Finding Trust On Unsure Footing
Lately I've been coming up against a challenge related to the alpine that actually occurs before I ever have the chance to step foot on snow or ice. It does, however, have just as much baring on my safety and experience as any other choice I make during a climb. The challenge is a simple one that I have yet to find a simple answer to: finding a partner.
Over the years, my partners have come rather organically. I've had friends, friends of friends, or family pull through time and again. Now, though, having moved to a new place, I'm struggling to zero in on people I can climb with, and even more importantly, people I can trust when things go south. I had a rather challenging situation come about as a result of trusting someone I shouldn't have, and it cost me a large amount of my confidence in others. Why should people trust me either?
On paper, I don't stack up with the most experienced of them. I can perform vertical rescues, and I can haul out of a crevasse. I can decision make in challenging terrain and I can work through moments that feel dangerous. I haven't taken every last class available, though, and much of my experience has come through mentorship. I've put myself and this background out there before and been shamed as a danger to others. This has always surprised me, and it's shown me that there is a fair degree of toxicity and elitism in the sport of mountaineering. The overall result is that partners can be more sparse. When they do come around, I am wary of setting out on my objectives without introductory climbs, but then there's the question of time. I simply don't have the time to mountaineer enough with new partners to challenge them on low risk terrain enough times to feel comfortable going into high risk terrain with them.
Perhaps I'm totally out of line! Which is why I'm asking this here. How do you guys find partners that you trust? Where do you go, how much time do you put in, and at what point do you set off into climbs that will genuinely challenge you. Please leave pointed criticism at the door and choose to have a conversation with me. I find that many people take questions like these as a chance to tell me or others that we are a hazard or a problem. Until we can chat, let's keep this higher level!