Climbing Species Nomenclature

posted by dpm on 12/15/2010

It’s Wednesday again and just like last time, this one snuck up on me. Last week, if you remember, I headed south from West Virginia in hot pursuit of the geese that had headed for warmer climates. I made it to Little River Canyon, Alabama and as Porter recommended I climbed Unshackled but I never saw any geese. Well, the weather closed in on Alabama too and with no rock any further south I headed west. Just past the Mississippi river I saw them. There the geese sat, in a wide open field, hundreds of them, FREEZING THEIR ASSES OFF! And like the geese, here I sit in a McDonalds parking lot in Arkansas, unable to climb due to the heinously cold temperatures. It’s not so bad though. I’m chilling in a van with a little space heater and free Wifi. But it hasn’t always been this comfortable out here on the road. It took a long time to develop the skills necessary to move up in the ranks of dirtbagging. 
Much like the birds of North America, there are various species of dirtbags and if you’re not familiar with the subtleties they may, at first glance, appear to be all the same. On the contrary there are vast differences in the subgroups of dirtbags. The following is a practical guide to identifying dirtbag climbers and with a little practice it should be second nature to identify each breed. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up through the bizarre hierarchy.

The Scumbag (Immunda Saccus)

Description: The scumbag is the lowest of the low and barely fits within the category of human. These creatures are usually the easiest to identify as their smell gives them away immediately. They walk around barefoot at the crag with little regard for their personal cleanliness. Clothes are generally bought in a thrift store and usually tattered and subsequently patched. They are commonly sighted rooting through dumpsters behind grocery stores.  
Range and Habitat: Although found throughout the world the scumbag is usually a slow migratory species. They have little to no money and are therefore forced to stay in one area for particularly long periods of time. 
Dwelling: Often found cocooned in a sleeping bag in a cave or under a rock overhang. The scumbag may have a makeshift shelter such as a tent but is usually too lazy to set it up. 
Physical Characteristics:  Hair is matted and long, sometimes dreaded. Facial hair is present and untrimmed; usually slender and malnourished due to a diet of Ramen noodles and tuna. Always dirty except for one subspecies that migrates to Bishop, California for the winter season. The proximity of nearby hot springs allows the scumbag to wash occasionally but they often will get immediately dirty upon exiting the water. 
Scumbag or Trustafarian?
Scumbag Subspecies:   The Trustafarian (Immunda Fidere)
Do not be fooled by this look-alike species! Although the Trustafarian appears to be a scumbag in all ways, especially the dreaded hair, they are far different. Little is known about the mental capacity of the Trustafarian but all evidence points to a confusion in the brain/body connection much like the human hermaphrodite. Trustafarians have plenty of money but for some reason behave as scumbags. The sole identifier of the Trustafarian is their penchant for expensive, high-gravity, hoppy beer. It is common to see the Trustafarian feasting on dumpster food and drinking Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. 

Weekend : (Septiminae Bellator)


Description: The WW is the most common type of climbing dirtbag in the world. They can be found nearly everywhere that is within a short drive of a climbing area. The WW is usually wealthy due to the 9-5 that it keeps during the week. 
Range and Habitat:  The WW is a non-migratory species. Although they may frequent a few different climbing areas, all are within a few hours drive of their dwelling. This species hibernates during the winter months during which time they can be found in the climbing gym three nights a week.      
Dwelling:  Found five days a week in a solid home, oftentimes with a fenced-in yard. During the climbing season, the WW can be found in a high-dollar tent two nights a week. Vehicle is most commonly a Subara Outback with Rocket Box, SUV, Honda Element or Toyota Prius. 
Physical Characteristics:  The WW is well-groomed as is necessary for the day job. Clothing is Eddie Bauer or North Face. Climbing ability varies from goober to elite. 
The Weekend Warrior struggles to fit all of his adventure gear into his Outback.


Vehicle Dweller:  (Carruca Domus)


Description: The VD has made a commitment to climbing and their choice of vehicle reflects their willingness to spend lengthy amounts of time on the road. Although committed to climbing, the VD is somewhat of a sissy when it comes to facing the elements. They are most often seen sport climbing or bouldering.
Range and Habitat: The VD generally migrates with the seasons. Wintering in Hueco Tanks or Bishop is common. Summer takes this breed as far north as Wyoming or Canada. Late fall 2010 a rare occurrence happened where every VD in the nation descended on one spot: the Red River Gorge.
Dwelling: As the name implies, the VD can always be found living in some type of vehicle. The varieties, however, are endless. Most common types are:
Car dwellers- Usually some type of wooden platform for sleeping instead of a back seat. 
Truck dwellers-  Slightly more comfortable with living quarters in the bed of the truck under a cap.   
Van dwellers- Particularly not fond of the elements and dependent on some creature comforts the van dweller nests within a steel shell.   
Physical Characteristics: Much cleaner than a scumbag but slightly dirtier than a weekend warrior. Clothing is usually neat and clean but a bit smelly. Climbing ability is generally above average due to plenty of time on the rock.
This vehicle dweller resides in a ‘vansion’

Couch Surfer: (Lectus Vacilla)


Description: The couch surfer is so embedded in the climbing community that no matter where they travel, they have a friend to stay with. They also have their own house somewhere that is usually empty but available to friends that are passing through their local area. Pro climbers usually fall into this category.     

Range and Habitat: All over the country and abroad. Prime climbing season is usually spent at the home crag. The off season is spent traveling and staying with friends.
Dwelling: In a house. Either in the bed of their own home or on the couch of another’s dwelling.
Physical Characteristics: Extremely healthy. The couch surfer places much value on cleanliness and a healthy diet. Clean hair, teeth and well-cared for clothing. The couch surfer has ample opportunity to wash clothes, shave, and shower.
Couch Surfer Subspecies: The Mooch (Immunda Latro)
Another look-alike species! Beware the mooch. Although disguised as a couch surfer the mooch is one of the most dangerous creatures in the animal kingdom and can be identified by the tiny pack that does not contain their own gear or food. If you fear that a mooch may be staying with you proceed cautiously. Ask yourself three questions when identifying this animal:
1. Have they cooked you dinner? 
2. Have they stayed longer than originally projected? 
3. Do they bring their own rope to the crag? 

Buddha Level Dirtbag: (Vulcan Illuminati)

Description: This rare breed of dirtbag has attained dirtbag enlightenment and is so well disguised that they are often undetectable. A fully matured Trustafarian may fit this profile. It is also possible for even a scumbag to metamorphose into a BLD by marrying into wealth. Most commonly this happens when a dirtbag climber marries a female doctor or lawyer. The BLD never works, and in some cases has never worked. They do nothing but climb rocks yet still manage to have tons of money. 
Range and Habitat:  Mostly Boulder, Colorado but also can be found in any extravagantly rich city near a climbing location.
Dwelling: A high dollar home or RV.
Physical Characteristics:  Physically they are strong and have excellent crimp strength from the many days spent climbing while their wife is makin’ the bacon. Although physical strength in climbing is one of their attributes, note the hands. The BLD has never experienced manual labor and this is one of the tell-tale signs. -Mikey Williams