The Glampeur’s Guide to Love in the Outdoors

Outdoor Dating, Part 2: Expectations

Text by Lizzy Scully, Photos by Steve Fassbinder

When I met Mr. Muscles, I knew we’d have loads of fun. Our first dates were full to the brim of adventure—camping, fishing, in-line skating, long boarding, bouldering and climbing, swimming and pretty much anything and everything you can imagine. Mr. Muscles loved to get after it, he was strong, good looking and fun. But the first day we went multi-pitch “traditional” climbing in the mountains, I discovered at least one things we wouldn’t do together.

A dynamic athlete, Mr. Muscles climbed significantly harder and more gracefully than I ever would. But, he didn’t love heights or thin granite cracks that required precise and delicate footwork rather than strength. He was a sport climber, and so not as comfortable placing his own gear as he was “clipping bolts.” For the uninitiated, sport climbers climb routes that have bolts that are fixed in the rock, while “trad” climbers carry their own gear, which they place into fissures and pockets. Half way up the second pitch of a moderate four-pitch route, his legs began to shake fairly violently (we call this “Elvis Leg”) thereby rendering him somewhat unstable on the rock.

“Watch me!” He hollered, his voice cracking with fear.

And then he dropped my favorite piece of gear, a #2.5 rigid stemmed “Friend” (a camming device used by rock climbers to protect themselves while ascending rock). This piece had history and character, having been originally crafted in the 1980s. Plus, I had found it early on in my climbing career, and it had accompanied me on a hundred or more climbing adventures. That was the last long route we did together. Over the next few years, we stuck closer to the ground.

Of course, you aren’t always going to know whether or not your date/new adventure partner is a good match until you actually hang out with him/her a few times (possibly on the side of a rock wall as Steve and I are doing in this photograph). That’s just part of the dating game. But, after you read the stories and tips below, you might just try a bit harder to find out before you embark on bigger adventures.

  1. Know the limits of your date. Though I knew Steve had never climbed an 1800-foot route, I felt OK climbing with him in the often dangerous Black Canyon; I had climbed with him a couple days already, and I asked him a ton of questions about his experience putting up new routes on desert towers. I quickly recognized he understood the dangers of climbing and that he was capable of doing the route I had chosen. I also knew I could carry the day if he turned out to be a dud (thank gawd he wasn’t!). Finally, I knew that no matter what happened, he’d probably be stoked; he loves to suffer. On the other hand, my friend Sue Barnett didn’t do her “research;” her boyfriend’s suggested “moderate” hike on their first date turned out to be a grueling uphill adventure. “Check out the elevation change for yourself so you know what you are actually getting into!” she recommends.
  2. Don’t Push Your Date (too hard): Consider Aimee Roseborrough. She loves traditional climbing, and her husband loves climbing. But like Mr. Muscles, he’s not keen on traditional climbing. “He would go with me because I do love it,” she explains. However, after getting snowed on and nearly hypothermic on the Petit Grepon, getting lost trying to find a route in New Mexico and epic’ing at Red Rocks National Conservation Area, he finally told her no more. “That’s when I knew I had to stop dragging him out on my misadventures.”
  3. It’s All Fun & Games Until Somebody Goes OTB: When you find out your blind date mountain bikes, says Joe Booth, don’t suggest a difficult trail for your subsequent date. Joe’s now wife, Lessa Tomlin, went over the handlebars on their first ride together. “That was November, so we didn’t ride, ski or adventure together again until spring,” he says. However, all was not lost. They spent the winter drinking wine. His dating tip: share adventure stories over a good meal and numerous expensive bottles of booze. “You can do that with your new love without having to go through the separating your shoulder part!”

In next month’s series of The Glampeur’s Guide posts, we’ll continue with the theme of Love in the Outdoors, exploring outdoor engagement stories and when your sweetie knows best (or not). In the feature photo -- professional photographer Andrew Burr ran 25+ miles with professional runner Morgan "Mo" Sjogren the day before this photo was taken; he could barely walk the next day.

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