Out of Practice

When you have been away from a sport for a while, it takes a few tries to get back where you left off. I decided to go to a sport-climbing gym to get some routes in before I try to head outdoors this spring, and man was that a good idea.

I tend to forget how much of a toll climbing takes on your forearms. Four days of stretching and they are still feeling tight! Makes desk work during the week a bigger pain than it already is!

Even though I was a little rusty, I got some good practice in and even learned a new gym game where you climb up a route on a slab (meaning the rock face is at an angle less than vertical) without using any hand holds. Definitely makes you get creative with your route and aware of where your center of gravity is.

How do you get back into shape when you’ve been away from something for a season?

Hammocks vs. Tents

Camping season is upon us, and if you’re planning on trekking for a few days or just chilling out by a fire with some friends you need a place to sleep in the woods. Tents are utilitarian, but not so comfortable if you’ve set up your stakes on rocky ground. Hammocks are versatile and lightweight to carry, and they are super comfy to sleep on. But beware, if trees are sparse you’ve got a glorified sack to sleep in. Here are my pros and cons:

Hammocks

Pro: Hammocks are lightweight and easy to carry if you’re hiking.

Con: If they don’t have a built in bug net and rain fly you have to pack those separately. In cold weather, you’ll need an underquilt in addition to your sleeping bag.

Pro: Hammocks make camping on rocky uneven ground a breeze.

Con: You need two big sturdy trees at the right distance apart. Good luck hammocking in the grand canyon or on the beach if you don’t bring a stand.

Tents

Pro: Tents are usable anywhere, trees or not.

Con: Rocky grounds and hills can make for a less-than-stellar sleeping experience. This can be remedied with a high quality sleeping pad as long as you don’t mind carrying it.

Pro: Tents are roomier. You can sit up in a tent, keep your shoes in a tent if it’s raining, and you can fit more than one person in a tent.

Con: Two person tents mean two people sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder. If you’re not cool with snuggling, you’ll need a bigger tent.

Basically, you need to decide what is best for the trip you have planned, and get creative to make it work. One quick tip – make sure your hammock is tethered to sturdy trees! I once pulled a tree right out of the ground with my hammock after a week of rain softened the ground. If I’d looked up at the branches, I would have noticed the tree was dead! Live and learn my friends.

 

Rock Climbing from Your Couch

Rock climbing is a fun sport, but it can really beat you up. When you don’t have the time, money, or friends to go with you, there’s another way to get your adrenaline fix. Video game rock climbing seems kind of like a cop-out, but with new tech like Virtual Reality, it’s getting more and more realistic. It’s so awesome it will make your palms sweat like you are standing on a ledge.

Check out some of Google’s cool projects with street view rock climbing for El Capitan and Mont Blanc and Crytek’s new game coming for Oculus Rift.

While you won’t get the wind in your face, Crytek comes pretty close with jaw-dropping views and sound effects.

So for those days when you can’t be bothered to leave the couch, you can still enjoy the great outdoors!

3 Crazy Endurance Races that Push the Limits

Sometimes I finish a really long run or a strenuous hike and think that I’ve exhausted myself to my very limits and can’t push anymore. And that might be true because once I wildly underestimated the amount of water I would need on a 10-mile hike and considered drinking from a (not so clean) stream at the end. That was miserable.

But I like to push myself and see what I am capable of, and doing that is a long process of learning and failing and eventually succeeding. I found some articles about some unbelievable races that are designed to push humans to their very limits.

This boat race covers 750 miles in variable conditions. The only rules: No motors and no support along the way.

This 100 mile foot race in the mountains of Frozen Head State Park, TN is designed for failure. There’s no map, no GPS, and just making it to the start line is nearly impossible.

This race has you ascending and descending four peaks on skis. You better be ready to bring your uphill game.

As cool as it would be to participate in one of these, I think I’ll stick with my shorter races. But who knows?

Outdoor Enthusiasts to Watch

I started this blog to connect with fellow nature lovers, whether they too live in Colorado, are on the other side of the country, or even living out their own adventures elsewhere. I love to read about other people’s adventures, and get ideas for my (smaller scale) future treks.

Here are some of the places where I find my inspiration:

The North Face

Skiing Twitter

Team Makalu

Whether it’s skiing, climbing, hiking, or running for hundreds of miles, hopefully you can find some inspiration here too.

Throwing It Back to My Days As a Racer

So I never really thought I’d be a competitive skier, but I did have a few years of recreational racing in college. Mostly I liked it because I had a group to go skiing with at least 4 days a week, and people that didn’t mind skipping class for a day of fresh powder. Racing was always fun, and it made me a much stronger skier, but I never cared too much about the clock or how I was placing. 

So it is kind of funny to think that I might be racing in a rec league again this weekend! Pray I don’t blow a knee, I’m not as young (or reckless) as I used to be.

Another Instagram Adventure

Some more cool skiers to follow on Instagram:

Scrolling through my feed in the morning helps get me through a long day of work by pumping me up for the lines I’ll make on the mountain on the weekend.

Cody Townsend has got some sick pics that will make you crave the slopes. Check him out here.

 

 

Looks Like Winter is FINALLY Coming to the East!

Living out west was the best decision I ever made. Well, maybe second to asking my girlfriend for her number…

Mostly because I don’t have to carefully save my vaca days to get a nice week of skiing in.

But I have plenty of friends on the east coast. Heck I’ve been skiing out there quite a few times over the years. Mad River Glen is always an adventure.

But when you don’t live nearly as close to the slopes, a ski weekend isn’t always doable. I know a few of my buddies who moved to the Mid Atlantic are struggling to figure out how they are gonna get their powder fix. I tell them to visit me all the time! But travel and work and spending time with your family can be a tough balance. We all have our priorities.

How many days on the slopes do you guys normally get every year?

Brad’s Essential Ski Gear

Now that the holidays are over and everything is on sale, and winter has finally hit the east coast, you guys might be looking into some new gear!

These are my essentials for staying warm on those bitter cold days when sane people won’t even go outside.

Buff headwear. I don’t love being frozen solid while I ski, but I especially hate getting sweaty under all those layers. You get colder on the lift, and it just makes you uncomfortable for the whole day. These extra long, multi-use neckwarmers are thin and lightweight. They keep the frigid air out, but allow you to breathe and feel a little wind on your face.

Ski socks that are warm, but thin. In your tight stiff ski boots or snowboard boots, you need air to circulate to keep those feet warm. Layers of socks won’t help, but a high quality wool pair will. Spend a little more to get the good ones.

A windproof/waterproof shell. Seems like a no brainer right? You’d be surprised how many people I see out there in puffy down coats, or what looks like their everyday winter jacket. Down or synthetic is a great mid layer – but it won’t stop howling winds. Also down won’t stay warm when it is wet.

Glove liners. These changed my life. Seriously. My hands are the only thing that gets frozen numb. I added a pair of synthetic glove liners to my mitts, and I’m good as new.

When all else fails – go to the lodge and grab a hot chocolate, and maybe a beer. Then get back out there!

Extreme Sports Are Changing Lives

Stumbled upon this fantastic article about Paralympians starting an adventure camp for people with disabilities.  A lot of people experience the world in a different way, and extreme outdoor sports haven’t always been the most accessible to them. It is great to see these champs creating exciting and accessible opportunities. Bringing more diversity and different perspectives to extreme sports can only enrich the experience for everyone involved.

With sports like waterskiing, downhill biking, kitebuggying and kayaking, this is a great step toward supporting everyone in following their passions.

How do you think we can make the world of extreme/outdoor sports more inclusive?