bringing a friend for two reasons, firstly because you will have someone to joke around with and make the experience more enjoyable and secondly, and more importantly they can act as a “wing-man”. This is especially significant when you see your loved one flirting with some rock climbing chums of the opposite sex while you’re clinging on an “8” for dear life. Just remember there’s plenty of eye candy for you and your friend too. For best results, hop off the wall and prance around “checking out climbs” in sexy exercise gear – the fact that you’re not stinky and sweaty like the real climbers may just work to your advantage.
12. Lastly and most importantly, this is what you do when your significant other is going all techy with their recent rock climbing achievements – rant about something you can go equally tech-ass on. I use skiing and my boyfriend has never seen snow so conversations go something like this:
Him: So I was traversing this 21 and had to battle some slopers on the overhang so I –
Me interrupting: Oh do you guys call it traversing too?! When I was in Canada I had to traverse some fox trails and flat-ass terrain that kept me skating for like 40mins just to get to some decent powder with good coverage so I could practice Big Gs and moguls on black and double black diamond runs.
Him: Er…right, How’s the chicken?
I hope this has been useful for all the “non-climbers” out there struggling with the vertically obsessed. Just remember you’re not alone.
*The blue mountains is an area a few hours out of Sydney famous for its numerous and scenic bouldering and climbing spots.