January 24, 2023 7 min read
Hi! I’m Jamie 👋. From delicate slabs to steep jug hauls, to compression or cracks of all sizes (yes, even the wide…), I’m an avid climber who loves to seek out all styles of rock climbing. I primarily boulder and trad climb, and seek a healthy balance between big alpine days and trading the rope and rack for the simplicity of a pad and roadside boulder. 🧗🏼♂️ Since moving to Seattle at the end of 2019, I’ve started exploring mountains in the winter too, on my split-board, and also enjoy resort pow days on my snowboard. 🏂 When I’m not out seeking an adventure, I can often be found in the kitchen cooking. 👨🍳 Currently, I volunteer with Access Fund and Washington Climbers Coalition - perhaps I’ll see you at a trail day this summer!
Critical dimensions for your bed platform: Originally, I had a wooden platform over my storage containers, but it ended up being too close to the ceiling for my liking ⚰️ and I ended up going platform-less and laying my Foamy on top of my bouldering crashpads, which worked out perfectly! I had the rear right + middle seat folded flat and on top the “platform” was made out of a Metolius Session II which has an angled side that fit perfectly over the wheel-well bump and an Organic Full Pad next to it extending over the rear footwell. I kept my cooler and a strategic “structural support” peanut butter jar (one of those giant Adam’s tubs) which perfectly filled the gap between the footwell floor and the bottom of the pads, providing me with a very stable sleep set up.
Length: 72” (under the 78” long Foamy Wide)
Width (at narrowest point): 24” (under the 30” wide Foamy Wide)
Height: 8” of crash pad foam underneath my Foamy Wide!
Where’d you go on the trip? How long were you traveling for? What was the purpose of the trip?
The trip was basically one big rock climbing road trip. From mid-August through the end of November, everything but the essentials was in storage and home was where I parked it. I started out by heading up across the border to Squamish, BC where I did everything from deep-water solo over the Sound, sport climb in Chek, and trad climb and boulder on and around the Chief, including thrutching up some incredible offwidths up at the Cirque. While I was in town, I also got to join my Arc’teryx teammate, Krystin Norman, for the Arc’teryx Climbing Academy, which included a fun few days of climbing, film screenings, talks, parties, and a tour of Arc’One. Krystin, who is a part of the Hest Dream Team, is who I have to thank for introducing me to a better night’s sleep on the road, after lending me her Foamy Wide for this trip!
Unfortunately, in early September I hurt my shoulder while sport climbing in Chek, so I had to head back down to Seattle for an MRI and PT. Although disappointed I couldn’t rock climb for a bit, I saw this as an opportunity to explore some of Washington’s chossy-er or flatter landscapes; I made an eastbound attempt of the Tatoosh Traverse in a day, and drove around the Olympic Peninsula, spending countless hours tip toeing around tide pools and gazing up at the largest trees I’d ever seen. The Makah Museum and Point of Arches are must visit places for anyone who can make it that far out.
By early October, I was cleared to climb again and headed back up to Squamish for a week of perfect weather. I then made the very long drive south to Joe’s Valley, Utah where I met up with a friend who was living the (mini)van-life. It was my first time bouldering in Joe’s, where there’s an endless sea of sandstone boulders scattered throughout those canyons, and I hope it wasn’t my last! From there, we chased the good weather, stopping in St. George and Vegas, before arriving in Bishop for some incredibly scenic (and sizeable!) bouldering. After Bishop, I stopped at Smith Rock for a day of sport climbing before finally arriving back in Seattle and ending my trip.
On your big summer adventure, what is the gear set up you brought with you? How did you navigate gear storage needs into your rig set up?
-Armrest / cupholder storage: All of my items I’d use daily like toothbrush/paste, glasses, contacts case, etc.
-Passenger seat footwell: 4x 1 gallon jugs of water, shoebox with (unused!) wag bags, trash bag
-Passenger seat: snacks, jackets, and Nalgenes
-Rear driver’s side footwell: small duffle bag containing extra food and containers
-Rear driver’s side seat: 25 gallon lidded tub with toiletries / miscellaneous items, Arc’teryx Konseal 40L pack filled with my trad rack, Arc’teryx Alpha SL 23L pack filled with shoes, chalk, etc for bouldering, 40L duffel filled with (clean) clothes + laundry bag to separate dirty clothes
-Rear passenger’s side footwell: 21 Quart cooler, structurally significant giant tub of Adam’s peanut butter
-Rear storage: 2x 25 gallon lidded tubs (stacked) - one with extra ropes and climbing gear and one with food and cookware
-I cut Reflectix for all my windows - most stay in place on their own, but I used command velcro strips for the liftgate’s window
-Having things in tubs and packs that you can easily move around and know where to look is crucial to keeping a relatively sane living space
Tips for others looking to do a similar long term road trip?
The biggest improvements to my set up for a long term trip (compared to my “weekend warrior” set up) was improving my sleeping (thanks, Hest! 😴❤️) and cooking set up (🍳 I got the frying pan for my MSR Windburner Stove, but something like a Coleman dual burner would be even nicer - I think I would’ve gone crazy after a week if my diet was limited to boiling-water-based hot foods). Also, having sheets instead of sleeping in a bag is so much nicer; I won a Rumpl insulated blanket in a raffle at the Bishop Craggin’ Classic and that made my sleeping set up extra toasty.
Tips for making a big road trip like this work on a limited budget? Where can you save $ and cut costs and what’s worth splurging for?
I had a pretty ideal situation in which I moved all my stuff into storage and stopped paying rent while living on the road, which obviously saves a ton of money.
Limiting how much you drive (by spending longer in less places or trying to plan a loop with no major detours) and strategically filling your tank before crossing into places like Canada or California (⛽️🤑) can help quite a bit. As with living in a house, buying food that’s on sale/in bulk helps a ton, but I would splurge on eating out if somewhere was highly rated/recommended to me (pro tip - time it with a bad weather day so you aren’t cooking/cleaning up after in the rain!). If you aren’t camping near where you’re going each day, try to alternate carpooling with friends to get there. Also, some areas have pretty good free (car) camping options, so you can save quite a bit by not paying for a campsite every night. Many paid campsites also allow multiple vehicles, so either split one with friends or make new friends and ask if someone will let you park in their unused spot.
By far my biggest splurge of the trip was going to see KÀ by Cirque du Soleil with some friends while I was in Vegas - it was expensive, but the production value is insanely high and was very much worth it.
Most beautiful view you woke up to on the trip?
A plate of pancakes 🥞😍 Alpenglow = a close second… 🌄
Did you travel with anyone else? How did that compare to the times when you were alone?
I traveled alone for the whole trip, but I had friends driving separately for large chunks of the trip. It would have been really nice to split the actual driving with someone, but at least I had friends to hang out with most nights.
What’s the one creature comfort you can’t camp without?
Having chocolate or some sweet treat on hand! The Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds was my go-to 🍫
What do you look for in a campsite?
First off, make sure you are actually allowed to park there - different places have varying rules about where you’re allowed to sleep in a vehicle. Ideally, I was somewhere quiet and close to where I was climbing; a toilet, water, and table was always a huge plus, but it’s pretty rare to find free sites offering all three.
Best camp meal from the trip?
A friend with an RV “baked” (i.e. fancy microwaved) brownies for the finale of Bake Off! 🤤
Worst night of sleep while camping?
One of the nights I pulled into an area with no one else around, but later heard a tapping on my window right as I was about to fall asleep. The tapping grew a little louder and faster and I started to get pretty freaked out until I realized it had unexpectedly started to rain and that no one was outside my car 🌧😅
Why did you decide to upgrade from sleeping on your crash pad?
I’ve had a variety of back/neck/shoulder problems over the years and having a good mattress and pillow can make a world of difference between waking up feeling fresh and ready to climb versus feeling like I fell off a cliff.
What’s your next camping adventure?
I’m not sure yet where my next big road trip will be, but maybe Yosemite. I’m sure I’ll do some shorter trips around Washington and to Squamish and Smith in the Spring.
Any upgrades or improvements to your kit that you’re planning before the next big trip?
Honestly, my setup seemed to work out pretty well. The only thing that could be nice is a solar panel to charge things without going into town, but I’d frequently spend my rest days in a library or coffee shop, so my battery pack never ran out.