Livin’ the Vida Local

We were faced with a classic first world problem: where to go climbing for the weekend? It had been so warm lately that the local cragging was in full effect, but it was spring after all, and a desert trip seemed to be in order. The weather forecast, however, showed highs near 90, and there really isn’t much shade in the Creek, so we decided to stay close to home, and climb locally. We also saved ourselves about $100 in gas, which is no trivial amount.

As fuel prices continue their inevitable climb towards $5/gallon, cost is a factor that will likely play more and more of a deciding role in where to recreate for the weekend. Analyzing it a bit further, if it costs us $120 roundtrip to head to the Creek, that same amount would cover the gas for about six weekends’ worth of climbing at the local crags. Suddenly, shooting out to Maple Canyon for two days becomes way less appealing. If I’m throwing down that much for fuel, I want to be able to spend more than a couple nights at a given location.

In the past, Peter Beal has touched on a common problem that affects many climbers, in that they tend to think that the backyard climbing is never as cool as the cliff that’s further away. Perhaps higher gas prices signal that it’s time for everyone to starting appreciating what they DO have in their neck of the woods. Maybe the crags aren’t world class (most of ours aren’t, but we do have Rifle ;-)), but I bet whatever it is, there’s some fun stuff to do there.

Maybe this is only a temporary thing, but since fuel is a finite resource, it’s a fair bet it’s only a sign of things to come. And who knows, at some point perhaps it will simply be cheaper to move close to your favorite crag, rather than spend countless hours (and dollars) commuting back and forth.

What about you? Have you changed your road tripping habits due to the price of gas? If so, where are you spending more of your time?

6 Responses to Livin’ the Vida Local

  1. I don’t get it.

    I mean, I get that driving all over the place to go climbing is neither cheap nor environmentally responsible. (See, for example, Wizard’s Apprentice where Adam drives from Bohemia to Catalonia twice in the space of a few weeks to work on his proj. Different rules for the elite)

    But what I don’t get: google maps tells me Rifle to Indian Creek is 225 miles. So at 200 bucks for a 450 mile round trip you’re getting around 11 miles to the gallon? What you need is a better car.

    AlanL May 17, 2012 at 5:18 am
    • Alan,
      You’re right, my math was a little off, (it was late) and I’ve corrected it. However, Carbondale to Moab is 211 miles, from Moab to Creek Pasture is another 70, so right there we are close to 300 both ways. Add to that driving anywhere from 10 to 20 miles to get to and from cliffs, and you are around 600. Figure many climbers drive trucks/vans/SUV’s getting 20 to 25 mph, and you are talking 31 to 25 gallons of gas, which at an average cost of $4/gallon (it’s higher than that here), you are in the $100 to $124 range.

      I’ve also heard that once you climb at an elite level, you get a free gas card from your sponsors.

      BJ Sbarra May 17, 2012 at 8:30 am
  2. This totally goes along with the “bike camping on a school night” thing we were talking about the other night. I think a lot of us (especially in places like Colorado) sometimes forget that we’re lucky to have decent rock within a half-hour drive, as well as within 2 hours, or 6 hours, or 12 (i.e. Denver to Red Rocks). It’s great to have all those options.

    Brendan May 17, 2012 at 7:57 am
  3. It’s funny. You are right that the local crags often go unappreciated. There are still many areas around San Francisco that I haven’t been to.

    I will either go to Yosemite ~4 ish hours away, or stay home and climb at the gym. I often believe that you can get a better workout as well as saving time and money by climbing at the gym. Perhaps this is sacrilege but it seems to work.

    In the winter the “good” sport climbing areas are not to hot which are only 2 or 2.5 hours away. This at least allows for a shorter drive compared to Yosemite.

    It’s been a while since I’ve done the 1 day (morning departure, evening return) Yosemite trip, but some climbs could be worth the gas!

    I was most annoyed about the gas coast when skiing mean driving 4 hours for a day trip + the price of a lift ticket. Truly a first world problem…

    – Luke

    Luke May 17, 2012 at 10:58 am
    • Luke, funny you bring up the gym thing, I’ve had that thought before. I guess it just comes down to motivation. Sometimes I’d rather get a good workout in, sometimes I’d rather just be outside!

      BJ Sbarra May 22, 2012 at 10:41 am
  4. I wrote an editorial in Climbing or Urban Climber about this once. I think local climbing rules. Save money, gas, and time. SIMPLE. (As long as you’re near some place worth climbing, of course… In Michigan or Florida, it’s not an option!)

    Justin Roth May 17, 2012 at 11:06 am
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