Suburban Dirtbag: Week 2

Austin Haedicke bio photo By Austin Haedicke Comment
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Day 17

Lessons in Gratitude:

As the Thanksgiving week and weekend settled in I had a lot to both be thankful for and to meditate on. In the personal realm what stuck out to was being able to accept hospitality without guilt. I had spend the holiday and a couple days after crashing at a friends house. Naturally, I had the inate desire to flee, but settled on accepting the gift that was offered.

Why not? Was I afraid that my friend woudl think me a mooch or that I’d wear out my welcome? I could dive deep into my psyche and explore lots of dynamics there, but this isn’t the time or place to do so.

Life on the road is hard enough, why make it any harder on yourself? If someone is kind enough to offer to help, just take it. If they hold it over your head, then shame on them. No matter how comfortable your camping gear or car / truck/ van rig is, all the nights of sleep o na real bed with a home cooked meal in your stomach, wifi, a flushing toilet, and a real person to talk to will surely add up (in a very good way).

There’s nothing wrong wtih taking help when it’s offered, even if you don’t need it. That is something I struggle with. Even if I can do something alone, do I really have to? Or more to the point, do I really want to? If I can truly say I’m coming from a place of gratitude and kindness (e.g. not abuse hospitality and “wearing out my welcome”), and coming from that place eases some of the many (oft undocumented mind you!) struggles of dirtbagging, then why not?

If you’re the type of person to “save all your favors for one big favor when you really need it”, what happens if die never having used any of those favors? I suppose nothing is really lost, but you had so much to gain. You can live without using those favors, but is that really the way you want to go (out)?

Let’s make this climbing specific:

  • You can always learn something from every climb
  • You can always learn something from every climber
  • You don’t need a 13a crusher to belay you, you need someone to keep you off the ground.
  • Likewise with a V-whatever boulderer and spotting
  • Grandma can’t climb, but she can cook a mean holiday spread
  • Your ability to crush wasted if you can’t navigate to the crag, be thankful for locals and alpinists
  • There is such a thing as a free lunch

A photo posted by @savagezen on


Crushing (respectively):

The weather was perfect bouldering weather last Satuday. As I woke up at Rocktown it was about 40 degrees and the sun was shinning bright and, with good reason, the parking lot was packed early. It was, by far, my best bouldering performance to date. Including 3 x V6, chunking another V6 into to sections, and doing the same with a V7. One of those 6s was a project I had redacted my send of due to some “unacceptable” dabbing. This time, I owned it, firt go, not even so much as a shirt dragging on the low clearance rock below. Keep in mind with that that I had not seen a V6 ascent until early October of this year.

Near the end of the day I just sat atop a boulder basking in the sun for.. I don’t know how long actually. Unlike many crowded days at Rocktown, the crowd (and their dogs!) was very chill and respectful (e.g. no speakers, unecessary yelling / squealing, pets were kept under control, spaces and projects were respected, etc…).


“Just Climbing”?

About one year ago I posted to Instagram celebrating 150 YTD ascents for 2015. That was a big accomplishment. Somewhere around that time, I started making that goal more know among my friend circle. A fellow climber (#austinpsyche) remarked that I should try for 200 ascents on the year. I snubbed the suggestion thinking how hard 150 was and it just didn’t seem possible for me.

Thanksgiving day 2016 I notched the 200 ascent mark on the year. It is no secret that I’m a crag rat first and foremost; always will be. But, I also love training. I love reading about training, I love collecting data about my climbing, all of that stuff is great too – albeit in a different way. So, I’ve always felt pulled in two directions regarding the value of scientifically precise training and the “just climb (more(hard stuff))” approach.

It’s funny how I’ve seen training cycles and trends play out in my climbing career (~3 years or so now). My first obsession with training came way too early. It didn’t matter if I was doing 4x4s, repeaters, or 1:20 limit sessions. I just needed to be climbing more. I remember getting really excited about midway through this year that I felt like I was at a place in my climbing career where I could “actually use” all the training knowledge I’d accumulated over the years.

I want to say that my training has paid off. I’m not foolish enough to say that my training methods are the best for everyone, but they certainly seem helpful for me where I was / am at. While I have extensive training data (yes, I’m a nerd like that), I also have data on ticks, sends, and attempts outdoors (and a nerd like that too) which can’t be ignored.

In 2015 my hardest boulder in 2015 was V5, I’d managed to wrangle my way up a 5.10a/b on gear, and finished the year with 168 ascents. This year I’m already over 200 ascents (with a month to go), have climbed over 3 times as many V5s this year as I did last year, and nearly as many V6s this year as I did V5 last year.

I do think my training efforts were hepful, particularly when I wasn’t getting to the crag (as much). But, it certainly wasn’t the only factor. Bickering about max hangs vs. repeaters (for example), seems more fruitful to be had after and only after you’ve notched , I don’t know the exact number, but several hundred ascents in your climbing career (I’m open to discussion in the comments aobu that if you disagree). But then, it never hurts to have stronger fingers, be more flexible, have abs of steel, laser precise footwork, or gorilla power – any number of those things may or may not be what’s holding you (or me) back though.

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