Virtual Belay

TheClimberGirl dishes on how she became a Twitter addict and how she uses it both as a tool to gather climbing beta and to meet new friends.

Sara LingafelterLike most climbers, I hold down a couple of jobs. Over the years, I started exploring various social networking tools and online “water coolers,” so to speak, so that I wouldn’t go crazy with all of the time alone. I heard about Twitter online when it was still relatively new and created an account under the nickname “theclimbergirl.” Soon I was connecting with other climbers, both by seeing who popular, pro climbers followed and were following, and by searching Twitter using for the generally adopted “#climb” hashtag, used to identify a particular tweet as climbing-related.

So what’s so great about Twitter? Every other online social media tool I’ve used over the years has been for the purpose of staying connected with people I already know. With Twitter, I meet new people. Many of these people become something like real-life friends. We chat climbing, we trade gear advice, and we share our climbing-related blog posts, but we also tweet puppy pictures, gardening tips and give each other pep talks about life, work and relationships.

At this point, I have Twitter friends in almost every climbing destination on the globe. If I am heading out on a trip I can ask my network for local weather, logistical information (where to stay, what’s the best local gear shop) and beta on locations and routes. Earlier this year I planned two separate Red Rock trips. The first relied heavily on beta from @redheadwriting (Erika Napolitano), a fellow sassy redhead climber both in real life and online), who pointed me toward Desert Rock Sports for gear and shared warnings with me about some classic routes. The second led to a meet-up with @jennfields and @ten1seven (Jenn and Jeremy Fields) for dinner, and numerous text messages back and forth during our respective trips to swap beta and condition information.

The very first time I met a Twitter friend in the real world, it was at the Tieton River area here in Washington. My Twitter buddy @benwills (Ben Wills) drove in from the East Coast to meet me and my climbing partners at the campsite for a weekend of climbing which turned into Ben sleeping on my best friend’s sofa for a month.

Ben, Erika, Jenn, Jeremy and a long list of others are examples of the best of my Twitter friends, who have gradually transitioned to longer-than-140-character email and/or phone calls, and then in person meetings that result in brothers-and-sisters-from-another-mother kind of friendships. By the time I meet my Twitter friends in person it’s not at all like meeting a stranger—it takes about 30 seconds to fall into the same rhythm that we have online.

Yes, Twitter takes time and technology. If you’re not into it, you’re not into it. But for those of us who are and have an interest in connecting with climbers around the world, Twitter is an invaluable way to get started. •

Sara Lingafelter is a climber, writer, gear junkie, attorney and half-time dog mama. She blogs about her climbing life at and is the unofficial #climb community den mother on Twitter (follow her at She is a reader blogger for Climbing Magazine, a gear reviewer for and guest blogs for other outdoor industry sites.

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