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guangzhou


Nov 29, 2011, 5:30 PM
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Dirtbags or top 1%
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Andrew Bisharat recently wrote, "Climbing used to be a refuge for social derelicts. The best climbers in the world were often the poorest people. Today, the best climbers are instead some of the richest."

Over at Mountains and Water Peter Beals say "The world of climbing never talks about that reality, referring instead to the "dirtbag" lifestyle, a cliché that is sounding just a bit too detached from the economic trauma this country is currently undergoing. If you have time to go off and climb rocks all over the world and not have to work all the time to support this habit, you are not a dirtbag. You are the 1% or damn close to it.

I have to say, both of these guys seem a bit detached of the climbing world I see. Posted a longer response on my blog, but looking forward to some of your insight here.


potreroed


Nov 29, 2011, 5:41 PM
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At either end of the social spectrum there lies a leisure class.


tolman_paul


Nov 29, 2011, 5:41 PM
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Climbing is a pretty vague term. I'd venture to say with alpine climbing, it has actually traditionally been a sport more of the afluent than the "dirtbag". It's never been cheap to venture to the Himalaya and to climb there has been either an expenditure of personal funds, or some serious fundraising to corporate or government entitities.

As far as technical rock climbing, cragging etc, I'd say that has been more of a middle class endevour, Though there have always been a small percentage of trust funders who grew up wealthy but elected to persue a different lifestyle than the one they grew up in.

"Climbing used to be a refuge for social derelicts. The best climbers in the world were often the poorest people. Today, the best climbers are instead some of the richest."

I'd restate that to say that the best rock climbers were engaged in something of a ascetic lifestyle in regards to earthly posessions and wealth, though more of a hedonistic lifestyle in their off time.


johnwesely


Nov 29, 2011, 8:23 PM
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Climbing can be really cheap.


camhead


Nov 29, 2011, 8:44 PM
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On a similar note, anyone want to take bets on the average income of the world's top 20 competitive climbers' parents? Six figures, easy.


johnwesely


Nov 29, 2011, 8:54 PM
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camhead wrote:
On a similar note, anyone want to take bets on the average income of the world's top 20 competitive climbers' parents? Six figures, easy.

No doubt about that.


meanandugly


Nov 29, 2011, 9:19 PM
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Many of those old dirtbaggers are now 1%ers. They were dirtbaggers because they wanted a life style outside the norm. I lived in poverty to, working to support my climbing...after 20 yrs it got old, but I miss it.


bearbreeder


Nov 29, 2011, 9:59 PM
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those i know who climb the most tend not to be wealthy ... there are exceptions of course ...

now as to climbing the best? ... i suspect that should you be the "best" youll make a living out of it


guangzhou


Nov 29, 2011, 11:23 PM
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camhead wrote:
On a similar note, anyone want to take bets on the average income of the world's top 20 competitive climbers' parents? Six figures, easy.

Not sure about this. Looking at Indonesia, their parents might be making 3 figures American a year. I also doubt Eastern European parents are making those six figures.

Within America, a few could be, but what is 100,000 in California or New York going to get you that 50,000 in Tennessee can't.


jacques


Nov 30, 2011, 6:57 AM
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guangzhou wrote:
Andrew Bisharat recently wrote, "Climbing used to be a refuge for social derelicts. The best climbers in the world were often the poorest people. Today, the best climbers are instead some of the richest."

If you reed the first ascension of the Mt blanc, you will see that the guide climb it and the rich pay for it. But, the reason for the poor to climb it, it is to have money...it is a job.

I think that it is true if you think at the time that we need to be a good climber versus the time that we need to be a lawer or someone in finance. most people don't have time to do both, particularly before.

Today, you have the industry who want to make money with the rich. The acces was made to be safe, reliable and costly. It is not really climbing, but all the gear, clothes and training wall is there to make money.

Sport climbing bring an easy access for those who want to be consider bolt as a climber. Talk to someone who never climb and be with climber. the idea that they have of climbing is some think like a mountain, like thin air at cathedral ledge...it is not a crag of 50 feet. Some cimber are bore to see the tourism looking at the people in thin air when they encourage the beginer to go to the top. As they are there for fun, they like to see someone working hard to go over a bulge or manage a traverse with difficulty. They saw the plaisure to do it. Boring or jalous of the popularity of those beginer is probably the question. Good client are more often those who want to flash to be the best to. As my brother told me, put it down in a CV as a sign of achievement.

To be a climber, you have to climb. Today, an expert can not be a casual. The climber most train specifically to be good. Dirty bag have time to train. Notice that, today, there are few climber who are very different from the other. In three years, a nobody in good shape could climb 5.11 or 5.12. And 5.13 are tried thousand of time before someone took them in photo for a journal. The goal is a performance, not a plaisir. After three years, and a try in a big mountain, they gave up.

Today, climber on the cliff (my definition), as Kirouac did on the road, is not a quest of liberty as before. Quest for money and dirty bag are at the opposite. Many more people died today of depression on there quest of money than in the mountain. Climbing is it an arm to make suicide? If they find the same mentallity for performance than in their job...


petsfed


Nov 30, 2011, 7:17 AM
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Well, the full-time, don't-have-an-end-in-sight dirtbags are just not that common. Most of the time, its somebody putting off grad school, or waiting for a job to start, or using up savings before they start looking for a job.

The modern "dirtbag" is almost uniformly middle class in terms of average earnings and background. Even at dirtbag destinations, take a moment to look at the vehicles and their contents. You're looking at 2-3 years of poverty line pay to afford that stuff, provided you've only food and rent as expenses.

The modern dirtbag is a myth we tell ourselves so we feel better about stealing campsites, food, etc.


sungam


Nov 30, 2011, 7:35 AM
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petsfed wrote:
Well, the full-time, don't-have-an-end-in-sight dirtbags are just not that common. Most of the time, its somebody putting off grad school, or waiting for a job to start, or using up savings before they start looking for a job.
Yeah, most of the people I have run into are taking a year or two off to drift, though I have definitely met a small number of no end in sight, work a month or two a year and climb the rest, full-time dirtbags.


SylviaSmile


Nov 30, 2011, 7:37 AM
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It doesn't seem to me that the having or not having of money matters that much, per se. It's your values, or what you do with your time and money, that counts. I think it's just as silly to look down on someone for having a six-figure income as it is to look down on someone else for not having a job at all. There are rich people who can lead "ascetic" lifestyles, as well as poor people who are wrapped up in the pleasures of material and man-made things.


shockabuku


Nov 30, 2011, 8:02 AM
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guangzhou wrote:
camhead wrote:
On a similar note, anyone want to take bets on the average income of the world's top 20 competitive climbers' parents? Six figures, easy.

Not sure about this. Looking at Indonesia, their parents might be making 3 figures American a year. I also doubt Eastern European parents are making those six figures.

Within America, a few could be, but what is 100,000 in California or New York going to get you that 50,000 in Tennessee can't.

Probably neither one is going to get you a top contending athlete without the child having exceptional drive both in training and in raising money to support competition.

In the outer NY area it's ~$1200/yr just for a two day a week group practice that doesn't cover gym membership, comp fees, or travel. Add another $2-3k/yr minimum to compete nationally, another couple of thousand to compete internationally.

I don't see many competitors whose parents aren't comfortable if not relatively affluent.


rtwilli4


Nov 30, 2011, 8:04 AM
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SylviaSmile wrote:
It doesn't seem to me that the having or not having of money matters that much, per se.

Have you ever been poor? I don't mean "dirtbag" poor. I mean choosing between paying rent or buying bread poor.


mr.tastycakes


Nov 30, 2011, 8:07 AM
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potreroed wrote:
At either end of the social spectrum there lies a leisure class.


I fucking detest that quote; Krakauer should be slapped for writing that. I know it's aimed at the climber/surfer/snowboarder type guy who works just enough to pursue his hobby, but if you read it at face value it suggests that the poor are lazy. There is such thing as the working poor.


chadnsc


Nov 30, 2011, 8:08 AM
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SylviaSmile wrote:
It doesn't seem to me that the having or not having of money matters that much, per se. It's your values, or what you do with your time and money, that counts. I think it's just as silly to look down on someone for having a six-figure income as it is to look down on someone else for not having a job at all. There are rich people who can lead "ascetic" lifestyles, as well as poor people who are wrapped up in the pleasures of material and man-made things.


You ever try to pay rent, buy food or medicine with your values?

Didn't think so. Unsure


dynosore


Nov 30, 2011, 8:14 AM
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My impression is that most of the top competitive climbers in the world are definitely NOT from America.

Climbing is one of the cheaper lifestyles you can participate in. Try aviation, or racing, or keepiong horses, or even serious fishing. I spend more on one fishing trip than I've spent on my entire collection of climbing gear, and I have a pretty good collection. An hour of flying costs a hundred bucks or more between fuel and rental. A set of tires for even autocrossing is over a grand. All things I've done and enjoyed. But dollar for dollar, only hiking is cheaper fun than climbing for me.


dynosore


Nov 30, 2011, 8:17 AM
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SylviaSmile wrote:
It doesn't seem to me that the having or not having of money matters that much, per se. It's your values, or what you do with your time and money, that counts. I think it's just as silly to look down on someone for having a six-figure income as it is to look down on someone else for not having a job at all. There are rich people who can lead "ascetic" lifestyles, as well as poor people who are wrapped up in the pleasures of material and man-made things.

I get where you're coming from; some of the greediest people I know are poor (and they stay poor because they're constantly buying things they don't need and can't afford). But, as others have pointed out, I'd guess you've never really been without. Wondering if we would have food on the table a few times when I was a kid, I can tell you being truly poor is not fun.


SylviaSmile


Nov 30, 2011, 8:20 AM
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chadnsc wrote:
SylviaSmile wrote:
It doesn't seem to me that the having or not having of money matters that much, per se. It's your values, or what you do with your time and money, that counts. I think it's just as silly to look down on someone for having a six-figure income as it is to look down on someone else for not having a job at all. There are rich people who can lead "ascetic" lifestyles, as well as poor people who are wrapped up in the pleasures of material and man-made things.


You ever try to pay rent, buy food or medicine with your values?

Didn't think so. Unsure

I didn't mean to downplay poverty as a serious issue--clearly, it is. I only meant to say, it's not fair to judge someone solely based on their income level. And no, I have never lived near poverty level myself.


potreroed


Nov 30, 2011, 8:25 AM
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mr.tastycakes wrote:
potreroed wrote:
At either end of the social spectrum there lies a leisure class.


I fucking detest that quote; Krakauer should be slapped for writing that. I know it's aimed at the climber/surfer/snowboarder type guy who works just enough to pursue his hobby, but if you read it at face value it suggests that the poor are lazy. There is such thing as the working poor.

I don't remember who said that originally but it wasn't Krakauer, it was one of the early Yosemite pioneers and was certainly apt for the times.

And yeah, I live in rural Mexico so I know a lot about the hard-working poor.


matterunomama


Nov 30, 2011, 8:39 AM
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Just to be clear, in 2009 the top 1% was $350K. Most likely even higher now. There aren't too many of them wandering around being climbers, other than a two week vacation with their smart phone left on.


johnwesely


Nov 30, 2011, 9:23 AM
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mr.tastycakes wrote:
potreroed wrote:
At either end of the social spectrum there lies a leisure class.


I fucking detest that quote; Krakauer should be slapped for writing that. I know it's aimed at the climber/surfer/snowboarder type guy who works just enough to pursue his hobby, but if you read it at face value it suggests that the poor are lazy. There is such thing as the working poor.

God forbid anyone ever say anything that can be misinterpreted out of context.


funk


Nov 30, 2011, 9:28 AM
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guangzhou wrote:
Andrew Bisharat recently wrote, "Climbing used to be a refuge for social derelicts. The best climbers in the world were often the poorest people. Today, the best climbers are instead some of the richest."

Over at Mountains and Water Peter Beals say "The world of climbing never talks about that reality, referring instead to the "dirtbag" lifestyle, a cliché that is sounding just a bit too detached from the economic trauma this country is currently undergoing. If you have time to go off and climb rocks all over the world and not have to work all the time to support this habit, you are not a dirtbag. You are the 1% or damn close to it.

I have to say, both of these guys seem a bit detached of the climbing world I see. Posted a longer response on my blog, but looking forward to some of your insight here.

Both are residents of Boulder, CO. Of course they're out of touch with society.


rangerrob


Nov 30, 2011, 9:29 AM
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I don't know Tastycakes, I don't think that qoute is referencing the working poor. I think it's a pretty spot on quote. There are "poor" people who are not fighting the rat race to try to keep uo with the Jones's. They have what they have, and are not too interested in moving up the ladder.

Anyway, I have met many a climbing dirtbag in my career who are not of the 1%. They do exactly what they need to do to get by and live to climb. I envy their ability to throw security and life expectancy out the window and just live life.

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