Bear Pepper Spray

Bears are naturally curious animals, but are not normally aggressive. They get a little bit more aggressive when they’re hungry. Some people say they’re hungry all the time and that may be more true than not. But in the fall before they hibernate and in the spring time when they come out of hibernation they can be particularly hungry and particularly aggressive.

Up in the high country where they live the condition of their natural habitat determines to some extent how hungry they are and how aggressive they are. So for example if it’s particularly dry and much of their natural food is nonexistent they may turn more aggressively towards other sources of food at lower elevations and campgrounds.

If you see a bear and a bear sees you at the same time the best thing you can do is speak softly to the bear, never turn your back and back away slowly. Never run away from a bear.

If a bear sees you and starts advancing towards you try to make yourself appear as large as you can. That may startle the bear and scare him away. If it doesn’t scare him away curl up in a ball and offer no resistance.

Many people think that a handgun is effective against bears. The fact of the matter is in studies done by fish and wildlife experts show that if you are attacked by a bear and use bear pepper spray chances are 90% in your favor that you will win that battle.

I would never recommend going into the back country without an EPA approved bear pepper spray. Always look for the EPA’s seal of approval on a can of bear spray and only use sprays that are designated as bear pepper sprays. That indicates a minimum amount of spray in the canister usually at least 230 grams and a minimal amount of OC (oleoresin capsicum) which is the main ingredient in all pepper sprays. Bear Pepper Spray has a range of 35 feet and is EPA approved.

The other problem that people have is they don’t know how to use it. First of all, always carry it in a hip holster so it is readily available. When the bear is about 40 feet away and is advancing towards you start creating a wall of mist with the spray so when the bear advances into it he will smell it with his extremely sensitive nostrils and be repulsed by it.

Bear pepper spray is the most effective deterrent against bear attacks. Never go into the back country without it, especially when you’re fishing, camping or hiking

Rock Climbing Helmet

Your safety is paramount when out climbing and a helmet will help to protect your head should you suffer a fall. Climbing is a risky activity; loose rocks could fall from above so make sure you are protected.

The outer shell of a helmet is usually made from a thermo-plastic or ABS type material which is durable, strong and yet lightweight. The inner layer is made of foam or has an interior webbing system to offer shock absorption. Most helmets offer excellent ventilation through numerous slats to keep you cool. Some feature clips to enable you to attach a headlamp for night time climbing, or those early Alpine starts.

The difference in inner design indicates how the helmet absorbs an impact. Ones that are supported by a foam band are generally lightweight but less durable, such as the Petzl Elios, and the foam will take the blow. A helmet supported by an interior webbing system has a strong shell and is often heavier; the shell will absorb the blow.

Helmets are available in different sizes, but those used by Outdoor Centres tend to come in an adjustable single size. Many offer various methods allowing you to adjust the size easily to give you a perfect fit. Women specific helmets are smaller and offer a precise fit. Some are also hood friendly for when climbing in colder conditions.

When choosing a climbing helmet it is important to consider the weight as this can make a big difference to you, especially on longer climbs. Lighter helmets are usually more expensive owing to the more sophisticated materials and methods of construction used. Be sure to pick a helmet that is comfortable and durable. Choose wisely as picking one that doesn’t suit you will distract you from what you are there to enjoy.

Helmets should meet international standards so make sure that the one you intend to buy conforms to one of the following: UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization).

When purchasing a helmet, it should fit snugly. Once the chinstrap is fastened there should be very little movement. Try various brands and types to ensure you find the perfect helmet for you – after all it could save your life!

Diet for Climbers

We all want to climb harder. We train and refine our technique at the gym day after day: climbing, hangboards, cross training, anything we can do to get stronger. However, I think many of us overlook one of the most important aspects of training… what we eat! It is something I have only recently started to take seriously in my own pursuits. With many of us living off of fast food and beer, we have been selling ourselves short of our full climbing potential.

With the correct diet you can climb harder, last longer, and have an overall feeling of good health! Climbing is obviously a physically demanding sport and thus requires the correct sustenance to perform optimally.

A diet that provides everything you need for healthy living is the most important aspect of a good diet. Many of us, myself included, starve ourselves of some forms of nutrition while simultaneously trying our best to eat as much of some other substance. This can even be true in our never ending quest for more protein; depending on the source you may be getting some of the amino acids you need while completely avoiding some of the others that are just as important. (More about that later)

Another aspect of a strong climbing diet is the type of food we eat. There is nothing worse than being out at the crag and having your energy reserves depleted. It is important to consume food that is not only going to give you energy, but give it to you long term, and with the best ratio of good stuff to bad stuff. My morning routine before hitting the tanks used to be a sugar free RedBull (you know because the sugar free part made it healthier) and a Cliff bar; while this gave me some great energy early in the day, it left me wanting as the day went on. For long term energy you want to consume complex carbs!

  • Complex carbs: Unlike simple carbs, containing only one or two sugars, complex carbs consist of three or more sugars linked together in a chain. These complex carbs take the body longer to break down due to their complex structure. Because of this, the energy provided by complex carbs lasts longer and tends not to spike your blood sugar–no spike, no crash. Complex carbs also carry more nutritional value than their simple counterparts; rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Complex carbs can be found in a variety of foods, including vegetables, whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereal grains like brown rice.
  • Protein: It’s the end all of the athletic diet. Ask any athlete about their diet and the answer will always be, High Protein! However, there is a good reason for this protein obsession. Proteins are the building blocks of life, and more importantly muscle. You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and build new ones. When protein is digested amino acids are left behind. Your body needs these amino acids in order to build proteins necessary to drive the building of cells and functioning of organs.
  • Fats: Obviously climbing is a strength to weight ratio game, but don’t be scared of good fats. Your body needs fatty acids to function properly. These can be found in nuts, olives, avocados, and some fish. Try to avoid saturated fats–these are fatty acids, which at room temperature are usually solid. Imagine that in your bloodstream… These fats can contribute to raised cholesterol. Saturated fats can be found in margarine, oils, fatty meats, and dairy products.
  • Trans fats are a subtype of unsaturated fats that are not found in natural foods but are instead a byproduct of the production of hydrogenated oils. These are the fats that lead to atherosclerosis, which is when plaques of cholesterol adhere to your blood vessels, blocking blood flow. Atherosclerosis then leads to hypertension and heart disease, the number one cause of death in Americans. There is NO “healthy” amount of trans fat.

You may have heard that coconut oil is a superfood. As a small- and medium-chain fatty acid, it is absorbed directly in the small intestine and doesn’t strain the liver. It can be a rapid source of energy, but there’s debate as to how effective it may be. If you’re really in need of a RedBull, try a spoonful of coconut oil instead!

  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS): HFCS however, is never a rapid source of energy. Once HFCS is ingested, the body actually uses energy (ATP) to store it–the body does not create energy from HFCS immediately. HFCS is actually stored as triglyceride (a fat); you want as few triglycerides in your body as possible. The only way this could possibly be helpful is if you consumed a large amount of HFCS and were then subsequently stranded on a desert island, accessing the stored energy only as you starved to death.
  • Hydration: An important and many times overlooked aspect to a healthy diet (especially a diet geared towards climbing) is hydration. Hydration is a key component to strength and stamina. When out at the crag is it extremely important to have enough water, especially considering the 30 pack you probably killed last night (we call that Negative Training).

Look for in a Climbing Instructor

There are many types of climbing qualifications from indoor awards to people that are able to guide you up Mt. Everest. I would never recommend booking a course with anyone that does not have a Single Pitch Award (SPA) or Mountain Instructor Award (MIA). The MIA is a well respected award that will allow the instructor to teach any aspect of rock climbing anywhere in the UK. The SPA is also an outdoor climbing award but it does have limitations. Find out how will be teaching you and what qualification they hold.

Look into how long the rock climbing instructor has been working in the industry. Some one that has not been teaching for long might not have the experience you thought you were paying for. On the other hand, someone that has held the climbing award for 30 years might not be up to date with current practices. I would look for someone who is a member of Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) as their members are required to take regular training courses.

The price is also an important factor. There is some truth behind the statement “you get what you pay for”. People who have been teaching rock climbing for a long time and are passionate about it will have invested a lot a time and money. High level climbing qualifications take a lot of time and money and climbing instructors would not go throw the long process of gaining these if they were not able to charge more money to their clients. Have a look at what is included in the price of the course – will the instructor provide you with all the equipment, lunch, transport etc. You should understand what you are paying for.

I would also look at group sizes. If you want to learn a lot from your course you will be able to learn more if there are fewer people on the course. A typical group ratio is one climbing instructor to 12 clients. I would suggest that this size of group is far to large for a quality climbing course. These type of courses will be much cheaper but like I said before “you get what you pay for”.

Safety Tips For Rock Climbing

  • Planning each step in your mind before you take the step is very important for your safety. You must literally map out the next step in your head and see if the step is feasible for you to make. If it is ok in your mind only then can you take the step successfully. You should also remember not to move too fast. Every step you take must be a deliberate one, made only after taking into consideration the prevailing weather conditions.
  • Working with the rock will deliver better results. Each rock has its own characteristics and therefore there are different techniques to help you climb it carefully and efficiently. This means that you should try to study the rock and make sure you are using the right technique for the right rock. Not using the steep rock technique on a steep flat rock wall can lead to bad accidents.
  • Remember not to look too far down. When you are climbing, at the back of your head you will always be aware that you are pretty high up. But the more you look down the more fear might start to take over you. When looking down only look as far down as to see your feet and to make sure they are properly aligned to keep you balanced.
  • Always do your homework. Watching experts is a great way to learn. Using their techniques can be very beneficial to you. also it is a good thing to remember is that learning from your own mistakes can be very important but you cannot make all the mistakes on your own so read up on the accidents that have occurred can help you not to make the same errors.

Benefits of Rock Climbing

The most obvious and main benefit of rock climbing is to be physically fit. As we all know that it involves a lot of physical movement and exercise. Climbing up, stretching to reach out for the next rock while climbing, pulling yourself up, helps you to keep yourself in shape. It helps you to tone your muscles, increase metabolism as calories burn, increase stamina and give you more and more energy and strength that will keep you fit. With health at the top of everyone’s charts it seems to be a good option rather than visiting the gym.

Outdoor rock climbing also helps you to spend time with nature. You get to see new and beautiful places. Rare plants, animals or species. Being with nature really calms you down. This is good for de-stressing yourself. Relaxation helps improve your health as well. Hence it also contributes to giving you better health by allowing you to de-stress. Since you don’t know what it is going to be like at the top of the summit or at the endpoint it also brings in a challenge. It also makes you more confident and helps you improve your skills to take on challenges. As we don’t know what we are heading towards while climbing you require good planning, execution, and motivation to keep going. If you have these then you will definitely reach the endpoint successfully feeling like a winner. That’s why rock climbing is said to be an adventurous sport.

However, you can’t just start off with any range of rock climbing. You must have an instructor to guide at the beginning to take you through the easier ranges of rock climbing and then moving onto the more tough paths. This way you will remain fit to move onto bigger challenges and not injure yourself by jumping into difficult ones before you are ready for it.

West Virginia Hiking Trails

Loudon Heights Trail

This hike passes through three states from Georgia to Maine. This section of the trail also passes through the idyllic Harpers Ferry, a small tourist town on the banks of the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park — located close to Harpers Ferry, is home to Redoubt Trail, a short, wheelchair-accessible through some historical military buildings and spaces once used in the defense of Harpers Ferry in the Civil War.

Lower Otter Creek Wilderness

Hike to and camp on Otter Creek — a beautifully clear mountain stream with interesting rock formations. You can also climb up on to the high country on Shavers Mountain. Pitch camp here and call it a day to give yourself time to savor the view. Finally amble along Green Mountain, enjoying a few more vistas before walking back down to Otter Creek and the end of the trail.

Seneca Creek / High Meadows

Walk down Seneca Creek for watery vistas and some great trout fishing; while there, you can opt to spend the night at Judy Springs, a walk-in campground. Challenge yourself by making your way down Seneca Creek to the upper Falls of Seneca, and then back up to the High Meadows Trail. You can also leave your packs at your hotel in town and just take a day-pack for some quick romps on shorter trails that branch of the main route.

Blackburn Trail Center

This hike offers a number of excellent views of the Shenandoah Valley, and the rocky footing and steep climbs pose a challenge for avid hikers. Hikers are rewarded with stunning views and memorable picnic spots. The best thing about this trail is the fact that it is easily accessible from Charleston and nearby Washington D.C. — perfect for a quick weekend getaway.

Getting Started With Climbing

Profile of a mountain climber

A mountain climber must be in excellent physical condition as well as agile. The mountain climber must have an attitude of determination to overcome every obstacle, focused and positive, as well as the predisposition to mind and master safety procedures.

Getting Ready

The best way to prepare is by reading books on climbing. This will help give the mindset you need to climb a mountain. Climbers learn how to make decisions quickly, so access your mental ability to size up a situation and react.

Mountain climbing is a little like learning a dance, but with a terrible, potentially fatal partner! No matter what the season, climbing can be dangerous. Avalanches are alone an unknown killer; between 120 and 150 people die in ice or snow avalanches every year – ski instructors, mountain climbers, etc.

Physical Conditioning

Walking, jogging, long distance endurance training, scrambling exercises up a hilltop, skiing, and swimming are all good ways to get in shape before your first major climb.

Tools and Equipment

When it comes to hiking gear, it’s said that mountain climbers are obsessed with weight, and for a very good reason. No matter how strong you are, be prepared to carry no more than 25% of your body weight. Here is a checklist of what you need to bring. Cotton is heavier than synthetics, which is the reason for the “no cotton” rule. It can vary upon the trip and terrain, but here are some of the basics.

What to wear

Hiking Pants no cotton jeans. Socks, shoes, and sneakers (hiking boots are usually unnecessary). A non-cotton T-shirt, long sleeved with or without a collar and a baseball cap and/or cheap sunglasses.

What to bring

  • A map 1:24,000
  • A good quality Compass
  • Sunscreen (packaged in an eyedropper bottle)
  • LED headlamp with fresh batteries
    Small toothbrush with toothpaste “dots”
  • First aid. This consists of 4-5 band-aids, ibuprofen, Imodium, gauze pads, medical tape rolled onto a plastic straw.
  • For fire building, bring a few Matches, stored in a zip-lock plastic bag. For fire-starter, (essential!) use another other zip lock bag filled with ordinary dryer lint, or cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.
  • You will also need a 1 litre sized water bottle, and a 33 gallon garbage bag to use as a raincoat or emergency shelter.

Climbing Ethics

Never climb alone – bring along friends who are experienced climbers. When you go on your first climb, remember that it is a privilege to climb in a pristine, natural environment. Many climbers adopt a “Leave No Trace” mentality – no garbage left behind, not even smashing flowers as they pass, whenever possible.

Reasons To Try Climbing

  • Something unique. Climbing is a unique experience and if you’re getting bored with your usual range of activities it can really inject some excitement into both your social life and fitness regime.
  • Challenge. If you want to feel you have achieved something special then a session on a climbing wall can really deliver that experience, often on your first visit. Gym climbing walls offer the opportunity for a climber to push themselves in a safe environment. Climbing is not just physically challenging but it can also be a great way to help combat a fear of heights. Once you have reassured yourself that your harness is safe and have your sights set on a particular height on the wall that you want to achieve, the motivation to reach it will outweigh the fear – and the feeling when you reach it is priceless!
  • Fitness. Climbing gives an affective full body work out and will engage muscles that you hardly knew existed before. It is fantastic for arm and leg strength, it also provides a great cardiovascular workout.
  • Variety. Once you have mastered the indoor wall you may feel ready for other types of climbing, of which there are many. Bouldering is also becoming popular and provides an alternative for those who may decide that they prefer to stay closer to the ground.
  • Associated activities. If you do venture out of the gym, either for an outdoor man-made wall or for the ‘real thing’ then you will find that climbing is associated with all kinds of other fantastic activities, like hiking, canoeing and camping. Have fun and be safe!

Military Boots for Hiking

Many people don’t know or understand how tough soldiers have it on the battlefield. Many people don’t want to. There are a few experiences the rest of us may have had that allow us to fathom the reality of the kind of harsh terrain soldiers are subjected to: the times we went hiking or trekking.

Some of us take our outdoor pursuits lightly, but more of us don’t. High impact activities such as those that conventionally go under the ‘outdoor pursuits’ category are not for the faint hearted, or legged. Mounting climbing and trekking are often used by people to release significant emotional pressure gaskets. It’s an activity used to burn up excess stores of energy. Bear this in mind before agreeing willy-nilly to take someone up on an offer to go ‘hiking’ with them.

The hardened hikers out there know that there’s nothing worse than trekking for miles up harsh mountain edges with gradients as steep as right angles in crappy footwear. Indeed, the wrong footwear – or even poorly fitting footwear – will likely land a person in an emergency room. Try descending a steep glacial mountain with boots unfit for the purpose and you’ll understand the importance of a high-quality rubber grip on the soul of your hiking boot.

Military boots are amongst the most robust, custom-designed footwear on the market. Considering their purpose, it’s easy to see why this is the case. The makers of outdoor pursuits do closely consider practical design when inventing high-spec footwear ranges and can represent good value for money. However, with military boots, you know that you’re going to be protected from the harshest conditions and elements. It’s a sort of safe bet when you’re unsure what to look for in outdoor footwear.