So what's with all this 80s stuff? Meet Vegan Vince

An Ode to Living (and Climbing!) Outdoors

by Jennifer Novakovich

an_ode_to_living_and_climbing_outdoors_imageAs some of my blog followers know, I have been living in a tent for the past two and a half months (with plans to continue on until winter). I know what you’re thinking: “Why would anyone in their right mind chose to live in a tent!?” The simple answer to that for me is my love of rock climbing. While waking up to thunder storms or shivering through freezing nights gets old, there's nothing like the feeling of being completely in touch with yourself and nature when climbing a hard 60 or so foot pitch. There's nothing like feeling the pump in your forearms and pushing yourself to the edge of your limits. Whether that means taking a 30 foot whipper (fall) or finally getting that route you've been working on, the joy I get from climbing is indescribable.

Climbing has been the single most positive experience in my life. Before I started to climb I was a shy, uncertain girl, not confident in the slightest in social settings. Since I began climbing about 5 years ago, I have blossomed into a strong, courageous, and confident woman. The support that I have been given by all of my climbing partners and the climbing community in general has nurtured me on my path to the person I am today. I feel extremely lucky to have had the chance to see the world through my climbing trips, experiencing different cultures and meeting people in all walks of life. Before I started climbing, I would have never even dreamed to pursue the outdoor adventure I'm currently pursuing; I am thankful that I found climbing at the time that I did and continue to cherish ever moment I have while “living the dream” and climbing pretty-well full-time. While my path may not be the path most parents want their children to undertake, I cannot recommend rock-climbing enough in terms of confidence and social skill building, especially among adolescent girls.

With all of that said, how do you stay healthy on a long camping trip as a vegan? What are some of the essentials to keep you going? And lastly, how do you get into outdoor climbing (safely)?

rock_climbing_outdoors_imageSo for my first question: staying healthy is pretty easy as long as you have a few key items, including a cooler and a camp stove. I currently make weekly trips into the closest town to load up on fruits, vegetables, and almond milk. With a camp stove and cutting board I can easily (relatively) make most of the dishes I would make at home. Quinoa and quinoa flakes are something that I like making especially for their high protein and nutrient content. Aside from that, I routinely eat a variety of seeds (especially chia seeds), nuts, and nut butter.

On top of regular food items, my multivitamin, maca powder, and a few choice Sunwarrior products have gone a long way to keep me on top of my game. My original multi was by New Chapter, a really amazing neutraceutical brand, but with Sunwarrior’s launch of their new multivitamin, this will be my next go-to multi. Maca powder is great for a number of things including energy (great component of a pre-workout drink) and hormone balance—one thing to note is that it should be generally avoided if you have high blood pressure. And lastly, the Sunwarrior products I routinely use are Ormus Greens and the vanilla Warrior Blend, which is so versatile! The Warrior Blend can be used not only to make shakes, but also in baking and in coffee as a creamer.

What are some camping essentials? The obvious items include a good water-resistant (actually water-resistant) tent, camp stove with fuel, pots/pans/utensils, hiking shoes, a cutting board, a cooler, a sleeping pad, a pillow, a rain jacket, and any personal hygiene products and clothes that would suit you and your chosen location. If you’re camping in a generally warm area during the spring, fall, or winter, another good consideration would be a puffy jacket, toque, and gloves! Despite warm weather during the day, nights can get pretty cold and unseasonably cold weather is hard to predict. I made that mistake on my first month in Kentucky in April when there was a cold spurt that made camp life especially miserable (although the climbing was great, so not too bad). Not having enough clothes when it gets cold can really put a damper on your trip. My last essential would be a coffee making device (since coffee is a very big part of my morning routine, for both myself and people around me); French presses are great and easy ways to keep up your coffee addiction.

learn_to_climb_at_a_climbing_gym_imageAnd to my final question, how do you get into outdoor climbing? An easy first step would be to go to your nearest climbing gym and giving it a try to see if you like it. Most climbing gyms offer a ‘just climb’ session where you can have your own personal belayer for an hour. If you like it, your next step could be learning how to belay by taking a lesson; most introductory lessons offered by climbing gyms also come with a month of unlimited climbing so you can hone your skills as a climber and belayer. Next thing to consider would be climbing shoes, a harness, and a chalk bag and chalk. If you head over to your nearest outdoor sport store you can often find experienced staff to point you in the right direction of which shoes or harness is right for you. Nowadays many climbing gyms now also have pro-shops, making it even easier for you to find the gear you need.

Still psyched on climbing and want to give outdoors a shot? You can either take another more advanced lesson with your local climbing gym, learning how to lead climb and go from there (with the help of your climbing instructor) or find a reliable outdoor company to take you right outside. Most outdoor climbing companies offer packages where they take you outside climbing (usually top-rope if you aren’t as experienced) and/or teach you how to set up safe anchors so you can climb outside on your own. Whichever route you take to get outside, the major consideration should be safety. While climbing, when done with the proper gear and knowledge, is a pretty safe sport, it can be extremely dangerous when there are gaps in knowing what to do.

In my books, there’s no better way to overcome your fears, become more confident, and experience the world than climbing. I hope that I've inspired you to give rock-climbing a try!

See this and other articles on Jennifer Novakovich’s website

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