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Tips for a Great Climbing Trip

April 06, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 111

Loading up the hatchback with an assortment of soft multi-colored bags, clattering metal devices that look like they belong on a surgical tray, more backpacks, bags of dry food and cans, and large foam pads that no one outside of the climbing community could reasonably identify, and wait, don't forget the beer! No, you're not permanently relocating to your car to live the romantic existence of a vagabond (or maybe you are), it's time for a climbing trip!

All successful climbing trips start with good preparation, a fierce desire to log some air time on some sheer rock walls, and a partner you'd entrust with your life. Above all, however, is a willingness to experience new things since all climbing trips are unique, even if you go to the same places. Pushing your physical and mental boundaries is one of the most fulfilling aspects of climbing and should be a thrilling part of any trip.

  • Have plans: Obviously you can't plan for everything, and sometimes the weather changes suddenly, the wall you want to climb has a wait list, or you just don't have that essential cam for that off width crack. Having some alternatives is a good way to approach any trip. Bring a couple bouldering crash pads as a fun and easy alternative to route climbing, as well as your whole spread of gear. If you lack critical pieces for the climb, you may be able to rent them from a nearby climbing shop or borrow from a fellow climber. Guidebooks are also essential accompaniments to safe and productive climbs, and if you don't want to drop $30-40 for guide you're only going to use one time, check out your local library and borrow one. Bottom line: don't go climbing without a reliable, up to date route planner. Protection on routes sometimes changes and a good topo will make the ascent more enjoyable and hopefully, less stressful.
  • Know your limits--but don't be too cautious: Climbing is not the sport for reckless behavior--most times a critical mistake is made only once. Climb within your level of experience, but don't be afraid to attempt routes that challenge you. Climbing is most engaging when you overcome fear and accomplish a goal--like pumping up and sending that first 5.12b or completely a spectacular multi-pitch big wall. An experienced partner, competence with your gear, and an understanding of the rock conditions are things that should never be compromised when climbing. Luck shouldn't be a part of any climb and if it is, next time you should be lucky enough not to rely on it.
  • Respect the rock and your gear: Rock climbing has a noticeable impact on the rock--from drilled bolt placements to erosion caused from thousands of gear placements, rope drag, and climbing chalk, the rock is affected by climbers. This, however, isn't totally negative as most rock formations are pretty resilient--a have been for millions of years. Nevertheless, take measures to reduce the human impact on the rock by determining if it is absolutely necessary to drill a bolt; use runners to reduce rope drag, especially on sandstone; and don't chip, chop or otherwise intentionally alter the rock while climbing. Some types of rock are naturally more resilient than others (think granite vs. sandstone) Also, many great climbs are located on private property and maintaining a genuine respect for the rock and the surrounding area will ensure continued access for climbers. As far as your gear goes, check everything before you set off. Check your rope for serious abrasions that could compromise its integrity as a lifeline. If the condition of the rope is questionable, buy a new one! $150-250 for a new rope is a life saving investment. Clean carabiners, cams, stoppers, belay devices, and all other protection to ensure that they respond when you most need them. Always check the harness and knots of you and your partner. If you're climbing with someone who objects to this practice, you probably shouldn't be climbing with them!
  • Don't forget about the approach: Wait! You've got to get to the base of the climb before your real trip begins. When you're hauling a heavy pack full of gear, food and water, you need reliable shoes. Suit up in your best walking shoes or hiking shoes and hit the trail. Depending on the difficulty of the approach, you may only need a pair of comfortable, lightweight trail shoes, but check the guidebook for an exact breakdown of the distance to the wall and plan accordingly. You're going to have to trade those approach shoes in for your climbing shoes soon enough, so respect your feet and wear a comfortable shoe on the way there.

Well, you've made it to the wall and now the true adventure begins. Oh, did I mention the camera? No, well, bring the camera! No one's gonna believe that you sent that 90 foot spitter finger crack if you don't take pictures.

Source: EzineArticles
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