The sport of rock climbing has seen a recent upsurge in popularity. Gyms exist seemingly everywhere these days and crags are the most crowded they have ever been. All of this means a lot of new people venturing into unknown terrain where they do not know the rules. Venturing into a delicate ecosystem, like rocky slopes, there is a certain climbing etiquette you need to pay attention to.
Although it may never be explicitly stated as someone gets into rock climbing, there is etiquette within climbing culture that every climber is expected to understand from day one. Although these rules exist within the climbing gym, they become exponentially more important when a climber begins to explore the outdoors. The exploration of real rock places climbers deep within fragile ecosystems, where Leave No Trace principles to apply. Furthermore, many climbing areas have rich histories and cultures, with differing rules that need to be respected. Show that you respect other climbers and the sport that you love by following the climbing rules of etiquette outlined below.
The 7 Leave No Trace Principles
Leave No Trace is a set of rules developed by the Forest Service in the 1960s to provide guidelines to a growing population of people spending time on federal land. These principles should be abided by every time anyone spends any time on natural land – they are designed to help us mitigate our impact, leaving an area as similar to the state it was found in as possible. The rules are as follows:
Plan Ahead and Prepare – You are responsible for bringing everything you need to be comfortable and come home from where you are going. Also, know where you are going and how long you will be there ahead of time and let people at home know.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – Stay on the path and don’t set up your camp anywhere that isn’t already a campsite. Also, walking and camping one eroding ground.
Dispose of Waste Properly – This includes poop, which must be buried 6 inches deep in a cathole a minimum of 200 feet from water, trails, and campsites, or packed out.
Leave What You Find – No picking wildflowers or taking cool rocks home.
Respect Wildlife – This means keep a distance and don’t feed animals.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors – Don’t forget that you’re not the only outside enjoying nature. Keep noise to a minimum, don’t play loud music, and keep your stuff contained to a reasonable area. Another thing to consider is your dog, who should be kept on a leash at a crag with other people.
Respect the Rules of an Area
As stated earlier, different climbing areas have different rules. Start digging a little deeper into the history of climbing and you will find numerous examples of conflict arising due to the breaking, sometimes unknowingly, an unspoken or legal rule. One example of this is the bolting of lines that can be protected with removable gear. When this is done, more times than not, those bolts end up getting cut. Another example that has more to do with legality than climbing ethics, would be the cutting down of a tree to clear a path for a climb without first getting the proper permissions.
Although these examples are extreme, they illustrate the need get to know a climbing area that you are new to in a way that is more than topographical. Two great ways to learn about a new crag are to talk to the locals, who will be happy to help you orient yourself and can tell which climbs are their favorites, and to read the area descriptions and info in the guide book. If there isn’t a guidebook for where you’re going, look the area’s page up on Mountain Project. Also, make sure to read up on the rules of the area you will be in. Many climbing areas are located in federal and state parkland, where certain specific rules may apply. These rules will often be posted at a park’s entrance, so be on the watch for these signs and always make sure to stop and read them.
Don’t Take Fixed Gear
Those who are new to sport climbs may not know that climbers sometimes leave quickdraws on routes they are projecting. If you see this you are welcome to climb on the draws, but do not take them down – the owner of that gear knows exactly where they are and is expecting them to be there when they return. Likewise, some climbs have been equipped with fixed-gear, including permadraws and quick-clip anchors up top. These things are there to make climbing enjoyable for everyone and are not free for the taking.
All this being said, if you happen upon gear that looks like it has been abandoned, that booty is yours. In fact, lost gear is an integral part of a trad rack.
Brush Off Tick Marks
As helpful as they may be to you, tick marks are an eyesore. Also, ticks sometimes lead other climbers to a beta that doesn’t work for them, making brushing a tick after you add it the polite thing to do. Excess chalk should also be removed from a climb.
Don’t Hog the Crag
It is not polite to post up on a climb for hours on end. This is true under all circumstances but especially when the area is crowded. Instead, groups are expected to sequentially work on a pitch until everyone has done it. It is understood that with a large group this can take a long time. Large groups should be willing to let other people tag in if they are going to be climbing it for more than an hour or two. This principle of tagging in also goes for projects.
It’s also important not to emotionally hog the crag. Although we all understand that weird noises that can involuntarily emerge while moving through a crux, try to keep the volume low and the cursing to a minimum – a lot of climbers have kids. Also, don’t through a temper tantrum after failing to send. Just don’t.
There are two primary goals that everyone who runs regularly has – to run farther and to run faster. Logically, if you want to run faster, it is vital to increase your running speed.
For most people who are just starting out, increasing distance is the primary goal. If one hasn’t run a mile in years, getting through that first mile without stopping is definitely something to be proud of. Slowly, as one continues to run, more and more distance can be added and goals can be set. Start with a 5K, then a 10K, a half-marathon, a marathon; there is a natural progression that the majority of people who get into this sport follow. At a certain point, most runners will want to go beyond just adding distance and begin cutting the time that it takes to run those same number of miles.
There are other reasons to work on speed sooner within one’s running career though. For one, training for speed can make running at a slower pace feel downright easy, which will improve the experience of running overall. Furthermore, speed training is anaerobic, which means that the energy used to power this activity is produced by breaking down glucose within the body. This is in contrast to aerobic exercise, which is slower paced and powered by a steady source of oxygen. Distance running at a pace where you can comfortably speak is aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise pushes one’s endurance, decreases resting heart rate, and can enhance the efficiency of the movement of red blood cells throughout the body, while anaerobic exercise builds muscle and power, and boosts the body’s ability to take up oxygen under more stress. Training both aerobically and anaerobically will, therefore, make any runner more powerful all around.
While aerobic exercise can be maintained for long periods of time, the high-intensity nature of anaerobic exercise means that they can only be done in short bursts. This is especially true for a beginner, who will not be used to the intense discomfort that comes with doing speed training. For this reason, anyone who hasn’t trained for speed while running should start slow, typically with short sprints that let them become more used to the sensations involved with anaerobic running drills. Starting slow is also important as it eases the body into being able to bear the increased stress of moving more quickly across terrain since starting to fast is a sure fire way to get injured.
Besides drills, there are also a number of things that a runner can do to begin getting more comfortable with increasing their speed. Some of these tips also make increasing speed feel more natural or decrease the likelihood that a runner will get injured as they up the ante in this way. Below you will find a few more tips for increasing speed while running.Work on Form
Before you start working on anything else, work on good form. Bad form will make you less efficient (thereby decreasing your speed) and will increase your chance of injury. Aim for neutral pronation, meaning your ground strike slightly favors the outside of your foot but as you move through the stride you even out your stance so that you push off from the forefoot with weight evenly distributed across the inner and outer sides. Also try to train yourself to strike the ground with the midfoot as opposed to the heel, since heel strikes actively decrease speed.
Body positioning of your upper half is also important for increasing efficiency. Keep your spine upright and your shoulders relaxed. Also, avoid swinging your arms outwards, instead opting for a back and forth motion with the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
One great way to improve form is to film yourself running and then watch that video afterward. Set a camera up somewhere you know will be able to capture your movement well or have a friend film you, so you can improve on your process of improving your running speed.
Count Your Steps
The ideal number of steps that a runner should do per minute is 180 – this number creates an efficient cadence that keeps them close to the ground with short, quick steps. However, this is what the most elite runners do and does not need to be everyone’s goal. Getting the number of steps you take in a minute as close as possible to this number will help improve the way any runner used their body though.
To measure how many steps you typically take per minute while running, set a timer then count the number of times of your feet hits the ground as you run. After the minute is up, multiply the number you have counted to by two to find your total steps. Once you know this number you can start working on improving it. Changing your pace in this way will also help you understand the way different paces feel more clearly, which is helpful knowledge for improving speed.
Run on the Treadmill
Running outside is definitely preferable. In fact, getting outdoors is a major reason why I love running! However, treadmills do have their place. Besides being a Godsend on freezing, snowy, or rainy days, the can help you experience exactly what a specific pace feels like.
If you have a goal pace that you would like to achieve, set it on the treadmill and run that fast for as long as you can handle it. Get comfortable on the treadmill at a number of other paces as well, including a relaxed pace, which you can do for an elongated period of time as well as a pace that falls somewhere between that and an all-out sprint. Doing this will help you have a clearer idea of how fast you are actually going when you go back outside.
Do Interval Sprints
The only way to run faster is to run faster. This is why sprints are an important part of any training regime meant to improve speed. For those who are truly new to speed training, start with a short sprint at the end of a longer run. Once that starts to feel more comfortable, end with a few of these – run for 20 seconds than do a 30-45 second recovery jog 4-6 times.
As you become better at running fast you can incorporate more and longer sprints into your training at varying speeds. The internet is full of training guides so search around and you are sure to find a regime that works for you.
There are lots of places that make great short vacation destinations, among them the city of Las Vegas. Moreover, although Las Vegas may not be the first pick choice for a vacation for those of us more interested in hiking than drinking, it actually offers almost unparalleled access to some incredible nature that is quintessentially representative of the American West. Of all the natural areas surrounding Las Vegas, one of the most beautiful to focus a trip around is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a stunning area in the heart of the Mojave Desert.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a convenient day trip from Las Vegas since it is located only 17 miles from the city’s famous strip. This park’s proximity to this bustling metropolis, known for gambling, clubs, and shotgun weddings, is all the starker since within Red Rock’s one can find wilderness of the purest kind. In fact, there is no cell service in Red Rock Canyon, so less than 20 miles from Las Vegas one can gain the solitude of nature without fear of interruption from the outside world.
The different areas of Red Rock Canyon can be accessed via Scenic Drive, which is a one-way road that makes its way through the park for a total of 13 miles. This road is closed after sunset, so make sure to plan your trip to Red Rocks so that you can be sure you will be leaving before the gates shut for the night. From November through February Scenic Drive is open from 6 am until 5 pm, in March and October it is open from 6 am until 7 pm, and from April through September it is open from 6 am until 8 pm. These open times apply to other areas of the park beside Scenic Drive as well, including the Red Spring Picnic Area and the Red Rock Overlook. The Visitor Center is open all year long from 8 am until 4:30 pm every day of the week.
Driving is the best way to get to Red Rock Canyon since public transportation to the park is not available. A fee of $15 is required for every car and truck that enters the park for every day that they visit. Those who enter by motorcycle are charged less, only have to pay $10 per day. Pedestrians and bicyclists are charged the least amount, having to pay a fee of $5 for entry. Biking the Scenic Drive is a great workout with amazing views, and is a popular way to experience the park. Without vehicle of some sort though, getting around the park will be quite difficult, so visiting as a pedestrian is not necessarily recommended. Furthermore, the lack of cell service in the park means that calling a ride service to take you back to your home or hotel may be quite difficult. Those who want to visit the park but don’t have access to a vehicle should, therefore, look into signing up for a tour and investigate whether their hotel offers periodic bus services to the park.
Before moving on, it should also be noted that year-long passes to Red Rock Canyon are available for those who will be coming back over and over again. These passes can be purchased for $30 per person. As a federally governed park, Red Rock is also part of the American Beautiful Annual Pass, which holders as many days as they desire in this nation’s national parks and federal recreational land for a one-time $80 fee over the course of a year.
Now that we have established what it takes to get to Red Rock Canyon, let’s look at why one should want to go there at all – i.e. what is there to do in this park? First and foremost are the 26 different hiking trails that can take walkers pretty much anywhere throughout the park. These trails vary in length and difficulty, although many are on the harder side and some are quite strenuous. For this reason, make sure to double check the length, elevation gain, and exposure of a hike before setting out. Fortunately, some of the coolest features of Red Rock, including petroglyphs and waterfalls can be found alongside the areas easiest hikes.
Besides hiking, Red Rock Canyon is also very well known for offering some of the best sandstone rockclimbing in the US. There are thousands of climbs located within the park that include high-quality routes of every style. The majority of climbs here are trad, however, sport climbers and boulders also make the trek to Red Rock to explore its stellar crags. Furthermore, the grades at Red Rock are predominately moderated with some harder projects sprinkled in, making this a great destination for climbers at all skill levels. The park closures at night apply to climbers as well, however since there are multi-pitch endeavors within Red Rock that require more than one day to complete, climbers can apply for bivy permits. These permits allow climbers to sleep on the side of a specific wall for a specific number of days.
Within Red Rock Canyon there are also ample opportunities for biking. As previously mentioned, road bikers may enjoy a loop along Scenic Drive. There are also a plethora of mountain bike trails that can be explored throughout the park. Over roading is another popular activity in the park, as is plant and animal identification. Finally, photographers should make sure to take a trip to this park, since the stunning and expansive views of colorful rock are sure to inspire.
There is one campground at Red Rock Canyon, aptly named The Red Rock Canyon Campground. Sites at this campground range from $10 to $60 per night depending on the size and type of site booked. The short drive to Las Vegas also means this park accessible to those who are staying in a hotel in the city.
In many parts of the US, there are still cold temperatures. However, in the southern and tropical areas of this country, the weather offers a respite from the unbearably hot temperatures of summer. In these places, this time of year is when people venture out of their homes, away from the AC, to have fun in the outdoors. Best spring beach vacations in the US are a complete experience in moderate temperature months.
Many of the locations that have ideal temperatures also happen to be next to the beach, which makes the transition from winter into spring an excellent time of year to plan a beach getaway. Here, some of the best places to lounge beachside during the early spring months that do not require passports are listed.
Puerto Rico is an island paradise that is seemingly nothing but stunning beaches. Aquamarine waters that offer perfect views to the ocean floor and the lush jungles that stop where the beaches begin are par for the course here. This territory is nicknamed “The Gateway to the Caribbean” for a reason. Besides avoiding some of the worst heat, visiting Puerto Rico in the late winter is a good idea because it will allow you to enjoy the area without the threat of the tropical storms that come in the fall.
There are many different regions of Puerto Rico, which is a large island that takes about 4 hours to drive from one end to the other. To make the most of a vacation here, pick a few different areas to concentrate your visit on. One of the most popular regions is the San Juan Metro area because of the access and amenities that can be found here. All the happenings of a city, including nightlife and entertainment, are in San Juan, while pristine beaches, like Isla Verde and La Posita, can be readily accessed. San Juan is also a great access point for outdoorsy adventures in El Yunque Rainforest, Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, and the Camuy River Cave Park.
Those looking for a more remote experience can take a ferry to the islands of Vieques or Culebra. Both of these small islands, which are still considered part of Puerto Rico, have their own airports as well so those looking to save time over money can fly to from the big island in 20 minutes or less. Two of the best beaches on Vieques are Bahia de la Chiva and Playa Negra, while Flamenco Beach on Culebra often tops lists of the best beaches in all of Puerto Rico.
This list would be remiss if it left out Florida, which is unquestionably one of the quintessential beach destinations in the US. One of the things that makes this state so special are the islands that can be accessed via long roadways over the ocean. The Keys are the most famous example of this. A series of over 1700 islands, most of which are tiny and uninhabited, that stretches for over 125 miles off the Florida coast, the Keys are truly special. There are 42 bridges between these islands, the longest of which is 7 miles. This accessibility coupled with the perfect temperatures and lower humidity in Florida during this time of year, make the Keys an incredible late winter vacation destination. These islands are particularly popular for RVs.
Two other Florida islands that can be accessed by car are Sanibel and Captiva, located on the western side of the peninsula near Fort Meyers. These islands are less popular than the Keys, which means they are a great choice for anyone looking for a quieter and more remote vacation experience. Furthermore, they offer all of the same beauty in terms of landscape and wildlife as the Keys, which makes a trip to Sanibel and Captiva a win-win.
Those who want to stay on the mainland can also find a great winter beach experience in Florida. Even the urban areas, like Palm Beach, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale have stunning beaches. These areas also have the added appeal of a ruckus nightlife, which has made Florida a prime destination for college students looking to have fun during winter and spring break.
Visitors to California’s beaches in the winter may spend more time lounging by the ocean than actually swimming in it, but the temperatures are consistently warm enough to warrant T-shirts and shorts. This is especially true along the southern and central coasts, which have average highs in the mid-60s all winter long. In Northern California, the temperatures are about 10 degrees colder, which means a beach trip to that part of the state may be better saved for a warmer time of the year.
Unlike the other areas on this list, a big draw to California in the winter is the lack of crowds. During spring, summer, and fall these beaches are constantly mobbed, but in winter the masses clear out and the beach is able to be enjoyed in greater solitude. The mild temperatures mean that you will be quite comfortable as you get your tan on. Furthermore, those with thick skins can still get some swims in, and with a wet suit, it is never too cold to learn to surf.
Southern California is the primary destination for wintertime beach trips in this state. In particular, San Diego is a great place to visit. This beautiful city offers perfectly mild temperatures all year round, but it houses cool attractions like Lego Land and Disney Land. Unfortunately, these attractions mean the crowds never completely gone, however, they will be more bearable in the winter.
Those wanting a bit more solitude, as well as a more pristine experience, should spend their time in La Jolla instead. This upscale beach town just north of San Diego, and can also be day-tripped if you have access to a car. The beaches here are known for their rocky embarkments and sea caves, which can be explored via sea kayaks. Rock climbers will also have fun here, as there are numerous beachside boulders to explore.
There are some destinations that you hear about and can’t stop thinking about. A trip paddling in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has been one of those trips for me. Unfortunately, I have not yet gotten the chance to spend days traversing and camping along the edge of the lakes that make up this wilderness area, however, I would like to change that soon. In an attempt to get me planning my trip, and to tell you about one of the last great wildernesses in the United States, I have written up this synopsis of everything one needs to know to begin planning a trip to the Boundary Waters.
To begin, a clear definition of the Boundary Waters is needed. Located in Minnesota, his federally owned wilderness area is the most popular in the nation, visited by upwards of 200,000 people per year. This large number is still comparatively small when stacked against the copious numbers of visitors these national parks receive annually. Coupled with the fact that the Boundary Waters include over 1 million acres of land and lakes that must be navigated by foot, canoe and kayak, you can expect a solitude rarely found elsewhere, even in the most popular parts of this park.
Those who want to venture into the truly wild areas of the Boundary Waters can do that as well, with a trip into one of twelve Primitive Management Areas. Unlike the other parts of the Boundary Waters, where camping is should only be done in established sites and portages are made be traveling on preexisting trails, these Primitive Management Areas have no premade infrastructure. It is, therefore, the job of the visitor to these areas to abide by Leave No Trace protocols. A list of the specific rules for camping in Boundary Water Primitive Management Areas can be found at the end of this excellent Backpacker article.
It would be foolish of me to recommend a trip into Primitive Management Areas without noting that this is a trip suited for only the most advanced campers and backcountry navigators. Bushwhacking and course-plotting of difficult terrain are guaranteed, and since only one permit is issued to each Primitive Management Area at a time, there is literally zero chance of your encountering another group. If you have these skills though and are looking for a true adventure, one simply can’t beat the wilderness feel, solitude, and chance to view pristine nature and wildlife that can be found in the most remote regions of the Boundary Waters.
It is not recommended that one’s first trip into the Boundary Waters be an epic into the Primitive Management Areas. There are literally countless other options for expeditions into this park, many of which involve easy portages and camping in established areas. For a first trip, Cody Nelson recommends spending three or four nights and setting up a home base as opposed to moving camp each day. This is because setting up camp in the Boundary Waters is likely to be much more complicated than the newbie is ready for. It will involve properly storing your canoes or kayaks, setting up tents, and hanging food so that it is out of the reach of any animals who may become interested in it after you go to bed.
This last part of setting up a backcountry campsite is incredibly important, especially somewhere like the Boundary Waters, where amazing animals like mice, bears, wolves, otters, and beavers can be found in droves. Any list of trip supplies into this area must, therefore, include a bear bag and rope, or a bear canister. Never keep food in your tent, as this can prompt animals to attack after you have fallen asleep.
Another thing that everyone planning a trip paddling the Boundary Waters must account for are the portages that will be involved in this trip. This word literally means “The carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters.” This is the reality of the Boundary Waters – although they are full of many lakes the stretch for multiple miles and rivers that connect lakes, they also have many bodies of water that are separated by thin stretches of land. These portages range in size, from less to a hundred feet to over a mile long. They also range in difficulty, with various obstacles. Although these would be easy hikes for someone with free hands, this is an entirely different story when one has to lug backpacking gear and a boat. Think about the level of difficulty you are up for with portages and design a route that accounts for this as much as the lakes that you want to visit and where you want to camp.
The final thing that you need to know about visiting the Boundary Waters is that every group needs a permit. Permits can be reserved for groups of up to nine people with up to four boats for the upcoming season after the third Wednesday each January. The season lasts from May through September. The sooner you reserve a permit, the easier it will be to get exactly the dates and the campsite that you want, but rest assured that last minute permits are also often available. To read up on the permit rules and reserve the permit for your trip visit recreation.gov.
A trip to the boundary waters is an incredible opportunity to experience true wilderness. This trip should not be attempted by a novice camper without someone else who can show them the ropes though. More information on the things one needs to know before heading into the boundary waters can be found in our blog posts on packing for an overnight backpacking trip and camping out of a kayak.