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so I am taking time off from college.... now what?
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By Omar Little
Dec 8, 2011
Hello MPers,

I am calling on you guys to help me out with some tips for a climbing road trip. After spending the last 2.5 years pretending like I was interested in sitting through college lectures I have decided to take the foreseeable future off from school and go climb.

My plan right now is to try to buy a cheap truck and hit' the road at the end of January. I am considering starting the trip in either the Tucson area, Bishop, Red Rocks, or flying down to Potrero Chico and then working my way to Colorado and Utah as it warms up. I mainly want to sport climb but am not opposed to bouldering or racking up as well.
I was hoping to get some advice and recommendations about where to go based on:
-Access to free/cheap camping
-Weather
-Climbing communities (I will be going alone so will need to find partners.)
-Not being terribly remote (I don't want to have to spend much on gas)

This is my first time doing anything like this, so I am bound to make mistakes... If anyone has some general advice for living on the road I would greatly appreciate it!

Thanks
-Nathaniel

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By Tom Hanson
Dec 8, 2011
Climber Drawing
Nathaniel,

Unless you are so fortunate that you you come from a family with money and have some kind of trust fund or other large nestegg,
I suggest you stay in school.

Did you edit your original subject line?
I thought it read that you were dropping out, not taking time off, from college.

My response was to your original post.

Editing your original post changes my response, as well as takes my response out of context, which is unfair on your part.

When you go back and continue college I suggest a course in ethics.

FLAG
By Nick Dolecek
From Denver, Colorado
Dec 8, 2011
First off, that is Awesome! If it was me I would start in Potrero Then slowly head back north, maybe find a partner for el trono blanco and then get to RR. RR can be tricky with free camping, but your stealth tactics should be well developed after a while south of the border, you will manage. Setup the back of the truck up with a bed, walmarts are your friend in transit. Trader Joes has super cheap wine...critical for a cheap good buzz. Colorado and other good granite spots will be good by april. Shit, the creek is in great by March.
Have a blast!

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By Adub
Dec 8, 2011
1) Don't drop out of skewl.
2) Being broke is expensive.
3) Quitting skewl when your over half done is like never finishing a project.
4)Trucks are always a good bet, for lengthy periods of dirt baggin a 4wd van will provide more creature comforts.
5)Don't quit skewl.
6)Read this thread to see how not to act while dirt baggin mountainproject.com/v/alien-li...
7)I'm confused as to why your not really interested in placing gear.
8)You will get bored living in sport crags.
9)Go to Europe, live in hostiles, have some adventure
10)When your done dirt baggin finish you education.

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By Tom Hanson
Dec 8, 2011
Climber Drawing
Nathaniel,

Did you edit your original subject line?
I thought it read that you were dropping out, not taking time off, from college.

My response was to your original post.

Editing your original post changes my response, as well as takes my response out of context, which is unfair on your part.

When you go back and continue college I suggest a course in ethics.

FLAG
By Omar Little
Dec 8, 2011
Thanks for the beta guys. And also thanks for the concern. I know my education is important, and I will finish school. However I feel like I should be in school when I actually want to be and can get something out of it. College is not cheap, and I should not be spending this much money on it if I am just going through the motions.

Adub: Do you recommend bumming around Europe over the States?

FLAG
By Wilderchick
From Golden, CO
Dec 8, 2011
Why don't you simply wait until SUMMER to do this road trip? Sounds like you need to change your major, not "take time off"/drop out. Stay in school man.

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By Omar Little
Dec 8, 2011
And Tim, yes I did edit the title. I guess dropping out does not have the right connotation since I fully plan on going back to school.

Although I am not sure why that makes me unethical I am sorry for possibly making you look bad (is that what you are mad about?)

Anyways, let's hear your new response.

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By Tom Hanson
Dec 8, 2011
Climber Drawing
Hi Nathaniel,

Yes, changing your title does change my response.
The original title connotates that you were dropping out, as in not going back.
I quit school back in 1982 after only receiving my associates degree.
I moved to Colorado and devoted myself to rock climbing.
I had many years of youthful adventure for which there is no substitute, but today, after two layoffs in three years I see the value of an advanced education.
If you can take a break from school and do a major extended climbing road trip I think that's great and I'm envious.

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By Omar Little
Dec 8, 2011
Awesome, thanks guys.

And I do appreciate the concern in regards to school, but I am leaving in great standing and can return to my current university whenever I want to or can easily transfer if I feel like that is what is best.

Maybe I should edit the title again, but my main questions are really about the climbing trip itself... where to go, where to stay, tips on life on the road, etc. etc.

FLAG
By BackCountry
From West Point, UT
Dec 8, 2011
Whaaaat?
Go with your gut Nathaniel! Take that road trip and get the wiggles out. Go back finish up school and then take another effin road trip. You're only alive ~80 years, and dead like 80,000,000 or so times that. Get that rack before you leave!

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By s.price
From PS,CO
Dec 8, 2011
 Morning Dew ,self portrait
If you are really pretending to enjoy college then i would suggest taking your roadtrip then getting out into the adult world and get a job that contributes to the communtity. Even if mom and dad and paying for your ride you are clogging up the education system and wasting your time. If your cruising through on student loans consider that the first 10 years(at least) of life in the real world will go to pay off your debt. Take your road trip and enjoy, you will learn alot about yourself and what the world outside is really like. Best of luck to you. And start down south. If you show up in Pagosa Springs Colorado and want to climb look me up through MP.

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By Colin Simon
From Boulder, CO
Dec 9, 2011
Just below Thunderbolt Peak
Nathaniel, I would suggest going to large, "destination" climbing areas when they are in PRIME SEASON. Red River Gorge, Rifle, Indian Creek, Yosemite...etc. If you stay long enough you will meet other dirtbags who are on the same schedule. You may end up with really, really good friends.

Examples:
If you go to Rifle in September, you will meet dedicated dirtbag sport climbers that migrate to Red River Gorge in October.

If you go to Indian Creek in April, you will meet a contingency of climbers that migrate to Yosemite in May, stop in Smith Rocks on the way to Squamish in June/July, back to Yosemite in Sept/Oct, and then back to the Creek through Thanksgiving.

As for free/cheap camping: figuring that out the hard way in Camp 4 was one of the funnest experiences I've ever had. Stay outgoing and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Make sure that when you leave college you take a leave of absence on good relations so that if you do have a change of heart it's easy to restart school. Leave the option open and see how you feel 3 months into your trip.

I'm shocked by all the negative responses. School isn't for everyone. I took a couple extended trips and decided to go back and finish school. When I came back I found some directionless people who don't belong in school. Do what drives you.

"Get that rack before you leave!"

Totally support this! Really gotta recommend checking out Yosemite. Not too much sport, but you can boulder if you get sick of trad.

"When you go back and continue college I suggest a course in ethics."

Remember guideline #1. An ethics course probably isn't going to breed the ambition within you.

FLAG
By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Dec 9, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin
Adub wrote:
9)Go to Europe, live in hostiles, have some adventure


Live in hostiles? That could be hazardous. He should probably stay in a hostel instead.

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By Omar Little
Dec 9, 2011
This is all good stuff.

As for where to start my trip I am wondering what people think about Bishop or the Tucson area for February/March. I have been to Bishop (and it is amazing), but it looks like Mt. Lemmon has some pretty good climbing and possibly better weather. My main worry with Tucson is that there might not be enough climbers there who want to/can get out and climb on a week day.

Anyways, any thoughts?

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By Josh Kornish
From Missoula, MT
Dec 9, 2011
Humboldt Bouldering
Nathaniel, I'm not going to tell you to stay in Skewl or drop out but consider this. Buy a wifi connection and take your laptop with you and take a few easy online courses. This will be a good way to manipulate your parentals for $$$.

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By thecornyman
From Oakland, CA
Dec 9, 2011
mike
This is so weird that so many people are telling you to stay in school. I've read a few of these forms and most people in the others that have done extended climbing trips all said that they never regret the time they took and all look back on it being some of the best times in their lives. I finished college and am now doing anything I can to get on the road, but good luck with all the debt...

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By Addison
From Boulder, CO
Dec 9, 2011
me at eldo
Nathaniel, I was thinking about doing the same thing but going up to Jackson to ski bum...Make sure to go to The Red in the winter. sport climbing there is easily the best in the south and its not in the middle of nowhere. If you make it out to boulder i'll take you around boulder canyon/eldo. let me know

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Dec 9, 2011
Nathaniel Gustafson wrote:
Thanks for the beta guys. And also thanks for the concern. I know my education is important, and I will finish school. However I feel like I should be in school when I actually want to be and can get something out of it. College is not cheap, and I should not be spending this much money on it if I am just going through the motions. Adub: Do you recommend bumming around Europe over the States?



With regards to taking time off, I'll give some positive support. It seems to me like you are being very sensible. Too many people just force themselves through college simply because that is what they are expected to do, without really knowing what they want to get out of the experience. College is a fantastic opportunity, but tons of people waste it because they go to college before they are ready to make full use of it. I finished college in 4 years, but I actually wish that I had the sense to take a semester off in the middle. After about 2.5 years I was pretty burned out-I'd been working pretty hard-and I don't think I made full use of my last 1.5 years. So it'll be good to take some time off and recharge your batteries.

Be careful, though, that you do go back before too long. A lot of people drop out, intending to go back eventually, only to realize that ten years have gone by. It may be sensible to make a more solidified plan, like one year off and then back to school. This will also have the benefit of giving you a bit of a time limitation for your climbing trip, which usually makes you value your time more than if you have unlimited time.

I am about 3 weeks into an 8-month period of off-time. I graduated college in May 2010, worked (off and on) for a year and a half, and am now taking 8 months off to get some things done (climbing-wise) before I sell my soul (and my free time) for a PhD. I'm having a great time. It is nice to have the time off, but it is also nice to have a bit of certainty that I'm not going to be a bum forever.

That's my school-related advice. I'll post again with some trip advice.

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Dec 9, 2011
Addison wrote:
Make sure to go to The Red in the winter. sport climbing there is easily the best in the south


Classic mp.com bad advice. The Red in the winter is not really in season. Think spring/fall.

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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Dec 9, 2011
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
Adub wrote:
1) live in hostiles,


I would try living in hostels first. You'll have to murder a hostile to live in them and I'm pretty sure they'll lock you up and throw away the key for a stunt like that. Unless there are featured stone walls in your cell, you won't get much climbing in.

FLAG
By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Dec 9, 2011
Some trip-advice:

Winter road trips are tricky. There is nowhere in the U.S. with guaranteed good weather in mid-winter. Even places that are usually warm enough to climb will be pretty rough for the camping; nights are long and cold in January. You can certainly do it, at Red Rocks, J-Tree, Bishop, HP40, etc, but be ready to suffer a bit with the camping. Hueco is probably the warmest choice for mid-winter. Lots of people there too, but tricky red-tape for the climbing. If you can find somewhere that has good winter rock where you can also find a place to live indoors to get you through the winter, then you'll be psyched. Alternatively, go to Mexico for the winter. Potrero is fun, the camping is awesome, the winters are warm, and it is really cheap. Do some research before driving there; the highway situation is getting sketchy; it may be safer to fly down.

Come early March, your options open up significantly. Warmer days, shorter nights, and less chance of getting snowed on makes the road-tripper much happier. Any "winter" destination will be prime in early March. Most desert southwest crags are prime. The southeast may also be good, but watch out for rain. When traveling solo, it is, of course, best to go to destination crags with a big scene and a centralized climber's campground, like Bishop or J-Tree.

By mid/late March, the spring/fall crags come out of hibernation too. This is when it gets really good. The Red or the Creek are your two best options for tons of climbing and ample partners; go to whichever one suits your preferred style. The Red can (will) be rainy, though. Various other crags, including Smith, the Valley, the New, Rumney, Shelf, Zion, and really just about every other non-alpine crag in the US will come into season at some point in March/April, so you options for springtime are many. Just watch out for spring rains, seepage, and lingering snowpack. Overall, southern Utah probably has the best springtime options for good weather, lots of climbing, lots of variety, and lots of partners. Think Moab, the Creek, Zion, St. George.

In late May, the spring/fall crags will be getting hot, but the summer crags start opening up. Since you expressed an interest in sport climbing, Maple, Rifle, and Tensleep are your best options, and will keep you busy for the summer. Avoid anywhere in the east due to humidity. Alpine areas and the Northwest (Index, Squamish, etc) get good later in the summer once they dry out.

If you are still on the road come early October, then go back to the spring/fall crags.

By early/mid December, things are getting wintery again, and the cycle begins again. Rinse, repeat.


Note that this is only for North America. With a bunch of time, you could also consider going abroad. If you have many months, then going to SE Asia would be worth it, since the low cost of day-to-day living will offset the cost of the plane ticket.

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By mozeman
Dec 9, 2011
Addison wrote:
Nathaniel, Make sure to go to The Red in the winter. sport climbing there is easily the best in the south and its not in the middle of nowhere.



This is completely false... Yes, you can climb at the red in the winter but you wont be finding a climbing partner nor will you find many climbable days. There are days that the weather is good enough to climb but it is NOT worth taking a trip with the sole intent of climbing at the red in the winter. its called sendtember and roktober for a reason.

I would easily call T-wall or Stone fort and HP40 the best winter climbing of the south....still nowhere worth taking a whole trip to in the winter (if ur going to go somewhere in the winter with the sole purpose of climbing go to mexico or j-tree....not east coast)


And depending on what you consider "middle of nowhere".....its pretty out there hah

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By krispyyo
From Littleton, CO
Dec 9, 2011
One of the most amazing sport climbs ever. Caveman...
If you can afford it and make it work, definitely take a break from school! I took a four year break after getting an associate's degree in outdoor recreation leadership and it was the best thing I could have done. I spent most of that time travelling, guiding, and climbing, with some spells of working crappy jobs too. Guiding really helped make it possible for me. It really was an amazing time, climbed in Thailand, Patagonia, Yosemite, chilled in central america. I went back to school for a bachelor's in physiology at CU Boulder and was really psyched on it and did really well and now I've been accepted to medical school. If i had tried to go straight through school I would have failed miserably and would not be in the awesome position that I'm in now. So, yes take a break and have some fun now while you're uncommitted to jobs, significant others, kids, etc. However, DO NOT GO INTO CREDIT CARD DEBT! That will really screw you over in the long run, and it's not worth doing it if you end up in serious credit card debt. As for where to go, if you can afford the airfare, go to Thailand! Awesome clibing and crazy cheap once you're there. Otherwise, Potrero is a good choice for the winter. Or go to crack university aka Indian Creek (a bit cold in the winter though). Good luck and have fun!

FLAG
 
By Kid Icarus
Dec 9, 2011
Self Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Get married.

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By Omar Little
Dec 14, 2011
Thanks for the info everyone. Jon, your beta is great.

I have been talking to some friends and they recommend trying to find cheap housing/a job in a good climbing location (Boulder, Bishop, Bend etc. etc.) if my main goal right now is to climb hard instead of adventure. While exploring new places, be it here in the states or Mexico/Thailand/Europe, seems like an amazing experience I really want to see how hard I can climb. I guess I am slightly worried that life on the road will be too preoccupying for being in good shape to push how hard I am climbing. For those of you who have gone on extended climbing trips is this a valid concern?

FLAG


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