You don’t have a (climbing) partner for your next vacation but you want to climb nonetheless? So, then what? Go solo or should you just postpone till you find someone to go with? I say go solo. It’s a lot of fun to meet a lot of people just as hooked on climbing as yourself. But there are a few things you want to keep in mind before and during such a trip.
First and foremost, pick a destination that offers a high chance of meeting other (solo) climbers to team up with. Below I’ll add some info about climbing destinations I’ve been to and how likely it will be to meet others there.
The right season
Make sure that you go to your picked destination when it’s on season. When you’re there in off season time you still will see some climbers, but it’s harder to team up since there’s less choice.
When you’re at your climbing destination find the local hangouts and go there in the afternoon/evening to hang out. If you’re not sure who you should talk to, talk to the people who own or work at the place. They know their regulars and can point you to people who are open to take in another climber.
If a town is close to a big climbing crag, many in town know about the popular hangouts. Ask around, they’ll point you in the right direction. If there’s a campground close to the crag there’s a big chance that you’ll find climbers there. If all fails, your last option is to go to the crag and talk to people there. Bring snacks, or buy drinks later as a thank you. It’s highly appreciated and quite common between climbers.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to find a partner once you’re there, you can use websites and social media to find people to climb with beforehand. On the Traveling Rock Climbers Facebook page there is a list with all known climbing communities around the world. Dig around there and get in touch with the locals. Many are very much interested in showing people around.
The hardest part about this all is finding the guts to go up to people and intrude in their lives. You need a bunch of determination to keep going even though you might get a no here and there.
When you’ve found someone to climb with, ask about their experience. Try to find out if they are safe to climb with. Pick a very easy climb and keep an eye out on your belayer. Are they working safe? Does it look like the person is able to catch an unpredicted fall? Don’t be afraid to stop if you feel insecure with their belaying. Better to hurt feelings over your own body.
Remember that you might not be able to find a partner every day. Appreciate all the climbing you can get done. Come up with ideas (beforehand) for things you can do as soon as you don’t have that partner.
The more popular a destination is, the higher the chances of finding a good partner. The popularity goes together with the amount of routes and grades. The more routes the more popular. I believe that Kalymnos in Europe and some spots in Thailand, Asia are the most popular solo climbing destinations. But there are many popular climbing destinations around the world. As I said before, the right season is key.
Over the years I’ve climbed in various locations in Europe. I’ll list them below here ordered from easiest to hardest to find partners at. I haven’t traveled all these places solo, so excuse me if I assessed wrong. I’ll keep this list up to date if I add a new destination on my blog.
As I said before, a great place to experience solo trips. I had a lot of fun meeting new people, some I’m still in touch with till today. In the post you’ll find all links to the right places for meeting new climbing friends.
This area lives and breathes climbers. Even during the Covid restrictions you could find more than enough people staying out here. In summer I’m not sure how busy it will be but in March it was ideal weather with loads of climbers.
It was harder than I thought to find partners to climb with. I think this had to do with my timing. I was there late May, early June. I think this place is more popular during the summer time, even though it might be slightly too hot.
Climbing here is like going to a climbing gym. There are many groups climbing together. It’ll probably depend on the group if you’re welcome or not. But one of the guys from my group ended up climbing with some other people for a while. If you have your own rope asking for a catch won’t be too difficult.
This wasn’t a solo trip, but I do remember that the campground in Cala Gonone had a lot of climbers. I have no idea if there’s a hangout of some sort, but there are really a lot of routes in that one area. Many can be reached on foot from that town. A plus for travelers without cars.
This also wasn’t a solo trip. However the campground close to town often has many climbers. And I do remember a bar/restaurant where many climbers would sit with a beer after climbing. It is a popular multi pitch course destination.
On this trip I matched up with people online, before going here. I don’t think there is any real hangout where you’ll be able to find climbers. It has however a nice big community that is mostly active on weekends.
I managed to find someone online, but it’s really hard. Lately I’ve been reading about a group of bolters who are planning to develop a crag in the summer of 2020. It’s by far no Kalymnos yet, but it seems that they are a growing community.
This area is overshadowed by the huge community of Chamonix. So when traveling solo I highly recommend going there instead. This area is still fairly busy, but people go here in teams of two for a day on the rock. If you are really looking for someone your best bet will be at one of the gyms of Annecy.
If I didn’t have a fellow climber introduced to me I probably wouldn’t have found someone to climb with in the six weeks I was in the area. The climbing or bouldering gym will be your best bet if you are looking for a partner.
I’ve never tried to find someone to go climbing with in Belgium. So no way of knowing for sure, but I think it’s virtually impossible.