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Has anyone ever seen a real dirtbag?


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Nolan Fulton · · Montgomery,AL · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 611

I was listening to The Enormocast podcast and they were talking about. “Are the dirtbags dead”. “All these sprinters lined up at the crag”. “That Isn’t really dirtbagging”


And how if there were still some real dirtbags left. You wouldn’t know about them. It’s not like they have Instagram accounts.


it got me thinking about how guys used to live out in caves and just live in their sleeping bag.


Has anyone seen a real Dirtbag? Like living at the crag pretty much homeless, panhandling, climbing, hitchhiking?


Usually when we go on a climbing trip we usually bivy at the base of a climb or cowboy camp, but only for a week tops. I’m talking about straight up living there for extended period of time. Dirty, nasty, stinky.


Interested to hear stories about them.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

I think too many people glamorize and romanticize the dirtbag. For example, why would there be a podcast about homeless climbers?  As if having no money and not showering is cool and fun. 

To your question, I would think there are a few out there, but I've never personally known any. I have seen guys pushing shopping carts with all their belongings. Does that count? :)

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865

Alf is still climbing I think.

CrimpDaddy-WesP · · Hollis nh · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 375

The more common scenario I've seen is people who save a bit of money or take a long time off from life and live very cheaply, much like a dirtbag but perhaps not the definition of what Enormocast is looking for. I've met people who have been living out of their cars for long periods of time, not showering for weeks, just to be able to climb. However, I don't think I've ever met anyone who is homeless, so to speak, because they climb. I guess it depends how you define homeless as well. I doubt any dirtbag would ever decide to become a dirtbag if they couldn't even afford climbing gear, so at some point they probably had least a bit of money to get started with. Whether this makes them any less of a dirtbag is a matter of semantics.

Nolan Fulton · · Montgomery,AL · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 611
CrimpDaddy-WesP wrote:

The more common scenario I've seen is people who save a bit of money or take a long time off from life and live very cheaply, much like a dirtbag but perhaps not the definition of what Enormocast is looking for. I've met people who have been living out of their cars for long periods of time, not showering for weeks, just to be able to climb. However, I don't think I've ever met anyone who is homeless, so to speak, because they climb. I guess it depends how you define homeless as well. I doubt any dirtbag would ever decide to become a dirtbag if they couldn't even afford climbing gear, so at some point they probably had least a bit of money to get started with. Whether this makes them any less of a dirtbag is a matter of semantics.

Same.

I’m just looking for accounts like 

“There used to be this guy that lived at _______. Used to sleep in the parking lot. Stayed all summer. Panhandle the tourists for money. Dig through the garbage can for food. Climbed everyday until winter came. Never saw him again”

ChrisMurphy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

I've met Fred Beckey and he's like the god of dirtbags, so I can say I've at least met one

Bill Shubert · · Lexington, MA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 55

I have a cousin I've never met who I'm pretty sure was a dirtbag. Does that count? He was into climbing, was in Yosemite working (as a ranger? For SAR? Something like that) for a while, didn't get along with other people, got fired, then lived in a cave in the park for a while. The family stories were that he ate mostly just peanut butter and spent all his time scrounging for peanut butter money, hiking, and climbing. This would have been in the '80s I think.

Since this is all second hand I'm not completely sure how accurate it is, but that's what I've always heard.

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

Closest thing to a dirt bag these days is probably people living out of their car. I got friends who have lived for years out of their car and met / climbed with tons of others who were on year long trips around while living in their car.

Reason I say closest because most of these people had tons of money so not exactly dirtbag living.

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175

My start in climbing was on a hitchhiking trip. I lived in a cave for three straight months. Now I live in a van. Vans are better than caves. 

Jon Frisby · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 110

I know several people who live full time out of non-Sprinter vehicle. Most of them have jobs, though some are seasonal. I know a few people with budgets in the $20/wk range but that's pretty rare these days. 

Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

"living out of their cars for long periods of time, not showering for weeks, just to be able to climb."

This totally counts.  Chances are, if you are truly homeless and hungry and desperate, you are not going to bother with rock climbing.

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
bruno-cx wrote:

ALF, he pulled a gun on my buddy once.  Does that make him a real dirtbag?

I'd say living out of a van for as long as I can remember counts. Hes not really cut out for home ownership I dont think.

Mobes Mobesely · · MDI · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 865
Hobo Greg wrote:

My start in climbing was on a hitchhiking trip. I lived in a cave for three straight months. Now I live in a van. Vans are better than caves. 

I've seen some tricked out caves but I'll agree on the van, less snakes and scorpions

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

A buddy of mine road tripped across the country years ago living on a dollar a day, dumpster diving, sleeping in the dirt while climbing. I think he was on the road for about a year or two, then worked odd jobs to save money and eventually became a guide. Aside from Beckey, probably the only dirtbag I ever met. 

Nolan Fulton · · Montgomery,AL · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 611

I’ve hosted a couple of travelers on Couchsurfing that are full time travelers. Work off end jobs for a week or so. Sleep in their tent and hitchhike and see amazing places. Have traveled the world.

I’ve also met a lot of trainhopping kids that travel around full time. Go to music festival. Work on farms seasonally.. 

Glad to hear Hobo Greg has done it. 

kck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 85

Timely video about Fred Becky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRfJGmXg4Yg

Nolan Fulton · · Montgomery,AL · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 611
kck wrote:

Timely video about Fred Becky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRfJGmXg4Yg

I think we have all seen this video. Looking for accounts on people other than The Godfather of dirtbags. 

Nolan Fulton · · Montgomery,AL · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 611
John Wilder wrote:

A buddy of mine road tripped across the country years ago living on a dollar a day, dumpster diving, sleeping in the dirt while climbing. I think he was on the road for about a year or two, then worked odd jobs to save money and eventually became a guide. Aside from Beckey, probably the only dirtbag I ever met. 

^^^ this guy. Man I’d love to have a beer with that guy. 

DannyJ · · San Diego, CA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 90

A couple years ago at Tahquitz I ran into a character at the base of the West Face. He was soloing several routes in that area. I saw him cruise up both El Camino and Jenson's Jaunt. He was crushing some PBRs in between laps and hanging out with his crag dog. He said that he bounces between Idy and Joshua Tree mostly. Anyone have any idea who this is? Probably in his mid 40s with a super beat up pair of La Sportiva Mythos. He might have grown up in Idy, not sure though. 

john l. · · Westchester, NY · Joined May 2012 · Points: 475

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bb8JDqJj3pJ/?taken-by=ranaeskee

She digs through garbage for food, but she has an Instagram, so I don't know?

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 745

If your definition of dirtbag requires panhandling and dumpster scavenging for dinner, then I haven't met any.

But I know people who are living out of their cars for extended period of time, (more than a year), or doing a combination of coach-surfing, tent camping, and car-living, and none of them are trust babies. Only one couple I can think of off the top of my head had bought and outfitted a new Sprinter van, the rest have much more humble car dwellings. And in all cases, including the couple with a brand new Sprinter, they either have worked hard and saved money enough to be living off of it for years, or they are still working as they are road-tripping. I know people with seasonal jobs, part-time jobs, contract gigs, and even full-time jobs. They do live frugally, but not to the point of begging for money.

Things have changed, and where before the odd jobs meant pretty much short-term manual labor or waitressing, now you can do some jobs remotely. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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