“He's bonkers, I don't think that much of him. He’s old enough to start a family but instead he's always rambling around godforsaken places.” That's what an older relative thinks of my lifestyle. Many weekend warriors put having a family on the back burner due to their weekend battles, which is usually incomprehensible to other people. So we become outsiders and many people have trouble finding common ground when talking to us. We don't usually discuss current social and political affairs nor microeconomics or macroeconomics simply because most of us don't know the first thing about these topics. But if you ask us how we spent the weekend or what gear we're planning on buying in the next few months, brace yourself for an avalanche of words.
Now that you're familiar with the pick-up lines, let's see how you can identify us outside our natural habitat. As our CEO jested the other day: “We yawn at work on Mondays.” I’ll admit that is a suitable identifier, especially before the first cuppa. But the same could also be said for party animals. A few weeks ago I was invited to the 50th birthday party of my beloved's uncle. It lasted a bit longer than expected and let me tell you, I yawned non-stop all week long. On the other hand, the tiredness due to the usual weekend fades away by Tuesday. Perhaps I’m just not used to it?
The openness of the head caused by yawning is therefore not the right indicator. It’s easier to recognise them by their outfit. Fancy clobber is not our thing. We swear by trainers or approach shoes. To be at least somewhat socially acceptable, we put on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, preferably by one of the brands that are also our go-to when it comes to equipment. In winter nothing beats an eye-catching down jacket and if it rains, we protect ourselves with state-of-the-art Gore-Tex and leave our umbrellas at home. Our budget for sportswear and shoes far exceeds the one for jeans and sweaters. We too have succumbed to consumerism and sports equipment and clothes are a premium niche market where companies make a bundle. We have gone to extremes and are now better equipped for short ski touring sessions than our ancestors were for conquering the Himalayas in the 1970s.
You can also recognise us by our cars, which could make large families green with envy, yet instead of kids we use them to transport all sorts of sports junk. This travelling storage unit has to be covered with stickers demonstrating our activities and the Corsica Ferries sticker, which we receive when going to Corsica, is also a must. Corsica is a true paradise for nature sports enthusiasts—in winter we can ski and in summer it is perfect for cycling, climbing, hiking, canyoning, kayaking and diving. True kayakers have several of these stickers on their cars because during each May Day vacations they swarm Corsica like locusts in African fields.
Another indicator is the number of helmets we own. For me, protecting my bonce comes first. Well, where else would I otherwise plop all these helmets if something happened to me? Of course, I most often use the canyoning helmet, followed by the regular bike helmet, ski helmet, full-face bike helmet, climbing helmet and caving helmet. Each has to be replaced as soon as it expires as that means it no longer meets the safety standards. We collect backpacks with the same diligence as helmets. The ratio between the number of backpacks and helmets is usually 1:1 and sometimes it even tips in favour of backpacks.
Investments in equipment are high and for the equivalent amount we could at least buy a car if not even improve our housing situation. But once the investments in equipment are finished, finances become a marginal issue. We don't worry about sleeping accommodation because we consider spending the night under the open sky and wild camping acceptable and normal. The only limitation is the number of days we can reserve for this kind of battles.
However, the equipment is not the only requisite, not by a long way. Knowledge is also important. The Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia notes a decline in accidents related to bad-quality or inappropriate equipment, but a more serious problem is the lack of knowledge and experience. People frequently head out in bad conditions or undertake challenges they aren't prepared for. I heard an interesting story about the Kamnik rescue team that found a mountaineer trapped in the mountain of Brana. He called for help but then continued to climb a few tens of metres higher. When the rescuers asked him why, he answered: “Well, I didn’t want you to think that I got scared of a small rock step, so I climbed another one, more serious one.” These days we can find more and more weekend warriors who risk too much for a photo they will later post on social media. Are a few likes really worth more than your life?
Now you know how to recognise a weekend warrior if you come across one. Next time I’ll write about my visit to Corsica where I’m heading before the summer.