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Finding Outdoor Adventure Partners
Have you just moved to a new area? Are you wondering how to find other like-minded folks with your passion for hiking, scrambling, running, biking, or climbing? Below we discuss advantages of having adventure partners, traits to look for in compatible buddies, and suggestions for locating other potential buddies in your area who are also looking for training or adventure partners. If you are in the Pacific Northwest, the resources linked below will be perfect for you.
How Might Finding a Partner Benefit Me?
Additional Motivation: If you find yourself staying at home simply because you do not have a friend to chat with while you are out in the mountains, you may find that having a partner will help you get out more often. If you tend to enjoy the solitude and like going at your own pace, you may not need a training buddy.
Enjoyment: There is nothing quite like seeing a deer drinking from the stream, watching a beautiful sunset, or making it up a route you didn’t think would be possible and then sharing it with someone who has experienced the same thing. If you find a compatible adventure buddy, you have someone to rehash wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) experiences for years to come.
Increased Safety: Quite frankly, you can get hurt if you venture into the mountains alone and attempt something that can be dangerous, particularly if you’re headed to the back country or avalanche danger is high. If you are with a buddy, you can draw on both of your histories of experience and knowledge and make more educated decisions about whether to continue or turn around. In the unlikely event that something happens to you, your buddy can go for help or assist you.
Consistency: If you know that you are meeting someone at the pool or bike trail at a certain time, you are more likely to stick to your swim or ride and be committed. The same token applies to the flip side. You can become so dependent on your buddies and feel lost or unable to enjoy outings if they do not show up, which is why it is important to find adventure partners who are compatible with you.
What Should I Look For in a Partner?
Matching Personality: Obviously you are not going to want to climb or run with someone who has nothing in common with you or who is unsafe. You have to like something about your adventure partners and get along with them. A risk-taker who prefers to push onward even as an electrical storm breathes down his or her neck may not do so well partnering with a conservative fair-weather climber who is always checking weather forecasts up until the moment of departure. Likewise the mountain goat who likes to race out of the parking lot probably will feel frustrated hiking with someone who likes to take a lot of pictures of foliage.
Similar Goals: The people you choose to train with should have similar goals to yours. It does you no good to climb with someone who wants to race up Mt. Rainier in a day if you prefer to enjoy the views, pace yourself comfortably, and enjoy being out in the fresh air. You may find that you and your potential buddy are compatible in personality and schedules, but you prefer cragging and your friend likes overnight glacier trips. Compromise might work here. On the other hand, if you are training for a triathlon and find a masters swimmer who loves doing laps but cannot run a mile to save her life, you may find that although your goals differ you can actually learn something from one another and have fun doing something you don’t normally do.
Compatible Schedule: If you enjoy summit sunrises and your potential partner prefers a noon picnic, you may have difficulty agreeing on when to get started from camp. If you want to do a 5-day canoe trip and your buddy works six days a week, you will have a tough time coordinating schedules to do much together.
How Can I Find a Suitable Adventure Partner?
Local Clubs: Join a local club that focuses on the events that interest you. In the Pacific Northwest, one club that offers all kinds of outside events and activities is The Mountaineers (for more information visit http://www.mountaineers.org and click on the branch closest to you: Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, Bellingham or Wenatchee). You can get instruction in climbing, go on hiking trips, learn to sail, participate in nature photography walks, go on singles outings, experience family events, ski, snowshoe, take classes galore, and much more.
National Magazines: Pick up a few national magazines that address your interests – Climbing, Rock and Ice, Backpacker, Runner’s World, Sierra Club – they sometimes offer lists of triathlon training groups, climbing clubs in big cities and their locations, events where you might be able to meet other like-minded people, and so forth.
National Organizations: Do some on-line research to find both larger national groups and smaller regional groups that might be good resources to you; The Mazamas in Portland (http://mazamas.org), BoeAlps in Seattle (http://boealps.org), National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) (http://www.nols.edu), Outward Bound (http://www.outwardboundwilderness.org), the Sierra Club (http://sierraclub.com) and other such groups all offer instruction to provide you with tools necessary to be comfortable going out into the wilderness on your own. Groups that lead expeditions, adventure outings, and tours may also be potential sources of local training groups in your area. Many times the people you meet through such organizations can become your climbing or hiking partners.
On-Line Resources: Look on-line for chat groups or websites that have bulletin boards where you can meet other like-minded people. Such examples in the Pacific Northwest include www.Cascadeclimbers.com. Not only can you meet other training partners, but also read route descriptions and learn about places you’d eventually like to go and see for yourself.
Local Gyms: Check at your local YMCA, YWCA, or other commercial gyms to see if they have outings organized around events of interest. If you like biking or swimming, call your local bike shops or swimming pools for lists of events, seminars, races and the like that might provide you with opportunities to meet others; oftentimes they are some of the best sources of information for events going on in your neighborhood.
Your Workplace: You may be surprised to find that there are other people who work near you who are interested in some of the same activities who would be fun to climb, hike, bike or train with. If there is a community bulletin board or a newsletter that goes out to everyone you might consider placing a notice or taking out a small ad, or better yet, look to see if someone else is already organizing an event you would enjoy. Alum magazines from your Alma Mater may be another resource for exotic tours and events. When all else fails, get the training you need to enjoy your outings yourself, and you may be able to hook up with people while you’re exploring on your own. Whatever you do, GET OUT THERE!