Wizard101 has several Realms for our players to enjoy. All the Realms are identical so if you're in the Greyrose Realm and your friend is in the Wu Realm, you can be standing in exactly the same place and not see each other.
There are two ways to find your friend. 1. Agree on a Realm to meet in before you log in. You can switch between Realms easily when you're not in a duel. Simply press Esc and select the very last top on the tab with the above icon - and you will see a list of Realms to choose from.
CTRL - M is the shortcut key to bring up this section of your journal.
2. If you know your friend in real life, you can give him a True Friend Code - this will allow you to teleport directly to each others location. To learn about True Friend codes, please visit this page: https://www.wizard101.com/game/truefriendcode
If you want the prize, you have to build the ladder rung by rung. There are no shortcuts.