Climbing Geologists


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 15, 2016 - 09:48pm PT
I know there are many climbers who work as geologists. I am graduating with a BS in environmental geology in December from the University of Washington. I wanted to hear from those of you who have found geology jobs and how you have been able to balance them with climbing since many jobs are remote. Any recommendations or leads are greatly appreciated!


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Oct 15, 2016 - 09:49pm PT
I'm not a geo, but seems like Wyoming might be the place to be.

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Oct 15, 2016 - 10:11pm PT
BASE104 is an outstanding geologist. Written up in Forbes online magazine.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oct 15, 2016 - 11:04pm PT
Greg Stock is the Yosemite geologist, he gets paid to climb. He posts on here as gstock, he might be a good resource.

Trad climber
Madison, WI
Oct 16, 2016 - 05:02am PT
I used to work as a geologist while climbing a bunch in Sacramento. I've been out of the industry for a few years, but sac was an easy place to find environmental consulting type employment and has good climbing in the area. There isn't a lot of climbing within half an hour, but a lifetime within 3 hours. I drove to sac on a whim and found a job that paid will in about two weeks of looking.

Trad climber
Oct 16, 2016 - 06:55am PT
BASE104 is an outstanding geologist. Written up in Forbes online magazine.

Plus he is a really nice person. His background is petroleum geology but he is very well rounded.

Trad climber
Here and there
Oct 16, 2016 - 07:02am PT
Climbing (not so much recently) geo here. Mapped the Bonticou area of the gunks for my masters. Lived and worked in a few climbing areas. With an enviro background you may wind up working for a consulting company at 1st and they will try to take advantage of you in terms of hours worked. I logged oil wells out of school, shitty work but great experience, gave me some good time off at points in between wells.

Work for the Feds after 25 years in private, should have done it sooner. Contact me if you want. base104 can also give good advice, he was helpful to me a couple years ago.

Trad climber
Oct 16, 2016 - 08:16am PT
There are many climber/geologists in Calgary due to the oil industry plus the CDN Rockies are great for structural geology.
It is very hard to find a job at the present time though.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Oct 16, 2016 - 08:48am PT
I climb with a geologist and am considerate enough to speak slowly and clearly when the conversation goes beyond the superficial. :-)

Credit: waldo


Mountain climber
Davis, CA
Oct 16, 2016 - 08:18pm PT
Central Valley Water Board has geologist jobs

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Oct 16, 2016 - 08:27pm PT
My son is working on his PhD and helping Uber with their autonomous vehicle program. He is using ArcGIS.

At the Gunks a few years back
At the Gunks a few years back
Credit: StahlBro

Grizzlyville, WY
Oct 16, 2016 - 09:42pm PT
I've been a working geo for 25+ years and have found it pretty easy to find a good balance with work/climbing. Certainly as good as any other occupation.

A lot depends on the path you want to head down. Extractive industries offer the best of compensation, often with great schedules (ie. 7 days on/7 days off), but suffer from a "stability" standpoint. Civil type jobs vary, are relatively abundant, but maybe not in the best locales. They may also be pretty repetitive and somewhat yawny after a bit. They also don't pay near as well, but seem to be more stable.

Peruse the usual job boards with "geologist", there is work out there.

Social climber
CHC, en zed
Oct 17, 2016 - 08:39am PT
Cleo used to teach engineering geology, but now she's a regulator.

Geophysics was my bag for a long time. I'm a crappy geologist because I couldn't be bothered to memorize minerals when I was an undergrad. Stupid me.


Social climber
An Oil Field
Oct 18, 2016 - 10:21am PT
I am always surprised at how little attention climbers give to the rock that they are climbing. At most it is texture and other simple matters, like cracks.

There is no best type of rock, but the rocks themselves are fascinating. They all tell a hell of a story. The hardest routes these days are all in caves, it seems, so that makes limestone the preferred rock. Limestone is incredibly soft, though. It just won't hold up to thousands of ascents without the holds getting slippery.

Why the rock is so good in Eldorado Canyon baffles me, It looks just like the Fountain Formation that I've mapped in the Canon City Embayment. Down there, the grains are poorly cemented, and it is crap rock. Eldo rock seems to have been cooked, and seems slightly metamorphic. I'd have to see a thin section to know for sure, though. Actually, I should just read a paper on it.

The Front range is a great geology lesson. Those beds dive deep beneath the Denver Julesberg Basin to the east. The Front Range has uplifted them, and the resistant beds make nice hogbacks, like the Flatirons.

Igneous geology really isn't my bag.

Just know that the rock you are climbing is almost always older than Cretaceous. 100 million years old or more. The granite in Boulder Canyon is much older than the sedimentary rocks outcropping to the east. As you move west from Boulder to, say, Castle Rock, you are traveling back in time. You could spend your entire life publishing the various characteristics of that assemblage.

Geology is like being a detective. Rocks and their relationships with other, adjacent rocks, tell a story. Teasing out the clues to complete the story is what Geology is all about. It can get pretty involved, but the overall picture is accessible to any lay person with an interest.

I found a number of volcanic ash deposits while going over the collection that I'm now working at the museum. You can radiometric date ash deposits, as well as correlate them to other deposits because each eruption has a chemical signature. I'm going to re-visit the outcrops and figure out if they are part of the paleozoic stratigraphy, or are simply young Quaternary lake deposits.

Igneous rocks are easy to date. Sedimentary rocks are much more difficult. The ash deposits could put actual refined dates down. So I'll be doing a paper on that one over the next 18 months. I've got to find a co-author with access to the goodies at the OU Geology and Geophysics Department. It is a pretty straightforward hypothesis.

Oct 18, 2016 - 10:39am PT
Also, the Verm (John Sherman) is a geologist. He used to work in the oil fields periodically, but I don't know if he still does that.

Grizzlyville, WY
Oct 18, 2016 - 10:42am PT
If it's not Precambrian, it's overburden.

Trad climber
Oct 18, 2016 - 11:25am PT
There is probably a good relationship between cementation and age as older rocks have more time for diagenesis to occur.

Trad climber
Oct 18, 2016 - 04:59pm PT
Don't forget geomechanics has a lot to do with climbability. Look at big granite crack systems.
Here is a question:
Why does Utah sandstone have such great crack systems when the rock seems pretty soft?

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Oct 18, 2016 - 05:43pm PT
One of my 1970's climbing buddies has enjoyed a 40 + year career as a hard-rock geologist, mostly in Alaska. I enjoyed a 7 day Salmon River float trip with him this summer.

About day 4 of our float through the huge Idaho Batholith, he identified marble boulders in our camp, that had rolled down from a nearby hill. The other mineral-collector in camp and I argued to no avail about the rock that didn't look anything like marble to us, & then accepted his authority.

It is fun to go hiking with two geologists, if you like listening to mild-arguements over stuff that is arcane knowledge to most mortals.

Yosemite Valley
Oct 18, 2016 - 07:29pm PT
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