/ Climbing as job/career/lifestyle help!

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
elliot white - on 21 Sep 2012
Hi everyone, I'm 18, just finished college and have been totally addicted to climbing for several years. I want to make climbing my life and be in a possition where I can train really hard and eventually climb full time (or close to... one can dream!) If anyone has any advice on how to acheive this, or a good place to start, I would be really greatful. Cheers, Elliot.
bobtheclimber - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white: work in a climbing centre? save some money then go live/travel abroad to climbing destinations?
999thAndy on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

If you can, work for yourself. It's the only way you're going to get enough time off
sbs20 - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

First step is go to uni! Im not saying the education is necessary at all, but it sets you up for the rest of your life in so many other ways. also a cheap way to climb.

then do what the others suggested!
3 Names - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to 999thAndy:
> (In reply to elliot white)
>
> If you can, work for yourself. It's the only way you're going to get enough time off

This

derryclimbs - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

live the dirtbag climbing life; travel around cleaning hostels for a bed and money, wear the same chalk laden clothes for weeks on end, use disabled toilets for 'showering', eat 2 minute noodles for every meal, brush your teeth with marmite ... and climb nonstop.

And definitely don't have kids!
ScraggyGoat on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:
If you are bright and motivated, go to uni and get a science/engineering degree. Then aim for a career in the offshore oil industry. There are many jobs with 2 weeks on the rigs 3 weeks time-off. Or overseas month on month off. That way you will have the money and the time to go climbing, and won't be skint all your life (assuming you choose the right discipline, do a half good job and have a reasonable employeer), plus you will have employable transferable skills should you give up climbing as a lifestyle.

With enough experience you can also contract, potentially giving more felxibility.
derryclimbs - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to derryclimbs:

...or more seriously, work indoors to get qualifications and climb regularly for free. Become an awesome climber. Then move outdoors to work in a centre, get more quals and contacts. Work towards becoming a mountain guide and then grossly overcharge clients. Now you can become even more awesome as you can now afford to go on self funded first ascents in various countries. Use your new founded notoriety to get sponsored, climb more and eventually live out your days writing books about how great you are/were. And all the time climbing climbing climbing.
biscuit - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

Lots of people think instructing/guiding is the way ahead for this but while guiding/instructing you are not 'climbing'. Yes you're still in the great outdoors and around the sport you love but often it's holding ropes for people, dragging them up easy (for you) routes or even worse working with large groups of children ;-)

Some people love teaching ( like me ) so i am happy to do this but for others it impinges on their approach to the sport and they resent it.

The best climbers i know all have one thing in common, no kids and an understanding partner if they have one. You can work full time, train and climb as much as you want really and earn the money for trips abroad to keep you motivated.

Good luck and i hope you enjoy whichever way you go.
Sambo - on 21 Sep 2012
Elliot,

I had a very similar world view to you about 9 years ago ...... I worked really hard whilst living at home for 7/8 months and left the UK for sunnier and cheaper countiries. I climbed for 6 months straight in Oz, NZ, Thailand, USA and lived extremely cheaply (a few quid a day) particulalrly as camping is free in some of the great places around the world.

This got me really psyched but I came back to the UK, went to uni and got a proper job (office 8-6 and all that). Honestly this is not the way to have a climbing lifestyle. Although whilst at Uni i climbined a lot and went on loads of trips and a pretty low cost. Also met some of my greatest climbing budies and friends so there were a lot of upsides.

My advice would be to take your time before going to Uni, think about what sort of job you want at the end. I have friends who are engineers, finish by 4 o'clock most days so get out loads, my sector you are expected to work at least 7 or 8 each night so this limits your ability to get out. I have a mate who is a freelance graphic designer and he gets out all the time, takes big okl trips and can work from his Van when climbing so also has a pretty good lifestyle.

On the flip side I have plenty of mates who are guides (ski, climb, rafting, etc.) and love the lifestyle.

Sam
tallsop on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

Beware, working in a climbing wall can crush your enthusiasm for climbing.

But good luck to you!
Calder - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to 999thAndy:
> (In reply to elliot white)
>
> If you can, work for yourself. It's the only way you're going to get enough time off

This is not guaranteed to be true. Most people I know with their own businesses seem to get hardly any time off.
tallsop on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to tallsop:

My other bit of advice may prove more useful -

Dont go to uni! Get a trade, get self employed, then you can finish work whenever you like and take advantage of any good weather you get!

I build dry stone walls and garden features for a living now, working for myself is one of the best things i ever did. also, working with stone is great training!Beats workin in a climbing wall any day!
Alex1 - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat:
> (In reply to elliot white)
> If you are bright and motivated, go to uni and get a science/engineering degree. Then aim for a career in the offshore oil industry. There are many jobs with 2 weeks on the rigs 3 weeks time-off. Or overseas month on month off. That way you will have the money and the time to go climbing, and won't be skint all your life (assuming you choose the right discipline, do a half good job and have a reasonable employeer), plus you will have employable transferable skills should you give up climbing as a lifestyle.
>
> With enough experience you can also contract, potentially giving more felxibility.

This - although what you actually want to do if its purely the climbing is train as a technician which doesn't require a degree but is generally entered through the apprentice route. Generally 2 on 3 off in the North Sea and you can live anywhere in the UK. This is will keep you offshore for as long as you want, as an engineer regular rotations are harder to come by. You also have a lot more responsibility which would eat into time off... Well paid and an aging workforce.

Alex1 - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to Alex1:

Working in a climbing wall looks horrendous - most of the time seems to be spent herding punters up top ropes.
cameros - on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

Elliot

Forget uni !!! People have been punting uni as the great educational leap for the past 15 or so years .Now we have loads of people with half ass degrees who stack shelves for a living or end up managing other people when they dont really know what they are doing themselves.
Whatever happened to the country that used to make things and have sellable skills ie skills that people actually want .I served an Apprenticeship for 4 years .Back in the day when the word apprenticeship did not mean a six month course in bicycle mechanics or hedge trimming.
My background has enabled me to travel all over the world working at my trade and getting paid for it.It has also enabled me to take lots of time off for travel etc because there are no long term career based commitments .In the last ten years I have also became rope access trained which has enabled me to tag an additional skill on to my apprenticeship.The oil and gas industry is a good thing to get into because it exists everywhere .There is work all over the world if you have a skill to sell .Whilst I realise rope access is not climbing its about as close as you will get to climbing while getting paid good money (if you have an additional skill you can do on the ropes ).The other good thing about the oil industry is the contract work within it.I like the flexibility .As long as you dont think you can live like a king and stay within your means then you can work when it suits you.
Your other option is to become a shit hot climber and sell your soul to some product company (just like I have sold my soul to oil n gas industry :).All said and done we all need leisure tokens to get by and if climbing is your real love then best if you find something that doesnt have to much commitment so you can climb when it suits you but please dont listen to people who tell you to go to uni unless you are thinking about a proper degree ie doctor,lawyer,engineer etc .Dont waste 4 years of you life doing a half ass degree .

Rant over
Hope you manage to climb your life away :)
tallsop on 21 Sep 2012
In reply to cameros:
> (In reply to elliot white)
>
> Elliot
>
> Forget uni !!! People have been punting uni as the great educational leap for the past 15 or so years .Now we have loads of people with half ass degrees who stack shelves for a living or end up managing other people when they dont really know what they are doing themselves.
> Whatever happened to the country that used to make things and have sellable skills ie skills that people actually want .



BANG ON!
karen2 on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:
GO to a Uni with a good (well funded) climbing club. Spend your 3 or 4 years getting crap tonnes of training paid for by your club.

Do some of the awesome courses around, you'll have lots of free time...students think they are busy...they're not.

4 years later you will have a degree (do something useful) a load of climbing qualifications and experience with groups.

This is the way I wish I'd done it.
Michael Gordon - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:
> Hi everyone, I'm 18, just finished college and have been totally addicted to climbing for several years. I want to make climbing my life and be in a possition where I can train really hard and eventually climb full time (or close to... one can dream!) If anyone has any advice on how to acheive this, or a good place to start, I would be really greatful. Cheers, Elliot.

Hi Elliot, you could have been more specific. When you talk of training hard I get the impression you want to become a sponsored full time travelling climber?

Because being all that good technically isn't really required to be a guide/instructor if all you end up doing is setting up top ropes in the summer and winter skills in the mountains during the other half of the year. As pointed out above it gets you out to the hills/crags but it's not really climbing.
Gilles on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to cameros: I'm not sure how serious you're being. As the proud owner of a 'half-assed' degree (history in my case) I wouldn't swap it for anything, certainly not a law degree - a good number of English and history students did/do the conversion course anyway thus swapping 3 years of tedium for 3 years of culture, critical thinking and more time out of lectures. I'm afraid you come across as someone who knows the price of everything but not necessarily its value. Just think of how much poorer we might actually be without these half-assed, by which I guess you mean non-vocational, degrees. Subjects like English and History have a huge amount going for them in terms of understanding the world. In fact I'm surprised when climbers diss this kind of course, after all what we do is essentially aesthetic and, as Elliot might find out, not very well paid if paid at all.
muppetfilter - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to cameros: Wise words, Degrees get you nowhere but in a few fields where they are actually aplicable to the real world of work. In a labour market where no one has bothered to get a skill welders, platers, electricians, painters all get paid as much as white collar managers offshore. Imagine 6 months off with a great salary and the chance to travel and get paid for it? Even during an aprenticeship to a trade you get a reasonable wage to pay for a Car and gear, why get yourself into the debt ? Jump into the job market and you will be 4 years ahead of people that went to Uni... massively more employable and have oodles of cash for shiney things and plane tickets.
tistimetogo on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

"where they are actually applicable to the real world of work." This describes most degrees being chosen in the last few years. At Uni I met vastly more scientists, engineers and doctors than students of the arts. Its seems fewer people seem to be committing career suicide be studying things like history, drama and Canadian mythology.
So yea Id be careful to not underestimate how valuable a practical degree can be.
"massively more employable and have oodles of cash for shiney things and plane tickets"
This is most definitely not always the case.
p.s. Ive corrected your spelling of applicable

To the O.P.
As happily employed engineer and still frequent climber Id recommend you give Uni a good examination before you dismiss it. In the long run I suspect its a very good investment.

biscuit - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

> Imagine 6 months marooned on an isolated industrial site 24 hrs a day with no booze, no chance to climb and sharing all of that fun with big, hairy, sweaty arsed, un-educated buffoons who only want to talk about football and shagging, with a great salary and the chance to travel and get paid for it?

Just paraphrasing the last bloke i met who worked off shore and was practically suicidal at the thought of going back. I guess it's not for everyone and Elliot is probably more confused than ever now after all these replies.

muppetfilter - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to biscuit: Or you could be off to Norway to work, be in a shipyard in Rio and get to climb Sugar Loaf , or spend the summer in Shetland climbing new routes on sea cliffs every night after work when its not raining or windy or raining and windy. Offshore is the far end of the contracting scale ... but then again you get paid for what you put up with.
My main point is that a trade is one avenue to look at as a good way of being free to pursue climbing and also earn enough to live well and travel. I have worked with a few Guides and MIC's that served their time on the tools and worked towards outdoor qualifications dipping into both industries to earn a very good living and lifestyle.

ps. As for my spelling ... It may be crap but I am working for a Danish rig in Africa for a company based in Yarmouth so no one really cares and they sign my timesheets ok ;0)
robw007 - on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

Some super top tips above.

My advice would be get some money together for a long trip to USA/Oz etc and live the climbing lifestyle - you can do it really cheaply.

Then try and prolong that in the UK/Europe when you get back.

If and when you go to Uni go to Sheff/Manchester/Bangor etc - choose the Uni on where it is not what the course is.

Then when you leave become a teacher and enjoy the long holidays!

There you go life sorted!!

Ps - working as an outdoor pursuits instructor is not the way to go imho.
shark - on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to Alex1:
> (In reply to ScraggyGoat)
> [...]
>
> This - although what you actually want to do if its purely the climbing is train as a technician which doesn't require a degree but is generally entered through the apprentice route. Generally 2 on 3 off in the North Sea and you can live anywhere in the UK. This is will keep you offshore for as long as you want, as an engineer regular rotations are harder to come by. You also have a lot more responsibility which would eat into time off... Well paid and an aging workforce.



Unless you can train while away you will get weak whilst working offshore and this will ultimately limit your potential to climb hard if that is important to you
999thAndy on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to Calder:
> (In reply to 999thAndy)
> [...]
>
> This is not guaranteed to be true. Most people I know with their own businesses seem to get hardly any time off.

If you want to make proper money I'd agree, but if you want to fund a lifestyle choice I'd say it's the best option. Work for a compny and your leave allowance will be between 20 and 25 days per year. Work for yourself and you can take as much as you like, but you might starve. (Teaching isn't an option for the OP).
RockSteady on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

I can't really advise you on this, but I can give some examples. Of the four hardest climbers I know:

(1) climbs F8c / E8 and works as a route-setter and climbing coach
(2) climbs F8b and works as a route-setter and climbing coach
(3) climbs F8c and is self-employed as a consultant in a media-related industry, and generally works part-time
(4) climbs F8b, has climbed E10 and works full-time as a climbing coach. He's probably the only one who has made a real 'career' of climbing.

All have sponsorship of varying degrees. 2 are media savvy and work hard at their profiles as climbers. 2 don't bother.

So none of them really climb 'full time' but all have climbed and trained very hard and have managed to focus a lot on their climbing. Could be some good ideas in the paths of their careers.
cameros - on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to Gilles:So getting back to my point .....what do you actually do with youre degree ?.
No disrespect but if English /History are an interest for you why not study those subjects because of that interest and not just so you can have a degree in them .Strikes me that if you have a real interest in such subject matter then you would do it for the love of it not just because you recieve a pretty useless piece of paper at the end of it .
The point I was making to Elliot was that if he wanted to have loads of time off and money to fund a climbing lifestyle in the future then he could do worse than serve an apprenticeship.
I am guessing youre English degree taught you that well used saying "someone who knows the price of everything but not necessarily its value " or was that an astute piece of critical thinking .Critical thinking and doing a degree.....now theres irony if ever I came across it.
I should also point out that there is such a thing as "work fit" ie if you sit on youre ass all day doing something at a desk you will notice that by the time you are 40, or sooner in many cases ,you will feel very unfit .That is unless you take time at weekends or evenings to look after yourself .ie get some exercise .The thing about manual labour is that it gives you so much more that just leisure tokens .It keeps your body operating as it was designed to.Sure working like a dog all day every day will send you to an early grave but in essence manual labour is good for the body and soul.It's also a very tangible thing .ie you see the results of your labour.You dont need some intangible feedback from someone to let you know youre worth .
You see gilles the "value" of manual labour is about so much more than leisure tokens. You know, "Fruits of your labour" and all that "an honest days pay for an honest days graft"
I would have thought that to an educated person like yourself that would be self evident.
Michael Gordon - on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to robw007:
> (In reply to elliot white)
>
> If and when you go to Uni go to Sheff/Manchester/Bangor etc - choose the Uni on where it is not what the course is.
>

Surely if you're making that argument it has to be Scotland? Not much winter climbing in reach from the above!
Goucho on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white: There's a world of difference between being a 'professional climber', and a 'climbing instructor'.

The former requires you to 'get' seriously good, the latter requires you to 'get' the necessary qualifications. The former may well give you an exciting and rewarding climbing lifestyle, the latter may well become simply a job.

However, there is a world of difference between the dream and the reality in both.

If you just want to become really good, and climb lots of awesome routes all over the world, you can do this AND have a job - you've just got to pick the right one, teaching comes to mind as a pretty good one.

Wearing the same underpants for a month and scavenging around landfill sites for breakfast will soon make the novelty of being a full time climbing bum wear thin :-)
smokeyj - on 25 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:
I reckon learn to live with less and so work less to give you time to climb. Waiting or trying to get large amounts of money (doesn't always happen) or jobs that pay loads, I don't think will give you a climbing life. Taking time out is really short term but a great experience. Find a well payed part time position and choose time instead of money. You can go full-time later in life.
Shortarse.Crowley - on 26 Sep 2012
In reply to derryclimbs:

sweet reply!
Shortarse.Crowley - on 26 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

hey man, i finished college this year too and im currently working part time as a climbing instructor. i live at home still so im saving where i can and ive just picked up my SPA log book so i can qualify as a spa instructor, but best of all im climbing whenever i can !! i get free climbing indoors and when its glorious outside im climbing with my boyfriend so i couldnt have a better life atm!

follow your heart and do what you thinks best :) scrimp with your money so you can climb and travel and save at the same time...
Stone Muppet - on 26 Sep 2012
I can't comment on climbing degrees but I can tell you living the dream isn't easy ;-)

"[...] price of everything [...] value of nothing" is an Oscar Wilde quote isn't it? And a very wise one too, but at the end of the day, food costs money (unless you own land and have the time to tend it). And climbing usually requires petrol which costs money too.

If you're going to do a degree, seeing as they cost a lot of these days, I'd say either choose something employable or be prepared to spend a hell of a lot of money on something that (if it won't get you a job) is only a hobby. No point in the OP studying history of art if their hobby of choice is climbing!
iain miller - on 26 Sep 2012
In reply to elliot white:

Just a few thoughts,

Being a full time climber in any sense is not easy unless you are very talented indeed and even then you need to diversify EG write books, mag articles etc etc

Personally speaking I had a completely different career as a ships engineer for near 20 years prior to becoming a full time climber. Full time climber meaning I provide NGB's, guide and climb all the time. But it took a long time to achieve the goal, a very long time.

Living in a place that has over 100 lifetimes of unclimbed rock with in an hour drive of home has helped.

http://www.uniqueascent.ie/

Anyways, it is very achievable but it just takes time and you must have a cunning plan to achieve the goal.

Iain

Oh, and you won't get rich but you will have enormous fun! :-)
Gilles on 27 Sep 2012
In reply to cameros:
> (In reply to Gilles)So getting back to my point .....what do you actually do with youre degree ?.

Teach

> No disrespect but if English /History are an interest for you why not study those subjects because of that interest and not just so you can have a degree in them .

Why would this be mutually exclusive?

Strikes me that if you have a real interest in such subject matter then you would do it for the love of it not just because you recieve a pretty useless piece of paper at the end of it .

Hmm, who said that was my motivation? Oh, that would be you.

> The point I was making to Elliot was that if he wanted to have loads of time off and money to fund a climbing lifestyle in the future then he could do worse than serve an apprenticeship.

No argument from me there.

> I am guessing youre English degree

If you'd read my post a bit more carefully you'd see it was history...

taught you that well used saying "someone who knows the price of everything but not necessarily its value " or was that an astute piece of critical thinking .Critical thinking and doing a degree.....now theres irony if ever I came across it.

You really do have to explain that I'm afraid, unless I'm missing a glaring piece of sarcasm of course.

> I should also point out that there is such a thing as "work fit" ie if you sit on youre ass all day doing something at a desk you will notice that by the time you are 40, or sooner in many cases ,you will feel very unfit .

Does this count as patronising?

That is unless you take time at weekends or evenings to look after yourself .ie get some exercise

!

.The thing about manual labour is that it gives you so much more that just leisure tokens .It keeps your body operating as it was designed to.Sure working like a dog all day every day will send you to an early grave but in essence manual labour is good for the body and soul.

So clearly no one who as done a degree could do/have done manual labour?

It's also a very tangible thing .ie you see the results of your labour.You dont need some intangible feedback from someone to let you know youre worth .

I totally get this, building a house with my cousin in california was one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had.

> You see gilles the "value" of manual labour is about so much more than leisure tokens.

?

You know, "Fruits of your labour" and all that "an honest days pay for an honest days graft"
> I would have thought that to an educated person like yourself that would be self evident.

And the only form of 'honest' labour is what you do with your hands? Genius.

My point was not that the op should do an arts degree, just that they're not a waste of time. Each to each. I like sport climbing more than trad. That doesn't make me wrong, anymore than my preference for loud rock music over classical. I recognise the value in these things even if I don't choose to follow them myself, and I wouldn't dismiss something just because it isn't for me.


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.