Choose A Good Partner
When Viesturs reached the top of Annapurna, Finnish mountaineer Veikka Gustafsson was at his side. The longtime partners depend on each other for everything-even body heat. At night, the men curl up under a custom down comforter, a system that saves them 6 pounds. Spooning may be too ultralight for you, but the point holds: A companion can make or break your trip. Having comparable skills is crucial, but Viesturs also says the following qualities really matter.
SIMILAR FITNESS LEVEL “It’s frustrating to be with someone who hasn’t trained and can’t keep up,” he warns.
EQUAL COMMITMENT A good partner won’t bail at the last minute. To test commitment, take several short trips with a prospective partner before signing on to something big.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS “Before a trip, talk about how you’ll handle contigencies,” advises Viesturs. If one climber decides conditions are too dicey, will both of you turn around? Establish the rules before your trip.
SENSE OF HUMOR Picture this: Two men stuck in a tent, one with, er, digestive troubles. Find a partner who can laugh at challenges (preferably one with a strong stomach).