Scarpa North America Blog

City of Rocks: Dirt-Bagging as the Great Equalizer

Aug. 12th 2013
Photo Courtesy: David Crothers

Just after the recent Outdoor Retailer show, a number of SCARPA team members escaped the Salt Lake City heat by driving three hours north to southern Idaho’s City of Rocks with a group of climbing media and industry friends. Here, SCARPA ambassador Shingo Ohkawa recounts high points of the trip:

Under the clearest night sky I’d ever seen at the City of Rocks, I sat by the fire with Heinz Mariacher, listening as he described the remarkable lives of the nomadic Tuareg people who inhabit the arid lands of southern Algeria where the maestro now devotes much of his time.

Climbing in City of RocksPhoto Courtesy: David Crothers

From his tone, it was evident how deeply he admires their ancient pastoral ways, which, by modern standards may seem a harsh and unforgiving existence. Heinz’s account of the Tuareg reminded me of my friends, the Balti people of the Karakorum, whose enduring nobility left a similar impression on me just a year ago. It was at that moment the great man [Heinz] ceased to be what I had always made him out to be – the professional, the iconoclast – and, despite the unique and incomparable experiences that separated us, we sat there together as climbers, two individuals in search of the same emotions still hidden among the wild, high places of the world.

Photo Courtesy: David Crothers

“It was a good fire,” announced Heinz. And with that, we remaining stragglers went our separate ways to bed. I fell asleep that night bivied atop a listing picnic table, exhausted yet wholly content. Our trip was already off to fantastic start.

Indeed, it’s the common experience of – as SCARPA’s Marketing Manager, Colleen Nipkow put it – “living in the dirt,” resigning oneself to the notion that it’s “camp-clean” which is the great common denominator that brings out the dirt-bag in all of us, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned van-dweller, like my teammate Gord McArthur, or the CEO of SCARPA, Sandro Parisotto, who was crashed out in a nearby tent.

For three joyous days our wildly diverse group, which included a number of SCARPA and SCARPA North America’s staff, our friends at Verde PR and Outdoor Research, Carsten and Daniel from EDELRID, Heinz and Sandro, Exum guides Angela and Brendan, and our media guests from Climbing, Alpinist, Deadpoint, SplitterChoss and Climberism, reveled in the freedom and the camaraderie of climbing life. And despite having arrived to the Upper Breadloaves group site as relative strangers, by the end of it, we had all coalesced into our roles as members of an expedition, sharing anything and everything during our brief time at basecamp.

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