Blog

Clear

Articles

Permanent link for Hiking: A Minute of Planning Can Save You Hours of Doing on April 20, 2021

You found the perfect trail, but you're not sure what to take? Packing the “essentials'' - plus a couple of other things - will ensure your trips go as planned, and more importantly, you are prepared for whatever the trail may throw at you - including getting lost, a storm, or even (but hopefully not!) an injury on the trail. Even though it may seem unnecessary in the moment, packing the correct items can potentially save your life if things go astray. When packing for hiking it's important to pack not much more than the essentials to avoid increasing weight in your backpack too much. The hardest part is finding the perfect balance between what's necessary and what would end up taking up space and weight. Much of what you bring is determined by the length and location of the hike. For example, a short hike (1-3 miles) may require little gear and can be done without a pack at all, and longer hikes (5-10 miles) may require much more. 

There are an unlimited number of factors to consider before setting something into your pack. The crowdedness of the trail, for example, could determine whether or not you bring a source of fire and shelter -there could be fellow hikers there to help in case of an accident. A trail map or map of the area will be of enormous help if you find yourself lost. Most trails will have the map posted at the trailhead,snapping a quick picture with your phone can help you remember where to go.  Ultimately it's up to you (the hiker) to decide what to bring, but there are some items that should be heavily considered. 

Backpack
Aside from food and water, the most important piece of gear to  bring on the trail is a backpack. It will hold all your gear and keep your hands free when hiking on difficult terrain. Whether you are selecting an existing backpack to bring or if you’re in the market to purchase one, there are a couple things to consider. 

  • Size - Backpacks are usually measured in liters (how many liters each pack can carry). 
    • 10 liters or less: Super lightweight and used for either running or quick fast hikes. Perfect for the shorter hikes (~2 hours). Less comfortable and don’t hold as much. 
    • 10-20 liters: Tends to be the most popular size for day hikes; a balance between weight and captivity. Can be comfortable depending on the brand and quality. A generic school bag is about this size.
    • 20 liters through 80 liters: Built for long days on the trial with the ability to carry lots of gear. Usually used on backpacking trips of multiple days in a row on the trail. Usually pretty comfortable and can hold quite a bit, but are more expensive and heavier.

Now that you have the perfect pack selected for your hike, what do you put in it?

Food and Water
When packing food and water for the hike, it's important to bring enough. It’s better to have more than you need in case of an injury or a wrong turn leaves you out on the trail longer than expected.  

Water is the most essential item to bring with you on the trail. Dehydration on the trail is very common and can be a deadly mistake if not taken seriously. For shorter day hikes, bringing around 32oz of water should be enough. Increase the amount of water you bring based on the distance and time you plan to spend on the trail. The temperature on the day you plan to hike will also influence how much water you take. As the temperature increases, so should the amount of water you bring. The amount of water you bring also depends on you, you know your body better than anyone else so pack as much water as you see fit. 

Food with a high amount of calories will give you the most energy per gram of food, essentially more bang for your buck. Foods that do not to be refrigerated and are light weight are preferred. Items like beef jerky and granola bars are a staple trail food and for good reason, because they offer a good balance of protein and calories while being small and lightweight. It’s best to stay away from food that’s high in sweets, such as candy bars or bakery items. These simple carbohydrates have high amounts of sugar that will leave you feeling tired later on down the trail. 

Clothing and Layers
Nothing is worse than being stuck out on the trail and either a rainstorm or cold front comes and not being prepared. When choosing what clothes to bring, it's important to first check the forecast to give you a general idea of the type of weather you may experience. Wearing layers or bringing clothing that can be layered is the best option for anything mother nature may throw at you. The basic layering system consists of a tighter thermal layer first with, an insulation layer in the middle. A raincoat or windshell is great for wearing on the outermost layer, as it will keep the weather out and the heat in. For warm temperature hikes, something lightweight such a tank top or t-shirt would be great. Packing a raincoat in your bag could be a lifesaver if the weather were to turn sour. A hike boot or hiking shoe offer superior traction compared to a regular tennis shoe on the trail. Wearing thick and supportive socks can help prevent blisters along with other foot pain. Speaking of socks,nothing is worse than walking in a wet cold pair of socks, so if you're going somewhere with water or with high heat, throwing an extra pair could prove to be useful. 

Pack Away! 
Now that you have a basic idea of what to bring, you can start to adapt your own idea of what to bring. Deciding what to take and what to leave is often a difficult task. Countless factors can determine whether you leave something at home or put it in your bag, and ultimately it's up to you, the hiker to determine this. We hope we’ve helped you prepare, at least a little bit! You can also learn more through the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. Happy hiking! 

By: Owen Dingledine

Image Credit: Katie Burdick

Image Credit: Katie Burdick

Image Credit: Katie Burdick


Permanent link for Climb Every Mountain on March 31, 2021

Climbing workouts for better performance

As with any sport or new hobby, there is a burning desire to push yourself to become the best you can be. As humans, we want to see how far we can go and how far we can push the limits of what we believe is possible. This may all seem very deep and philosophical, but if you take time to think about what drives you to be better, it will unlock new potential within yourself. For me, the pursuit of climbing hard grades and performance is what motivates me the most. But, the reason for training and climbing may be different for everyone. I encourage you to find the purpose of your training and remind yourself of this when you feel yourself falling into that inevitable rut. It is important to note that noticeable improvements don't happen overnight, and to our dismay, can take much longer than we would like. The ability to stay inspired and be encouraged is often what separates the good from the great. Not every workout or drill will work the same for everyone; one exercise might work for you but not for others. Trying each exercise and doing your own research through trial and error will help you dial in the workout routine that works the best for you. 

CLIMB MORE! 
The number one thing new climbers can do to get better is climb more often! I can't stress this enough; climb more. It may seem obvious, but getting in the climbing gym and on the wall is the best way to build a solid foundation. Climbing two to three times each week is a good balance for getting better each time you go to the gym, without the added risk of injury you get from overtraining . A common misconception is that strength is the magic key to unlocking new routes. However, it's not always a lack of strength holding you back. You might be able to do 50 pull ups in a row, but if you have no technique, it will be hard to be a successful climber. It is true that people with massive amounts of strength can likely climb hard grades, but it often looks clunky and ends up wasting significantly more energy than someone with good technique. Luckily, technique is one of easiest and most enjoyable aspects to train. The number one way to work your technique is to climb more, and with easy to do drills, it can be fun. 

TECHNIQUE
Climbing can be hard work but not every training session needs to be physically exhausting for you to get better. Compared to strength training, focusing on improving technique often results in bigger improvements in a shorter amount of time. Especially for newer climbers.

Some drills for building technique:

Silent Feet: This drill is pretty simple and requires almost no gear. All you will need is a relatively easy section of wall. Then:

  • Climb while making little to no noise when your feet touch the holds. This will require you to move slowly and with precision. 
  • Climbing with controlled motions requires you to find and remain in balanced positions.
  • The goal is to improve your footwork, which is essential to be an efficient climber. In the long run, it will help preserve energy on the wall. 
  • Progress this exercise by applying it to specific paths, or “routes” on the wall and/ or adding bells to your shoes.

Single Touch: This drill works footwork, as well as precision with your hands. Pick a section of wall or two to three routes you can comfortably climb. Then:

  • Once you grab a hold with your hands or place a foot on a hold, you can not move it unless moving to the next hold. You must hold the rock in the way you initially grabbed it, no shuffling around to find the best way to hold it. Repeat the same way for feet on foot chips. 
  • The goal is to increase precision with your hands and feet. Grabbing the hold exactly where you want to on the first attempt will save energy and help you from falling because of poor hand or foot placement. 

There are other drills out there that improve technique, but these are the two that I personally use and have found success with. These drills work great as warms ups while improving the “smoothness” in your climbing. 

ENDURANCE
The biggest downfall almost all climbers have is the fight against the “pump” (or the build up of lactic acid in the forearms, which signals fatigue of the fingers and arms). Stamina is essential to climbing all types of routes and something I personally struggle with the most. The ability to complete multiple hard moves in succession is something that many climbers strive for. Training your endurance is challenging and can be physically exhausting. Fortunately, training for building climbing endurance is one of the most fun types of training because it’s all about spending more time climbing! 

Some drills for building your endurance:

Laps: This drill is very simple but is definitely taxing on the upper body. It is preferably done on a taller roped climb (aka a “top rope”) route but doing it lower to the ground, without ropes (aka “bouldering”) would suffice. The only downside of this drill on the top rope is the responsibility of the belayer (person controlling the rope and keeping the climber safe) to belay you multiple times in a row. 

  • Pick an easy section of wall or route that you believe you can comfortably climb twice in a row, but would struggle on your third attempt. Picking the right one is important; find a balance between pushing yourself but not going too hard. If you have a particular style you’d like to focus on, picking a route of that style would be a good idea. 
  • Simply climb the selected route three times in a row, only taking a break to chalk up and to check with your belay before climbing again. 

Traverse: Similar to the laps drill, this will require you to be on the wall for an extended amount of time. This drill is more accessible, as it does not require someone to belay for you. The biggest downside of this drill is that if the wall is busy, you won't be able to do it. 

  • The goal is to travel across the wall horizontally for as long as possible. Or for a predetermined amount of time or moves. 
  • Climb below the boulder line on a side of the wall, then start climbing across the wall horizontally, using any hand holds you want and using foot holds smaller than a fist. 

Hang boarding: This is a great way to strengthen your fingers from the comfort and convenience of your own home. As far as pure finger strength building goes, it's unbeatable. However, if you hang board too hard, too soon, or too often, they do present the risk of injury.  I wouldn't recommend getting into hangboard training at all until you have climbed for about a year. Your fingers are the most important body part in climbing, so it's essential to keep them healthy. If hang boarding is something you are looking to get into, I encourage you to do some research beforehand. There are a lot of great, yet vastly different, workouts available. Hang board at your own risk!

Ringing the Bell
Rock climbing has endless possibilities. From the many gyms to the thousands of established routes outside, there is something for everyone to climb. With each harder grade you can climb a whole new set of routes and areas open up for you to explore. For me training has been a way to stay dedicated to the sport and stay in shape for my own physical well-being. I learned the drills I discussed from those who are more experienced than me, along with help from the internet. Everyone has different ways to train so asking and discussing with others is a great way to expand your knowledge and make a few new friends. 

By: Owen Dingledine



Page last modified April 20, 2021