Surprise! You Can Go Cragging Without A ...
Some new things are becoming ubiquitous at the crag these days. Fancy extraneous gear and luxuries that might make you envious of those on the next route over. Or, maybe they make you despise them, depending on your perspective. Here are 10 things that climbing culture might make you think you need—but you don't! And, some good substitutes.
Custom Camper Van. Yeah these things are like politicans: big, typically white, and they love fossil fuels. Surprisingly, many of my good friends drive these mobile palaces all over the country all the while considering themselves environmentalists. Of course, I want one, too. Solution: My 2007 Honda CR-V is just like those big vans, only smaller, cramped for sleeping and it gets at least 50% better MPG’s.
Approach Shoes. I can hear La Sportiva yelling at me now; this is probably a big portion of any shoe makers business. Not only are these things kinda dorky looking, they tend to be stiff and restrictive, i.e., good for climbing rocks. Sure, there’s typically a bit of walking over rocky terrain getting to the cliff, but I like to save my approach shoes for approaches where I’ll encounter some terrain that warrants sticky rubber. Last year in Greenland, faced with treadless terror on the steep, run-out grass at the base of Ulamertorsuaq, I cursed myself for having worn out the soles of my La Sportiva Boulders on the way to countless crags in New England. Solution: I’m usually just standing around belaying while cragging, so my comfy slip-on sneakers work great.
Super slick, extendable, Stick Clip. I admit it, I’m the first person to beg, borrow or surreptitiously sneak an unattended stick clip. But for some reason I feel silly, kind of like Gandalf, stalking up to the crag toting one. Plus, with what I saved by not buying a fancy bolt clipper, I bought a nice bottle of mezcal and a new flannel! Solution: My go-to for pre-clipping high first bolts is the handy “stick.” Here’s my tutorial on how you, too, can be a stick-clip hero.
Fancy Crashpad Crag Pack. This is another thing I shamefully covet. I’ve googled these packs eight of the last ten times I’ve come home from Rumney. They look so user friendly. No digging through your whole pack to find your liquid chalk, just unclip or unzip, and viola—there it is. Solution: Instead, I use one of my other four packs (bullet, 35l, 50l, 75l) and a 70¢ IKEA shopping bag. Simply pack your gear in your desired pack and when you arrive at the crag, dump it in your big IKEA bag. I just saved you like $150.
Drone. Everybody says they hate them, yet they’re still there at the crag? Unless you're filming some rad sports action and have been granted permission, leave your drone at home. Even then, try offering other nearby nature seekers a beer, some Friction Labs chalk, or a coupon code to your sponsor’s Etsy store. Solution: Eagle attacking drone video.
Beta. Like drones, please ask before unleashing. Sometimes I want to hear what you have to say, sometimes I don’t. Solution: Don’t forget, you can always just try a few different things and come up with your own ideas. Imagine how rewarding unlocking you own beta will feel!
Hammock. Okay, I get it, you want to relax. But, if you want to relax, don’t go climbing. For “hammocking” I recommend heading to the beach, your aunt's cottage or your backyard. Solution: For an alternative, I typically use the ground, a stump or a nice hard rock.
Bluetooth Speakers. I love music, and I blast it in the privacy of my own car on the way to the crag. I’m not sure you would like Die Antwoord, and I’m sure I don’t like new country or poppy hip-hop. So let’s call it a draw and leave these little ambiance killers at home. Solution: Try listening for birds—yeah, there are other living things outside, and if you listen, you might even get to see some cool animals—and still let belayers around you hear their partner yell “SLACK”!
Large Groups. I know we can’t always avoid large groups, given how popular we all are. Solution: Simply be considerate. if you’ve amassed a crowd, make sure to ask your neighbors if they’d like to hop on the route you’ve been hogging for the last two and a half hours. Maybe even offer to belay.