I’m hitting the road – to the southeast!

Since my year in the van ended, I’ve gone on quite a few road trips – but they’ve all been little league status. Circuits around western Colorado, weekends in Moab, driving from Miami to Sarasota for a wedding. All great trips, but nothing quite like the long stretches of endless road and vague plans of a grand adventure.

But on Wednesday, I’m adding another tick to my cross-country map circuit:

I’m road tripping down to Florida for Tally Rock Gym’s Save The South climbing comp!

As it turns out, one of the few downsides of leaving the freelance world is that you can’t just take off for weeks at a time – so I’m squeezing a wonderful 3,350 mile road trip into just six and a half days. ‘Cause I have to be back for work on Tuesday, you know? Here’s what the road trip circuit looks like:

Screen Shot 2015 03 22 at 7.40.20 AM Im hitting the road – to the southeast!

The plan is to leave Colorado and well, just drive. I’m planning on snagging the passenger seat for the first stretch so I can finally get some photos of the mountains along I-25 heading towards Santa Fe, then we’ll press on until we hit New Orleans! I haven’t been back to New Orleans since I was a little kid, so I’m stoked. We’re staying at a historic haunted hotel right in the heart of the city, and our tick-list includes beignets, live jazz, and cajun food. After that, we’ll make a pit stop somewhere to touch the gulf (because, saltwater!) before shooting east towards Tallahassee.

I cannot wait to get to Tallahassee so I can fill my belly with corn nuggets from Lindy’s, soak up all the springtime blossoms, pull some sweet plastic at Tally Rock Gym, and give some loving to gorgeous miss Amble pup. The 5th annual Save The South bouldering competition to benefit the Southeastern Climbers Coalition is already promising to be a mega rad reason for this road trip – we’ve got a killer event lined up and two local breweries who donated some delicious brew to our SCC after party!

On Sunday morning, Mcgoo and I are going to haul ourselves up to Chattanooga for a day of climbing before hitting the road hardcore back to Colorado. I’m pretty psyched ’cause this is our first ‘big’ road trip together – we’ll see how long it lasts before he wants to toss me out of the Subaru. His adoration for me just oozes out of this photo, amirite?

IMG 7113 1024x768 Im hitting the road – to the southeast!

It feels so good to have a reason to hit the road again, and this trip combined with all the training I’ve been doing lately feels like a retreat to complete the beginning of the next phase of life. My body feels good, my mind feels good, my Gmail inbox is finally cleared out, my knack for writing seems to have returned, and all the pieces seem to be falling into place. High five, universe!

 

Hangboards + Climbing

First rule: never walk by a hangboard (or pull-up bar, or rings, or any sturdy door frame) without doing a pull-up. No but really, unless you’re resting, just do it. Mastering the pull-up is essential to leveling up your climbing game.

But seriously, don’t forget about climbing in all your #couchtocrush training. A lot of fitness plans tend to slack out on the climbing part of it all – but I can guarantee you that the single best way to become a better climber is to climb. Incorporating hangboarding and climbing ‘games’ is key to a successful fitness routine:

climbinghang twitter Hangboards + Climbing

HANGBOARDS

My hangboard circuits have been fairly standard thus far while I build my finger strength back up. As is outlined in Deadpoint Mag’s Fit For Fall in 4 Weeks plan, I choose six different hangboard positions per session. Each set of hangs goes like this:

For your first rep, gently hang from the chosen grips for 10 seconds (start with the harder and move towards easier holds). Drop, and rest for five seconds before pulling on again. Repeat six times per position. Once you’ve completed the set, rest for two minutes.

Here are some tips for hangboards:

  • Your arms and shoulders should be engaged, but not totally locked off. They’re called ‘hangs’ for a reason, folks.
  • Work with a partner. It’s great to have someone to help keep time and make hangboarding a bit less tedious. A stopwatch is really helpful, especially if you can prop it up somewhere you can keep an eye on it while hanging.
  • Don’t overdo it. I usually do hangboard training once a week. In winter when I’m not climbing as much, twice a week is totally fine if you’re up to it. You want to strength your fingers, but you don’t want to overwork them – that’s how injuries happen, and “I busted my tendon on a hangboard” makes for a really crappy reason to get sidelined.
  • Give yourself a decent rest after every hangboard session. You can train hard all you want, but you won’t give your body time to properly recover (and get stronger) without resting. Work hard, rest hard.

Check out this post from Evening Sends for a truly excellent guide to hangboarding that includes everything from tips on proper form to adding weight for additional intensity. Steph Davis also offers some great advice on hangboard training (along with an alternative hangs circuit), and this video from Chris Webb Parsons shows you how to level up your hangboard game with one-armed assisted hangs:

If you’re really committed to your hangboard training, read this post on TrainingBeta.com written by the authors of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. Mark and Mike Anderson provide a deep look into choosing the right hangboard, exercises, and grip positions.

CLIMBING GAMES + WORKOUTS

Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate intentional climbing sessions into your training:

  1. Bottoms Up: I use this to warm up a lot, and sometimes spend my whole day playing along until I max out – start a V0, and climb every line of that grade until you progress to the next level. In addition to really warming your muscles up, it provides a great bout of endurance training.
  2. Hop on the Systems Board: Just like campus boards, when I get on a systems board I always get a slice of humble pie right to the face. This thing will really whip you into shape – and you can make it a game with your partner. Grab a long stick brush, and while your partner is on the wall, point out each next hold for them to reach. Keep your core engaged, and really focus on your body movement.
  3. 4x4s: The perfect ‘game’ for the climber who wants a solid pump in a short period of time. Pick four boulder problems that sit within the range that’s pushing your limits (but not quite at them). I climb at an upper limit of about V5-6, so my ideal 4×4 would include a mix of V3-4s. Do each circuit as quickly as possible – and don’t be afraid about falling, because you absolutely should be if you’re pushing hard enough! 4x4s work your power endurance, and should leave you feeling pleasantly wiped out.
    1. Note: These can be a little difficult to do in a packed gym! I head to Movement Denver at 7 AM most mornings to avoid the crowds.
  4. Add-On: A great activity for when you’re not in try-hard-project-sending mode, add-on is a group game where each player takes a turn adding a move to the sequence. The game continues with players disqualified if they cannot complete the sequence, or forget any of the moves.

IMG 7161 298x300 Hangboards + ClimbingWhatever you have to do to get yourself on the wall, don’t forget that the most important part of training for climbing is the part where you actually climb. You’re lifting weights, eating right, and working hard for one reason: to become a better climber.

Additional Resources:

Be sure to share your training photos on Instagram +Twitter with the #couchtocrush hashtag for a chance to win sweet climbing swag!

Go from #CouchtoCrush to Save The South!

It’s the second day of spring, and I am feelin’ fresh. Yesterday involved a little core training and a trail running session with Heather from A Colorado Gal, and today I’ve already gotten in some climbing and foam rolling. I’ve been extra motivated in my Couch-to-Crush training lately – and for good reason.

Tally Rock Gym’s 5th annual
Save The South Bouldering Comp is on the 28th!instagram date hands bw Go from #CouchtoCrush to Save The South!

I had originally planned on finally competing (always the organizer, never the climber), but since I’m emceeing again, I’ve decided to just climb for fun – but the event has still been a great source of inspiration.

Whether you’re training for Save The South, or just want to finally send a project at your local crag, pick a goal to look forward to. It’ll help keep you motivated, and give you a reason to get up and get movin’ on those mornings when your bed feels particularly cozy.

In honor of my favorite climbing event of all-time, I’ve put together a Save The South training workout. The climbs at Tally Rock Gym really engage your upper body and core, so this circuit focuses on arms and abs. Start your session with 20 minutes of cardio (or 30 minutes of bouldering), then launch into the workout below. Top your day off with some foam rolling and 15 minutes with your rice bucket – and bam, you’re one step closer to crushing.

save the south workout 682x1024 Go from #CouchtoCrush to Save The South!

If you want to kick things up a notch: do crunchy frogs instead of knee-ups, and grab a weighted ball to bounce during each Russian twist rep.

To celebrate the training season, the first #CouchtoCrush giveaway is dedicated to everyone gearing up for Save The South. I’ll be bringing a few prize packages down to the event, including this one:

Create a Go from #CouchtoCrush to Save The South!

Wanna get your hands on a gorgeous handmade Kendal Jackson chalkbag, Nature Valley’s new Nut Crisp bars, ClimbOn salve and tape (you know, for all the outdoors crushing you’re about to do)? Share your training + climbing journey with the #CouchtoCrush hashtag! And, for the rest of the training series, anyone who tags #SaveTheSouth in their photos gets an extra entry to the giveaways. I’ll announce the winner of this package at the comp!

I’m so excited about Save The South next weekend. It’s an incredible fundraiser for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, and the road trip down to Florida is going to be the perfect way to welcome spring. Big love to all the sponsors who are supporting Save The South – y’all rock:

Moja Gear, So iLL, The Crash PadKendal Jackson Bags,
Dirtbag ClimbersRock Candy HoldsMad Rock ClimbingGrassLands Brewing Company,
Teknik Handholds IncEvolvAlternative Baking Company, Momo’s PizzaSurepaw Dog Gear, and more!

PS: If you’re a southeastern climber, or just looking for an excuse to visit the greatest rock gym ever built, register for Save The South ASAP! You can stop by TRG in person, or pre-register on the phone, or sign up the morning of the event. I can’t wait to see everyone there for a weekend of Tallahassee Rock Gym southern lovin’. Pass me the corn nuggets!

Ricebuckets + Foamrolling

Part of training is falling in love with the way you feel when your body is active. You should also really enjoy the activities you engage it during your workouts (and recovery). We all play favorites, and for me, the best part of my daily routine is spending some quality time with my rice bucket and foam roller. Bonus points if you add accu-pressure rings to your daily routine too!

ricebuckets twitter Ricebuckets + Foamrolling

RICEBUCKETS

It’s admittedly a bit messy, but I’ll swear by it. Foam rolling helps you strengthen all those extensor muscles in your forearms, and creates balance in your body strength. Arms and hands are pretty damn important to climbers, you know. DeadPoint Magazine offers great descriptions of all the ricebucket movements and outline of a great workout to accompany this classic video by Steve Edwards:

I find that rice bucket sessions can be incredibly relaxing and almost meditative. I’ll just dig my hands into the rice whenever I’m sitting around binging on Netflix, chatting wtih my housemates, or watching climbing videos. I start going through the motions, direct my gaze elsewhere, and bam! before I know it 20 minutes have passed and I’m pleasantly pumped. My favorite moves include:

  • The Swirl: Submerge your fists deep in the bucket, and roll your wrists while churning the rice and engaging your shoulders.
  • Side-to-Sides: Again with fists buried in the rice, move your wrists from left to right for one minute, then forward and backwards for one minute.
  • Make A Fist: Grab a big fistful of rice, and squeeze it as hard as you can.
  • Fists-Up Dig: With your fists facing palms-up, dig deep into the edge of the bucket closest to you, and really engage your arms/biceps as you pull upwards towards the opposite side of the bucket before digging back in again.

For additional viewing, check out this rice bucket forearm workout video (specifically for baseball players, but still good). If you really want to get weird, there’s a video called “Dirty Rice” for power lifters.

Fair warning: If you have a dog, your dog might end up eating a lot of rice when you aren’t looking – which means pooping a lot of rice. Or, if you have mice living in your house, they’ll totally poop in your rice bucket. I may or may not know all of this from unpleasant personal experience. Consider keeping a lid over your bucket when not in use.

FOAM ROLLING

Just ask Vikki from The RV Project, who will readily profess her undying love for foam rollers; this seemingly weird tool works wonders for your body. The first time you foam roll while sore, you might actually shed a few tears – and then you’ll wake up the next day feeling brand new. Foam rolling invigorates blood flow and helps your body bring nutrients to your muscles.

For a basic guide to the various areas you can target using a roam roller, this post from The Clymb is a great place to start. You can obviously work your back, but the foam roller is also a great tool for your hamstrings, lats, quadriceps, and more. Climb On Sister offers a more in-depth look at foam rolling, which is accompanied by this excellent video:

Before you go out and buy a foam roller, learn about the different options you have and what you should look for. This informative post by Sarah Groman that delves into considerations like areas of the body to target, intensity, and product quality. Her preference is the Thera-Roll, which features ridges for “deeper tissue pressure.” Personally, I’m a fan of smooth foam rollers for every day use, but I haven’t spent enough time testing my options. Check to see if your local rock gym has foam rollers for use, and test theirs out before purchasing your own.

Incorporating rice buckets and foam rolling into your Couch-to-Crush training plan is a great way to provide your body with a stimulating way to recover and refresh yourself. Once you get started with training and figure out a good daily groove for yourself, it gets easier and easier to keep up with fitness elements like these in your routine. Get after it!

Don’t forget to share your training + climbing photos on Instagram + Twitter with the #couchtocrush hashtag – you could win gear like ClimbOn! skin salve, handcrafted Kendal Jackson Bags chalkbags, and more!

Getting Started

Training is what you make it, and sometimes it’s intimidating to figure out where to get started. Yeah, of course we all want to be lifting our bodyweight from the first time we lift that barbell – but that’s just not going to happen. Beginnings tend to be humble. That’s totally okay. Facts only: On my first day in the weight room, I struggled through bicep curls with 7.5 lb dumbbells. One of the worst things you can do to yourself is to go too hard from the start. You’ve been living the couch potato life, you can’t expect your body to crush just yet. Take it easy, and find pride in the fact that you’re here doing it and pushing yourself closer to crush-mode.

get started facebook Getting Started

You have to get started somewhere, here’s how to do it right:

  • Always warm up. I like to start my sessions with 20-60 minutes of cardio or (easy) bouldering. A good warm up session will activate your body and help you prevent injury.
  • Remember to breathe. This is a big issue for me with climbing in general – I always concentrate so hard on what I’m doing that I forget to breathe. Focus on your breath and form while working out. Hop on a treadmill or elliptical, climb a few laps on auto-belay, take a jog around the block – whatever works for you.
  • Drink water – drink all the water! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Your body is going to be working hard, so make sure you keep it well hydrated. You’ll perform better and feel better. Aim for a gallon a day (the health benefits are plentiful for those of us who are properly hydrated).
  • Mix things up. From triggering different parts of your body to just keeping things exciting, I’m a big advocate for switching things up during your training sessions. Create a schedule that combines lifting, climbing, core training, hangboards, cardio, yoga, and recovery exercises. Combine two on days when you’re feeling strong, and don’t be afraid to swap a lift day for some yoga if your body really isn’t feelin’ it.
  • Train with a partner. I’ve done many training/workout/climbing plans, and this is the first one I’ve ever actually committed to in the long run – largely because I have a great training partner. Our lady-time gym sessions have up to four of us at a time, and we text each other throughout the week about our upcoming sessions. Training partners provide excellent accountability and motivation.

When my training day includes some time in the weight room at the gym (which I do about 3 times a week), the workout goes as follows: First, drink water (and top off your water bottle). Begin with 10-20 minutes of cardio until you break a sweat. Drink more water and stretch out a bit. Then do three sets of three different exercises, 10-12 reps per exercise. Cool down with 10-15 minutes of light core exercises and active yoga.

Here’s a quick 9-exercise workout to get you started with weights:arms shoulders infographic 682x1024 Getting Started

Start sharing your training photos on Instagram + Twitter with the #couchtocrush hashtag – you could win gear like ClimbOn! skin salve, handcrafted Kendal Jackson Bags chalkbags, and more!

Note: I shouldn’t even have to be saying this – but I’m not a personal trainer, nor a nutritionist. I’m a climber who wants to climb better, and I’m sharing what works for me. Proceed at your own risk. Except for the drink more water thing, you shouldn’t have to question my authority on that one. 

The #CouchtoCrush Challenge

The idea of going from couch potato status to crush-mode began back in September when I got a ludicrous idea to sign myself up for a hefty birthday challenge after a six-month break from climbing. I trained and tried my hardest – but after my birthday, afternoon sessions at the climbing gym were quickly replaced with a new job and new obstacles (read: new excuses).

About a month ago, I found myself back in the gym. This time, I had a partner to keep me accountable, a steady work schedule to plan around, and a membership at a rock gym complete with a fitness area, yoga studio, cycling room, crossfit box, and the works. It’s been a transformative experience, and a lot of readers expressed interest in a post about what my training consists of – so I decided to turn it into a series of #couchtocrush guides.

couchtocrush twitter The #CouchtoCrush ChallengeWhat’s in the #couchtocrush guide series?

Getting Started

Ricebuckets + Foam-rolling

Core Training

Climbing + Hangboards

Fitness-ing

Nutrition

Recovery + Injury

I’m certainly no expert, so I combined my experiences with resources from around the climbing community to help you educate yourself on how to create your ultimate #couchtocrush training plan. I’ve been pushing myself with the goal of getting back in shape in time for Tally Rock Gym’s annual Save The South bouldering competition – what’s your reason for going from #couchtocrush?

Be sure to share your training photos on Instagram + Twitter with the #couchtocrush hashtag – I’ll be selecting the best photos for a chance to win prizes like ClimbOn! skin salve, handcrafted Kendal Jackson Bags chalkbags, and more!

The main guides will roll out starting tomorrow, but since so many people asked about my workouts, here’s a bonus post about getting started with a few quick breakdown of one of my morning circuits with Heather. A few quick tips? Drink a lot of water. Start waking up earlier. Think about what you’re putting into your body (and how you can be healthier). Climb with intention at the rock gym. And do more yoga while you’re at it. 

The most important part of the plan? Commit. Get up and get yourself to the gym. Just do it. I schlep myself to Movement Denver at 7:00 AM on weekdays mornings – always sans make-up, sometimes with pillow lines on my face, usually still half-asleep. But I get there, and after a few minutes of grumbling, I’m always stoked to train. Let’s do this!

Love Joe’s Valley? Speak up about it!

It’s no secret that Joe’s Valley is one of my favorite places on the planet. I could fill a book professing my love for the desert valleys, sharp sandstone boulders, cozy campsites, lazy river, and even the deer that love to jump out in front of cars at dusk. This spot is one of the greatest things to ever happen to bouldering – and now Joe’s Valley needs our help.

The Access Fund and SLCA are working with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service to address some of the impending big issues with the area (hello, poop in the river washes). There’s a lot of work to be done, but the first thing you can do to get involved is to write a letter to the BLM making your voice heard about the issues. Access Fund has a super simple letter writing tool to help you, but comments are due by March 1st!

Show your support for Joe’s Valley bouldering here.

10729407 1376581869327295 83633618 n Love Joes Valley? Speak up about it!

Photo: Andy Wickstrom

I wrote a letter, which you can read below. It isn’t perfect, and it only took me about five minutes to write – but every voice matters here. It would break my heart to see Joe’s Valley turn into an overdeveloped, over-regulated area where I have to pay $20 to pitch my tent, and the only way to prevent that is to get involved.

First, thank you for taking the time to take the climbing community’s comment into consideration while assessing the land use at Joe’s Valley. I first visited the area during a yearlong climbing trip – and out of the many places I visited from coast to coast, Joe’s Valley remained my favorite. It is one of the most incredible places on the planet, and deserves to be treated as such.

While you are assessing the area, there are a few key issues that need to be addressed to ensure the valley’s longevity as a recreational hub:

The trails, camping areas, etc. need proper establishment/maintenance to reduce erosion and overuse of the surrounding areas (clear trails = less brush crushing!). However, while I fully support proper trail establishment and infrastructure improvements, I believe it is absolutely vital to the spirit of Joe’s to prevent overdevelopment. Human waste is a major issue in the valley, and proper waste facilities are crucial – but turning camping areas into expensive sites with running water and paved driveways would be a travesty to the wild attitude of this destination.

In the event that fees are collected for camping areas (which I believe is unnecessary pending the commitment of the climbing community to take full responsibility for the area and work to keep it sustainable), I believe that all fees collected should directly support the resources for which they are collected.

I have spent a lot of time in Orangeville and the surrounding towns, and truly believe that the climbing community drawn to Joe’s Valley makes positive economic contributions to the county. During a city clean-up day I volunteered at a few years ago, I was able to really connect with some of the locals and was moved by their great perspective on the climbers who frequent their small slice of Utah. Climbers have an indescribable connection to Joe’s Valley, the sandstone boulders, the dry landscape, the freshly baked donuts in town, and every moment spent out in the wilderness.

While I realize my comments may not directly lead to any actions, I want to express my interest in continuing to be a part of the conversation about Joe’s Valley. There is much work to be done to protect the future of this climbing area, but there is a strong force of climbers willing to stand behind Joe’s and make an impact.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Katie Boué

Being a climber is about more than just clawing your way up rocks – living this lifestyle also comes with a responsibility to the places where you play. As climbing gets bigger and bigger, it’s on our community to make sure we’re doing things right.

Getting weak, growing up, and getting back in the game.

It’s been 2015 for exactly one month – and so far, I’m pretty psyched about this year. I’m absolutely smitten with my job running social media at Outdoor Industry Association, my calendar is full of travel, and I’ve been making fairly good on my resolutions.

But here’s the thing: I am so over winter. I haven’t been climbing outside since December when I went to Indian Creek for a weekend – and while it was a fantastic weekend of sandstone and desert landscapes, it just wasn’t enough.

IMG 6407 798x1024 Getting weak, growing up, and getting back in the game.

Photo: Kyle O’Meara

IMG 6388 1024x440 Getting weak, growing up, and getting back in the game.

It’s basically impossible to get out to Utah or anywhere I want to climb (my hatchback is not snow-worthy), and a weeklong bout of the flu during Outdoor Retailer knocked me off my training game. I want warmth, and sunshine, and camping weather! Winter bogs me down, and the two weeks of training I missed during my sick phase knocked me off my groove. Coming back to the gym on leg day didn’t help either – my thighs are still on fire!

Well, maybe 2015 isn’t going as smoothly as I thought – yet. I finally recovered from weeks of sickness, which led to me also finally catching up on e-mails and turning my training plan into posts, cleaning out my pantry, and updating this blog. Tomorrow kicks off a solid week of training and climbing. Next week, I’m heading to Florida for my cousin’s wedding. March is quickly filling up with climbing trips to Utah and a possible adventure down to Tallahassee for the 5th annual Save The South bouldering competition.

And it all leaves me with 55 days to get in shape – or at least that’s what I’ve decided.

Two months of solid training ought to provide the perfect jumpstart to the spring climbing season. I chose the 55 day path because it leaves me (hopefully) in crush-mode right in time for the climbing comp at Tallahassee Rock Gym. It’s been so long since I’ve been back to my old home, so it’d be killer to come back in proper form. The plane ticket isn’t finalized, but even if this falls through I’ll hit spring ready to get outside and collect some new projects.

I’ll start sharing my training weeks/routines this week, in case anyone else out there wants to stop being such a winter couch potato and get back on the path towards climbing righteousness. It’s almost spring, y’all! My training all happens in the early mornings with my ladyfriend Heather, who thoroughly enjoys kicking my ass with new workouts. Oddly enough, I love waking up before the sun to go do some fitness – I get to start my day with cotton candy sunrises from Movement Denver.

IMG 6639 1024x653 Getting weak, growing up, and getting back in the game.

And I promise I’m going to get back to writing and playing on social media. It’s been a lot of work, work, work – and I honestly put some thought into cutting back on blogging all together. As much as I love putting all my creative energy towards my new job, I realized I still want to keep doing some of this for myself too. (And I’ve gotten a ton of e-mails that are going to make for some sweet Q&A posts!) So thanks for reading, and thanks for miraculously not letting my page views drop during my monthlong absence. You rock.

 

The Ambitious Art of New Years-ing

I adore the holiday season – but there’s one particular reason for celebration that shines the brightest in my world: New Years. The festivities, the sentiments of new beginnings, the air of hope and possibility. It’s the best.

2014 was a year of transition for me. My yearlong trip ended, my long-term boyfriend/co-pilot and I broke up, I moved my life out to Colorado on a whim, and I spent months regrouping, reorganizing, reprioritizing, and revamping. Towards the end of the year, things finally started to fall in place. I moved into a gorgeous house built in 1904 (with original hardwood floors!), and started a new job with Outdoor Industry Association.

And now I’m here – a few days out from 2015 and already eager to start a new year.1513761 1001451179870536 4809031762134644380 n The Ambitious Art of New Years ing

Resolutions are great, but a fresh year offers so much potential beyond making declarations like “I’m going to stop drinking soda!” (let’s get real, I’ll never stop drinking soda). I like to treat each new year as an opportunity to focus on becoming who I want to be.

This year: I want to get strong. I want to travel to new places. I want to kick some major ass at my job. I want to train harder, work harder, and play harder.

Here’s a peek into my New Years-ing:

  • Training: I’m starting to train, every day. Whether it’s a morning workout on my yoga mat or a session at the rock gym – doing something to improve my climbing every day. I want to climb my strongest year ever, so I have to train harder than ever too.
  • Letters: This year, I want to spend more time with pen + paper. I’m starting by writing notes to everyone who profoundly impacted my life in 2014. As it turns out, I have a lot of letters to write. The first one was to my mailman, because he’s a badass and trudges through wicked snow so I can get my holiday cards delivered.
  • 2015 Word of the Year: I like to choose a theme word each year – last year it was “focus.” (Which I both did a good and horrible job of embodying.) For this year, I chose the word “create.” I want to write more (again, pen + paper, baby), doodle and draw more, craft more with my hands. I want to build, connect, imagine, and make messes more.
  • Simplifying: 2014 was the year of me trying to pile as much on my plate as possible. It was fun, challenging, and exciting – but this year I want to really focus my energy where it matters the most, and cut the rest of the distractions.

The universe has handed me a set of perfectly aligned stars to start 2015 with, so I’m going to roll with that and make this the best year of my life (so far, anyways). I thought nothing could beat the year I spent living in my big yellow van, but 2015 might just be the one.

I’ve got a brand new Moleskine, a cute dress to wear when the clock strikes midnight, and more ambition than I know what to do with. Let’s do this, 2015!

The Essential Guide to Winter Camping Booze

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year, and friends are right at the top of my list. Since moving out to Colorado at the beginning of the year, I haven’t been able to spend very much time with my family – so my friends out here have become my tribe. To celebrate the holiday weekend, I’m packing up my Stanley thermos, and heading out to Shelf Road to climb with a crew of fellas from back in my Tallahassee Rock Gym days.

But winter camping isn’t always my thing.

The cold gets to me sometimes. But I know the season for camping trips is probably cooling down a bit, so I couldn’t pass up the invite to climb in perfect 60º weather only a few hours away. Aside from my climbing gear and camping equipment, I have one priority for this trip: drinks. These fellas know how to have a good time, so I put together three essential drinks everyone should bring along during winter adventures.

DSC 8052 1024x653 The Essential Guide to Winter Camping BoozeDSC 8077 1024x620 The Essential Guide to Winter Camping BoozeDSC 8085 1024x678 The Essential Guide to Winter Camping Booze

Hot Chocolate with Irish Cream

This is possibly my all-time favorite winter drink. I’ve always adored hot chocolate, so the next progression was clearly to introduce liquor to the mix. I added three shots of Saint Brendan’s Irish cream liqueur (aka Bailey’s for poor people) to the Stanley one-handed thermos filled with water and three scoops of hot chocolate mix – bonus points if you add a shot of whiskey and some coffee! And of course, top it all off with an offensively large mound of heavy whipped cream for good measure.

Okay, so the whipped cream might not be practical for the outdoors – but the one-handed thermos definitely is. This thing keeps drinks hot for up to six hours, tags along easy everywhere from adventures to my morning commute, and doesn’t spill even a single drop.

 A Flask Full of WhiskeyDSC 8046 1024x588 The Essential Guide to Winter Camping Booze

When you’re hiking around with a pack full of ropes and gear, there isn’t an abundance of space for fancy winter libations – which is where the 8 oz. Stanley Adventure flask (which is on sale right now!) comes into play. I bought a small 12 oz. bottle of my favorite whiskey, Bulleit Rye, and loaded it into my flask to keep on hand for moments when the crew needs a pick-me-up, or when I’m in need of a victory swig after a climb. A simple flask packs easy, doesn’t add a lot of weight to your load, and can add a dash of adult-enjoyment to any beverage. Perfect stocking stuffer idea, anyone? I know. 

 A Six-Pack of Seasonal Beer

The easiest drink for camping, ever, period, is beer. It’s plentiful, cheap, and always refreshing after a day of exploring. Winter is a great season for bringing beer because you know it’ll stay cold – there’s nothing worse than a hot, skunky beer when you’re camping in the summertime. For our Shelf Road adventures, my buddy Jeff decided to pick up a six-pack of New Belgium’s seasonal winter ale. He describes it as “a white IPA, so it’s not as hoppy – and it has a really clean taste with a smooth finish. Honestly it’s the perfect winter beer.”

I let Jeff borrow my Stanley vacuum-sealed pint glass, which features a built-in bottle opener on the lid! This might be my favorite Stanley product right now, since the big mouth opening and spacious 16 oz. capacity are ideal for optimized beverage size.
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Bottoms up, y’all!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Stanley as part of their Give The Gift of #Stanleyness campaign. Thoughts (and genius beverage suggestions) are 100% mine, as always. If you want to help support The Morning Fresh, click those links – Eddie Bauer is currently offering free shipping on all orders over $49!