Building a (decent) lifestyle around climbing


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Boulder climber
Minneapolis, MN
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 13, 2017 - 09:50am PT
Current college student, realizing how good it was in high school.
Life comprised:
sit in the pen for 8 hours a day;
work (15 hr/wk);
Now there's studying involved, no fun in that.

With current knowledge, what would you do in retrospect to create the best work/climbing balance and overall sustainable lifestyle.
Starting at age 18/frosh year of college. Not expecting a OSFA-answer, but fishing for ideas.

edit: currently in school for engineering, because it is something I genuinely enjoy.

I haven't had any big wall or true mountaineering experience to this point, those are pursuits I would want the opportunity for.
Sport and bouldering are plenty enjoyable week in and out; I don't see that changing.

Nov 13, 2017 - 09:57am PT
Budget a vasectomy.

climber a single wide......
Nov 13, 2017 - 10:12am PT
+1 to vasectomy and staying single.

Find a lucrative profession that allows flexibility in lifestyle. No easy answer there. Requires ability to be excellent in many regards, seeing and acting on opportunities, and always put the ball through the hoop professionally. Not many have that skill set...
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Nov 13, 2017 - 10:14am PT
College in a climbing town.

Work in a climbing town.

Hang with climbers.

looks easy from here

Ben Lomond, CA
Nov 13, 2017 - 10:24am PT
Find a woman who wants a career but also wants kids and volunteer to be stay at home dad.
Credit: looks easy from here
He's now nearly 3 and his harness will fit by the summer.
Credit: looks easy from here

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Nov 13, 2017 - 10:27am PT

Nov 13, 2017 - 10:29am PT
DMT has it nailed.

Live near climbing. Hang out with climbers. Otherwise you won't ever climb.

On top of that, finish college but put off a real job as long as possible.

Trad climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 10:54am PT

edit: be a trustfunder. seriously, something in the medical field (i.e., nurse, technician) will open quite a few options.
Robert L

Nov 13, 2017 - 11:05am PT
- High quality nurse
 English, French, German, Japanese, and Mandarin speaking IFMGA guide with EU working rights and Antarctic connections

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
Nov 13, 2017 - 11:14am PT
Here is my advice (late-40s professional- active climber, or active relative to being a professional with kids and all that):

Get whatever you want to get done expedition wise before you settle into a career and have kids. After that, it's basically not happening until you retire. I know some people swing it but most of us don't fire off to Patagonia for two months with kids and a job at home.

Emergency services professions offer people a lot of time to climb, and works even after kids because you can climb when you have off days on school days. I've had so many partners that are ER doctors, nurses, and firefighters. Other out in the field type professions seem to work too, geologists for example.

Probably the most important, live near climbing in a community in which climbing is a thing. Not "good climbing about four hours away" (i'm looking at you, coastal California), but within 30 minutes. You can climb after work during summer or slip away for a few hours on a weekend. Once every climbing session involves a road trip and spending a night a way it's over once you have a family. Having a local scene is important too for partners and psyche.

Finally, keep climbing! Even when it's three grades below what you did in your prime keep going when you can. I had a lot of barely there super occasional weekend type of years but now that at least some career building and child raising has eased it doesn't feel like starting all over again now that I have more time and access to climbing. Do not under any circumstances get fat.

Just my two cents as an informal observer!

Edit: not having kids would change the above analysis. No kids means no reason to ever not crush!


Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Nov 13, 2017 - 11:47am PT
Doesn't sound like you've got a burning desire to enter a demanding profession. Scientist? engineer? doctor? lawyer?, etc.

Just finish college. Somewhere along the way you'll find an opportunity. I recommend a decent job primarily, one that allows you to climb. You are pretty young to make a decision whether climbing or steady work comes first.

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
Nov 13, 2017 - 12:26pm PT
There is life outside climbing. Don't neglect your education.



Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Nov 13, 2017 - 12:31pm PT
Become a teacher and take advantage of the summers off.

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Nov 13, 2017 - 12:39pm PT
...There is life outside climbing. Don't neglect your education...

Truth there. And without an education and $$$$ to support your travels, you won't get around the globe.

If you view a future marriage as an end or curbing of any of your hobbies, then you're marrying the wrong girl. Kids on the other hand will absolutely change your life but in a good way remembering what Moose said above.

What about computer/tech stuff? The hours can be long but very flexible and there's endless opportunity for the foreseeable future. As a bonus 95% of the people I work with have degrees in non-computer related stuff and a few with no degrees at all. I'd recommend getting a 4 year degree in something though, just don't get in deep debt doing it.


Social climber
great white north
Nov 13, 2017 - 01:14pm PT
Whatever you wind up doing, climbing or otherwise, create a body of work you are proud of. Anything less is just being a tourist in life.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Nov 13, 2017 - 03:21pm PT
Drop some money into an Index fund, e.g. on Forget about until you're ready to start dumping money in as a professional. Sounds weird, but you won't regret it.

I did school for as long as I could knowing I was young and wanted to climb now, and that I would have to eat the student loans on it later paying it down. It worked out. But not everyone wants to go that route.

Picking a career that gives you time and money to climb... IT Security professional is a good bet. In an increasingly interconnected world being able to defend and protect infrastructure will get you solid coin and ability to contract for the number of vacation days you want.

Tech gets old if you're not into it, but being a dev or engineer can be rewarding. Start ups are busy. Keep that in mind.

Teachers have time off in the summers, but don't make a lot. Keep in mind that their retirement programs are always being looked at too.

Work in Europe. Lots of holidays and a month of vacation for many industries.


Trad climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 03:57pm PT
Tech gets old if you're not into it, but being a dev or engineer can be rewarding

Most IT techs I know are frusturated by keeping up with the changes. Worked as a mechanical engineer for over 30 years and found it rewarding. Doing something tangible. But the options for finding a place to work are limited. Electrical and civil/structural engineers have more options. Still think the medical field holds the most options if you can deal with sick people. Every town/city in the US needs trained medical people, but there are others here that are more knowlegable than I.

edit: definitely get a degree. after that you can do what you want and have a pedigree. Finance is another option; you can throw a resume pretty much anywhere.

2nd edit: once you graduate and get in the real working world, you will find it an entirely different landscape.

Mountain climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 04:19pm PT
Stay in school; if you enjoy engineering, stick with it. Don't have kids. Find a line of work you don't hate, and which is hard to automate. Lots of jobs that exist today will almost completely disappear within your lifetime.

What kind of climbing do you want to do? Do you want big chunks of time off for road trips, or are you fine with evenings and weekends? Do you want to be able to afford expeditions, or are you fine climbing in places to which you can drive?

Really, though, as long as you aren't in debt (e.g. house, car, student loans), you have plenty of time to figure it out.
steve s

Trad climber
Nov 14, 2017 - 05:26am PT
Stick with engineering, you could be driving a Porsche 911 turbo s to work. If that fails .....marry into the money.
Or become a race car driver.

The state of quantum flux
Nov 14, 2017 - 05:48am PT
Just climb while you can...
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