By Anthony | October 22, 2012
A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to go on a climbing trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky with a couple of my colleagues from the Outdoor Adventure Center. It was one of the most amazing experiences ever. I also learned a few things that got left out in the briefing. (While this mostly applies to my experience climbing, a good portion of these may also pertain to other outdoor activities and is not exclusive to just climbing).
Song of the Week=Tool Man by Nacho Picasso
Don’t let the title fool you—This is in no way an attempt to stop anyone from climbing or doing anything outdoors. In fact, I want everyone to do it at some point. Climbing is one of my favorite activities and being able to actually do it outside is easily in the top 3 coolest things I’ve ever done in my life right next to “live college life” and “eat cereal all day, everyday for a week.”
I dare anyone to say this isn’t amazing
That being said, there are a couple of things that never seemed to get asked (or mentioned) that would have been helpful from the start. Things like…
It’s Half Camping and Backpacking
Where you one of those people that heard the word “climbing” and thought it was going to be all about climbing? Ha! I bet you also think that road trips are all about roads and carnivals were all about fun and games.
They’re actually all about funnel cake
Now, to be fair, this is probably one of the things you will plan out, but it still comes as a surprise to everyone who hasn’t got past the “let’s do this climbing thing” phase. You see, most people only envision one single event and all of the logistics go out the door (which is why logistics is a huge business). While some people elect to sleep in cars, this still counts as camping.
The reason why this is so important is because hotels really rack up and it’s rare that you know someone well enough that lives out in the area. Well why don’t you just commute you ask? Because climbing isn’t something that you do and leave, you do it all day, everyday for the entire weekend.
“Yup, that one climb was totally worth the time and money invested. That should do it for a while.”
For anyone that’s ever camped overnight, this isn’t anything new to you. However, for everyone else, it turns out that it’s more than just bringing a tent and a change of clothes (although, yes, you’ll need both of those). In addition to that, you’ll also need a sleeping bag (of course), a sleeping pad (it turns out that sleeping on solid ground is rather uncomfortable), a headlamp because, surprise, there aren’t a hundred lights out there, and probably a stove if you’re feeling ambitious.
Backpacking is also fun because, if you thought that traveling through the woods, up and down steep hills was fun, wait until you do it with weight on your back. It’s actually not too bad, unless you’re one of those people that are too paranoid to leave behind your tent or get stuck with the climbing gear because that stuff really adds up.
Going in the Woods
If the title for this entry confused you, don’t worry because it is exactly what it sounds like. Now, I know that this might be disgusting for a lot of you and you are right, it is. Therefore I will try to be brief with this one:
It sucks, there’s always the chance that someone might stumble by you, and leaves are NOT a suitable replacement for toilet paper, no matter how clean you try to get it.
Just try to stay away from these leaves
Dirt, Dirt Everywhere (Showers, Not So Much)
This one is so obvious that you never think about it. But yes, there is dirt everywhere. Including the base of the crag (what you’re essentially climbing on), while climbing the crag, and especially on top of each pitch of the crag. The last one is important because there are also a lot of rocks and pebbles up there and they tend to fall down when people climb, which is the actual reason why institutions require you to wear helmets (I climbed on my own free time and didn’t bring a helmet. I had to duck and cover).
Now, admittedly, a little dirt isn’t going to hurt anyone. It’s the latter half of this entry’s title that’s the problem. While most camp grounds you stay at do have showers, they rarely get used. This is for a couple of reasons—not many other people do, it saves on packing space/weight, and it can get cold at night.
Which is why cats hate water
This is where things get confusing. Getting dirty is usually the number one thing that prevents people from venturing to the outdoors next to wild animals. (If you think I’m making a Wizard of Oz reference, you’ve got another thing coming). While wild animals, as a general rule of self-preservation, don’t come near large gatherings of humans, the thought of going a couple of days in the wild without a shower can scare most people off. It also doesn’t help that most outdoors-people will either try to talk you out of it or convince you that you don’t need to, despite the fact that sanitation is one of the reasons for increased life-expectancy and you should do it at least ever other day.
While going a couple of days without a shower won’t kill you, it’s also not doing any favors which is like skipping a day between meals—it’s not going to kill you, too much will hurt you, but not doing it is going against everything evolution has taught us to do. They’re rejecting science and going against evolution harder than the LSEA and even that promotes critical thinking while the former promotes “do it because we said so.”
On a side note, a lot of places have two separate water sources—tap water, and well water. The former is what we normally use, the latter is what outdoors people usually prefer because, somehow, the chemicals in city water is killing you, despite it being around since the early 1900′s and everybody has been living longer ever since.
Vegetarians are the Majority and Your Arguments are Invalid
Right from the start, I have a lot of explaining to do. This is not an argument against vegetarians. On the contrary; there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s not weird, vegetarian does not make you a bad person (at least one blogger on here is a vegetarian and they are all the coolest people in existence), and despite what the internet says, most aren’t smug about it.
Instead, this is all an exercise in role-reversal. You see, in any other environment they would be considered the minority fighting an uphill battle against the rest of us omnivores. They’re always out-of-place, inconveniencing everyone else, and frowned upon. Not in the great outdoors, however. Out here, they can group together and bond over their mutual dislike of their carnivorous counterparts.
Of course, with every one hundred level-headed, care-free, friendly vegetarian out there, you’re going to get a couple that want nothing more to convert you to their life-style and will throw attacks if you don’t agree. It’s not abnormal, it’s totally expected: For every group of Christians, you’re going to get a couple of radicals; for every group of fans, you’re going to get a couple that tip things over and burn things down when their team loses; for every group of children’s movies that teach love, acceptance tolerance, and getting along, you have a Disney movie to throw racist stereotypes your way. It’s expected.
Oddly enough, I couldn’t find any examples of level-headed Twilight fans
I made the mistake of playing devil’s advocate and tried to argue against a couple of them because when you don’t have the internet to occupy your time, arguing about pointless stuff is the next best thing which, incidentally is what 50% of the internet is so I guess I was just trying to get my fix. And, just like the internet, all logical argument and reasoning get thrown out of the door.
Of course their were legitimate reasons for going vegetarian—ecological concerns, nonviolence, economic and world hunger concerns (all great reasons, by the way). But, then there were the ones that instantly lead to yelling matches which kind of confused me because it’s been years since I’ve had to yell without the CAPS LOCK button and I’ve, quite frankly, forgotten how to. Their arguements basically run down the path of “it’s not necessary, therefore you shouldn’t.” Oddly enough, none of them protested chocolate cake or the puppy chow we munched on. Although, to be fair, puppy chow should be considered necessary at some point in everyone’s life
“Totally necessary to start my day…”
Again, this isn’t strange, it isn’t evil, and no one is going to force you to do anything. It’s a chance for a minority group to feel in control and it must feel great.
Every Single Picture is AMAZING
Hey, I didn’t say that this was going to be all negative, did I? Despite the very realistic approach I tend to take with life, I actually like to keep it positive when I can, unlike the news. Also, I’m the one writing this article and I make the rules leaving you to deal with it and use the the internet to hurl unwarranted, hateful insults at me if you disagree (DISCLAIMER I also choose which comments to accept in order to avoid spam). Therefore, I’m going to end this post on a positive note because climbing outdoors (and every other outdoor activity) really is an amazing experience and, despite what anyone tells you, the good far outweighs the bad.
Before ending this with pictures from the trip, just remember three things: 1) This stuff is great. 2) If you do go to Ohio State, go on an adventure trip through the OAC. 3) If I inspired you (or accidentally offended you)(or if you just want to have a good old-fashioned internet argument with me), leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll accept it.
Lesson Learned: Get outside!
For more climbing fun, check out Hanging Belay
For more of what I’m going to be writing more about, check out 4th Year