Internet dating for climbers

Enjoy the one-rock stands
By MATT JOHANSON

Internet dating never appealed to me, but like so many others in our lonely world, I sometimes need help finding someone special. I decided to look online for a climbing partner.

“Good idea,” my non-climbing wife Karen said. “Don’t act too eager and make sure you smell nice,” she advised.

I’ve enjoyed rock climbing for 25 years and have roped up with some terrific people. A high school friend was my first, and we had great times in Yosemite and elsewhere, but eventually realized neither of us wanted an exclusive relationship.

Then came a memorable rendezvous with a Brit on El Capitan and a threesome on Half Dome. Many other hook-ups followed, on and off again for years, and still rekindled from time to time.

But truth be told, the fire has dimmed with several former companions. Some had kids, a few moved away, and others just lost interest.

I’ve resorted to hiring professionals a few times, which opened up intriguing experiences like Yosemite’s Washington Column and Utah’s Castleton Tower. These outings felt great physically but lacked emotional depth. Plus, guides are expensive.

In the old days climbers found partners using the Camp 4 bulletin board, but now all the action is online. So, my digital search began on Supertopo.com, which features excellent route information and interesting discussions. But try to connect with another climber and the site’s users will probably taunt you with their trademark wisecrack: “yer gonna die!”

Mountainproject.com includes a “partner finder” page and delivered better results. First, I paired up with a Canadian at Lovers Leap near Lake Tahoe, where we climbed Surrealistic Pillar and Corrugation Corner. We matched up well physically and enjoyed each other’s company. But it wasn’t meant to last because, well, he returned to Canada.

Others came and went at places like Table Mountain, Fairview Dome and a few indoor climbing gyms. Everyone I met climbed well and safely although one drove his car on windy mountain roads like an unhinged Formula One racer. Some wanted more climbing than I did, others less. Out-of-state visitors stayed a while and then left the state. At least climbers seem to write honestly on their profiles, which isn’t always true in other dating situations, I hear.

Bottom line: internet climbing dating has led to fun flings but a lasting relationship eludes me. Is it me, or them? Should I wash my car more often? Am I too particular or too old to find a long-term partner who shares my passion?

“I guess you’re going to have to teach me to climb,” Karen joked. I’d do it too, but she didn’t really mean it. There’s a big difference between tying the knot and tying in together, and rare are the couples who can happily do both.

This climber has learned that, despite the internet, finding lasting relationships is hard as Sierra granite, so you’d might as well enjoy the fleeting one-rock stands.

If you like Sierra Splendor, you can enjoy more of it at facebook.com/sierrasplendor and instagram.com/sierrasplendor.

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