A Brief Look into the History of Rock Climbing

Worldwide, 25 million people climb on a regular basis. Rock climbing is fun, and it’s great exercise.

Are you a rock climber? Are you interested but haven’t started yet? Rock climbing’s not a modern invention. The history of rock climbing goes back a long way.

The Story

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing wasn’t always a sport like it is now. Rock climbing takes strength and endurance. It works almost every muscle in the body. It’s a sport that’s not for the faint of heart.

The rock climber climbs natural steep rock formations or man-made rock climbing walls. The sport takes not only physical strength but mental strength as well.

Ancient History

There are Chinese watercolors depicting rock climbers as early as 400 BC.

In the 10th to 12th century, Puebloans in Colorado built cliff dwellings requiring drilled post holds and carved steps.

The Frenchman, Antoine de Ville, climbed Mont Aiguille on June 26, 1492. His feat was not repeated until 1834. Mont Aiguille stands 6,800 feet and is south of Grenoble. The climb was done at the behest of Charles VIII.

Antoine de Ville was the king’s chamberlain and military engineer. He had ten companions with ropes and ladders on the climb.

Rock climbing wasn’t a sport at the time. De Ville was the first “grimpeur,” or climbing specialist.

Early Climbing

In the Alpine mountains of the 16th and 17th centuries, rock climbing was for rescue operations. Toward the end of the 18th century, Mont Blanc was climbed. Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe at 15,777 feet.

John Muir was a famous conservationist and the first president of the Sierra Club. In 1869 he was in Yosemite and tried his hand at climbing Cathedral Peak. By today’s standards, that’s a Class 4 out of 5.

He climbed it without ropes!

The Modern Era

The 1940s brought improved gear and more climbers. In 1958, Warren Harding ascended The Nose on El Capitan. It’s a 3,000-foot climb up a sheer wall once considered impossible.

The arduous climb took 45 days. Climbers now take less than 3 hours!

Rock climbing was popular in Germany, and the Germans were the first to embrace the sport.

England saw its share of climbers in the 1900s as well. There were lots of climbs centered on complicated rock formations.

Although there were no climbing clubs like there are today, people met on an informal basis to discuss techniques and experiences.

Not to be left out, the Italians started climbing the Dolomite Mountains. But this was only after a young German from Munich made the climb solo.

A Brief History of Rock Climbing

Rock climbing went from mountaineering and rescue operations to a full-blown modern sport. It takes fitness and grit, but like many challenging sports, it’s rewarding.

Now you can learn to climb without even going outside! With the advent of climbing gyms, there are all sorts of options for climbing. If you don’t have access to the mountains, try a gym.

Looking for some gear to get started? Shop for climbing shoes here.

Climbing Literacy: How to Read a Rock Climbing Route

Climbing, like any sport, takes a specific development of skills and training. You engage physically with your limitations before you hit the wall or rock.

You wouldn’t approach a surface if your hand was numb and you shouldn’t if your mind is blank either. While freestyling and climb-as-you-go are good ways to have fun, a serious climber needs serious mental focus.

Learning how to read a rock climbing route involves picking up some techniques and some jargon. You don’t need to spout technical jargon or quote the Yosemite Decimal System, but you want to be understood.

This guide will get you the basics to practice so you can build your techniques and shorthand.

Route Lexicon

Like most activities, breaking down a task makes it easier to understand to do. Knowing how to walk through all the steps helps you see the whole picture. This becomes doubly important when working with a partner.

Route Scouting

The skills needed at a climbing wall and a rock face differs only slightly. While the holds in a rock climbing gym may be easier to see, seeing the best ones for your level is something else.

On a rock face, you will need to separate good useful rock from a lousy rock. So in both cases, you take what looks similar and make decisions on what works for you.

You want to consider the starting point and the end point and draw a mental line between them. This line will not be the shortest but the one that best fits your climbing skill.

Hand and Foot

Next, you identify your two main holds: hand or foot.

A handhold will be more massive and have some ability to hook or grasp. Round surfaces don’t work well with human gripping capacity.

Footholds can be smaller and rounder. Feet are better at supporting a lot of weight on small surfaces because the rest of the body has mechanisms that help this.

If you hit a popular rock in the wild, it will likely have the same markings as a climbing wall. The hand holds will have some chalk residue and the footholds scuffs from shoes.

Key Holds

Next, you want to plan your key holds. These will be places you need to hit for specific purposes.

You need to spot places you can rest and areas where more significant moves are required. Ideally, you want to find rests before big moves.

Even on a small climb resting can be essential to discourage muscle pain.

Beta Ready

Once you have the route planned, you go over the information and confirm that it is possible. Many climbers refer to this as the ‘beta’ stage where you have enough information to make a trial run.

This stage gives you the ability to convey the information to others and to replan in case of a failure.

Join the Fun

If you have a passing interest in climbing as exercise or a drive to be a renowned climber, you have to start practicing. Learning how to put together a rock climbing route is only one step.

For other steps, consider scheduling a class to up your climbing acumen.

Giving Back to Climbing by Becky Switzer

Ambassador Feature by Becky Switzer

For those of us who have been climbing for longer than a decade, we can probably reminisce about how times have changed. It seems as if there is a new climbing gym popping up on every street corner. More of your friends are interested in climbing. You have to explain less and less why you spend so much money on gas for road trips. With the recent press surrounding the addition of climbing to the Olympics, the Dawn Wall ascents and the Freerider free solo, climbing is booming.

This leaves me to wonder about the younger generations of climbers coming up via climbing gyms, climbing teams, and the competition circuit. I had a stark realization recently that many of these young climbers have never climbed (or rarely climb) outside. Their entire perception of climbing has been based on pulling plastic, following tape colors, memorizing hold shapes and falling onto the plush carpeted padding of the gym floor. There used to be an automatic assumption that if you were a climber, you climb rocks, cliffs, boulders—things in nature. Today, I would be willing to bet that in many urban areas around the country, the perception of being a climber correlates with which gym you most often frequent.

I have mixed feelings about the popularity of indoor climbing. Of course, it is a great training tool, a safe place to learn ropes and systems, and a nice foul weather option. However, it would be a shame if the younger generation of climbers knew gym climbing as the only type of climbing, stifled in the confines of a building rather than exploring all the opportunities outdoor climbing can offer.

The big question is, then, where have the mentors gone? With the rise of climbing gyms, paired with the immense amount of information floating around on the internet, it appears as if mentors and the need for mentorship have morphed considerably. And while this role has changed, I would argue that it is still relevant and vital as ever to preserve climbing as a lifestyle, instead of an activity that gets put on a shelf after the excitement wears off and life’s priorities change.

As much as I’d love to say that climbing is all I do, all of the time, that statement wouldn’t be accurate. Over the past two years, I ran an organization that is dedicated to getting youth outside through climbing. This has become a massive focus for me (next to climbing and training) as I watch this sport, once considered to be on the fringe, become mainstream and supported by a large population of society. I’m encouraged by organizations such as this and the work that I see in pockets around the country—a concerted effort to get younger climbers out of the gym and into the outdoors.

It sounds like a simple task, but perhaps the role of mentorship needs to be delved into further to understand how important it is for climbing in today’s world. If we rewind to a time before bolted sport routes existed, we start to remember precisely why mentorship has been a staple of the climbing community. The most obvious reason was the technical challenge climbing presented; placing gear, avoiding loose rock, building anchors and general route finding. Without having the guidance of a more experienced climber, these tasks were not only daunting but were also life threatening if done incorrectly. This was a time when climbing information was gathered mainly through word of mouth and repeatedly practiced under the watchful eye of a mentor.

Aside from the technical skills that were passed on, mentors taught larger more persisting lessons. These lessons included resilience, conscientiousness, trust, and stewardship. Over time as mentors and mentees would climb together, the conglomeration of knowledge passed on would build a community and shape the activity of climbing into a lifestyle.

I had the opportunity to ask two segments of the climbing population about the role of mentorship in their climbing careers. Even though these two climbers are separated not only by age but also by life experience, their views of climbing mentorship run parallel. Here are their observations about having climbing mentors:

“Mentoring not only helped me dial in my understanding and practice of safe climbing, but it also provided guidance for the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live.”

“In the gym, you can sign a waiver and rely on the safety standards of the gym, but when you climb outside you need to accept the responsibility of your actions. Through mentorship, I gained the opportunity to learn how to make these decisions of being a responsible climber, and learning how to be a steward of the sport.”

Through these brief comments, the main thread develops—creating a lifestyle that perpetuates responsibility and advances climbing advocacy.

I suppose the final question is, what can be done to create and strengthen mentorship roles in your climbing community? Of course, the rock star thing to do would be to invite less experienced climbers out for a day of cragging. Even without making a conscious effort to talk technique or discuss beta, newer climbers are sponges and the power of observation will have them moving forward by leaps and bounds.

On a smaller scale, providing even the tiniest bit of guidance for a younger or less experienced climber can be incredibly simple. Instead of making elaborate plans, changing your career path or donating large sums of money to a climbing organization, mentoring another climber can be painless. Adopt someone (in a figurative sense). Help one person figure out the moves on a route or a boulder problem. Offer your advice about what climbs are best for a new climber wanting to break into the next grade. Or, if you’re on the other side of the coin and feeling like you need a climbing mentor, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask about that sandbagged trad route you’ve had your eye on. Having trouble making a clip at the crux of your project? Start a conversation with the next person who jumps on that climb. These interactions are the beginnings of mentoring, and although many conversations may end the very day they begin, the process has been put into motion, and the community has become a stronger and more welcoming place. Building relationships by relying on the knowledge of your climbing community help keep our sport rooted in a firm foundation. A foundation that was built on a mutual admiration for the mountains we climb, as well as respect for our fellow climbers.

5 Advanced Climbing Tips to Take You to the Next Level

Thanks to MRI technology, scientists have learned that no one is immune to the adrenaline rush action that movies give us. With the upcoming release of Free Solo, the documentary about Alex Honnold climbing up one of the world’s most famous rocks, more people are going to be excited about rock climbing.

Whether you’re new to the sport or well-seasoned, there’s always room for improvement. If you want to take your skills to the next level, keep reading to learn five rock climbing techniques you should know about.

Rockin’ Techniques

1. Head Jam

One of the most crafty climbing tips is to use your head. While you should be strategizing every move up, we mean physically use your head.

You don’t have to rely on your arms and legs to propel you upward.

If you find yourself in a tricky spot with a ledge or substantial overhang above you, press your head into the crevice to free your hands. While balancing with your neck and legs, you can reach for the next move.

2. Mantling

Mantling is one of the many advanced rock climbing techniques that even professionals struggle to pull off. This move is helpful for when you’re approaching a surface that is flat, like a summit.

To execute this move, you need to be able to place both hands facing downward on a flat surface. Next, bend your elbows and propel yourself up as if you were trying to get out of a pool with no ladder.

Beginners can kick their leg up and use that momentum to top out.

3. Rock Climbing Techniques to Build Forearm Strength: Gaston

Most climbers keep their hands pointed up. The Gaston technique spices things up by shifting hand placement 90 degrees so your fingers are pointed toward your heart and your elbows are facing out.

This grip is most helpful for navigating technical spots on the climb where footholds are sparse.

Extreme gastons can end with the fingers pointed all the way down. This exercise is excellent for toning your forearms, but it will zap your energy away fast.

Make sure you’re always secure with strong climbing hooks whenever you attempt new techniques.

4. Dyno

The dyno is a move that can make you feel as graceful as a monkey swinging high in the treetops. It’s fast-paced and relies on your entire body being in sync.

Mostly, your legs have to push off their footing hard while your arms stretch up to the next hold. For an instant, you’ll be flying in the air.

This power move should be used when the distance between your current position and next position is too far to reach by stretching.

5. Assisted Foot Lift

The assisted foot lift is exactly what it sounds like. In this move, you use your hand as leverage to pull your leg up higher than it could stretch on its own. The more flexible your hips and joints are, the easier this move will be.

If you spot a great foothold that is waist-high, you can give your foot a boost by using one hand to grab it and lift it to the foothold. You’ll be surprised by how much further you can stretch when you use your arm strength to assist.

Ready to Enjoy Your Most Exciting Climb Yet?

If you want to put your rock climbing techniques to the test, try out the new Sensa. This shoes can take the beating of all kinds of climbing terrains and suit the needs of any climber.

Find out more about the other climbing footwear we carry and check out our online shop!

 

How to Choose the Best Rock Climbing Shoes

Rocking climbing has reached new heights. Back in 2010, roughly 6 million Americans participated in climbing activities, either at the gym or on a mountain. That number has climbed even higher today. Make no mistake, though, rock climbing is dangerous. Without the right gear, you may come down with an injury. It all starts with your rock climbing shoes.

The right shoes will help you navigate every type of climb, be it the crags of a cliff face or the foothold on the rock wall. And we’re going to help you find them.

Footwear Factors

Rock Climbing Shoe Type

The type of climb will determine what shoes you buy, but, in general, you have a couple of considerations to make. The first is the shoe type. Climbing shoes fall into three categories: neutral, moderate, and aggressive.

  • Neutral

Neutral shoes work well for beginners. Your toes lie flat within it, making them more comfortable.

Experienced climbers can wear neutral shoes for long, multi-pitch climbs. Their thick rubber supports allow you to wear the shoe all day.

Neutral shoes, however, aren’t made for overhang climbs. Their thick soles make them less sensitive than moderate or aggressive shoes.

  • Moderate

Moderate shoes are known by their downturned shape, called a camber. It makes them suitable for technical climbs. They’ eat up slab routes, crack climbs, and overhung sports routes.

Moderate shoes sit in the middle, comfort wise. They are less comfortable than neutral shoes but more comfortable than aggressive shoes. That middling design also makes them less suited for more difficult climbs.

  • Aggressive

Aggressive shoes provide the least comfort but the most utility. Their more downturned shape focuses power on the big toe. It puts you in a better position to climb over an overhang or boulder.

Aggressive shoes also have the thinnest rubber soles. It makes them more sensitive, but more prone to wearing out.

Their asymmetric design prevents aggressive shoes from being worn all day. They work best for the gym or single-pitch climbs.

Shoe Fit

The next consideration is the shoe fit. It can make the difference between fun exercise and painful blisters.

Climbing shoes should have a snug fit. Your toes should either be flat or slightly bent at the knuckles. The heel pocket should also conform to your heel, pushing your toes further into the shoe for greater push-off.

To find that perfect fit, you need to take a trip to the store. The materials in the shoe will determine its fit, meaning you have to try on different ones.

Start with your street size. You’ll likely have to move down a few pegs. Odds are it will be too big.

Most climbing shoemakers use European sizes to dial in accuracy. If yours does, bring a conversion chart to help find your size.

Where to Get the Right Rock Climbing Shoes and More

Rock climbing is the next big thing in sports. It’s challenging. It pushes you to the limits of your strength.

It’s also dangerous.

Choose the right shoe for the right climb and make sure it fits. That way, you won’t have to worry about anything.

And for more on rock climbing shoes, check out our online store to see your options.

Butora Inks Three-Year Sponsorship Deal With USA Climbing

Butora Inks Three-Year Sponsorship Deal With USA Climbing

The team at Butora is pleased to announce they have officially signed a three-year sponsorship deal with USA Climbing. Butora is now proud to be the “official climbing shoe” of USA Climbing.

 “We could not be more thrilled about this partnership with USA Climbing,” said Bryan Hylenski of Butora. “We’ve been providing high-quality climbing shoes for adventurous athletes for nearly half a decade now, and we’re excited to continue outfitting some of the highest-level climbers across the country.”

 As of September 1st, 2018, Butora is the official sponsor of USA Climbing. The partnership aims to continue promoting the sport to a fast-growing audience and give the climbing shoe company a chance to showcase their innovative products. This move will not only be beneficial for Butora as a company, but also for the climbing athletes who will get access to their award-winning climbing gear.

 Hylenski went on to say, “Our team considers Butora’s selection as the official USA Climbing sponsor a high honor, and it’s one we will not take lightly. Butora customers love our shoes and accessories and come to us time and again for their climbing needs, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to provide top-notch gear to even more climbers.”

 Visit www.hmhoutdoors.com/butora to learn more about and get access to Butora’s full range of climbing shoes, accessories, and gear.

 

Ambassador Spotlight | Irene Yee

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Q: What’s your climbing style?
A: Beached Whale Will Power

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment in climbing, and outside of climbing?
A: My proudest accomplishment in climbing so far was putting up a first ascent off-width climb I named Llamacorn. It was never something I even thought I could accomplish, but I found that impossible mythical beast! Outside of climbing my proudest accomplishment has been toasting and finishing off an entire bag of strawberry marshmallows in one night with Ashley Cracroft.

 

Q: What advice would you give to your first year climbing self?
A: Never lose your psyche. When the climbing gets too frustrating, go climb something for fun and remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Q: Who do you take advice from and why?
A: Everyone. It’s about expanding your worldview, though having a strong filter is key. Advice is a personal choice, and you have to realize you may or may not agree with everyone’s choices.

Q: How has your training for climbing changed in the last year?
A: I have made a move to focus on things that are non-climbing but will ultimately help with climbing in the end. Running and fitness classes train a lot of things climbing tends to leave out, endurance, strong legs, and overall fitness. I’m not training to climb 13’s I’m training so I can climb for the rest of my life.

Q: How has climbing affected the people you choose to surround yourself with?
A: I surround myself with more people! Climbing has been a social outlet for me, it has created such a wonderful community that no matter where you are if you meet a climber you know you can interact.

 

Q: What have you done to give back to the climbing community?
A: I give photos to the climbing community. I share to show that there is a multitude of people who all found the joy of climbing, and so we can all revel in the wonderful crag day, the 5.8 send or the 5.14 send. I also volunteer with my local climbing organization and refill WagBag boxes in my climbing area, its the least I can do on my way to the crag, pack it in so you can pack it out!

Q: What have you learned from failure?
A: Failing is easy, choosing to get back up and keep going is the hard part. Sometimes the task seems impossible, but it is the most I’ve ever learned about myself, it is those times where I learn just how strong I am.

Q: Who are the climbers that inspire you the most, and why?
A: My friends!!! Nothing inspires me more than seeing those I know best accomplish goals beyond their own belief. You get to be a part of that experience and nothing moves me more than a crag day with my friends.

Q: What is your favorite climbing location, and why?
A: Vedauwoo, WY. It’s been my favorite for a while now. I love the style of climbing, the camping, and the hurt of being shut down again and again and again…yeah…oh and the Rec Center has a waterslide.

Q: Why Butora Climbing?
A: Because they agreed to take on a normal person like me and the Altura is proving to be a superior off-width shoe.

 

 

Q: What are your favorite before and after climbing meals?
A: Before, donuts; After, Ice cream. I mean there’s a bunch of other stuff in between, but if I had a choice they would always be bookended with those two things.

Q: What is your spirit animal?
A: A Llamacorn. Weird, yet magical.

 

Questions from the Internet

These are questions our visitors have asked.

 

Q: What differences have you found in climbing Narsha versus climbing in Acro?
A: I’ll let you know when the sport climbing starts back up in my life.

Q: What are some tips you would give to new outdoor climbers about crag etiquette?
A: You’re a good person in life why would it be any different at the crag? Be polite in trying to accomplish your goals for the day, ask if you’re not sure, clean up after yourself. You wouldn’t poop on the floor of your house, why would you poop on the trail?

 

Q: Tips you would give to someone who is stuck on their project? How do you stay motivated when you are stuck?
A: When you find out please let me know. Though I do find some time away can always be helpful. Sometimes your mind gets too used to a problem that it shuts out different possibilities. You focus on your inability to do the problem rather than opening your mind to new possibilities to complete the problem.

 

Ambassador Spotlight | Brynn Keenan

Brynn Keenan

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

Q: What’s your climbing style?
A: Bouldering

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment in climbing, and outside of climbing?
A: Doing The Amendment in the middle of winter. It felt like a pretty epic accomplishment – I spent a lot of time alone scrubbing snow off the top of that boulder, dropped all of my crash pads into Boulder Falls trying to hike to it after a big storm, and finally sent it on the one weekend day above freezing in January. It was equal parts physically and mentally challenging.

Outside of climbing I really love my job (quality manager for Left Hand brewing), enjoy running long distance, mountain biking, and recently built out a van. I take a lot of pride in progressing in climbing while balancing those other elements of life!

Q: What advice would you give to your first year climbing self?
A: If something hurts, STOP! It took me years to accept that when a muscle or tendon isn’t feeling quite right, climbing through it will put you further back in the long run.

Also, past Brynn, those cargo shorts were not cool. Seriously, wear literally anything else.

Q: Who do you take advice from and why?
A: I’m happy listen to advice from anyone willing to give it. Everyone’s perspective is valuable when you weigh it with your own experience and intuition.

Q: How has your training for climbing changed in the last year?
A: I’ve diversified my training quite a bit this year – running to stay fit, doing less weighted exercises and more ergonomic training. I’ve been focusing more on steady progression that feels natural, and less on high intensity weighted stuff.

Q: How has climbing affected the people you choose to surround yourself with?
A:Climbing is such an amazing community of people, and has ultimately shaped the group I surround myself with. It’s such a way of life that it really connects people all around the world who’d otherwise have never met.

Brynn Keenan Bouldering

Q: What have you done to give back to the climbing community?
A: I’ve coached youth teams and lead trips to help get folks into the sport, but I think the biggest way I’ve given back is being open and helpful to newer climbers. Especially in Boulder climbing can be pretty intimidating, and a friendly face at the gym goes a long way.

Q: What have you learned from failure?
A: There’s always another angle, and you just have to get creative to find it. Failure is powerful when it’s turned into motivation.

Q: Who are the climbers that inspire you the most, and why?
A: I really admire climbers who are dedicated to climbing at a high level, but maintain a sense of humility. It really connects with what makes the climbing community so special.

Q: What is your favorite climbing location, and why?
A: Anywhere in the South East – The New River Gorge, Rocktown, and LRC to name a few. It just doesn’t get better than bullet sandstone and southern hospitality.

Q: Why Butora Climbing?
A: Butora is a great company, that produces amazing shoes, and gives back to the community. I’ve been climbing for 15 years, and have owned a laundry list of climbing shoes. It’s been 2 years with the Acro now, and I think it’s the perfect hybrid of performance and comfortability.

Brynn Keenan Bouldering

Q: What are your favorite before and after climbing meals?
A: Favorite meal: Pizza for all of the occasions, but what I actually eat is a lot of stir-fry with brown rice, veggies, and protein.

Favorite during climbing: I like anything as long as it’s real food, but what I actually eat is whatever energy bar I find in my climbing pack because I forgot my food.

Q: What is your spirit animal?
A: Narwhalicorn 🦄

 

Questions from the Internet

These are questions our visitors have asked.

 

Q: What differences have you found in climbing Narsha versus climbing in Acro?
A: I find that the Acro is a good balance between aggressive and flexible – it translates really well from steeps to face climbing and everything in between. The Narsha is a bit stiffer and pulls through during those time when you need a pretty aggressive downturned shoe.

Q: What are some tips you would give to new outdoor climbers about crag etiquette?
A: Chalk your hands before touching the holds, It keep the holds from getting as greasy.

Maybe this is just me, but I also think it’s nice to say hi to everyone when you roll up to a boulder that other people are working on. On the other side when you leave it’s polite to ask if anyone wants one more burn before pulling your pads out of the pile.

Brynn Keenan Bouldering

Q: Tips you would give to someone who is stuck on their project? How do you stay motivated when you are stuck?
A: Try bringing new people out to mix it up, maybe they’ll come up with beta that you didn’t see and bring new psyche. For low percentage moves, work that one move, then move outwards – once you get it, keep adding one more move beforehand until it’s linked from the beginning. If you just can’t seem to do the move, try taking a break and training for it.

Q: How have you overcome fear in climbing (fear of falling, fear of failure, etc.)?
A: I broke my back in Bishop when I was 22, and couldn’t climb for a year. When I came back I was pretty paralyzed with fear for a long time, and all I can say is try to find the balance between healthy and unhealthy fear. For me, that means evaluating all of the potential risks, what the consequences are, and eventually deciding if it’s worth it. If you aren’t afraid to say no, the fear will take care of itself when you decide that it’s something that you really want.

Butora Acro Rock Climbing Shoes

Ambassador Spotlight | Robyn Ragins

Butora Climbing Ambassador Robyn Ragins

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Q: What’s your climbing style?
A: Sport & Bouldering

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment in climbing, and outside of climbing?
A: Sending Kaleidoscope 13c at the Red River Gorge. And winning the Young Gun Rookie Team Award for community service achievements.

Q: What advice would you give to your first year climbing self?
A: Go on an outdoor climbing trip as soon as possible.

Q: Who do you take advice from and why?
A: My coaches and my closest friends because they always have my best interest at heart.

Q: How has your training for climbing changed in the last year?
A: I had a big change in my training while switching from being on a youth team to coaching one. I now train alone most days and am in charge of my own training plan.

 

Q: How has climbing affected the people you choose to surround yourself with?
A: I am mostly around climbers, considering my family climbs, I work with climbers and I climb, so I spend lots of hours in the gym. I love the Chicago climbing community and all the people who make every day more fun. Alternatively, my non climbing friends need to be very understanding people because, I spend so much time training and not with them.

Q: What have you done to give back to the climbing community?
A: When I left competitive youth climbing I started coaching and volunteering at events in order to give back to the biggest part of my youth. I have also participated in clean up days at the Red River Gorge, my home crag.

Q: What have you learned from failure?
A: Failure is good, it means that I tried hard enough and hopefully put in all my effort to surpass my comfort zone. After failure I learn what went wrong and how to improve myself for the next try.

Butora Climbing Ambassador Robyn Ragins

Q: Who are the climbers that inspire you the most, and why?
A: MIchaela Kiersch inspires me the most because she was able to do her best competitive and outdoor climbing all while being an exceptional college student.

Q: What is your favorite climbing location, and why?
A: Rodellar, Spain is my favorite crag because I love the long, endurance, tufa climbs. But also the community there is amazing because the climber town is so small and there are always people hanging out at the sectors.

Q: Why Butora Climbing?
A: Butora came into the climbing shoe scene a little late but, they tried and believed in their product and made an impact in the industry. I love the comfortable fit of the shoes that are still aggressive and great for all types of climbing.

Q: What are your favorite before and after climbing meals?
A: Eggs or yogurt before climbing and Tacos after!

Q: What is your spirit animal?
A: A meerkat.

Butora Climbing Ambassador Robyn Ragins

Questions from the Internet

These are questions our visitors have asked.

 

Q: What differences have you found in climbing Narsha versus climbing in Acro?
A: The narsha has a much finer edge that is very helpful while also being an aggressive shoe, making it very versatile for style and great for outdoors. The acro is super comfy and aggressive, which is why it is my favorite all around gym shoe.

Q: What are some tips you would give to new outdoor climbers about crag etiquette?
A: Keep your stuff condensed to one area, don’t leave your belongings all over the crag. Also don’t play music or be extremely loud if others are around.

Butora Climbing Ambassador Robyn Ragins

Q: Tips you would give to someone who is stuck on their project? How do you stay motivated when you are stuck?
A: Projecting is all about staying psyched on something that you couldn’t do quickly. It takes work to project, lots of tries and energy. Positive thinking is a must, stay happy and confident in your abilities. Also, take a break and climb some other things every once in a while so you’re not bored.

Q: How have you overcome fear in climbing (fear of falling, fear of failure, etc.)?
A: I was afraid of trying hard grades that push my limits on outdoor climbs because I didn’t want to fall or find out that my limit was lower than I wanted it to be. So I found a climbing partner who I trusted and who supported me, so I was able to be confident in whatever I tried.

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Meal Prepping for an Expedition

Meal Prepping for an Expedition

Planning out your meals (“meal prepping”) is one of the most important elements of preparing for an expedition. In many ways, packing the proper food is as important as packing the proper climbing gear. If you don’t bring enough food or the correct type of food, you’re running the risk of endangering your entire expedition.

By “expedition” we mean an extended backcountry or climbing trip, your expedition might include summiting Denali, big wall climbing in the Himalayas, or an extended backpacking trip in the Grand Tetons. Regardless of where you’re going or what you’re doing, there are many things you’re going to have to consider while planning your expedition meals.

We hope to give you a few pointers on meal-prepping for a multi-day climb, but what you bring on your long trip will ultimately depend on the environment you’re traveling to, the physical activity you’re performing, and your personal diet preferences. That being said, there are a few pointers that apply to most or all expeditions.

Below are five meal prepping tips for an expedition or multi-day climb:

 

Estimate Your Caloric Expenditure

Before departing on any long journey, it’s prudent to take an accurate estimation of how many calories you’re going to be burning. Your total energy expenditure throughout the day is going to vary based on your body size and the type of physical activity you’re performing, but even having a rough estimate will prevent you from drastically overestimating or underestimating your caloric intake.

A large man can easily burn 4,000 calories during a long day in the mountains, while a smaller woman might burn 2,000-3,000. Now is NOT the time to “diet” and try to lose some weight. If you under-plan your food on an expedition, you run the risk of experiencing energy crashes and “bonking” in the middle of a long day.

Don’t Be Afraid of Fat

Fat plays an important role in fueling your body’s aerobic energy system, which is used for prolonged low-intensity endurance activities (like a long day of climbing). If you’re planning for long 10+ hour days in the mountains, whether you’re hiking many miles or climbing 10+ pitches per day, now is not the time to shy away from burning fat.

Example of eating high fat: Many professional climbers carry olive oil and blocks of cheese with them on expeditions. Conrad Anker eats bars of pure congealed olive oil while he’s on Mount Everest.

Don’t Be Afraid of Carbs

Similarly, carbohydrates play a vital role in powering your anaerobic energy system, which is essential for performing physical work at a moderate or high intensity. Most of the climbing we do in the mountains is relatively low intensity, and this might be especially true if you’re spending several long days big wall climbing. However, most outdoor activities require occasional short spurts of higher intensity exercise. For example, if you’re big-wall climbing, you might need a push of energy to get over the crux or pull up the haul bag.

Example of eating high carb: Many professional endurance athletes plan hourly intakes of carbohydrates. Mark Twight ate a carbohydrate gel hourly for nearly 66 straight hours on the South Face of Denali.

Think About Water

Frequently, the most massive thing mountaineers carry into the backcountry is water. How much water you bring on an expedition will vary depending on the environment. For example, if you’re desert climbing in Red Rock (where there’s no access to water), you will be carrying significantly more fluid than if you’re alpine climbing in Chamonix (where’s there’s a ton of glacial run-off).

What does this mean for expedition meal prepping? It depends on the route. If you’re big wall climbing in the desert and you have to pack all your water, you don’t need to eat freeze-dried meals exclusively; traditionally, soups and other watery foods have been popular on big walls. However, if you’re in an environment with lots of water or snow, you might want to minimize your water and add it to your meals later.

Add High-Energy Toppings

Most backcountry explorers are familiar with freeze-dried meals, and some companies market pre-packaged freeze-dried foods to climbers and mountaineers. These meals have, at times, become the standby for many outdoor adventurers because they’re incredibly convenient. Similarly, many other meals are easy to carry in the mountains such as rice, beans, couscous, etc. While these types of meals are convenient, they don’t always provide the energy you need for a long day.

If you’re not getting enough calories in your meals, add high-energy toppings to your foods as a simple solution. For example, you can add some parmesan cheese or olive oil to the top of your freeze-dried meals. It will probably make your meals taste better, and it will prevent you from creating an energetic debt.

 

Liked and Loaded

There’s a lot to consider when planning a multi-day climb, especially if you’re visiting mountains that are remotely located. In short, you need to make sure you’re packing all the calories necessary to sustain yourself in the mountain.

Packing fatty foods can be a great way to have energetically dense meals with you during long climbs, but you also need to pack carbohydrates to stay energized. Whether or not you choose to bring wet, heavy food, such as soups, will largely depend on the environment you’re climbing in.

Finally, if there’s any chance you’re going to fall short on calories, add some high-calorie toppings to your food. Also, make sure you pack food you like the taste of! There’s nothing worse than a poor-tasting meal after a long day in the mountains.