How Proper Hydration Leads to a Safer, More Efficient Climb
Successful climbing requires countless physical skills and a sharp mind. There’s even growing recognition that rock climbing could be the single best way to work out your entire body. Years of training and practice help prepare climbers to tackle some of the tallest, steepest peaks nature has to offer. But without the proper hydration, climbing anything can become next to impossible. Poor hydration doesn’t just deteriorate a climber physically, but it can also cause serious mental roadblocks as well, which can lead to potentially fatal human error. The first step to a successful climb is always ensuring that there is plenty of water to drink on the way up.
The Fuel that Keeps You Climbing
Experienced climbers know that before taking on a new challenge, it’s important to do a significant amount of prep work. One of the most popular climbing locations in the world is Yosemite National Park’s ‘El Capitan’, who’s cliff face rises up 3000 feet straight into the sky. This harrowing climb can take hours on end, and each year, about 100 climbers are injured or killed in the park – with 80% of accidents due to some form of human error. Being properly hydrated leads to fewer mental mistakes, and significantly cuts down on the types of human error that doom so many climbers at El Capitan. But no matter how difficult the climb may be, make sure that you take into account how much water you will need. Some factors to consider are how hot/humid the temperature is, how long you will be climbing, and how much you typically sweat during physical activity. Most importantly, pay attention to your body. If your mind and/or movements don’t feel right, there’s a good chance that hydration is the problem.
While slow and arduous, climbing requires a massive amount of energy, and after hours of being on the edge (literally) your body can and will run out of fluids. Make sure that you have a Jerry bottle that can handle the rough environment that you will be in. A bottle that can hold enough water for the entire duration of the climb will help you avoid the nasty symptoms of dehydration, which can sometimes be fatal for climbers. If you find yourself feeling dizzy, confused, cramped, or excessively thirsty, then you need to replenish your fluids as soon as possible.
More is Always Better
When climbing/hiking, it’s always a good rule of thumb to lighten your carry load as much as possible. Any unnecessary items can usually be left behind in order to avoid extra strain on your body, which in turn lowers your chances of dehydration. However, if you were to have too much of something, water would be a great choice. The unpredictability of nature often forces you to use more of your energy and resources than initially planned – thus depleting your water supply. Having more than enough water to drink will keep your mind sharp, and provide the energy and lubrication your muscles need to continue your climb. In the event that you get stranded or lost, it’s also going to be the most important resource you have. Investing in a second, or even third water bottle for a backup is a smart move that will likely save you one day if you find yourself outdoors for longer than you anticipated.
Being a great climber requires more than just the know-how on how to climb. Smart climbers are always putting their safety and health above all else, and that starts with proper hydration. Making sure you have a reliable water bottle (or three) is your first line of defense against dehydration. Keeping your body and mind in good working order will help you stay safe on the climb, and improve your ability to take on even the steepest challenges ahead.
By Jess Walters