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By blind cantaloupe
Nov 19, 2012
through the crux, which could be convoluted because the hardest part of this climb is hanging on sharp jugs for thirty feet

ever since i started living the "simple" life of a broke climber i have been learning new ways to get along with low funds and climbing often. im trying to start a thread to reveal secrets of the trade. or how about different ways youve made it work. any info is appreciated as it could help myself or someone else to "live the dream".


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By Pete Spri
Nov 19, 2012

I think the first rule is drink everyone's beer and eat all their foot while at camp.

If mooching isn't natural, you may have a hard time with this :D


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By Jake P
From Santa Ana
Nov 19, 2012

Live in your car. I haven't done this climbing, but pulled two really long summers in an 89 volvo station wagon, surfing and nervously re-parking my vehicle when things got hot


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By Will Copeland
Nov 19, 2012
view off the 4th belay

Lots of pretending. One example, play the roll of hotel guest and then go swimming and shower in the pool bathroom.


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Nov 19, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

How to dirtbag?

Don't shower!


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By pooler
From Albany, NY
Nov 19, 2012

Will's trick will also work at campgrounds. Just tell them you want to look around at the grounds before you commit then just use the showers there and say you didn't want to stay.

PS wear a hat so they don't see your wet hair


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By Danger-Russ Gordon
From Tempe, AZ
Nov 19, 2012
Slope on a rope

I was in the valley last year and made a few bucks by charging several nice Asians $10 to take pictures with me / my gear.... it bought some food :)


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Nov 19, 2012
El Chorro

Baby wipes and lots of Tobasco sauce.


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By Happiegrrrl
From Gunks
Nov 19, 2012

I guess I have been living ala dirtbag for the last few years. But I haven't mooched food or shelter, pretended I was a guest in a hotel to use showers or pool. I also don't do food stamps or any of the other schemes which some people talk about as "tricks of the trade."

A trick of the trade? Understand that we don't need most of the stuff we buy, and that we can buy most of the stuff we need at less than the suggested retail price.


It's not for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with either way.


Part of the year I live on a nature preserve, in exchange for light caretaking duties(10 minutes a day would be bout the minimum required, though I do spend much more). This area is situated in a very prime locale.

The other part of the year, this will be the 3rd year going, I take the van to the southwest, mainly JTree, and live there.

I have a car and that is the biggest expense - buying the thing, gas and insurance, and repairs. I also have mobile broadband, and a cel phone. B/band is $50 a month and I probably should not have it, but it makes working out of the van much easier(not having to find free wifi to connect). Cel phone - I DON'T need, but maintain for those few calls that get made each month. Other than that, food is the expense.

I left New York the day after the election - knowing I did not have enough money for gas to get to CA. I made two repairs needed before the trip, and that took 1/4 my gas money.

What did I do? I posted on Supertopo and rc.com that I needed to sell 4o chalkbags to get to CA. And people responded. Unfortunately, I underestimated how many chalkbags I really would need to sell - hahah. But, I have sold about 25 so far.... I am currently in Little Rock, AR... Wanna buy a chalkbag?

Other on-road tips:
- Having a portable way to raise money is very helpful
- Ice is a luxury, and unnecessary.
- Walmarts really do let you sleep in their lot while in transit.
- Public libraries have wifi and electrical outlets. Bring your own multi-port if you want to plug in besides one item, so as not to put others out who also need the outlets



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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 19, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on

Seamgrip. There is a great Alpinist article about it. Incredibly useful!

www.alpinist.com/doc/web12x/wfeature-db-seamgrip


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Nov 19, 2012
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

Find a local foodback and ask if they will allow you to 'shop' there for a day if you volunteer labor. You may be able to go into work for a day and get to 'shop' for the allotted price. In the one that used to be near me, everything non-refrigerated was $.11/pound. I got very very good at guessing what was in a can by shaking it. Everything refrigerated was about twice that. It was the average cost to the foodbank. Somettimes there will not be a label, or the bread or Oreos will be a week out of date.
I realized I had done this routine too many times after I learned I could tell a can of peaches in syrup from peaches in water by the sound and feel, and ravioli and spagetti-o's from any of that.

Anyway, YMMV according to location and things may have changed since to 90's. Check the local policy. Try to arrange work on a rainy day. It will not be "rest," it will be "cross training."


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Nov 19, 2012
El Chorro

Happiegrrrl wrote:
I guess I have been living ala dirtbag for the last few years. But I haven't mooched food or shelter, pretended I was a guest in a hotel to use showers or pool. I also don't do food stamps or any of the other schemes which some people talk about as "tricks of the trade." A trick of the trade? Understand that we don't need most of the stuff we buy, and that we can buy most of the stuff we need at less than the suggested retail price.


+1. I was wondering how long we'd go before someone said that.

Just because you are a rock climber living in your van doesn't give you the right to steal. Eat out of the trash can, ask the market or grocery store for the stuff their going to toss, wash a few dishes for food - but don't steal.


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By Michael C
From New Jersey
Nov 19, 2012
Base of Main Flow, The Narrows.

Happiegrrrl wrote:
I guess I have been living ala dirtbag for the last few years...


Awesome post. Good luck out there!


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By Eric Coffman
Nov 19, 2012
mountainlion

1)Go to trader joe's and check out their dumpster. They throw out veggies that are good still in packages. You can do this for all the markets.

2)Offer rides, wash dishes, and generally be helpful to others. It's hard to be a dirtbag without help from others, so contribute what you can where you can.

3)Don't mooch off other dirtbags they will pick up on it and soon you won't be welcome and will have trouble finding partners unless they are desperate. If your eating with them always contribute something to the meal. My dirtbag friends usually cook a feast with everybody contributing something whether it's a can of beans, a piece of cheese, burrito shells, onions, peppers, sauce...you get the idea. We always seem to have an amazing meal.

4)If you don't have anything to contribute be very gracious and wash dishes.

5)Share herb when you have it, this has ruined many a dirtbag friendship. Showing up when something is burning but always keeping your own stash seperate quickly ruins your rep.

6)Be especially helpful to the tourons they are the bread and butter of your dirtbag lifestyle. Lot's of people don't know how to camp, start fires, set up tents, or don't know the helpful details of the area. Be someone who can recognize these people, help them and then it becomes easier to come over later and ask for cheese, onions, peppers, tortillas, beer, wood. Most people will be glad to share something with you if you have been nice to them.

7)Truly get to know the area your camping in, befriend the locals and find out the cool hidden spots and adventures to the area. When weekend warriors or sporadic climbers visit you will be a good tour guide. Nothing makes a campfire more generous than having a kick ass adventure that they wouldn't have had without you. They will remember you and probably tell thier friends so this could be the gift that keeps on giving.

8)Don't pop up on the ranger's radar. This mean's keep your camping area CLEAN. The rangers have a map of the campsites. During the day when everybody is gone climbing they are walking the campground. They take notes on the campground map. For example: campsite 1 is a family. Campsite 5 has beer cans piled high, Jack Daniels on the table and things look in disarray---Stop by tonight after dark and check out what else is going on. I advise hanging out at your campsite if you have to during the week and partying at someone else's campsite on the weekends. If the ranger's do show up be very nice and courteous. Never admit to anything that is illegal if they ask. Always offer to change whatever is bothering them--whether you intend to change it or not.

Good Luck


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By Christopher Gibson
From Frisco, Texas
Nov 19, 2012
Changing leads.

blind cantaloupe wrote:
reveal secrets of the trade. any info is appreciated as it could help myself or someone else to "live the dream".


The best advice I can give you is to pay it forward whenever you get the chance.


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By Steve M
From MN
Nov 19, 2012

Become a server or a bartender or both when you find a place you want to be for more than a few weeks. You make enough working 2 days a week to get by, and you'll eat/drink well on the nights you work. This is also an industry where nobody's gonna be too bummed when you quit after a month.

That and follow follow all the other advice here about being an awesome person. Dirtbagging would be pretty lame if nobody would hang out with you.


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By Cliff Cash
From Ajax, Colorado
Nov 19, 2012
Painted Wall

some posts on the dirtbag life via The Climbing Zine:

www.climbingzine.com/?s=dirtbags


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By MTKirk
From Billings, MT
Nov 20, 2012
Me on Supercrack

I dirt bagged a while for surfing & snowboarding but the same tactics work for climbing.

#1 minivans with dark tinted windows work the best, you have room for all your gear & to sleep but from the outside it doesn't look like you're living in it. You can park & sleep inside ANYWHERE there is legal parking. Keep a jug urinal & wag bags inside in case nature calls.

#2 Stay CLEAN! if you start to get that homeless look you start to draw heat & normal people try to avoid you. shower every day or two even if you have to use cold water from a jug (you go numb after the first couple of minute anyway). Most truckstops, campgrounds, & hostels will let you take a shower for around 5 bucks. If you're in a city one trick I've often used is to go to a health club, say I'm new in town & do they offer a trial membership? Usually good for a week of saunas, Jacuzzi's, long hot showers & clean towels. Also keep your vehicle relatively clean, it will help you stay under the radar if you have to sleep on a street in a city.

#3 Ditch the cooler, way more trouble than it's worth. If you can go Vegan it helps too. Canned food (especially beans & bean based foods) is the way to go, stick with fresh fruit & veggies that can be eaten raw or when lightly steamed. Red wine tastes great at room temperature & is healthier than beer any way, Franzia Merlot rocks & you can get it for $15 a five liter box.

#4 If you have any construction experience & don't mind really hard work, getting a laborers job at a construction site it is about the easiest way to pick up some cash. You can go to a temp agency, or just go to the nearest construction site. Even in times of construction slow downs (like now) there are always jobs for day laborers that are willing to pick up debri, & move lumber & other supplies around.

Great thread, hoping to pick up some good tips & someday I'll be out there again. I used to dream about having a nice house & family, now that I have those things I dream about the times I lived in my van. Best days of my life!


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By Peter Pitocchi
Nov 20, 2012
Pete belays 2nd pitch Little corner

--If you really want to get down below the radar:
--Seek a warm climate
--Locate in a semi-rural area.
--Sell plasma for money, collect recyclables.
--Buy bulk rice and beans, eggs for protein and a cheap multivitamin to avoid scurvy. Eat cheap buffet once a week. You will need a large cookpot.
--Skip the car thing, pull a bike out of a dumpster and fix it up by cannibalizing from other rusty contraptions, or just walk.
--You are going to live in the woods. Avoid known camping areas as there are often time limits as to how long you can stay. Avoid the homeless as they are often severely mentally ill. Travel along a country road until no cars are in sight, then plunge back into the woods a couple hundred feet carrying your bike over the fence along about dusk. Once you are back in there you are invisible and safe. No fire. No light. Tent with mosquito netting, sleeping bag. Good for grieving.Once you cheer up a little go back home and make some friends.


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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Nov 20, 2012
Stoked...

Eric Coffman wrote:
1)Go to trader joe's and check out their dumpster. They throw out veggies that are good still in packages. You can do this for all the markets.


TJ's has a policy that they throw out stuff the day before it expires. If you hit it right you can get more food then you can fit in your car. Bread expiration was always a big day for us!


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Nov 20, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

couchsurfing.com


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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Nov 20, 2012

The most important trick is to realize that this dirtbagging nonsense is just a harmless game you're playing for a year or so - pretending to be poor - before you go back to a middle-class life style.


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By Mark Vogel
From Lander, WY
Nov 20, 2012

Please don't end up as just another mooching climber.

Have fun out there climbing!


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By blind cantaloupe
Nov 23, 2012
through the crux, which could be convoluted because the hardest part of this climb is hanging on sharp jugs for thirty feet

Happiegrrrl wrote:
I guess I have been living ala dirtbag for the last few years. But I haven't mooched food or shelter, pretended I was a guest in a hotel to use showers or pool. I also don't do food stamps or any of the other schemes which some people talk about as "tricks of the trade." A trick of the trade? Understand that we don't need most of the stuff we buy, and that we can buy most of the stuff we need at less than the suggested retail price. It's not for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with either way. Part of the year I live on a nature preserve, in exchange for light caretaking duties(10 minutes a day would be bout the minimum required, though I do spend much more). This area is situated in a very prime locale. The other part of the year, this will be the 3rd year going, I take the van to the southwest, mainly JTree, and live there. I have a car and that is the biggest expense - buying the thing, gas and insurance, and repairs. I also have mobile broadband, and a cel phone. B/band is $50 a month and I probably should not have it, but it makes working out of the van much easier(not having to find free wifi to connect). Cel phone - I DON'T need, but maintain for those few calls that get made each month. Other than that, food is the expense. I left New York the day after the election - knowing I did not have enough money for gas to get to CA. I made two repairs needed before the trip, and that took 1/4 my gas money. What did I do? I posted on Supertopo and rc.com that I needed to sell 4o chalkbags to get to CA. And people responded. Unfortunately, I underestimated how many chalkbags I really would need to sell - hahah. But, I have sold about 25 so far.... I am currently in Little Rock, AR... Wanna buy a chalkbag? Other on-road tips: - Having a portable way to raise money is very helpful - Ice is a luxury, and unnecessary. - Walmarts really do let you sleep in their lot while in transit. - Public libraries have wifi and electrical outlets. Bring your own multi-port if you want to plug in besides one item, so as not to put others out who also need the outlets



i have to say, what a great post. really explaining how to do things without foregoing those core values you need to be happy with yourself at the end of the day. thanks for this one!


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By Some Dude
Nov 23, 2012
Me.

Don't forget to post photos of your trips to South Africa, Mallorca, Nepal, Font, Bishop, Joe's, and some other obscure place that only a "dirtbag" can go to. You know, putting up FA's in some remote part of Russia, Afghanistan, Whereverthefuckistan.

And of course, make sure you are wearing your $80 Patagonia pants, your $35 Patagonia t shirt, and $250 Patagonia down jacket. You know, because that is critical. And I mean CRITICAL!


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By Brian Hudson
From Greenville, SC
Jan 10, 2013
Valor Over Discretion (5.8), RRG

^ this. make sure your wardrobe costs more than the rest of your belongings.


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