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May 28, 2011

Desperately Seeking Spotter. ~ Jackie Hueftle

Photo: Maria Chily

Looking for a Climbing Buddy? This website can help.

Chances are, if you aren’t a rock climber and you hear the word “climbing” you think of campy movies like Cliffhanger and Vertical Limit.

While the death-defying antics of Sly Stallone and Batman’s sidekick may be a good companion for a tin of 479° Eco-friendly popcorn, they certainly don’t reflect the reality of most modern-day rock climbers’ experiences. Especially removed are the rapidly growing number of folks who choose to get their daily workout by pulling on colorful handholds at an indoor climbing gym.

Photo: Noodles and Beef

As any climber or yoga enthusiast knows, when you relocate to a new city one of the first things to do is find your new gym or studio and sign up for a membership. Unlike yoga, most forms of rock climbing require partners, and when you’re the new kid in town, it can be hard to find someone to swap belays or spots with. (Wondering what the heck a spot even is? Read this article to find out.)

Enter Jonathon Kresner. As a 24-year-old computer programmer who’d recently relocated to London for a job, Krez (as his friends call him) was at a loss for how to break into a new climbing community for his after-work workouts. He found limited success with a “seeking” post on Gumtree (like Craigslist, but for British people), but along with his search came the inspiration for something much, much bigger.

Nearly three years later, the site that was largely a hobby for a morning bus commute has turned into one of the most trafficked international rock climbing websites in the world. With thousands of members in over one hundred countries, every day Climbfind helps people connect—sharing beta, learning about new areas, and finding partners for everything from afternoon gym sessions to long weekends and international trips.

Photo: Sasha Aronson

This summer the Climbfind Team will be launching a new version of the site with its first ever “from scratch” rebuild since the original kicked off in 2008. The team has redesigned all the features and included a ton more, such as gym integration, an interactive world climbing map, personal progression tools, and a custom-made mobile application to help climbers learn from and share their knowledge and experiences with other climbers.

If you think these goals sound lofty, just wait. Krez’s goal is to revolutionize the way that climbers interact with their media and their community. With his dedicated team of over 130 volunteers, he plans to do everything he can to help climbers get the most out of their experiences—on and off the rock.

If you need a belayer, spotter, or some beta, check out Climbfind, preview Climbfind 4 , get the mobile app, and get connected!

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Jackie Hueftle works at one of the biggest indoor bouldering gyms in the world—The Spot Gym in Boulder, Colorado—and runs their blog. She also writes for climbing magazines, is working on several books for children and adults, and spends as much time as possible out-of-doors.

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