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Ask Answer Man: Can I Smoke Weed and Climb?

He Knows climbing. and he knows it.

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Rock Climbing Hippie Answer Man Marijuana

What’s Answer Man’s status on getting stoned and going climbing? —Kevin N., Chicago, IL

What kind of Narc question is that? Where Answer Man currently resides, reefer isn’t exactly legal for a fella with my exemplary health, and I refuse to walk in to the doctor’s office feigning back pain, phantom nausea, or excessive anxiety just to score the same bud the hippies down in the park are practically giving away.

Smoking marijuana has seemingly always been a part of the counterculture that climbing was built on. I’m certain there was a largely unsung crew of misfits in California in the 1970s who insisted on being called the Stoned Masters. Also, you’ve seen “Valley Uprising” by now, right? Point is, just as in non-climbing life, some people like smoking weed and some don’t. Some people use it to calm down their minds, recede into their thoughts, and stay level. Some people use it like alcohol, to get into party mode. Others get super baked and forget about the pizza in the oven.

Answer Man’s opinion about climbing and ganja follows its general use. If you’re getting high to calm a mind that runs rampant with stress, anxiety, and panic, by all means please toke away, and be safe, my friend. But if you’re out there smoking weed and you’re the type that burns pizzas, imagine how that might affect your ability to retrace a figure eight or check your partner’s.

What’s the best way to fly with all my gear? —Natalie D., Athens, GA

You would think if George Jung could travel over international borders with all the weed that Kevin from question one is smoking that it would be a breeze to travel with climbing gear. Luckily for the most part, that’s true. Nothing about climbing gear, aside from its metallic nature, should provide an issue when traveling by plane. The TSA, however incompetent they are, won’t balk at the introduction of climbing gear in their scanners. Even chalk is relatively innocuous to the everyday scanner, despite its powdery white composition, so just be cool and keep moving.

Where you need to be cautious is checking your climbing gear. Bags, no matter what is inside them, are routinely lost, and if you’re the type of climber (like me) who would rather climb than change his clothes, you might want to pack strategically to make sure your climbing gear and other essentials are in hand. It would be quite a little tragedy to show up in Squamish without your snapalongs and slaplocks. I realize it’s a little annoying to pack a rope and a rack in your carry-on, so if you’re not meeting a local, try to split the load with your partner. Otherwise, hope and pray your bag makes it—and pay extra for direct flights with no transfers.

Lastly, never fly United or Frontier. You and your stuff may never make it.

What is there to be done about route hogs when we’re cragging? Aren’t there rules? —Ben T., Santa Fe, NM

Like most of life’s most important rules, crag etiquette, if you will, is unstated, assumed, often broken, then later discussed in hushed whispers among those who were offended most by said rules’ transgressors. There really isn’t a lot to know, though. Common sense and courtesy (aka not being a dick) will take you a long way in life and even further in climbing.

The onus is on the person who wants to climb a certain route that is blocked by a rope. If you got there first, hung a rope on a climb, and are planning on working out some moves, keep the rope up until someone asks about it. However, if they do want to climb it, you should be accommodating. You don’t own the crag, just the rope, though. That said, if it’s incredibly busy, don’t leave a rope on the route to begin with. You wouldn’t leave your coats, backpacks, shoes, and beer at the bar and visit another bar for an hour, would you? It’s not terribly complicated. Feel free to confront those who violate common courtesy, but be kind. The best of the eight 5.10s you like to warm up on might be someone’s first 5.10 special project ever. Be good to people; they will be good back. 

And other topics… 

How do you feel about wire gates?
I am emotionally unprepared to answer that.

Who ARE you?
Darth Vader, ya daddy.

Music at the crag: OK or faux pas?
Crag music is great! If the crag is empty.

Sport or trad?
What are you, 12?