Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Europe can Liechtenstein my nuts
We're back. What a trip. Visiting Europe was amazing but being home again makes me realize just how good we have it here in beatiful West Virginia. I learned some valuable lessons over there and thought that I should write down a few tips for Euro travel.
Note the picture. Does anyone remember what that thing is? That's right, it's a Betamax recorder. If you were around in the 80's you may have even owned one before you got your VHS player. This one happens to be clad in a substance that I can only assume is iron. Yes, in the future when you see this picture you will know that the blog post you are about to read features: IRONCLAD BETA.
Lets begin with ironclad beta on what to pack for a long Euro camping trip. I realize you are smart people and you know to take things like a good tent, sleeping bags, etc. so I will only suggest two items that you may not have thought of.
Camp stove. Here's the deal. The camp stoves you buy in America run mostly on white gas which is widely unavailable in Europe. Propane stoves bought in America have a fitting that will not accept the propane/butane cartridges sold overseas. One option would be to take a Whisperlite International which will run on unleaded, diesel, or just about anything you put in it. Maybe even Jack Daniels. But you end up with clogged fuel lines, nasty fumes, and they cost a hundo. We opted to just buy a Campingaz campstove like this one when we got there. It was easy to find, fuel was easily obtained and it cost about 40 dollars. You can borrow ours if you're heading over. We also bought cheap plastic plates, bowls, mugs, french press for coffee, etc. That stuff was super cheap and we left it at a campground with a FREE sign on it.
Power: In todays world you'll likely be taking about 10 different appliances that need to be charged up. Laptop, camera, video camera, Ipod, cell phone...and all that stuff has it's own power cord. We ended up with an entire bag devoted to cords. The 'bag of cords' we called it. We took a 12v car inverter that was about the size of a paperback copy of Stephen King's 'The Stand'. Everytime we got in the car we'd charge something up as we drove to our destination. Never did we have to worry about oddly shaped plugs, running 220 into a 110 device, or finding plugs to begin with. This is certainly IRONCLAD BETA. And take a laptop. Most cities have free wireless in their town square.
Camping in Europe is fully busted. How much would you pay to pitch your tent between the dark blue tent and the trashcan? How's 30 dollars a night sound? How 'bout 50? Seriously it is ridiculous. But 'wild' camping, as they call it, is frowned upon and usually well posted with 'no camping' signs. And you can't claim you couldn't understand cause it's a little picture of a tent with an X over it. I say go for it anyway. Hike your stuff up to the crag and camp under the sicky overhang at the base of your gnarly project. What are they gonna do if you get busted? Fine you? Well, since we paid about 500 dollars to camp in Europe for a month I figure we got fined anyway. Renegade camping is the way to go. At Ceuse the camping was much more reasonable but everywhere else not so much. Of course you could always just stay at my friend Fred's house. Fred Nicole, maybe you've heard of him?
Johny Utah: "They're traveling on the money, going where the waves are.
Angelo Papas: "That's right, the Ex-presidents, rip off banks to finance their endless summa'!
If there's one thing I've learned in this life, it's to NEVER doubt the knowledge that can be gleaned by watching the movie Point Break just one more time. And what's that between Reagan and Carter? Looks like an IRONCLAD BETA recorder to me. The ex-presidents have got it together. You go where the waves are. And similarly if you get to your destination and it happens to be the heat wave, snowstorm, or flood of the century don't be afraid to leave. Especially if it's a 50 year storm!
So there you are wondering where to go next. Hmmm. What possible resource could I use to find my next premier destination? Two words:
If forced to choose between actually climbing or never logging into 8a again......Sophies choice man. I don't even like to think about it.
8a.nu is amazing. I recently started using the 'ticklist' search function. Type in the name of the crag you want to visit or the name of the crag you're at and it brings up a google map with nearby crags flagged on it. Drag your cursor over the flag and click it. It brings up the name of the crag, a chart showing which month of the year it receives the most ascents (which gives you a good idea of the prime season) and an ordered list of the most ascended routes. These routes are of all grades so you know immediately which routes are the best. 'Best' meaning: high quality or soft for the grade. So if you're looking to go to Switzerland and you type in Voralpse it will show you all the other nearby crags as well. You can pan out a bit if you're looking to travel a bit further. Pan out more and you've got all of Europe with all the tiny flags of every climbing area. Amazing. Then once you pick an area and you're looking at all the routes that have been 'ticked' at an area it will tell you how many ascents of each route. Click on the name of a route and it brings up everyone that has sent it and the comment they made on it. If the route has only been climbed twice by Dani Andrada and Dave Graham and one of the comments is "Hard! a true fight to the finish" it's probably best to pick another. If 20 people have done it and said "so classic! so soft for 7c!" BOOM onsight effort! This will all be in my tactics book but that is a ways off and this information needs to be shared immediately. Just another way that 8a has shaped my life as well as sculpted my guns.