8 images Created 21 Aug 2016

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” - Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Dirtbag: A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle.

Rock climbing is a sport that was born out of rebellion. It is a search for freedom among nature, and it is a graceful dance of athleticism. The underground culture of climbing in the United States took off in the 1960s during the "Yosemite Revolution". Living out the dream of freedom from a 9-5 office job and seeking wild adventure, the beatnik generation fled big cities in their cars and headed for the massive granite slabs of the Yosemite valley. They lived permanently out of their cars and tents, they created a haven for hippies at Camp Four, yes there were drugs and alcohol, but more than anything they were a group of friends who pushed the limits of climbing on Yosemite's big walls as no one knew possible. They lived for climbing 24/7, and in return climbing gave them the lives and happiness they sought out to find. These were the first dirtbags.

Over the years the sport's popularity grew, as did the national park system, and much tighter camping regulations were put in place at Yosemite and throughout the country. This made it much harder for climbers to live the same collective dirtbag lifestyle. Climbing magazine itself has dubbed the dirtbag lifestyle dead in multiple articles - maybe it's because they aren't looking hard enough. While they may be less common to find nowadays, the first climber at your local crag may be a dirtbag, waking with the sunrise in the back of their car, parked at the trailhead entrance.

This project is an exploration of modern day climbers whose lives revolve around the sport, and who are reviving the dirtbag lifestyle today.
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