I have always been a summer gal. Winters were never my thing, and nothing pleased me more than the promise of a hot summer – until I started climbing and camping. Now that I understand the torture of sleeping in a tent that’s steamier than a sauna, and the agony of hiking up the side of a mountain with sweat puddling in my boots, I’m not quite as big of a summer fan.
Despite the heat and brutal sun, summer remains a prime season for adventure. You just have to know how to cope with the summertime swelter.
After a recent trip up to Tennessee for a weekend of bouldering, I found that one can effectively battle the side effects of summer – you just have to employ crafty tactics for beating the heat. Here are my top tips for staying cool while embarking on summertime adventures:
Let me say this again – stay hydrated. After working on the Hydration Summit with GeigerRig, I learned how incredibly important it is to continually be pumping your body with water. Nothing will zap your outdoor chutzpah quite like dehydration; and it’s all too easy to forget to drink enough.
Personally, I’ve found that a hydration pack is key to making sure you’re drinking enough, and drinking regularly. I used to solely carry a Naglene bottle around, but it’s such a hassle to drink from while you’re on the move. A hydration pack with a convenient tube allows you to take a quick sip without slowing down. (Pssst, stay tuned for a GeigerRig hydration pack giveaway coming up this week!)
Don’t want to take my word for it?
Check out my interview with Gatorade Institute veteran John Seifert for an expert opinion.
Take it slow.
Where’s the rush? Niko tends to practically sprint during crag approaches, and always leaves me panting in his wake. Overexerting yourself is a waste of energy, and will only serve to get you real hot, real fast. Get an early start, and alleviate the pressure of “getting out there in time.”
Slow your roll, keep an even pace, and remember that whole hydration thing. Stop to sip water frequently – your body will thank you.
Take a siesta.
Summertime swelter isn’t just hard on your body; it makes rock downright impossible to hold onto. Those sexy sloped crimps on Cleopatra at Stone Fort? Forget about it once the sun hits that sultry slab of sandstone. Attempting to project a boulder that’s been baking like an oven is frankly a waste of time – so save your strength, and go take a nap.
Seriously. Niko and I hit our heat threshold around noon, just in time for the sunshine encroach on even the shadiest of spots. We hiked back out to the car, drove to a more appropriate parking lot (napping on the gravel at a golf course is kinda frowned upon), and quickly settled in for a nice afternoon sleep session. With crash pads splayed out on the ground, we enjoyed a nice lunch break and rest before heading back to the crag to finish up our climbing conquests.
Did it help me climb better? You’ll have to judge for yourself, but I’ll tell you this – after a satisfying nap, I returned to a route, Super Mario (V4), that had plagued me for over two years, and quickly sent it.
Seek the shade.
This one feels like a no-brainer. When you’re out in the boulder field, hang out under trees and overhangs. You’ll likely be sweating either way, but keeping your body out of the sun helps to prevent the bright rays from zapping all your energy out.
My favorite shady spot? Certain caves, boulders, and cracks tend to offer unbelievably cool pockets and drafts of air. I’m talking a stiff 70 degrees of refreshing bliss if you find the right little nook. The boulder problem Cleopatra is one of those spots. Snuggle up in the corner, and you’ll notice a huge temperature drop.
Keeping your cool and maintaining a hydrated body are key elements to making the most out of your adventures into the heat. Do you have any tips or tricks for staying cool while hiking, climbing, or exploring outside?