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With Greyhound Gone, a Climbers Guide to Hitchhiking

The legendary Fred Beckey hitchhiking photo

Greyhound Canada, the bus service countless climbers have relied on for getting from crag to crag or from home to mountain, has said it’s cancelling the vast majority of its routes in Western Canada by the end of October.

“In 1978, I was 17 and almost ready to quit high school. By June, I was on a Greyhound bus heading to Yosemite Valley,” said Mike Tschipper in a story for the Canadian Alpine Journal.

Greyhound’s exit could leave many climbers stranded and looking for rides, forcing some to use their thumbs to get to their climbs.

In the 1970s, many climbers relied on hitchhiking to get around, as it was much more popular than these days. but that doesn’t mean climbers shouldn’t still try.

“We picked up a meth-eyed hitchhiker outside of Green River. Didier himself had hitched in the exact same spot, and his “do unto other” philosophy necessitated we pick up the druggie,” said climber Will Stanhope in his 2011 story Reference Point in the Canadian Alpine Journal.

Get a Partner With a Car

If you are hitchhiking to a crag alone, we recommend you get a partner before departing, preferably one with a car.

If you do have a partner, but neither of you have a car then see below.

Go Online

Before hitchhiking to a crag, go online and find a Facebook climbing group to the area you’re hoping to climb.

If it’s a weekend, chances are good that there’ll be another climber heading out that way.

If that doesn’t work then see below.

Safety First

Trust your gut and don’t get into a car that you’re uncomfortable with. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been waiting, it’s not worth it.

You’ll have a lot of climbing gear, but try to keep it with you in case you need to make a quick exit.

If you can handle riding in a car with a stranger and you can be safe about it then see below.

Where to Stand

Pick your spot carefully because some spots will get you picked up quicker than others.

You need to find a spot where drivers are driving slower than full speed, like an ramp or gas station exit.

Put on your nicest sending clothes and don’t look too dirtbaggy.

Be Flexible and Happy

Hitchhiking is a great way to save money, but it makes it difficult to stick to a plan.

Once picked up, enjoy the ride, but know that sometimes you’ll have to wait a while to get picked up.

Be a happy climber because if you look approachable and happy you are more likely to get a ride.

Eye contact goes a long way, so don’t wear sunglasses or a cap covering your face.

If you manage to get picked up, congrats, and see below.

Once Picked Up

Many drivers pick up hitchhikers because they’re bored, so regal the driver with how cool you are because you’re a rock climber.

Tell them stories and epics about the day ahead or the day you just had. If they seem cooler than you, then just listen to them.

Negotiate where to be dropped off before departing because many crag access points are in unusual locations.

Don’t eat, smoke or roll down the windows without first asking the driver.

Drop Off

Once you’ve reached your destination, then toss the driver a few bucks for gas and say thanks.

Ask if they’re heading back past the climbing area later in the day to potentially line up a pick up.

Happy hitching!

And don’t forget to make a nice sign