Training Tip - Save $$$, Climb More!

"You always bring the best snacks" garbled my partner, as his cold, chalk-covered fingers stuffed teriyaki jerky down his parched gullet. We'd just climbed Ariana on Colorado's Long's Peak, our puffy jackets stuffed with treats for the top of the Diamond. "But why do you bring so many little tidbits of different stuff?

Kelly licks his lips in preparation for free snacks.
I had a secret...


Do you want to get better at something, such as climbing? Practice doing it. A lot.

Money can buy you happiness, but only up to a certain point.  That's $75,000 (annual household income) for the general public. But for the dirtbag climber, a Toyota Tacoma doesn't count as a household regardless of how many nights you've slept in it. I'd wager my last package of Top Ramen that climbers quit becoming any happier once they've achieved much lower income levels than most Americans. They represent the "alternative leisure class" and would rather have more free time than income. I also think most climbers derive unusually large amounts of happiness from friendships, learning, (cheap) travel, outdoor adventures, and other inexpensive activities. They (and I include myself in this group) don't need a lot of money in order to be happy and take part in what does make them happy. So what does this all have to do with training and getting better? Basically everything.

I'm more qualified to give out economics wisdom than climbing advice, but if you save money and climb more, you wont need to read the internet for climbing advice anyway. So back to my quality and variety of climbing snacks? 

One of the ways that I earn money, get free flights, and generally make my outdoors addiction possible, is by constantly looking for ways to spend money. But I don't really want to spend it. I just want to earn things with my credit card by running up charges and paying them off before any interest accumulates. This actually improves my credit as well. Credit card offers will give users some money back on all their purchases, or award them with airline miles for spending money. There are lots of ways to spend money (IE get cash back or airline miles) without really losing that money. Folks used to by money from the US Mint. Some people have 2 or 3 (or 14...) accounts with Amazon Payments, allowing them to spend money by paying themselves several thousand dollars each month, and then just depositing these payments back into a linked checking account. Want to fly to Patagonia and Pakistan for free? Spend money with a card that gives you a slew of miles for signing up, and more for each purchase. But the snacks... what about all those snacks?

At the time that I climbed Ariana, I was using a particularly lucrative (RIP) refillable debit/gift card. I could go online, use my (cash back) credit card, "buy" $2000 of credit on this refillable gift card (earning $40 in cash back on the purchase), and then go to the grocery store. As long as the average value of my purchases was less than $2, I would essentially get my snacks for free. I'd gather up bananas, OJ, yogurts, jerky, Snickers, and head to the self-check-out lane. I'd scan each item on its own and pay for it with my pre-loaded gift card, choosing the "$100 cash back" after each purchase. Groceries in hand, I'd then walk over to the in-store bank branch, deposit my ~$1000 into my checking account, and go climbing. In this way I'd buy a 30-cent banana, spend $100.30 on the purchase, make $1.70 profit, and still end up with a Banana. It was a self-run "pennies for pitches" system, usually resulting in free and delicious meals and (at the very least) the ability to earn back money spent on fuel. Get better at climbing by practicing climbing. Get the free time to climb by spending and saving wisely, every bit counts.

Smarter dirtbaggery through economics. 

Earn and save enough money to cover your basic expenses, and then do what you love. And when you find yourself with good food in abundance, share generously, even as friends eat into your profits. 

Myself low on Ariana - down jacket filled with food.

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