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How to Have an Adventure: a guide for the unmotivated

1 April 2010 5,039 views 3 Comments
posted by limit

You're going to need these. And that National Geographic logo will make you feel rad.

Quite often, I have friends tell me about the adventures they are about to go on or have just gotten back from–Yosemite, Patagonia, The Black Canyon, The Bugaboos. This usually succeeds in making me jealous, partly because I wish I could afford these far away magical Valhallas and partly because I wish I had the cojones to actually climb the routes there. Instead of saving my pennies and dimes or cultivating a better lead head, I have learned how to transform my everyday cragging experiences into grand adventures. You see, I believe that adventure is simply a combination of the right state of mind (my guru told me that. Or maybe I read it in Emerson. I can’t remember) and the right amount of suffering.  With this kernel of wisdom in mind, I’m about to show you how you too can turn a near roadside crag into your very own Himalayan adventure.

Try to achieve this without actually achieving it.

Go at the wrong time of year. Every time I read about climbers climbing in far away places, they are always suffering from temperature extremes. They are either in Patagonia fighting frostbite, or climbing Tapuis somewhere else in South America about to keel over from heat and dehydration. Take a clue here and apply this to your own climbing. I used to chase shade in the summer and only climb in the sun in colder months.

This is a bad idea if you’re trying to maximize your adventure at a crag with a four minute hike. There is nothing epic about lounging around in the sun on a March afternoon.  Nobody is going to be impressed when you come back and tell them you were climbing in the sun, in short sleeves even though it was 40 degrees and there was snow on the ground. You won’t feel very badass either. Instead, pick the windiest, shadiest crag you can find, then when you get back to the bar, you can bitch and moan about fighting screaming barfies all day and that you “almost got frostbite”.

Don’t bring enough fluids/food. People who summit K2 loose about 60 pounds doing it because they always forget to bring enough food. Obviously, going hungry for extended periods of time is tantamount to having an adventure. Thus, to add to your adventuring ambiance leave the sandwiches, energy bars, crackers, fruit and water at home.I know this will make it harder to send your projects. But the primary goal here is to suffer dammit!

Dress Right. Nothing adds to the sense that you are about to set off for grand things no human has ever attempted like wearing the right

This man obviously just did something badass. Try to look like him.

clothes. I mean, you can’t honestly feel like you’re casting off into the unknown if you’re  hiking to the crag in flip flops can you? Big, leather(or plastic) boots are one of the most important purchases you can make. Every time I strap on my Makalus, I feel a deep kinship with people who had big beards were named things like Hillary, House and Cook. Trekking poles are another key ingredient I have found. Even though you only walked about 400 yards to start clipping bolts, you’ll feel like it’s taken you days to make the trek from Kathmandu.

The right gear is also important to consider.Even though you’re going sport climbing leave the quickdraws and take shoulder length slings. Also known as adventure slings, it’s best if you wear them over the shoulder instead of racking them on your gear loops. If you have any double length slings, remember to extend those too. Nothing kills an adventure faster than rope drag. Also, remember that nobody having an adventure uses a gri-gri. Your best bet here is something like a reverso or any other auto-blocking device (alpine climbers jizz their pants over these things). Other items to consider are twin ropes, helmets, hexes, and shitty  climbing shoes(mythos, cliffs, kaukulators). Pretty much anything that will make your outing as inconvenient and hassle-filled as possible.

Spray. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. It doesn’t matter if you had an adventure if nobody knows about it. In fact, people knowing that you did something awesome is probably even more important than what you did. Techniques are legion. Blog about how sick you are. Write trip reports on Mountain Project. Tell the AAC. One of my favorites though, is to leave my harness on, still racked up with frozen ice screws, and then saunter into a Boulder bar and intentionally make a huge racket because I’m still wearing my plastic mountaineering boots. You don’t even need to say anything, people will KNOW you just did something badass. Which, after all, is the whole point.


  • Lil Pete
    Lil Pete said:

    That frostbite photo just made sick. Fuck!!!

    • gysgys
      gysgys said:

      Good one it make me smile when i’m stock inside on a nice day like today
      specially the last one the SPRAY hahahah!!!

      • furrymurry
        furrymurry said:

        Other gear items to include: lockers and cordelette for building anchors, prussik loops, and entirely synthetic clothing (Kotton Kills!).

        Remember to wear these things on your harness at the gym, and if some silly gumby asks why you would have that stuff for 5.8 toproping on plastic reply self righteously about “the last time I was outside…forgot to take them off.” Don’t seize the opportunity of your backpack 4 feet away to take them off. Also don’t worry about my friends and I climbing 5.12 around the corner with nothing on our harnesses, we obviously have idea what we’re doing.

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