If you actually go outside to climb on rocks, you most likely have to do some sort of traveling to get from your home to the crag. In addition to the fact that climbable rock is a precious commodity that isn’t a universal characteristic of local geology, weather and climate are just as important as outcrop or boulder field quality. If clipping bolts on 5.easy Corbin sandstone in climbing conditions only suitable for tropical tree frogs and attempting to sleep in a pool of your own sweat and fine dirt particles for $2 a night sounds like a great climbing trip, you should go to the Red in July. Outdoor climbing is driven by location and season, and if you live in the United Sates, you are going to have to drive everywhere.
Going to school in Oberlin, Ohio has put me over 300 miles from any real rock climbing. Though the two main destinations are arguably some of the best single pitch crags in the world, it is a haul and traveling takes a toll on the body and mind. In my effort to pack in as much quality climbing at the Red and the New before graduating and hopefully leaving the relative “closeness”, I have been driving quite a bit. I have developed a wonderful love/hate relationship with driving, and I have had a ton of time to think about it while getting stuck behind and pissed at people driving slow in the left lane down I-71. Driving for longer road trips usually doesn’t seem as bad, and as long I make a point to not go overboard with continuous driving, it is somewhat comfortable. If you have the opportunity to get out of this beautiful, spacious, ridiculous, and diverse country called the United Sates, jump on it and experience the totalitarianism of air travel and cushy rides in trains through scenic countrysides.
Many wise people told me when I was just starting to drivers’ education that you truly start learning to drive after you get your license. They were completely right, and I have been learning through many valuable experiences. Things I have learned include : the REAL speed limit is 10mph over what is posted, cruise control is God’s gift to driving (once this is realized you can even practice yoga sitting poses in places like Nebraska or South Dakota), THE LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING, only stop to refuel (eating while driving is ideal, going to the bathroom is more comfortable in the gas station but not mandatory), if you have a driving partner make sure they can drive the car you are traveling (apparently not everyone can drive a standard transmission?)…
Overall, driving and more generally transportation are a necessary annoyance and blessing to rock climbing. It consumes time, petroleum, and mental energy, yet it gives us the freedom to climb and explore. Our vehicles can also become our home, and while I have not adapted my car for climbing and “living the dream”, the amount of time I have spent in my Honda Civic has made it feel very homey. After just getting back from one of my last weekends of climbing down South because the weather is getting quite warm and my senior recital is quickly approaching, I am happy that I won’t be spending so much time traveling for at least a month. Thank you car and roads and million-year-old dead plankton for bringing me to beautiful rock climbs and creating wonderful memories. May my carbon footprint be forgiven for the combustion was not made in vain.