As our crags thaw out, climbers shed a few puffy layers in preparation for their warmer-weather rock projects—their native climbing pants accompanying them in both successes and failures. Since the alignment of the stars and planets aren’t always a reliable source to forecast adventures, we turned to these celestial slacks for this season’s climbing horoscopes.

Spandex Tights
This will be a colorful and bright season filled with exposure—not just of beautiful rock buttresses, but of your privy parts as well. Expect an enjoyable but fragile time, where you should probably avoid real rocks, dirt, and Velcro.

Denim Jeans
Just like your pants, this season will be familiar and solid. Expect an opportunity to show off how strong and stylish you are—but how can you do that without heel-hooks or figure-fours? Alas, that durable denim will slow you down, restricting you from reaching your full potential.

Carhartts
After some unsuccessful red-points on difficult sport climbs and too many flaky climbing partners, you will embrace free-soloing as your main climbing discipline. But keep in mind as you rise to great heights—you are not as indestructible as your pants.

Short-Shorts
You may open a portal to embody legends—Royal Robbins pioneering big-wall climbing, Lynn Hill making a first ascent of the Nose on El Cap, Wim Hof climbing Everest—or you may just have an embarrassing day at Spire. Embrace your freedom, but keep in mind your vulnerability to the elements and others watching from below.

Corduroy Pants
You are a practical and durable climber who can display flexibility when cruxes manifest. Your understanding of comfort will allow you to thrive on cooler days, climbing multi-pitch routes or meeting for coffee dates.

The Newest Climbing-Specific Knickers
You are a strong boulderer or sponsored climber who wants to be protected from scratches, abrasions, and embarrassing fashion trends. Your gusseted crotch reveals you can handle most of the difficult movements on your projects. Take this opportunity to climb your hardest; even if you do wreck your pants during your first outing of the season, duct tape is always available to turn your blemishes into dirtbag perfection.

Nothing
You are a cutting-edge climber who will have a painful season due to harness-chafing and constant exposure to sharp rocks, solar radiation, harsh winds, late-season snow, judgemental stares, and uncontrollable laughter. The celestial alignment will cause other climbers to hesitate when you ask for a belay.

–E

This article first appeared in Outside Bozeman Spring 2018

When looking for a partner, it’s tempting to consider someone with a nice-looking rack or a sweet set of nuts, but take it from me, you’re better off with a belay partner whose gear—and ego—is well-worn. There are too many people out there who claim to climb, but instead spend their time flaunting their equipment on social media, seeking partners who will shower them with thumbs-up approval. Despite the occasional d-bag around the crag, there are still many bona fide dirtbags: people who don’t need the newest Prana climbing pants, or the most aggressive shoes, or lavender-scented chalk. If you too want to rope up and cut the crap, but can’t figure out why your climbing days still consist of the auto-belay at Spire, here are some tips.

For starters, talk to people. Many Bozemanites have climbed before, so you’re not putting yourself out too much if you ask, “Do you climb?” If it’s a co-worker, a cutie in line at the Co-op, or a babe in Burke Park, be friendly and strike up a conversation about how great the conditions in Hyalite have been looking. If you both are up to climb, exchange numbers, and call if you say you’re going to. Agree on a time, and if you’re the one who initiated the date, let your partner know what to bring and what to expect.

When you call, have a plan. If you ask someone out for the first time, remember that “Want to go climb in Hyalite at 1am?” is similar to “Want to watch Netflix and chill?” It shows that you probably don’t have a plan and that you and your partner might get into some very risky business.

Now, if you’ve never been to Practice Rock, tell the truth. Your partner will figure out soon enough if you were bullshitting about your Cardiac Arete lead. It’s okay for him to see that you don’t know everything—and just because you know some things, doesn’t mean you’re going to do all the work. Climbing is a team effort, and it will help your relationship if both you and your partner know that from the start.

After you do make a plan, show up. Be prepared and don’t expect your partner to bring water, snacks, or gear for you—unless he already told you he would. And it’s a safe practice to have extra water handy anyway, for when you and your partner get hot and bothered by the start on Theoretically.

In addition, try to avoid talking about all the long and hard classics you’ve done. Even though you may want to tell your partner how experienced you are, there are other ways—communicate well, help him feel safe, and climb smart. It’s easy to blab about climbs you’ve done; it’s more difficult, and more fun, to climb.

When gearing up, if a more experienced partner says you didn’t follow through your knot, or that your harness isn’t double-backed, listen. His advice could save a life. A good belayer will help his partner become a better climber.

If a less experienced partner is ready to get onto the sharp end of the rope, encourage him, answer his questions, be an unselfish and attentive belayer—and don’t beta-spew. Even if your way is the “right way,” as long as your climber isn’t in any real danger, give him some real words of encouragement.

If you’re not cheering him on, embrace the silence. If you don’t know your partner well yet, get to know him, but not when you’re halfway up the route. From 50 feet up, “What did you say?” sounds a whole lot like “Off belay.” Be respectful of other climbers, be mindful of the timing and volume of your conversations, and welcome the quiet moments between you and your partner.

When we climb for ourselves and encourage others to do the same, seeking to become a better belayer rather than finding the perfect belayer, we will discover that they are all around us. And it just takes a few awkward moves, sweaty palms, and courage to get to the top of the world with one.

–E

This article first appeared in Outside Bozeman Fall 2017.