There is a fine line between adventure as a hobby and adventure as a lifestyle. Over the past few years, I have observed the growing emergence of individuals who feel “called” to the outdoors as a lifestyle. In the eyes of most, it seems irresponsible, maybe even slightly ridiculous. What about the pursuit of security, a career and the elusive 401k? They seem like polarizing dreams. I often experience this internal whisper that speaks of getting outside, climbing a mountain or jumping in the car and driving somewhere epic with no plans of immediate return. But what about my job, responsibilities and everything I have worked so hard to build? Is it possible for someone to simultaneously pursue both the logic and order of responsibility and the freedom and spontaneity of a life on the road? I recently caught up with avid climber, philosophy grad and friend, Kyle Sherby, to discuss this beautiful tension.
Dirt Bag Diaries
The term “Dirt Bag” has such an interesting and distasteful sound, yet thousands identify with this subculture of adventurers. Climbers, backpackers, road trippers and lovers of nature often hear “Dirt Bag” as a badge of honor; one who has weathered life on the road and is loaded with heaps of stories to tell. With Kyle having the repertoire and history of living this lifestyle, I was eager to hear his take on the allure of living out of a truck, chasing difficult crags and eating couscous for meals on end. As the stories unfolded, it was clear that he was speaking out of a place of passion for something he believed in deeply. This wasn't just a weekend hobby for him or to take photos for Instagram, but something he was willing to make immense sacrifices for. I felt compelled to ask him about his greatest fear. For someone who climbs super exposed, run-out, thousand foot multi-pitch crags, I could think of dozens of potential fear inducing scenarios. However, after a brief pause, Kyle revealed what scared him the most: regret. It wasn't the possibility of falling or being caught in a vicious lighting storm while camping out in the desert, but it was living without taking the risk of pursuing his dreams. What if that risk leads him to a crossroad in the future where he is left asking questions and wondering what else he could have done with his life? The possibility exists and sort of seems certain, but I believe most of us often wonder what we are meant to do with our lives. For someone who grew up in a wealthy family and has multiple college degrees, Kyle has come to realize that money can't purchase happiness or fulfillment. Happiness comes from pursuing what you are passionate about with tenacity and boldness, no matter what that may be.
What I know to be true is that every individual is unique and on their own journey in life. It is highly unlikely that most people would find the same satisfaction and pleasure in climbing a tedious, granite slab at Sugarloaf like Kyle, but adventure wears many different hats. It can look like going on a bike ride on the river trail and getting caught in a downpour or taking your 2 year old to the park and experiencing wonder through their eyes, but I believe its important to stay open to the transformation these experiences offer. It is our choice to either engage in the world around us or simply let the hours tick by without being present to these awaiting opportunities. As my friend Kyle stated, “it's easier to fall into routine rather than be bold and take risks”. So as the whisper inside you gets louder, I must ask, what adventure is awaiting you?
Favorite Climbing Parter: Jen King
Local Spot: Trinity Aretes or the Shredding
Favorite route at the Shredding: Spread Eagle or No Quarter
Biggest accomplishment: Epinephrin at Red Rocks
Road Trip Essentials: Jet Boil, Oatmeal, a good book and most of all, great company!
Biggest expense on the road: Gas
Resourced used the most for finding great climbing spots: Mountain Project
- Adventure Awaits by Alex Wittmer