The great outdoors have a lot to offer; the beautiful views, strenuous hikes, and relaxing quiet. The Appalachian mountains are no different as they host a wide range of activities that allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer such as hiking, fishing, and canoeing. But did you know that there is world class rock climbing throughout the Appalachian mountains too? Some highlights include Linville Gorge in North Carolina and Red River Gorge in Kentucky. We have really gotten into rock climbing over the past few months. It is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy (ok, maybe not the dogs), and while modern outdoor rock climbing is very safe, there are some tips to remember before embarking up that route!
- Use your legs! While most rock climbers do develop strong arms and even stronger grip strength, when starting climbing don’t focus on using your arms, focus on your legs. Your legs are powerful muscle groups that can support your weight all day and push you up the rock wall easier and more efficiently than relying on your arms alone. By remembering to use your legs to stand up on the rock, you will save your arm strength and be able to climb and have more fun for longer!
- Double check your gear and knots! If you are new you should of course be climbing with either experienced friends or trained professionals. But one of the first things they should tell you, after showing you what constitutes as a properly secured rope and harness, is to always double check your knots and harness before beginning any climb. Sometimes it can look like a knot is properly tied when it’s not, it’s a mistake that all levels of climbers make. So don’t be embarrassed when making mistakes, just be glad you caught them, that’s what safety checks are for.
- And of course, stay hydrated out there! Whether in hot summer or cool and crisp fall, rock climbing is a very physical activity and you need to stay hydrated while climbing! Now, not only is drinking plenty of water important during any outdoor activity in any weather, it is especially important in rock climbing. When rock climbing, one of the first areas to get tired are your forearms. These muscles will tire quickly because new climbers are not used to engaging their grips as often as the sport demands. By drinking lots of water, you flush your muscles with fresh liquids, displacing lactic acid which makes you feel sore and lose grip strength. Stay on top of your game by drinking enough water throughout the day. And remember, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
Rock climbing can be a lot of fun, there are a wide range of routes for all experience levels. But no matter your experience always follow these tips to drink water, use your legs, and double check your knots!