The Rules For Dating A Dirtbag

It’s a singular feeling when you’re 33 and talking to your mother and she says, “You know what I think you should try? Match.com.”

Then there’s another feeling when you say to your mother, “Well, Mom, I had this weird feeling about meeting women and telling them I live in a van full of climbing gear, but then I realized I really only am interested in women who could be interested in a guy who lives in a van full of climbing gear. If that makes any sense.” I think my mom is really proud.

There are some interesting things about dating people who love the outdoors, aren’t there? Like you fantasize about dating someone who loves to go backpacking, and then you find out that it’s really hard to spoon when you’re each zipped up in a sleeping bag and it’s too cold to put your arms outside of it. And even though you think it would be rad to have a significant other who climbs, you go on a climbing date and are sure your partner/potential girlfriend or boyfriend has lost all respect for you when you get Elvis leg and start whining as you freak out on the crux move a few feet off the belay. Or you want them to live their dreams and you want to live your dreams, but it kind of sucks when they’re gone leading a wilderness trip for a month, or you’re gone for a two-month bike tour and you have to get out your phone and look at photos of them to remember what they look like.

But then of course, you get all those sunsets and sunrises together, and maybe you get to hold hands during that last wide part of the trail walking to the car, and instead of sitting on a rock somewhere looking over an alpine lake wondering about girls, you get to sit on that same rock with a girl and talk to her about hip hop and books and what she was like in high school and all that.

But is it unromantic to buy your girlfriend an avalanche beacon for Valentine’s Day? Because I did that once, and what I thought it said was, “Here’s something that means we can spend time together in the backcountry.” But I could definitely see someone taking it the wrong way, especially because it came with a shovel.

I mean, I want to open doors for a girl. Give you my jacket when we go to a movie and you’re cold walking home. Cook you breakfast when you’re sleeping in on a Saturday. But it begins to get fuzzy at the trailhead. Although I’m a gentleman and you’re a lady, you will be carrying either the rope, or the rack. Take the tent, or the stove and fuel and pots. If I am cooking us dinner over a camp stove, you are setting up the tent, or vice versa. Right?

My friend Teresa went on a couple dates with this guy in Seattle, and thought it was going pretty well. The third date, she invited him over to barbecue, and they met at a grocery store to pick up a couple things before riding to her house. Which, at the time was at the top of 8th Avenue, a 30-block steadily uphill ride into a headwind. He had told her he did some cycling, and had finished a handful of races and road rides. So she was surprised when he stayed behind her for the entire ride up the hill. Into a headwind. The entire ride. “I mean, are you fucking kidding me?” she said when she re-told me the story a couple weeks ago. Either the guy didn’t know anything about cycling etiquette and had lied about his experience, or he was a jerk. Either way, that was their last date.

My friend Sara told me last year she was done dating climbers, for a number of reasons — a lot of men she dated seemed to like the idea of being with someone who was a climber, but didn’t like the reality; or she found herself having more fun climbing with her girlfriends and platonic male friends than a romantic partner; or the dating pool was just too small if she limited herself to only climbers. Now she’s happy with a guy whose main thing is paragliding, and he’s remembering how to belay and they’re climbing together and actually having fun doing it.

Teresa said one time, I just feel like men at the climbing gym are so focused on climbing that they don’t notice women. I said Are you shitting me? Of course we do. At least I do. As a man, I will tell you there is nothing we are so focused on that we don’t notice women. Nothing. We may be too dumb to notice when you are interested, but we never fail to notice. If I speak for other dudes who are dirtbags, we are especially in tune when we see a woman who exhibits characteristics that suggest she likes to wear backpacks, or sleep in the dirt, or do pullups.

Sometimes I say there is no better sound in the world than a beautiful woman laughing, except the sound of a beautiful woman laughing at something I said. But then I think the sound of a beautiful woman yelling “On belay!” from 120 feet above me is better. Especially if it’s after she led the crux pitch on the route.

-Brendan

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84 Comments

  1. April 12, 2012

    “So what is it that you do?”-female

    “Funny you ask, because I am quitting my job next week to try and bike across the country.”-me

    “Didn’t you try that last year and give up?”-female

    “Yeah. But I didn’t learn my lesson.”-me

    “Oh… look at the time!”-female

    Yeah, I know the feeling, Brendan. Also, I have fucked up the “as a gentleman should I carry more/equal in my pack” situation in both directions multiple times. Eh, life goes on.

    Reply
    • brendan
      April 12, 2012

      Tom, when do you leave and where are you starting? That is an awesome conversation.

      Reply
  2. Laurel
    April 12, 2012

    If you weigh a lot more than she does, take the heavier load and tell her it’s because you weigh more (not because you are a “gentleman” — it implies that you think of yourself as considerate and capable, but it also implies that you think of her as less so).

    If you don’t weigh more than her, don’t say anything it is not worth it.

    Reply
    • brendan
      April 12, 2012

      Laurel, you are brilliant.

      Reply
      • February 28, 2014

        This strategy totally works!!! And definitely makes everyone’s lives better. I do a bit of this when I hike with my smaller friends too!
        Also, it’s 10pm on a Friday night and I’m stretching/going to bed in 10 minutes because I’m so tired from climbing: this was the most reassuring thing to read right now. Thank you!
        And these comments are amazing. I want to be in relationships with all of you.
        Let’s all go climbing?

        Reply
  3. April 12, 2012

    My partner was living in a converted UHaul truck with three three motorcycles when I met him. Apparently that was not a stumbling point. It is also worth noting that we met online.

    My birthday presents in the last two years have been snowshoes and a snowmobile. So there you go.

    Just remember to hold on to the door opening. To pull out an unexpected bottle of beer at the end of the trail (some yummy IPA perhaps?) or to randomly pull into a winery along the road even if you HATE wine so she can try it and you’re all set. Even if you’re equals and a partners on the trail.

    Reply
  4. April 12, 2012

    Drafting rules, Teresa ditched a dud in my opinion.

    Reply
  5. MtnLee
    April 12, 2012

    Terrific Brendan! Another grand slam home-run piece on the outdoor “lifestyle” Your Mom is right. I met Kerry on Match.com. In the dating pool, remember the best women are way out in the deep end – it takes some treading water to get there but it is worth it.
    I have a short list of 10-15 women in Denver that would LOVE to have you open doors for them. And they lead way harder than you. Bliss!

    Reply
  6. Mick
    April 12, 2012

    My advice; either always wear sandals, or don’t take your shoes off.

    Reply
    • brendan
      April 12, 2012

      Done, sir.

      Reply
  7. Menna
    April 12, 2012

    I’ve very much seen both sides of this!

    The realizing things won’t work because he’s off to be a raft guide in Austria and you’re… not, to the enjoying the sunset together after a hard days climbing.

    I’ve been shivering and grumpy in a cold tent because I’m not being spooned! But then I’ve been greeted by the morning view from the tent and had someone to share that with.

    I’ve been nervous and self-conscious climbing in front of a new boyfriend who climbs much, much harder than I do. But I’ve also enjoyed the “Nice one baby!” when I top-out.

    Is it better to be with someone who is into the same things as us? Or just into us?

    For me both are important. While I don’t think it’s vital that a couple has the same taste in everything and I wouldn’t limit myself to only dating “climbers”, I know I want someone who shares my passions – who wants to spend weeks/months/years(?) living out of a van to enjoy the best crags in the best weather, and is happy to wake up where ever we fancy, someone who buys me gear instead of jewelry and flowers, someone who is more attracted to me when I’m wearing my yoga pants than dressed up in my heals.

    “If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping”

    Reply
    • brendan
      April 12, 2012

      Menna: Good thoughts. I forgot about that quote for a few months. It is awesome.

      Reply
  8. Christa
    April 12, 2012

    My hubby is a climbing guide. He wasn’t when we first met. He’s been my favorite climbing partner and my least favorite climbing partner at times. Sometimes it sucks to climb with him- every road trip we’ve gone on carries the memory of some huge fight we had. Other times, he is my favorite climbing partner ever because he knows how to make me laugh and reminds me that climbing should be about having fun- oh, and he can lead all the hard scary pitches. Since he started guiding, we don’t get to climb as often together, but I think that has made us enjoy the time we do get to climb together more, as cliche as that sounds. It also means that we have developed our own pool of climbing partners. He has partners for days when he wants to climb really hard stuff at his limit and I have partners for when I need to put my big girl pants on and get on the sharp end, even if its a 5.5. He has bad knees, so I often carry the rack AND the rope, but I look at that as my workout, so I skip the gym that day. Our biggest fights lately are over who gets to spend out money on what gear. He’s getting a rack of lighter cams for this season, owing to the knees. I got skis this winter and would be TOTALLY PSYCHED to get a beacon & a shovel for Valentine’s Day. In fact for my birthday next month, I want either a piolet or an AAC membership. :-) Fun articles about the ups & downs of outdoor relationships.

    Reply
  9. climberchick
    April 12, 2012

    When I was in my 20s, I had several wonderful relationships with guys who climbed, and we climbed all over Canada, Mexico, the US, including the Salathe Wall. Now that I’m over 50, I still climb, but went on the last few road trips with my son, and have not met a climber my age that I could date – single now for over 5 years (the wonderful men of my 20s died in climbing and ski accidents). Sure would love to find a dirtbag in his 50s …..

    Reply
    • LanguorousLove
      April 18, 2012

      I wish you could meet some of my climbing partners who are single, in their 40s/50s! They are out there, just gotta keep looking…

      Reply
  10. April 12, 2012

    “Every woman wants to marry Indiana Jones. No woman wants to be married to Indiana Jones.”

    - a friend of mine (famous climber dude) on why he was getting divorced.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2012

      Does your friend think he’s a lot like Indiana Jones?

      Reply
    • Greybird
      April 13, 2012

      Every woman wants to marry Indiana Jones. No woman wants to be married to a guy who thinks he’s Indiana Jones.

      Reply
      • Tim
        April 13, 2012

        I guess that means, as a working archaeologist, that I’m screwed.

        Reply
        • brendan
          April 13, 2012

          Tim wins the Internet for today!

          Reply
      • April 13, 2012

        Bahahaha, this. Exactly this.

        Reply
  11. Alan
    April 12, 2012

    As someone who goes on climbing trips as often as a suburbs-of-Chicago-dwelling, full-time-job-having guy can, I have stolen away to fly solo to meet up with climbing partners (you know who you are, Brendan) numerous times during my relationship. My non-climber girlfriend deserves/demands my time as well.
    She has been willing to allow me to drag her to Devil’s Lake, Shelf Road, and The Red River Gorge on trips. She has belayed for me while I set up top ropes on sport climbs and single-pitch trad routes, as well as on routes that she wants no part of. Because she’s willing to cram her pedicured feet into shoes 3 sizes too small, to get covered in chalk from head to toe, to wake up at 5 am to beat the heat of the day, etc., I always carry all of the gear. And I will continue to until she starts using words like “crux”, “Gaston”, “off-width”, and “crag” with regularity.

    Reply
  12. Juniper
    April 12, 2012

    Am I an anomaly, a single female climber who would appreciate a dirtbag? But I am with your friend Sara on this one – the last few dating situations I was in with other climbers just did not work – at the end of the last one, I remember telling myself “I should stay away from climber dudes, they just are a hard bunch to deal with”. Almost felt like they did not appreciate having an outdoorsy climber girl around when they are doing “their thing.” Very uncompromising. I thought whether it was because climbing attracts a certain kind of personality…ferociously independent, almost selfish? [Since I am a climber too, I think I lean that way as well - but at this point in life I learned how to compromise].
    Anyway. I guess it is more important meeting the right person who appreciates you, climber or nonclimber. (I am still keeping the fingers crossed for a dirtbag who would travel the world with me).

    Reply
    • Nick
      April 12, 2012

      Hey, thanks for the comment. I really saw myself in that, and now some of my experiences with female climbers make a lot more sense. For what its worth, I do appreciate everyone I climb with, but I get really wrapped up in my goals and probably seem like a jerk sometimes. Gonna have to work on that now.

      Reply
    • April 13, 2012

      I agree for the most part – just want to add that it’s the single-minded, can’t-talk-about-anything-else kind of climber/skier/whatever that is a big turnoff. I’m stoked for someone to be into their sport but they have to have other interests and be capable of interesting conversation on other topics.

      Listening to a group of skiers talk endlessly about skiing is just blow-your-brains-out boring. I’m never surprised when I see dudes like that at bars with their friends – and no dates.

      Reply
  13. April 12, 2012

    I can totally relate. I wrote an article about my tissue issues about the climbing lifestyle & relationships… From the chick’s perspective.
    http://ndtitanlady.dpmblogs.com/climber-relationships/

    Reply
  14. Jenny Paul Y'all
    April 12, 2012

    hahahaha- *luvvit* I feel ya, I’ve been single f.o.r.e.v.e.r. and have decided that “climbing IS my boyfriend” or “I’m going to die alone… maybe I should just give in to the inevitable and get a few more cats”.

    Between climbing, training for climbing, thinking about climbing, more climbing, and working on a PhD in between… I don’t have time for anyone that’s not a climber! I’d actually prefer a dirtbag: I could see them on weekend climbing trips while working on my schoolwork during the week, I’d have a steady belay, they would probably tolerate not seeing me for weeks/months at a time when I’m off conducting field work for my dissertation…

    Reply
  15. April 12, 2012

    The first gift my boyfriend ever bought me was a jumar. Heh. We’re taking off to live in a van for an 8 month climbing trip and I’m curious how/whether our relationship will change.

    and sidenote; there aren’t many ppl on match.com who would be willing to move into a van with you. I know. I tried.

    Reply
    • brendan
      April 12, 2012

      Ha! Have a blast on your trip!

      Reply
  16. April 12, 2012

    Now to do an article on how to break it to your significant other you want to be a true dirtbag! I met mine at a bar, so there was no way he could have known what he was getting himself into. I’ve spent the past two years now trying to gently explain that ‘No, really. I would rather live in a tent than a mansion. I like dirt and rocks, and climbing shoes are way more comfortable than heels.’ He hasn’t dumped me yet, and actually just started climbing with me – so that’s progress, right? I guess the whole thing of “Opposites attract” holds true.

    Great article!

    Reply
  17. April 12, 2012

    I love it! I met Jayne through Match.com. I’d dated many off that site, but Jayne’s was the first profile to specify climbs she wanted to do. That was four years ago! Her shoe collection consists of Tele boots, backcountry xc boots, hiking boots, northface slippers, keens, neoprene rafting booties, one pair “f.m. heels” and, well, you get the idea! Onward and upward.

    Reply
  18. jen
    April 12, 2012

    Ha! This is a good one….

    I actually prefer the dirtbag. This Fall I tried the “looks great on paper” kind-of-guy who’s attributes were his smarts and nice eyes. Oh, and he fly-fished too! It seemed to run on overdrive till I was healed up from an injury and was ready to “take to the hills” again. Unfortunately, that climbing thingy and adventurous spirit kind of got in the way and more or less it made him feel incredibly insecure due to my athletic prowess, common sense and ability to well, “just get things done” without having a man around.
    Living in a mountain town you would think there would be this endless pool of attractive, available dirtbags to choose from. Its just that there happens to be a difference between the dirtbags with some soul and the dirtbag with just ego between the ears. From my perspective, most of them that I’ve encountered fall in the category of the latter. Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places, no?
    Well I’ve been there and done that and honestly have chosen to be alone until that dirtbag with soul does apply. And, if the chemistry is there he shall be awarded with: a great house and a garden to call home in the Sierras, coffee served in bed, homemade meals cooked by someone who’s got the reputation in town as being a great chef, having an understanding girlfriend who thinks its cool for her man to do his own thing, whether it be an overnighter or some extended trip, a girl who’s up for an adventure, especially the type 3 fun, who thinks its super sexy to get a beacon for Valentines…..you get the picture.
    I have come to the surmise that the partner that makes me tick in a relationship is the kind of guy who is up for adventure, the kind of guy who enjoys the shenanigans that enrich our lives…..taking risks, smelling the roses time to time, living in a vehicle for extended periods of time, sleeping in the dirt, embarking on adventures in the mountains to explore the unknown, making jokes and being able to laugh at the suffering that was had in the previous adventure and being ready to do it again. And this to me spells “dirtbag”, because there really aren’t too many conventional lads out there that could meet those descriptions and be willing to “dirtbag it” for fun. If they do not enjoy any of these activities I just don’t know when we would actually spend time together other than in bed? So in the end, I guess I will remain the hopeless romantic, seeking that partner who climbs, hikes, skis and likes to have adventures of the same….I have hope that the dirtbag with soul will apply someday…

    Reply
    • Nick
      May 1, 2014

      Jen, seems like your just as adventurous as I am! Where in the Sierras do you live?

      Reply
  19. Jayson Sime
    April 12, 2012

    How’s the VAN treating you?

    Reply
  20. Mountain jane
    April 12, 2012

    So I was recently I was told… “you are a hardcore hiker girl and that is why I didn’t want to date” so I hear ya. What’s up with that?

    Reply
    • Annette
      April 12, 2012

      I went on a date once with a guy I met online and at the end of it he said to me, “I like to go hiking and all, but you’re too adventurous for me.” And that was that. It’s not easy finding guys who are really truly living life to the fullest.

      Reply
    • April 13, 2012

      What’s up is that you don’t want to date that dude anyway!

      Reply
  21. britt
    April 12, 2012

    Where are the rules? I was hoping for bullet points of Dos & Don’ts. I’d like a few for my wallet so I can hand ‘em out when approached by those more, uh, traditional than myself, and as a handy guide if I ever aspire to date a true dirtbag.

    Reply
  22. SkiBum
    April 12, 2012

    My wife and I did a bit of backcountry skiing when we were dating. We got engaged in a tent, in the snow in March, on the side of a mountain. As soon as the ring went on, she said “We can get a hotel room now, right?” And we don’t do so much snow camping any more. But it’s all good, we have a lot of fun and good memories.

    Reply
  23. Lucas
    April 12, 2012

    I think this has been one of the most insightful comment threads that I have read in a long time.

    Funny thing, a male friend I had a similar conversation recently: “I just feel like women at the climbing gym are so focused on climbing that they don’t notice men.”

    Maybe we should all just look up from our routes long enough to smile and say hello?

    Reply
  24. sylvia
    April 12, 2012

    If a man I dated bought me a Beacon I’d be STOKED. 1, I want one. 2, It’s thoughtful. 3, He cares about me and is showing it. Swoon.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2012

      Totally agree! Nothing says “I really want you around!” like a beacon designed to help find you under a few tons of snow. Oh, and I want one too. =)

      Reply
  25. April 13, 2012

    Ugh, totally feel for ya Brendan!

    I think it’s partly that people get enamored with ideas, rather than realities – like dating Gary Hemming’s doppelgänger sounds like a thrill, except when the reality sets in that to follow a desire *cough*folly*cough* – no matter what that is, requires sacrificing a different part of your life – like (what most people would think as) a reasonable living situation. It’s a packaged deal, babe :)

    It’s also hard if you’re an outdoor enthusiast and are there for those, “in the moment” experiences that border on transcendence and someone else may just have this competitive streak and that’s what it is all about for them. Those are rarely compatible!

    Reply
  26. April 13, 2012

    Thanks for another great post. Dating outdoorsy people is probably like dating regular people (I wouldn’t know, but I can only assume). You have “your thing” and he has “his thing” and hopefully you can find some common ground. Right before I met my husband I decided I wouldn’t date another ski bum. Maybe I’d just be single. I was okay with that. Either way. Then I starting dating my boss–the owner of the ski area–and fell sort of head over heels and got married a year later. I haven’t changed much–we still sleep in the truck at trailheads, I still work as a ski patroller, I still ski nearly every day. But he usually gives me perfume for Christmas. It’s something I’d never buy for myself, but it makes me feel more like a woman. And any woman, even an outdoorsy one, wants to feel like a woman now and again.

    For a few laughs, I wrote a post for women who move to a ski town, including a few warnings on how to avoid getting passed around the single guy train: http://kimkircher.com/2011/07/27/ladies-in-a-ski-town-warnings-from-a-veteran/.

    Reply
  27. Michael
    April 13, 2012

    Dirtbag dating website?

    Reply
  28. Morgan
    April 13, 2012

    I met my husband during a summer climbing course in college. We were both already locked into service contracts after graduation but this whole time, all we can talk about is dirtbagging when we’re done. We’ve been saving up our money so we can live in a tent and drive our Subaru around the country doing small odd jobs here and there but mostly just doing stuff outside. That you haven’t found a girl that shares your ambitions is totally lost on me. I mean, if nothing else, what woman wouldn’t want to date a guy who has your hair?!?

    Reply
  29. April 13, 2012

    When I first started Rockgrrl.com one friend of mine thought I should make into a climbing dating site. While I did get some interesting partner requests in the Partner Find forum (sadly they may have been lost during the Great Rebuild Due to Spam) I never did intentionally go in that direction.

    Personally though I did find my own solution: http://www.rockgrrl.com/blog/2009/04/how-to-marry-a-climber/ ;)

    Also, I like Laurel’s solution about weight distribution :)

    Reply
  30. April 13, 2012

    Another good way to break down the gear carrying responsibilities is to point out that women’s packs are smaller than men’s so you can fit more stuff in yours.

    I mean, everyone knows I’m a super feminist but I get really turned off by a dude who simply HAS to divide all the gear EXACTLY 50-50. I don’t mind at all if I know he’s carrying more to be gallant. I like it, because he knows I don’t need him to do it, but he wants to do it anyway. Now that’s the kind of dude worth keeping.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2012

      Are there really dudes out there that make the woman carry a bunch of heavy stuff? No wonder they are single! Man up, carrying the rope AND rack will only make you stronger.

      Some advice from a friend when I was dating my then girlfriend (now wife): “even girls like us like to get flowers and have doors opened for us sometimes.” Dating is dating, and it is NOT the same thing as having a climbing partner. The sooner you guys figure that out, the more likely it is she’ll want to go climbing with you again.

      Reply
  31. Anna
    April 13, 2012

    how refreshing! i think this is the first time I have ever heard a first-person narrative from a GUY obsessing and over-sharing about dating. I never hear this voice! In maxim it’s all “3-moves to get her bra off with one hand while sexting your ex.” Or “The Rules for Getting What you Want from Women” or “Pop Quiz: How Serious is your Bromance?”

    It’s nice to know you guys are having all kinds of meta-thoughts about dating too.

    Reply
  32. Carrie
    April 13, 2012

    Just when I was thinking there were no guys out there that actually wanted to date a girl who climbed!!! haha I LOVE this article. My guy friends who I climb with all have girlfriends who DON’T climb. Discouraging. Thanks for this Brendan :)

    Reply
  33. Matt
    April 13, 2012

    After reading all the replies and comments I must say this. It has been a pleasure to read such well thought out, elegantly crafted and humourous responses. We may be dirtbags, but we’re not stupid! I’ll add that happiness is being able to share those small ledges 100′s of metres up with the person you care about. Makes me feel very rich indeed.

    Reply
  34. Lydia
    April 14, 2012

    I agree with Matt about the comments. Furthermore, I want to be friends with all of you people: smart, eloquent, thoughtful, funny, open-minded and, most importantly, the adventurous outdoorsy type! What a fun and engaging comment thread! I found myself laughing, out loud, in my own apartment, several times.

    Fantastic writing Brenden! More please… about dating dirtbags. Part one, two, three etc… I recently went on a date with a guy for v day and he called it the anti-v day’s dirtbag date. It rocked my face off! My ex-boyfriend found me a beacon but I paid for it.

    Two more things: One, I don’t understand why he stayed behind on the uphill bike or why it was such a big deal? Was he out of shape? What is the dating bike etiquette? Did I just shoot myself in the foot?:) BTW, I do ride…both road and mtn.

    Two, I don’t do these thngs on the computer because I feel like they’re a waste of time and I’d rather be outside…Now I’ve officially contradicted myself because I’ve just spent two hrs., on a Sat. morning, at 5:15 am, reading this damn thread, instead of biking through Yellowstone, because I’m sick. Maybe this is what dirtbags do too??!! Read about other dirtbags, when they’re sick…he.he. I’m off the air, chow. :)

    Reply
    • Lucas
      April 15, 2012

      I am with Lydia on the up hill bike thing. Could someone explain the what the problem was?

      It would have been polite of him to offer to lead the way up the hill, but is that really a deal breaker? Isn’t the leader in a pace line supposed to peel off to the back?

      This was 8th ave in the Ballard neighborhood right? Many of the women cyclists I know (in Seattle) would be insulted to be passed on that hill. They would think that the guy was trying to be macho.

      Reply
      • Teresa
        April 17, 2012

        Lydia and Lucas, My cycling date had woo’d me with stories about all of the many cycling races and events he had done. We had even talked about the good and bad of drafting. I thought he knew the etiquette. Alas, my efforts to drop back only meant I had to work harder to get back up to speed when he didn’t seem to understand what I was doing and pull to the front. So, I pulled through the head wind allowing him to pedal at a more relaxed pace acting as his shield from the wind. And, no, don’t mind a guy or gal passing me on an uphill- kudos to you for your calves of steel! If I were insulted by you passing me on a hill, it would make me just about as great of a date as the dude who wasnt invited back for another BBQ.

        Reply
        • Lucas
          April 18, 2012

          That makes sense; good on you.

          Reply
  35. Lydia
    April 14, 2012

    P.S. What is the official definition of a dirtbag?

    Reply
  36. JennE
    April 15, 2012

    I’ve lot track of the number of guys who say “I love hiking! Then you find out the truth is more they “like” walking an easy grade trail on a warm summer day it a T-shirt and shorts and look at you as if you grew another head if you suggest a simple ridgewalk in February.

    Fun read. :)

    Reply
  37. KatieSue
    April 16, 2012

    I wanted to learn to climb so I met a climber online hoping he’d teach me. It worked by the 3rd date. Every valentines day he sews me a new handmade chalk bag and this year gave me a prussik too. Which probably cost 10 cents but as a friend said, nothing says I love you like preventing you from rapping off the end of the rope. But he’s also one of the dirtbags types who thinks a commitment will mean he can’t live in the car anymore. I can’t get him to understand I’d live in the van with him. Even when I’m flattered by his compliments of, “I love how you still don’t smell after 6 days of not showering and climbing all day.” So he’s not my boyfriend and my situation is just that much harder to explain to my mother.
    Also a success story:
    Reminded me of a friend of mine who said “when I was dating my sister told me not to marry a climber because he’d never put our family first. So I didn’t. But I’ve realized that I’m the climber and I don’t put my family first.” She told me this as we each carried her two toddlers over our heads through a raging spring river to a crag. They almost got divorced but moved into their van with the kids and took a 3 month climbing trip to save the marriage. It worked. Now they organize climbing festivals.

    Reply
  38. April 16, 2012

    If I’m cooking dinner while you set up the tent, or vice versa, it’s for a combination of two reasons:
    1) I hate sitting around
    2) You’re already busy, so we can’t do anything more fun with the time ;)

    When I’m out, I’m usually pretty conscious of the fact that any guy I’m with can climb harder, hike faster, and carry more stuff than me. I try to do my fair share as often as possible (without slowing everybody down), and it’s nice to know that the guys I’m with notice. A simple thanks goes a long way.

    As to dating climbers vs. not dating climbers–I’m still on the fence. The question of how expectations change when you’re playing in the outdoors with your significant other is deep and interesting. One thing I know I hate already though: don’t expect me to take care of your ego when we’re out climbing. Sometimes it’s not your day. Take it as it comes, and certainly don’t take it out on me if you’re not having a good day.

    Reply
  39. Tommaso
    April 18, 2012

    Hey from the UK and cheers for a cracking post mate.
    I don’t climb as much as I cycle or hike, but I’m getting into it, and I absolutely love the outdoors.

    The problem is not just matching these outdoor-related characteristics within the wider chemistry involved in a date, but matching the sexuality too. I’m gay and for an outdoorsy bloke is quite a killer.
    I’m so envious of my male/female straight friends, that go climbing, easily meet other male/female outdoorsy chaps and sometimes get dates out of it. It never happened to me. I met great friends, but not a single gau guy in such occasions.

    Any one relating to this?

    Reply
    • Lucas
      April 18, 2012

      Come to Seattle. Big mountains, big forests, big water, and a big gay community.

      Reply
  40. April 25, 2012

    all I know is that just about every couple I see up at the Trapps on a given weekend seem to be fighting, but as my buddy Paul pointed out – neither one of them had let go of the other end of the rope yet – so maybe it is all good? I have no idea…

    Reply
  41. May 2, 2012

    Brendan, you sound like a dream boat.

    Dating dirtbags or not, dating is always going to be dating with all the initial insecurities and run ins with douchebags and douchebagettes.

    It’s not fair to lump all dirtbags or all climbers into a pile and decide whether or not it’s possible to date anyone in that category.

    Dating is about individuals and human experiences and most importantly what actions we choose to take in whatever situation we find ourselves in. In Teresa’s shoes, I would hope I’d be able to ask the guy in a non accusatory manner what his deal was. Maybe he had a cramp and was too embarrassed to say so. Maybe he was simply a jerk and she was right to move on.

    At the end of the day all that matters is that we’ve done our best to be true to ourselves. If it means we can live another day in a relationship then great, but if it means we have to keep trekking solo then that is also great.

    Every step is on the path………..~ Lao Tzu

    Reply
  42. Totem Pole
    June 20, 2012

    Here’s how it works:

    One needs to understand some things, including the weather.

    Dirtbag climber dudes do not have an abode. If they have an abode – beds & bed linen, stocked and equipped kitchens, bathrooms and shower curtains – they are not by definition dirtbags.

    Climbing chicks who date dirtbags have an important asset which complements the relationship: they have an abode (i.e., a winter basecamp).

    Late autumn progresses and starts to thin the herd, separating the tourists from the dirtbags. Those with abodes return them while dirtbags continue to hang.

    Full-on Winter arrives and the dirtbag dudes need an abode, so they hook up with climber chicks who have an abode. When springtime comes the relationship dynamic shifts.

    Understand this and you will understand all you need to know about dating dirtbags.

    Reply
  43. September 6, 2012

    Brendan, this is great!

    Coming from a semi-dirtbag, dating a dirtbag, its tough! I definitely get the part about having more fun heading out with your girlfriends than your man.

    Try leading a ten day backpacking trip with your significant other… now that gets tough! Heading out together can be much more trouble than it’s worth, but if you can survive it, your one of the lucky ones :)

    Reply
  44. February 20, 2013

    Don’t have children with the dirtbag-that’s all I can say…

    Reply
  45. June 1, 2013

    Haha, I got a super cam from my boyfriend for my last birthday and I found it very romantic! :D

    Reply
  46. November 7, 2013

    Nice post , thanks for sharing

    Reply
  47. Buzz Fledderjohn
    February 27, 2014

    In defense of the cyclist, he said he’d “done some cycling,” which makes him an expert in cycling etiquette the way someone who has “done some golfing” is an expert in golf etiquette. And his instinct (like mine) might be to follow so as to be first in line when vehicles come up on them from behind.

    Reply
  48. Megan
    March 2, 2014

    Brendan, this post is awesome and I’ll happily be your dirtbag girlfriend.

    Reply
  49. March 12, 2014

    One year, for Valentine’s Day, my last boyfriend gave me a pair of pink boxing gloves, which we happened to see at the Canadian Tire where we had stopped so that he could pick up ammo and clays on our way to a random logging road destination. That was one of our more romantic Valentine’s. I guess that was more “redneck” than “dirtbag”. It was a fine line with him :p

    Reply
  50. April 6, 2014

    Guys that are interested in dating me always remark, “you talk about climbing too much. Do you ever talk about anything else?!”

    Yes. Running.

    Reply
  51. April 26, 2014

    Way to go on an awesome post that managed to inspire so many awesome comments.

    Reply
  52. Danielle
    June 27, 2014

    You should try zipping your sleeping bags together. Really solves that first issue you mention.

    Reply

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