Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Climbing Ecuador

So what's the point of hitchhiking all the way to South America if you aren't going to climb anything? The same as doing anything else in life without climbing: pointless!

So hitchhiking companion Dan Petty and I have hitchhiked over 5000 miles in persuit of our final destination, Patagonia, Argentina. So far we have seen lots and lots of crazy shit. Too much to cover here, but one thing that we hadn't done until last week was climb. So we got a line on a little sport climbing crag in Columbia. There we stayed with a couple of locals for three days until it started raining, at which point they gave us some information on a little supposed climbing in Ecuador. What we found once we got there was this:
Potero Chico, the Mexican climbing mecca that is partially known for the overgrowth on some of the routes has nothing on this. People say that Squamish gets vegetated during their rainy season? Ha, eat shit Squamish.

Keep in mind that this route is rated 5.7. Here is a partial list of the crazy ass stuff that we had to do to climb it.

Go 20+ feet without touching actual rock.
Tear away cactus just to clip the bolts. 
Several mantels onto pure dirt. 
Trust footholds that crumbled underbodyweight.
Finally mantel right over a the most prickily cactus on the planet just to finish the route. 

Well I'm glad that we took a day off our trip to Patagonia in order to climb this! Actually all and all everything is worth it, mostly because of the chicks. Chicks man!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Columbia: Coffee, Coke, Craziness

Actually none of those things have particularly applied to Columbia yet, but I like the alliteration so it stays as a title. Dan and I have made our way past the Darian Gap, which is a torrid jungle filled with narcotrafficos and man-eating panthers. To go around we took a boat through the San Blas Islands. The San Blas Islands look something like this.
Which is pretty cool if they weren't populated by a group of Xenophobes called the Kona who think they are God's chosen people.  I'm not saying that facetiously, they literally think they are God's chosen people. The website tropicaldiscover.com describes the Kona thus:
"self-governing Kunas are zealously protective of their environment and way of life, one of the few pure races existing in the world."
Actually they have let their beautiful Islands become covered in garbage and they have rediculous rules and fines that only apply to outsiders. For an outsider to sleep with a Kona woman is a 30,000 dollar fine. Sorry beautiful Kona girl who is staring at me, your people are Xenophobes, enjoy your inbreeding.

After that we arrived at Columbia. Dan and I have been hitchhiking for 95% of the trip, and were hesitant about whether or not to hitch through Columbia. Dan, who grew up in Venezuela during the 90's was used to Columbia being the 'kidnapping capital of the world' With this information in hand we did the natural thing, decided to hitchike through it anyway.

This had turned out to be the right decision. Columbian's are some of the friendliest people that you'll every meet. Hitching is really easy and it seems fairly safe. Hell even the cops none of whom look like they are out of their 20's are always waving, smiling and flashing peace signs. Also they love gringos here. On our second day we were mobbed by a group of 30 or so children ages 4-10. They had infinite questions, most of them involving us translating their names into English. If you want to feel like a rockstar and eat as much as you want for 2.50, come to Columbia.

Quote of the day: "A 70 year old woman carrying home furniture on her head, not something you are going to see in the US."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ultimate Dirtbag Trip

Actually I'm not sure that this is the ultimate dirtbag trip. For those of you who don't know, I decided to go to Argentina to climb for the winter. This isn't that exceptional, except that I am hitchhiking the whole trip. Right now my friend Dan Petty and I have crossed the Darian Gap in Panama and have just arrived in Columbia. When I was planning this trip this summer, it felt like it might be the finish to my time on the road, but at the moment I feel like it is only the start to crazier and crazier things in my life to come.

Dan and I on a Beach in El Salvador
 We've seen almost too much crazy shit to write about now, plus one day people will be fighting for the book rights to this stuff. So I've just made a list of crazy things I've seen or done so far, enjoy.

Crazy List!
We bivyed on top of a building in Mexico that turned out to be the town jail.

An American Mother/Son combo that picked us up tried to cook with our camp fuel, and she ended up lighting her son on fire.

In Panama pretty girls would drive by as we were hitching and blow us kisses.

The richest man in El Salvador picked us up and drove us quite a ways, while buying us expensive dinners and alcohol he explained his belief that cancer was caused by shell fish and the US government had the cure.

In Panama I got fined 10 dollars for taking a crap on an Island that the natives consider sacred, the island was covered in garbage and crap already.

Nicaragua, known for it's violent civil war, is the safest country in Latin America. We saw small children walking the streets alone at 10 pm.

We went through Nicaragua at the cost of 1 US dollar.

We saw a small village below an active smoking volcano.

I thought that I had an iron gut, but we watched a man taking swig after swig of water from a city fountain filled with garbage.

Finally I have our quote of the week, it comes from a drunk Czech who was traveling with us for a little while. After getting  very intoxicated he said, "I am a hippy/pirate! I am lost in the Caribean! Respect me!" Oh we do my friend, we do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My plan for America: Less Jobs.

So election season is rolling around again, which means that you are likely to hear some douchey guys with really expensive haircuts say some really stupid shit. Every year you will hear two things from all of them, the first being that "America is the greatest country on earth." The second being that they "I plan to fix America". Really assholes? You can easily see what's wrong with that if you combine the two into one sentence. Lets try it. "America is the greatest country on earth, I have a plan to fix that."

There is however one thing stupider than all of that, and that is that every politician what's to create more jobs. Put America back to work! Why is it that anybody thinks this is a good idea? If you had your choice: A. Work in a shitty office to enrich some CEO with a 200 dollar tie or B. Don't work at all and have fun all the time. Which would it be? (Hint: Not a trick question.)

The same dickwad politicians (all of them) who want to create more jobs are the people who are paid off by big business that tells you that you need a 60" plasma TV, rotating rims and Calvin Cline cologne in order to be happy. If you figure out you don't need any of that shit, you can figure out that you need to work a lot less every year. If I ran for office that would be my slogan, less jobs for America and less work for every American. Vote Dirtbag Party, 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I am not a fucking hippy.

Before we delve into the deep inner psyche of the hippy/dirtbag relationship, I'd like to relate a conversation about this I had recently.

Person A. "Kevin, you are a fucking hippy."
Me "No I'm not."
Person A. "You've been sleeping in a shed for the past week."
Person B. "The difference is, Kevin doesn't call sleeping in a shed a spiritual experience."

I feel that this needs to be made very clear. On the surface it may seem that dirtbags like myself resemble hippies. Like dirtbags, hippies smell bad, but after that I feel the resemblances end. Sure, hippies travel around, hang out in nature, forego their personal hygiene, and so on. But hippies are doing it for no fucking reason and calling it all a spiritual experience.

That doesn't make any sense. 9/10 dirtbags would much rather be staying at the Awahanee than sleeping in a shed. We travel around, hang out in nature, forego their personal hygiene, and so on.....because we want to climb rocks! Which makes much more sense.

Now for a quick game!
Q. See if you can find 10 differences you can come up with between the two people in these photos.
A. They both smell bad, but Fred Becky looks like a man, not a bearded lady.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Dirtbags

So you may be asking yourself what is a dirtbag. Actually probably not, because you probably know me. Regardless this was one of the only definitions of dirtbag that I could find online:

"n: Piss-poor, unemployed rock climber who lives off scrounged food and sleeps, obviously, in the dirt. The pinnacle of climbing commitment and idol of employed climbers."

I prefer to reduce the definition to two words:

"Homeless Athlete."

This is a superior definition for several reasons. One, you don't necessarily have to be a rock climber to be a dirtbag. (Kevin fun fact: Rock Climbing causes homelessness by the same percentage as heroin) In theory you could be a dirtbag for any sport, it's just that not very many people are willing to camp in the snow so they can play badminton more often. There are dirtbag highliners, kiteboarders, and a few remaining snow and surf bums. However most are rock climbers.

The other thing I prefer about my definition is that any rock climber can be piss-poor and scrounge food. You could still live in an apartment, go to college, smell good, be around women, etc. Only the truly dedicated will willingly become homeless just to climb rocks a little more often.

Quick Game!

What's a good way to tell a dirtbag from a regular homeless person. After all, both of them haven't shaved or showered in a week. Both of them are eating cold soup out of a can. Both of them reek of malt liquor. So how can you tell the difference? I'll give you a few easy steps that will help you along. First: look for the abs.

Mind you, I'm the only person who can climb full time, be super thin and still not have abs, so I shave mine in.
Not a lot of regular homeless people walking around with six packs, killer forearms and awesome back muscles. The other major difference: Happiness. Your average homeless person wishes he lives indoors and has a big screen TV. Your average dirtbag wishes he could climb half a grade harder. If he can commit to living off that 2$ 64oz jar of Grocery Outlet peanut butter for the next week, maybe he can get an extra week to send that project he's been working on! Homelessness makes the dirtbag happy and the homeless person a sad sack of shit.

Most people in who are not rock climbers don't really understand what we dirtbags are doing. My own family just thinks I'm up to "Some serious hippy shit." They are always trying to get me to go visit them. Unfortunately most of them live in humid, flat, rockless, urban wastelands. When I suggest that they come visit me in a modern paradise like Squamish, BC, they are dumbfounded by the idea. Even though it's actually easier for them to visit me than it is for me to hitchhike across the great plains just to go hang out in the somewhere where I'd have nothing to do. We dirtbags are not just tramping around for no reason. Nobody would be doing this without rock climbing. Except homeless people, and they'd much rather be watching T.V.