James Lucas climbs the thin Easter Island (5.12-), Tuolumne Meadows, in the original dirtbagging heaven: Yosemite, where Lucas lives part of the year. Photo: Andrew Burr
1. Less Dreaming, More Doing
If you want to climb all the time, the best thing to do is to start doing it. Get in your car right now and drive to the crag. No car? Bike. No Bike? Walk. Being a dirtbag isn’t about eating somebody else’s leftovers. It’s about realizing your goals. In the immortal words of heavyweight bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman, “Everybody wanna be a body builder, ain’t nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass weights.”
2. Eating Well
We’ve all heard tales of the gourmet score from a Trader Joe’s dumpster, but food is usually out of pocket. Vegetables, fruits, and nuts cost a bit more than an ice cream sandwich from the Yosemite Lodge, but the better, long-lasting energy will keep your body from breaking down over the course of so much climbing. Eating well is like preventive health care: Spending a bit more on good grub is saving in the long run. You are less apt to get sick, your body will be stronger, and ultimately you will climb harder.
3. Remembering My Motivation
Earlier this spring, my Saturn station wagon died just outside Yosemite. I lost my wheels and my home. Werner Braun, one of the original Stonemasters and a member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, pronounced my rig dead after a few days of working on it. Having no money, no car, and no home is a legit reason to weep. But that’s not why I’m out here. It motivated me to climb harder than ever. When you have nothing, you go climbing. The rock knows no difference.
4. Looking Good
You don’t have to look or act homeless just because you don’t have a home. It makes other climbers avoid you, and the authorities will look at you with more scrutiny. I shower and shave every couple of days. It makes it easier to fly under the radar. As notorious dirtbag Chongo wrote in The Quotable Chongo, “If you wash your hands frequently, then you get more babes...and you live longer (a fact)... which means that you can get even more babes.”
5. Knowing Karma Is Real
Earlier this year, I pulled 600 feet of fixed line off El Capitan, and I replaced a number of the fixed lines to Heart Ledges. The physical toiling worked me, but Yosemite climbing ranger Ben Doyle offered to belay me on my project halfway up El Cap as a result. Being a crag steward fully paid off. Replace webbing, switch out bad biners, and clean up trash. Good stuff happens to good people.
Photo: Andrew Burr