how to be a dirtbag climber girl

Someone found my blog by searching the title of this post. I can’t seem to replicate it (maybe the all-knowing google knows that I know where my blog is?), but I thought I’d answer the question anyway.

My most important advice is to be confident, and do it your way.

This is also known as the fake-it-till-you-make-it principle. If you’re a girl considering a dirtbag lifestyle and hesitating, don’t! Just go do it! Before my trip this summer I worried a lot about not climbing hard enough to make it on the road, not knowing enough climbers to make it work, and a lot of other silly things. None of these worries are important. I have never talked to anyone who regretted living on the road for a while.

I know so many people who hit the road, found community, and never looked back. It will work for you too. Sell your shit. Quit your job. End your lease. Hit the road! Or don’t listen to me and do it your way. That’s even better.

Go find the wild places, because they’re there. Mt. Fitz Roy in Argentina by flickr user StuckInCustoms

A bunch of my practical advice for dirtbag livin’ is on this blog. Check out my post about living in a truck, or the dirtbag beta series for some tips. Steph Davis has a lot of great tips on her blog as well. Wherever you go, you will need to find out where to sleep, where to do laundry/get wifi/get food, and where to get beer. Sometimes this info is easy to find on the internet, sometimes it’s easier to find by word of mouth.

There is only one bit of ‘how to be a dirtbag’ advice that is female-specific (that I can think of).

All climbers should be able to pee standing up without taking off their harnesses. It makes life so much easier! If you weren’t born with the right equipment, you should look into getting a PStyle. They are cheap, easy to clean, and don’t look like funnels. I will never go climbing/camping without mine!

What’s your advice for aspiring dirtbags? Sound off in the comments?

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Ups and Downs

As climbers, we spend a lot of time going up and down. We go up and down the trail, up and down routes at the crag, and up and down the road that gets us there.

I haven’t written here in a while because I’ve been having some ups and downs with my relationship to climbing. Mostly downs, actually.

I had a scary fall two weeks ago. I was climbing an easy (for me) route which I had climbed once before that day. The next bolt was at my waist, as-yet un-clipped, when I made a move for the clipping jug and missed.

I fell.

As I was falling, I felt the rope come behind my leg mid-air. I reacted instinctively, throwing my head and shoulders away from the wall. When I came to a stop, upside down, just the tip of my left toe touched the wall. I ended up with a small rope burn and seriously shaken confidence, but no other ill effects.

At the same time, I had just started graduate classes and was really struggling. It felt like I wasn’t good at anything I was trying to do–not classes, not climbing. I was definitely feeling down.

For me, a weekend trip to the Red entails 15 hours of driving for two days of climbing. It’s seriously tiring, and it’s hard to get any work done over the weekend. I began to question my decision to come climb–was it even worth it if I was going to suck so badly? The scary fall triggered a whole slew of questions about my commitment to climbing, my commitment to my career, and worries about my ability to have climbing in my life while learning and living in Chicago.

The Red is magic–always worth the trip.
Photo by Flickr user jcschu07, click through for more of his photos.

I don’t have answers to many of these deeper questions yet, but I am feeling much more positive now, mostly thanks to amazing friends in the climbing community.

I made a number of truly special friends on my trip, who remain friends even though they are now very far away. Talking to them helped me to process the aftermath of the bad fall and figure out how to move forward with my climbing.

I am making new friends in the climbing community here. They have encouraged me to get back on the sharp end, been patient and understanding when I get scared, and their psyche has kept me motivated. Last weekend, I went back down to the Red, took some practice falls, sent a few routes, and tried some hard stuff. The fear is still there, but I’m not letting it rule me.

Grad school is hard. Making it outside to climb when you live in Chicago is hard. Figuring out how to balance climbing and a demanding work schedule is hard, but this week, for the first time since I started classes, it feels like I’ll be able to pull it off. :)