Weekly Round-Up #11

I love a good, relevant climbing article, and the guys over at TensionClimbing, nailed it. With a keyboard and blank screen, they set out to write “The Rules” of climbing with the intention of making us all better climbers. My favorite, by far, is #6, mostly because I need to constantly be reminded of it (even if it really is a high-gravity day…)

RULE #6: Stop complaining. You’re too short. You’re too tall. Your hands aren’t big enough for that pinch. Your fingers are too big for that crimp. Stop it. Take a look around. We all have our own unique proportions that come with different advantages and disadvantages. We can all see that you can’t span the move that the 6ft tall guy doesn’t even have to think about. We can all see that you can only fit 3 fingers on the hold that the 10 year old girl can shake out on. We get it. Now figure it out…or quit. Quitting is always an option, but it is the process of “figuring it out” that is valuable, whether you send or not.

Why climb the Grand Teton once when you can climb it twice? In one day? And then, why climb it twice, when you can climb it three times? IN ONE DAY! Ryan Burke thinks “it’s an insult to the people who came before me to not take it a little farther.” Which is why he’s also going to pursue a South-to-North speed traverse of the Wind River Mountains. Personally, I’m thankful people like him are pushing the sport so people like me don’t have to.

In my short lifetime we’ve gone from breastfeeding being taboo, to women taking pictures breastfeeding atop Mount Yotei in Hokkaido, Japan. What a time to be alive. In this incisive and perspective-widening article, Leah Story speaks about being a new mom and breastfeeding in the backcountry. “Being a breastfeeding mom in the mountains isn’t a superhuman feat,” she explains, and being in the backcountry is about preparation. Breastfeeding is merely an extension of that.

Tinder, Bumble, and now Strava? The app meant for tracking vert, mileage, and activity is quickly turning into an arena for matchmaking, competition, and friendship. With Strava, you can post where you ran, how it felt, and pictures for accompaniment. You can also see what others post, like their posts, and so on. Zoë Rom at Trail Runner Magazine set out to define Strava etiquette for this new virtual world we live in.

 

 

To-Do List

I’ve learned in my life that if I don’t write things down they are soon forgotten in the no man’s land of my brain. If this goes for simple tasks like taking a package to the post office, or sending in official forms, won’t it transfer over to bigger, loftier goals I have?

I decided I don’t want to chance it. So here is the beginning of my to-do list. When I started thinking about everything I want to do it quickly became overwhelming, so instead of frantically searching the Google to find everything that should be on my “bucket list,” I left it where it’s add and will add to it as ideas come to me.

  • Run a marathon
  • Climb in Yosemite
  • Climb a big wall
  • Climb 5.13
  • Finish the John Muir Trail
  • Write a book
  • Write an ebook
  • Skydive
  • Learn to climb splitter cracks
  • Run the Leadville Ultramarathon
  • Run the Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Link-up
  • Live out of a car
  • Make the switch to Veganism
  • Donate my time and money to organizations I believe in
  • Become a successful freelance writer
  • Write an article for National Geographic
  • Climb the Getu arch in China
  • Climb in Patagonia
  • Ski in Denali
  • Backcountry hut trip through the Uinta’s
  • Uinta Highline Trail
  • Antelope Island 50k
  • Ski Mt. Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon
  • Climb in El Potrero Chico
  • Climb in Kalymnos
  • Trail run in Iceland
  • Visit (and climb in) Squamish
  • Ski (and climb) the Grand in Teton National Park
  • Climb Squawsatch in Provo
  • Get Yoga Teacher Training Cert
  • Complete WFR, SPI, and AIARE 2
  • Become a columnist at a major magazine
  • Become proficient in Trad climbing
  • Ski Mt. Hood
  • Climb at RRG, Hueco Tanks, Joshua Tree, Wild Iris, Tensleep, Rifle, Indian Creek, Cochise Stronghold, the Gunks, and everywhere in between.
  • Participate in Horseshoe Hell
  • Attend Burning Man

What do you want to accomplish in this one precious life?

Quick and “Easy” Ab Workouts

It goes without saying, your abdominal muscles are some of the most important in your body. They help stabilize and reduce the incidence of injury. They’re also probably the most photographed muscle in all of Instagram history. As with any muscle group, the beginning steps to definition are hard. I’ve been known to feel defeated if after one workout my abs aren’t debuting they’re presence in the world. C’est la vie.

Professional climber and athlete, Paige Claussen, commits to ten-minute abs after every climbing session. She picks ten different exercises and does each one for a minute without stopping.

My go-to ab exercises are either five minutes of leg lifts or circuits. My husband has been doing five minutes of leg raises for quite a while and has begun modifying to include scissor kicks, butterflies, and raising/lowering at different paces. They’re easily adaptable. If you’re unable to complete five full minutes of leg lifts, start with one minute, rest 10-30 seconds, do another minute, rest 10-30 seconds, and so on. Do what’s best for you, but I also encourage you to push yourself.

When I have more time or brain power I like to do ab circuits. Choose 3-4 ab exercises and repeat 2-3 times. Generally, if I’m doing an ab circuit I like to throw in an arm or leg exercise, like squats or push-ups, to mix it up.

Favorite ab exercises for circuits:

V-Up:

Start laying flat on the mat. In one motion raise your upper body and straight legs up to form a “V.” For a modified version, you can keep your legs bent at whatever angle is doable.

Russian Twists:

Start sitting. Lower your upper body slightly, so that it’s at a 45-degree angle from the mat. Bend your knees slightly, with your heels just grazing the mat. With hands clasped above your stomach, lower them down to your right side, and then over to your left. Repeat. Add weights/medicine ball if it feels too easy.

Planks:

Good old fashioned fun! Planks are my definite go-to because I know exactly what to expect and there are so many modifications. Start laying face down on your mat. Place forearms on mat and lift body so your only points of contact are forearms and toes. Take extra caution to not rise up in your shoulders, or sink your lower back and hips. Think stiff as a board!

Lie-Down-Sit-Up:

Start lying down on your back. With arms across chest, right hand touching left shoulder, left hand touching right shoulder, roll up, and reach to touch your toes. Re-cross arms and lie flat. Repeat.

Hanging Leg Raises:

I confess, these are tough and I fight my will to complain whenever I incorporate them. Using a pull-up bar, extend your legs straight below you. Engaging your core, in an effort to remain still, bend your legs at the knees and raise to your chest. Lower, and repeat. The real trick with this one is to keep your body from swinging and using the inertia to bring your knees to your chest. Go slow, and be precise.

There are so many ab exercises out there that this list isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Climbing Magazine did a great article on ab exercises for climber’s that you can find here.

Happy exercising and may your abs soon be defined!

Gear Review: Patagonia Super Alpine Bib

Patagonia’s Super Alpine Women’s Bib is the bib to end all bibs. Made specifically for big (or small) mountain adventures in the worst conditions, the alpine bib delivers with thoughtful specifications, like the two-way full-length side-zips and drop seat configuration.

I bought the alpine bib’s with my first touring set-up. I was working at a gear shop at the time and wanted to outfit myself with the best gear. For me, Patagonia almost always falls into that category. Besides their ethical code of conduct for every part of production, they strive to take care of the planet, and create killer products that last as close as you can get to a lifetime.

Back to the bibs: 100% nylon Gore-Tex that doesn’t suffocate the user, and easy-to-access zippers make it hard to overheat. I’ve used these bibs as low as zero and as high as 50 and haven’t had issue at either end. I love the snap closure at the top zip which allows for a large air vent, or the ability to pee without shedding every layer. The shoulder straps are easily adjustable by shifting the cross strap at the back or through the hook-and-loop Velcro at the front.

There are two pockets on the front of the pants that are great for holding snacks or a cell-phone, although if I put my cell-phone in the right leg pocket while the pants are vented, it creates an uncomfortable pull across the thigh.

Although I’m not yet into serious winter ascents where I need crampons, the bottom of the pants are heavily reinforced to prevent tears from crampons or skis.

I’ve had these pants for three seasons and haven’t found a single issue with them. The bib is low enough to be comfortable, but high enough to keep powder out on waist-deep days.

Five stars, would recommend.

Review: Wasatch Backcountry Skiing App

I am a die-hard lover of the paper version. I’ll take a book over a kindle, a newspaper over an online edition, and a map over an app. Generally. However, the Wasatch Backcountry Skiing App is a game changer.

The Wasatch Backcountry Skiing App takes it’s parent paper version and turns it into an interactive technological map that can be zoomed in/out, turned, and oriented either in the direction of travel or north.

One of the best features of the app is it’s GPS component. As long as your cell phone has battery life, you can track your progress through a blue dot on the app. With the GPS, you can also find your elevation, longitude/latitude, and compass degree. This has helped me figure out where the skin track is supposed to be, and has allowed me to get a better idea of where I am in the backcountry.

Because of the improved GPS accuracy, you can search for a location in the Cottonwoods and choose it as a destination. The compass then incorporates a blue arrow that points you in the direction you wish to go.

The App also features an “Email Current Location” option so you can track your own progress, or alert friends/family members of your most recent location.

Some other great features are the shading of slopes steeper than 30 degrees, and route finding capabilities.

The only downfall to the app is the inability to get your bearings once you’ve zoomed out. However, the app is best used as a companion to the Wasatch Backcountry Skiing Map.

I highly recommend this app for its ease of use, slope shading, and GPS features.

You can purchase for either iPhone or Android through the App store for $12.99.

For further information, check out the developer’s webpage here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Backcountry Touring

Breaking into backcountry touring is exciting, sometimes scary, and full of unknowns. You may have spent twenty years on the slopes, but gracefully making your way up a skintrack is not necessarily a natural skill. With the uptick of users on social media and the repetitive pow shots put up by pro-skiers and pro-recreationalists alike, it’s hard to not load up the van (or in my case the badass go-anywhere Prius), and do whatever it takes (including post-holing in high avy-danger territory) to get those “sick pow shots, brah.”

But please, show some restraint, and just don’t.

First things first: Get the Right Gear

There’s a lot that goes into backcountry travel, including the massive investment in the right gear. While you can use snowshoes for the ascent and your skinny skis from the 90s for the descent, the whole fat skis, tech bindings, alpine boots, and skins can run you a pretty penny. At full retail, the whole outfit can easily surpass the $2,000 mark. Add to that the beacon, probe, and shovel and you’re looking at the price of a smaller used car with relatively low mileage. Best advice on gear? Set yourself up with pro-deals or learn to religiously scour your local thrift stores, Craigslist, or Ebay.

Then Get Educated:

IMG_6811Once you’ve got your set-up I highly recommend attending a Know Before You Go class. I’m fortunate enough to live in Salt Lake where we have one of the best avalanche forecasting centers in the nation. The Utah Avalanche Center puts on classes and regularly partners with REI to provide brief, information packed sessions to educate backcountry users on the dangers of avalanche terrain. If you’re in a more remote location there are tons of resources online. BCA has an entire series on YouTube about backcountry terrain, companion rescue, and how to read and dig a snowpit.

If you’ve done all of the above, have toured some low-consequence areas and want to expand your knowledge, you can sign-up for an AIARE 1 course which is an introduction to safe snow travel, how to dig a pit and asses on a basic level, and how to identify terrain traps.

Do Your Research:

15275664_1726509364343445_188834417626578944_nThankfully we live in a time where information is a click away. Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Washington/Oregon, Canada, and Idaho all have avalanche forecasting centers that provide daily, and sometimes twice daily, avalanche condition updates. If you don’t live in one of these states, it’s important to keep track of storms and snowpack conditions. This might mean digging more snowpits than someone in the Wasatch, but if you treat it like a workout you’ll keep a better attitude and possibly save your life.

Find Good Company:

In Utah there are a handful of tours you can take on your own due to the low angle of the area’s slopes. But let’s be real. Touring is way more fun when you have someone to enjoy it with. Through social media and groups on Facebook I’ve found a solid group of people to tour with. So get out there, charge, and then get home safely.

What’s In My Pack: Backcountry Touring Edition

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Whenever I introduce a friend to backcountry touring their first question usually is, what do I bring? Packing a bag for a half or full day tour can be easy once you know what to anticipate.

I always suggest checking the forecast in the morning. Will it get warmer throughout the day? Is a storm expected? This will give you some insight to what layers to wear, what layers to pack, and what layers to leave at home.

If the weather is supposed to be 40 and above in the Wasatch I leave my puffy at home. Generally, it’s good advice to always have a puffy with you, but the majority of tours I take in the Wasatch are low angle and close to emergency services. I know the chances of being out overnight are slim. But please, always do what feels comfortable for you and your situation. You know your environment better than I do.

In terms of food, I prefer to snack throughout the day (unless I have some leftover pizza!) I pack dried fruit, cliff bars, nuts, and lots of water. I always fill up my 3L CamelBak regardless of tour length.

Always, always, always take your beacon, shovel, and probe. Even if you aren’t traveling through avalanche terrain, there are groups in the backcountry who are, and it may be up to you to rescue them. Always be prepared for anything that can happen.

In my pack:

  • Headlamp
  • Batteries (for headlamp and beacon)
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Extra gloves (lighter or heavier depending on the weather)
  • Extra hat
  • Wilderness First Aid Field Book
  • First Aid Kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Ski Strap
  • Bag for my Skins
  • Beacon
  • Probe
  • Shovel
  • Emergency blanket
  • Extra Layers
  • Wasatch Backcountry Map
  • Cell Phone
  • Sunblock
  • Chapstick
  • Compass
  • Fire Starter
  • Tape

If you’re just starting out it’s safer to overpack. With more tours you’ll get a better feel for what’s important to bring into the backcountry, and with the exception of beacon, shovel, and probe, it’s different for everyone. A good general rule is to pack for the worst and hope for the best. The last thing you want in the backcountry is to be wishing you’d brought something you’d opted out on because of the extra weight.

Anything I missed? Let me know what’s in your pack in the comments!