Crag parking lots have always been a hodge-podge of the old and new, the clean and the polished to the dented and the dirty. And I’m not just talking cars. Crag parking lots are usually pretty mundane, with the plethora of Subarus and Toyota ForeRunners neatly parked next to each other, but a couple wild cards somehow always rattle their way into the mix, making these lots predictable in their total unpredictability. Here’s the list of rigs I inevitably end up seeing most every area I go. I’m sure you will recognize more than just a few.
1. The Showoff
The Showoff has taken his beautiful, gleaming Subaru everywhere, and wants you to know about it. Stickers from every area under the sun crowd his rear windshield, boasting trips to Bishop, The Red, and Squamish. That’s great. Your life is perfect, and you have somehow found a job that allows you to take vast quantities of time off to travel while still letting you afford a 4WD vehicle. Why don’t you shut up about it?
2. The How the F@#% did You Make it Up Here?
Like, how the holy hell did they manage to get that car up here? Your fairly capable vehicle managed to get you to the parking lot, but you had a couple close calls. Just as you roll up to the lot, and pat yourself on the back for driving like a big shot, you see this car, a wind-up toy really, smugly parked between the wagons and trucks. It has a 5 HP engine and the clearance of a Basset Hound — whoever drove that car up there is either a pro rally driver, or has a death wish they should seriously talk to someone about.
3. The Weekend Warrior
His dirtbag days long behind him, the weekend warrior has left behind his corporate job in the big city for the weekend to pursue the great outdoors … as long as he’s back before 9 a.m. on Monday morning — he really has an important stock report meeting to attend. He outwardly cringes at the mud splatters tracing up the back of the wheel wells of his shiny luxury sedan, but he secretly wears them as a badge of pride and revels in parking his status symbol car in the parking lot at work and maybe, just maybe, someone will notice that he did something adventurous this weekend, so he can have something to talk about at the water cooler.
4. The Overkill
Looking very comical parked next to the How the F@#% Did You Get Up Here, this lifted and modded monstrosity towers above every other car in the parking lot with its 37 in. tires and lift kit. The tangle of roll bars atop the car also aren’t doing any favor for the subtlety of this more-likely-than-not brightly-painted vehicle. The driver of this vehicle is also incredibly likely to have brought a boombox to the crag and is pumping something loud and profane while slamming back a Monster.
5. The One Who Had to Hire a Babysitter
The car seats are barely visible through the heavily-tinted back windows and “Baby on Board” sun shades obscuring the back seat of this mini-van, but rest assured that they’re there. The driver of this vehicle may or may not have even strapped their rope into their car seat. And then Instagrammed a picture of their “rope baby” and posted it to social media, so their fellow parents can have many LOLZ and live vicariously through these adventurous parents who chose climbing over children, if just for the weekend. The owners of this vehicle are never separated from their phones lest the baby sitter should call, they talk often about their offspring, and have probably named their child after something climbing-related. “My mom thinks we named Joshua after my paternal grandfather, but really … we just love J Tree.”
6. The Better Pick Another Area Today, Cuz This One’s F@#%ed
The giant white utility van is never a good sign for your hopes of having a day peacefully projecting in blissful solitude with your belayer. Either it’s a Boy Scout Troop practicing rappelling for the next six hours straight, or a crowd of excited, shrieking college students top-roping outside for the very first time on a university-coordinated adventure trip. I have no issues sharing the wall with fellow outdoor enthusiasts — I just wish there wasn’t one million of them, at my wall, today.
7. The Dirtbag
This car has seen some things; namely its owner, sleeping in it, for the past umpteen months straight. It’s an older model, a crusty and aged van or capped truck, it’s original coat of paint faded to something resembling dust. Through the handmade curtain shading the windows, the back can be seen crowded with stuff, and a bed of some sort will be nestled in between the slackline kit and the tub of pots and pans. The owner will have some great stories of zig-zagging across the U.S. with only his dog as a companion, but hey, could you maybe give him a belay? Also, could he borrow your shower? No? Cool. Do you know anyone who has a shower?
8. The Advertiser
More likely than not a newbie who’s very excited to tell the world that he is now a climber, this zippy, urban-looking car is covered in stickers from every climbing brand in existence. Five Ten, La Sportiva, Evolv — pick one, man. Or do you really have that many shoes? He’s usually dressed in head to toe Prana, and his gear is top-notch, shiny, new and neatly-racked. “I Love Climbing;” Do you really love climbing, or are you just saying that? Do you love carpet? Do you love desk? DO YOU LOVE LAMP?!
9. The What Are You Doing Here?
A total wild-card, this car has a license plate from a state so out of left field, you’re wondering why the hell they chose your obscure local crag to come to. This is Humphrey’s Ledge in Hew Hampshire, and your plates say Nevada. Why aren’t you climbing at Red Rocks / recreating The Hangover in Las Vegas? Either they’re a recent transplant to the area, a visiting out-of-towner really desperate for any climbing, or an ultra-adventurous die-hard who takes his rock in any, and all forms.
10. The Please Don’t Tell My Mom I Took the Car Today
His mom’s out of town for the weekend, and she said he could use the car in cases of emergency only. Our rebellious little teenager has deemed the perfect sending temps a definite emergency, and hauled his mother’s old station wagon up to the wall. His face pales with every ring of his cellphone, in dread of mom’s early return, but the psych this little scamp brings to the wall is unmatchable. The car’s bumpers boast of his past achievements — honor roll, 3rd chair oboist in his high school band, and hey, would you look at that, his aunt Kathy visited Key West and all she got him was this lousy bumper sticker. At the end of the day, he can be seen squatting next to the Volvo, furiously rubbing a new scratch in the paint and praying to his God that mom doesn’t notice.