Review: The Climbing Zine vol.5: the Dirtbag Issue
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Climber. Summit. Vertical. Whilst the UK is no stranger to climbing magazines with high-impact names, the more readily available glossy magazine often feel overly-prescribed and are full to bursting with adverts. Reading them is enjoyable enough, but we’re left with the uncomfortable feeling of having worn someone else’s climbing shoes; they’ve done the job, but completing the task at hand makes you feel somehow a little dirtier.
Thankfully, it looks as though all of that could change with the Climbing Zine, imported from the US with articles relevant to all. Upon picking up the most recent volume, we had intended to savour it, reading one inspirational story every few days. Of course, in reality we ended up digesting the whole issue over the course of a very enjoyable few days. This particular volume of the Climbing Zine is dedicated to dirtbagging, and we’d certainly agree that anyone who has been bitten by the climbing bug has a hint of ‘dirtbag’ in them. Symptoms include your mind forever wandering to the next climb, a dissatisfaction with your settled, ordinary lifestyle, and an overwhelming feeling of bliss as you nail the latest challenging line. Still, the clue is in the name: the dirtbag lifestyle means sacrificing all of life’s mod cons for the sake of climbing – a step that few of us are brave enough to take. Dirtbags are therefore the perfect focus for the Climbing Zine, a publication that showcases inspiring climbing stories and the incredible photos that go with them.
What’s in volume five?
The Dirtbag issue features ten lengthy articles on dirtbagging, written by a diverse range of authors including a climbing mum and a veteran of the Iraq War. Although the stories are each told from a different angle, there’s a clear, common theme running through all of them: climbing is more than just a sport, it’s a way of life. Despite the near-clichéd message that the stories give us, there is simply no room for cheese in the Dirtbag issue. The authors’ eloquence and sincerity ensure that each of the articles are a joy to read, and it’s impossible not to feel exhilarated and awed by each of these tales.
One of the many highlights of volume five is Stacy Bare’s heartfelt tale of how climbing saved his life. After witnessing the horrors of war first hand, Stacy left the army and struggled with suicidal thoughts. He found his escape not in death, but in climbing, which gave him complete ‘mindfulness and mindlessness’. In another gripping read, Teresa Bruffey details her search for the ultimate dirtbag experience while still holding down a desk job. Bruffey tells us of every obstacle she encountered, but it is her sheer determination to reach her ‘dirtbag dream’ that makes her story special.
Why you should care
There’s something for every climber in the Climbing Zine, and the passion of each of the authors is readily apparent. Whether you can relate to the feelings of desperation, elation, or determination, the articles serve as a reminder that climbing provides us with an experience that can’t be matched by other sports or hobbies. Rather than feeling like a magazine produced solely for commercial reasons, the Climbing Zine packs a punch and helps to engage the same compulsion as standing at the base of a climb about to take your first handhold. If you’re finding the everyday glossy magazines aren’t inspiring dreams of wild climbs in exotic locations or encouraging you to get out there and challenge yourself, the Climbing Zine will provide a refreshing and welcome change. As Teresa Bruffey concludes in her article, we can’t all live the dirtbag lifestyle 24/7, 365 days a year – and ‘every climber has sides beyond the rock’, but that doesn’t mean we have to settle for a magazine that only tickles the edges of our climbing passions.
The Dirtbag Issue of the Climbing Zine is available to buy from Overhang for only £5.50. While you’re visiting us, don’t forget to grab some more climbing gear – The Climbing Zine will surely inspire you to get back out there.
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