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The Yoga Warm Up for Climbing

Wisconsin Life: DeviWisconsin Life: Devil's Lake Climbing

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The climbing industry is full of innovative and creative people who use their talents to come up with ways that we climbers can have an even better experience on the wall. The past few decades have given us lighter gear, better and harder ways to train, and opened up countless new routes in beautiful places […]

The post Women on Lead: Interview with Jessica Mor, Founder of 3rd Rock appeared first on Crux Crush.

Read more http://cruxcrush.com/2016/07/19/women-on-lead-interview-with-jessica-mor-founder-of-3rd-rock/

You can get very farYou can get very far with great technique! #Climber#Climbing

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You Might Be a Climber Mom If...
Crashpads, deserts, and babies. Photo credit: Aaron Guiles

Mother's Day is just a few days away and I've decided to pay tribute to all climbing mothers out there by dedicating this week's posts to you all! It's not easy being a climber and a mother. Actually, it's not easy being a mother period. But with time, we learn to navigate the choppy waters called parenthood and eventually incorporate our former lives of being a climber amongst the craziness.

 So with that said, you might be a climber mom if: 


-  your climbing pack contains more diapers/toys/snacks than actual climbing gear.


- you bring an extra crash pad (whether sport climbing or bouldering), just to use as a nap mat.

You Might Be a Climber Mom If...
Naptime! Photo credit: Jeline Guiles

- your cardio consists of running after your child at the crag so they don't tumble down the hill and die.

- you make every attempt count on the wall because when you're not climbing, you're preoccupied running after your child, making sure they don't tumble down the hill and die.

You Might Be a Climber Mom If...
Making sure baby doesn't die. Photo credit: Aaron Guiles

- your focus on the wall isn't about the next move you have to make, it's listening to your baby cry and thinking "do I come down to console him/her or keep climbing?"

You Might Be a Climber Mom If...
A quiet baby makes for a more focused mom on the wall. Photo credit: Aaron Guiles

- you'll pay extra for a hotel on climbing trips because camping in the cold weather with a baby just doesn't sound like very much fun.

- your road trip to your favorite crag that used to take 5 hours now stretches into 8 hours because of feeding and diaper changing breaks.


-  you have one of these harnesses in your stash.

You Might Be a Climber Mom If...


- you look forward to the day your child is old enough to join the kids climbing club/team at your gym.


- you drop off your child at the gym for climbing club/team practice and you proceed to the walls and get your own training session in. 

- you've imagined traveling the world and supporting your child in World Cup events, all on their sponsor's dime.


- you feel guilty for leaving your child at home while you get a quick session in at the climbing gym.


- you worry about your child getting the "white lung" from too much chalk inhalation.

 


- your child spots you from the ground, even if they're 10 times smaller than you are.

You Might Be a Climber Mom If...
"I've got you!" Photo credit: Jeline Guiles

- your child asks for a spot every time they're on the wall.

- the only idea you can come up with for your kid's birthday party is renting out the climbing gym. 

you rush out of the crag as quickly as possible to not be late to pick them up from school and then pick them up dirty and with chalk all over your hands wondering what the teachers and other parents think. (submitted by Aimee Roseborrough).

- you ask for a belay from your children. 

- your pep talks with your kids involve metaphors related to mountains, figuring out the moves, cruxes, falling, and/or trying hard.

- people in public give you the stink eye for having a dirty kid because you've been out at the crag all weekend.

- you make it a point to find books that have mountains or climbing in them to read before bedtime.

- you don't think harnessing up your child is dangerous but the thought of them falling off their bikes and scraping a knee terrifies you. 

- you're motivated to send a route/problem because you want to make your kid(s) proud. 

- and finally...you never thought you could enjoy or love anything more than climbing for the rest of your life, but you were proved wrong when you became a mother to the most adorable climbing baby in the world!

You Might Be a Climber Mom If...
My world! Photo credit: Aaron Guiles



Climb On, Momma! 

Read more http://climbonsister.blogspot.com/2015/05/you-might-be-climber-mom-if.html

​Hanna Lucy on the C​Hanna Lucy on the Canada Cliffs classic, House of Detention (5.11d). Photo by Vincent Lawrence.

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“Doing move after mo“Doing move after move at maximum exhaustion, almost in a warrior trance state,” Steph Davis recalls her climb of Concepcion outside of Moab, Utah

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Today, Colorado based yoga instructor and climber, Emma Murray, gives us the low down on the best yoga warm up for climbers. Try it out and work to loosen up those perpetually tight shoulders! Getting your muscles warmed up before jumping on the wall can not only help prevent injury, it can also get you climbing your […]

The post The Yoga Warm Up for Climbing appeared first on Crux Crush.

Read more http://cruxcrush.com/2016/08/18/the-yoga-warm-up-for-climbing/

Have you had some shoulder issues you need to address? Maybe there's been a lingering pain you're not sure what to do about? I know I have! And I'm so glad Ann Raber made the following workout! 
 
Below, she shows us an easy rest day activity that'll benefit shoulder recovery and promote shoulder health! You'll want to make sure to read to the end where Ann put together an instructional video! 
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Training Tuesdays (Week 18): Rest Day Shoulder Workout

When it comes to lingering tweaks and pains related to my major climbing body parts, I stick with the old 'if I ignore it it will go away' method. It never, ever works. But I don't like to make a big whoop. This fall I went to Magic Wood in Ausserferrara, Switzerland for a month of early fall granite bouldering, and my shoulders were just not 100%.  I did this workout every rest day, and came home feeling better than when I left, and was never held back from sending by the shoulder.

 
If you've got one of those shoulders that's not quite injured but not quite perfect, and you're on a road trip and therefor unlikely to take a long rest and see a physio, this scapular stability series might help keep you going. It's also an ideal preventative workout for the climbing and training seasons, as it targets improved efficiency in movement and injury prevention. 
 
Training Tuesdays (Week 18): Rest Day Shoulder Workout
Supernova was not to be missed, but is very intense on the shoulders in this massive span position.
In my work as a Pilates Instructor in Southern California, I see lots of people with chronic shoulder problems. Some of them have had a lot of success in reducing pain and regaining range of motion by targeting the shoulder carriage with light resistance exercises on Pilates Reformer. Obviously I did not bring a Reformer to rural Switzerland. 
Training Tuesdays (Week 18): Rest Day Shoulder Workout
Joe Pilates on his Universal Reformer. Not. Portable.
I started doing this workout every rest day (climbing two on one off, sometimes 2 off for weather), modifying the Reformer exercises to work with a theraband and a sofa. 
 
Training Tuesdays (Week 18): Rest Day Shoulder Workout
Here I demonstrate the entire series of exercises. Most of them are effective at about 5-10 repetitions. Don't get all climber ambitious and do too many reps. Doing more will just wear you out, and this is a rest day activity! The key is doing the series regularly, even if you only do a few of each one. 
 
The Gear: 
 
A light or medium resistance band, a bit longer than the span of your arms. Don't use a heavy one, as it will made some moves too hard and others too easy to get maximum benefit. If you don't have a resistance band, light hand weights will do very well, but again, don't go more than 2 lbs. It's modest resistance and maximum stability work. 
 
I slip my band under the foot of a heavy sofa, you can use a solid rock, tree, pole, whatever will hold it in place. 
 
The Form:
 
In every exercise, you'll be pulling your shoulders back, like you're plugging them into their sockets, and drawing your shoulder blades down your back. Don't worry about pulling them together, just stay focused on those huge muscles and make your movements with control. Keep the sides of your neck super long while you move.
 
The Point:
 
These exercises are meant to teach you to move your arms in any direction, with resistance from any angle from a stable shoulder position. You might have heard of "Scapular Stability"? That's this. And without it, a climber is quick to become a sad resting panda. 
Training Tuesdays (Week 18): Rest Day Shoulder Workout
This will be your bouldering experience if you climb without scapular stability!
I've also included this guide to the exercises. Once you've done them a couple of times with me on the video, you'll be able to use this guide to go through the series whenever you want. But you can always find it online when you're at the Edelweiss Climbers Lounge, down the road from the Bhodi Campground. Because they have free wifi, and hanging out (and working out) there when you're resting is free! 


 
 
Special Thanks to ClimbTech, FIG Clothing, and Bodhi Climbing and Camping
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Climb On, Sister!



Read more http://climbonsister.blogspot.com/2014/12/training-tuesdays-week-18-rest-day.html

This week's guest post is from Dana Bleiberg, who changed her climbing style and exercises based on her less-than-average height. In this installment of Training Tuesday, she'll go over some exercises that you should be integrating into your workouts. Next week, she'll explain the ways in which she has altered her climbing to compensate for her height. 
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Climbing is a wonderful sport because it can work for so many different body types. Think about lanky Dave Graham next to muscular Chris Sharma or Dean Potter being 6’5 vs Carlo Traversi, who stands at 5’7. Personally, I stand at 5’1. Over the past six months, I have been working with climbing coach Taylor Reed to completely change my training and climbing style to better benefit my height. It has been a bit of an experiment but one that is working out well! Below are some of my favorite exercises for shorter climbers. 
Training Tuesdays (Week 19): Exercises for Shorter Climbers
Training Tuesdays (Week 19): Exercises for Shorter Climbers
Emily, who is 5'7" (above) on the same holds as me, who is 5'1"
 
Upper Body
 
Wide set pull ups
I have a positive ape index, but that still only puts me at a 5’3 reach. When climbing, in order to reach the same holds as a taller climber, my arms are more so spread out and my elbows are extended at a greater angle. If square to the wall, this changes the pulling motion from mostly biceps, to lats. In order to train and mimic this motion, I train a lot of wide set pull ups. 

To do a wide set pull up, grab onto a pull up bar with your palms facing away from you. Bring your arms out so the angle of your elbow is approximately 120 degrees. Pull up. 
 
Training Tuesdays (Week 19): Exercises for Shorter Climbers
Wide grip pull up. Photo credit: munfitnessblog.com
 
Wide set lat pull downs
Can’t do a pull up? No problem! Hopefully, the weight room at your gym has a lat pulldown machine. This allows you to isolate your lats with a wide grip while being able to adjust the weight you are pulling. Bodybuilding.com has a great tutorial on how to correctly do a lat pulldown - http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/wide-grip-lat-pulldown
Training Tuesdays (Week 19): Exercises for Shorter Climbers
Lat pull down. Photo credit: www.favao.com
 
Lower Body
 
Box Jumps
Something shorter climbers all know is that when you can’t reach, (and can’t match or use alternate beta) you jump! To jump you need the leg muscle to propel yourself upwards. Lunges, squats, and leg presses are all great but to really build up muscle for jumping, you should jump. To perform a box jump choose a bench, curb, sturdy table, (or those box jump boxes in the weight room) and jump! Once it becomes easy to do a set of 8 jumps in a row, move onto a higher box or add on a 10 pound weight vest. 
Training Tuesdays (Week 19): Exercises for Shorter Climbers
Box jump. Photo credit: betterchoices.co
 
Hamstring Curls
Where a taller climber might throw a heel up and reach, a shorter climber will probably have to pull in on that heel hook. Pulling in with a heel hook activates the hamstrings. There are many ways to workout your hamstrings, my favorite though is with a balance ball. Doing hamstring curls on a balance ball also works your core and stabilizing muscles. Here is a tutorial on bodybuilding.com - http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/ball-leg-curl
 
Core
Here is where being short comes in handy! Shorter legs are easier to lift back up onto the wall when feet cut, and a shorter torso is easier to keep close to the wall. Though this means the leg lifts that kill your 5’8 training partner are not going to be as effective for you. Try adding in more plank variations to your workout. My favorites right now are weighted planks, and planks with my feet on a medicine ball. 
 
Next article I will talk about how I changed my technique to better benefit my height. Hopefully these exercises help. When not being able to reach isn’t an option, you just have to figure out how to make the move work.
 
Good luck with your training and to keep up with my adventures follow me on Instagram at @littledanab. 
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Dana is sponsored by Evolv
Climb On, Sister!
 

Read more http://climbonsister.blogspot.com/2015/01/training-tuesdays-week-19-exercises-for.html

Last week, Dana wrote about workouts for the entire body that would benefit climbers. This week, she explores the different techniques that shorter climbers should be working on in order to take their climbing to the next level. 

 
Enter, Dana!
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Training Tuesdays (Week 20): Perfecting the Shortie Technique. A Guest Post by Dana Bleiberg
Turn in technique
Step, turn, reach. Step, turn, flag, reach. This is the technique taught to most new climbers. If you turn your left hip into the wall when you reach with your left hand it takes less effort and it gives you a little bit of extra reach. Well, what happens when you step, turn, and still can’t reach? As a 5’1 climber, I ran into this issue a lot. Over the past six months, I have been working with technique coach Taylor Reed to completely reinvent my climbing style and to move away from “step turn reach” and towards a turned out, dynamic style of climbing.

What is turnout? Turnout is “frog” climbing. The inside of both big toes face the wall, your knees are out away from your body, and your hips are sucked into the wall. Think the position you are in doing a butterfly stretch. Practice keeping this stance on your easy warm up climbs. Move your hips from side to side to transfer your weight over your feet. If you are moving your left hand or left foot you want your hips and weight over your right foot and vice versa. This turnout style of climbing will require a bit more muscle strength than a turn in style of climbing. 

The reason for turn out is that it allows for dynamic movement. Dynamic movement is using momentum to help propel your body to the next hold. This is a technique that took me quite a while to get used to. I spent most of my climbing career as a very static climber. I had amazing lock off strength and would lock off everything and climb incredibly slow. Sometimes, a low lock off still wasn’t enough reach and even if it was, locking off took way too much energy. So, I learned to jump and use power and force (dynamic movement) to reach the next hold. There are two main types of dynamic movement deadpoints and dynos. 
Training Tuesdays (Week 20): Perfecting the Shortie Technique. A Guest Post by Dana Bleiberg
Dyno! Photo credit: redditweekly.com
A deadpoint is a controlled throw to handhold that may not be within reach staticly. Deadpoints are done with one hand coming off the wall rather than both. A dyno is a large throw with all four points of contact leaving the wall. 

Now, how do you learn to deadpoint and dyno? Start with deadpoints. Choose a climb you can easily do, say a V0 or V1. Now force yourself to do each move with power and momentum. Place your feet well, drop your hips down, and launch. It will feel funny at first to dynamically move to a hold you know you can reach staticly, but this is just to get you a feel for the motion. Gradually move on to harder (but still doable) climbs. Once you feel comfortable with deadpoints, move onto dynos. To do a dyno choose two jugs just out of reach from each other. Grab onto the lower one and place your feet high, drop your hips and pull up with your arms as your push up with your legs. Throw your hips into the wall and let go with both hands. Attempt to grab the higher hold with both hands rather than just one to avoid swinging off. 
Training Tuesdays (Week 20): Perfecting the Shortie Technique. A Guest Post by Dana Bleiberg
Snagging the dyno. Photo credit: www.savagefilms.net
For a video of my coach talking you through me doing advanced dynamic movement, check out the following: 


Please note that I am not saying EVERY move has to be done in a turned out dynamic style. Pick and choose what feels best for each individual move. I personally climb with turnout 90% of the time. 

Happy training, and to follow me on my adventures check out my Instagram
_______________________
Dana is sponsored by Evolv

Climb On, Sister!

Read more http://climbonsister.blogspot.com/2015/02/training-tuesdays-week-20-perfecting.html

Training Tuesdays (Week 21): Foam Rolling for Climbers. A Guest Post by Sarah Groman
 

This week's Training Tuesday comes from Sarah Groman, climber and graphic design graduate, turned physical therapy student. I had heard of climbers using foam rolling as a means to alleviate muscle tension before but I never had a good idea of which exercises to use, so I asked Sarah (who foam rolls religiously and swears by it) to demonstrate her foam rolling workout so we could capture it on video and give readers a real time workout to follow along. She also provided a great write up underneath the video, which explains what's happening in the video as well.

 
I should note: consult your physician before performing any exercises if you have any pre-existing conditions. Exercise at your own risk.


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Written by Sarah Groman
 
Foam rolling is a tension-relieving method known as self-myofascial release. Essentially, the pressure from the foam roller decreases tension between the muscle and the fascia (areas commonly known as “knots”). For those who have never done a foam-rolling workout before, here are some things to know before going into it:
  • It’s probably going to hurt the first few times. You’ll find pressure points you didn’t know existed
  • If done right, it is a workout. Your legs are going to be doing more work than you realize and they provide most of the movement as support, as well as your abs as they will give the most control, provided they are engaged.
  • Engage your abs. These movements need to be as controlled as possible.
  • As with any workout, remember to breathe.
  • If you have a muscle that is strained or pulled, do not roll that muscle, as it will cause more irritation.


If it feels like you’re only using your upper during a session at the bouldering wall, chances are that you’re probably right. It’s important to remember that proper use of the muscles in your lower body can not only make moves that “weren’t doable” go every time, as well as save you a lot of energy.

Because you use your entire body when you climb, this foam rolling workout targets major muscles from both the upper and lower body. To make it easy to follow, I’m moving from top to bottom, starting with the trapezius and ending with the calves. We will avoid rolling the lower back, as it puts unwanted pressure on your lower vertebrae. Once you’ve got the flow of this workout, it should take about 20 minutes total, give or take depending how long you feel you need to stay over certain areas.

UPPER BODY

  1. Trapezius
  2. The trapezius muscle constitutes a lot of the upper back and posterior neck. It’s often an area of tense muscles in climbers (as are most of the back muscles), and it is difficult to relax for some. Lie your upper back on top of the foam roller with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your hands over your chest to open up the muscles. As you slowly roll up and down your upper back, hold pressure upon any tenderness you may find in your trapezius until it subsides. Maintain a steady breathing rhythm as you massage. Do not use this method if you have any unhealed wounds, skin disorders, fractured bones or neural diseases, such as fibromyalgia.
Rhomboids
  1. The rhomboids lie deep to (beneath) the middle part of the trapezius, and medial to the shoulder blades, and they connect your shoulder blades with your spine. They are a major muscle of shoulder retraction (a big movement in pulling). These are a major target muscle for climbers they take the biggest hit during training, and if your one that alternates between climbing and desk job they can get very stiff. For this exercises, again lie your upper back on the foam roller with feet flat on the floor, and arms crossed over chest to open up the back muscles. However, rather than have the foam roller at the base of the neck, it’s going to be slightly lower, just in line with the shoulder blades. Start by making a few shallow, slow rolls over that area. When you’re ready, slowly tilt your body slightly to one side, putting more pressure on either the right or left rhomboid. Be sure to keep feet flat on the floor. Do the same motion, making the rolling deeper.
Latissimus dorsi (“lats”)
  1. The lats make up the largest back muscle, running essentially from your armpit to your lower back. Both sides put together sort of resemble a pair of moth wings. The lats must be targeted individually. Start with your back on the foam roller, and with the roller lined up with the arm pit (about where the insertion of the lat is). Again, we want to open up the muscle, but this time instead of cross the arms in front of the chest, take the arm of the side you’re rolling behind your head. You may want to place your hand wherever your feel the most balance. Shift your weight more to one side, but not so that you’re lying entirely on your side. There shouldn’t’ be pressure directly on your spine though. If you’re a regular climber who has never foam rolled your lats before, this might not be pleasant. Begin rolling toward to the lower part of the lat, stopping before you reach the lumbar area of your back. Roll back toward the insertion point. Make the motion slow and controlled.
Obliques
  1. Your obliques might be called “side abs” for slang. They contribute to many trunk movements and provide stability to and support rotation of the spine. This one might be a little more difficult. Remember: don’t do what isn’t comfortable yet. For this lie the side of your torso on the foam roller. Have the leg of the side receiving the pressure out straight, the other bent for leverage. The arm closest to the floor can be used as support as well. Begin rolling up and down, slow and controlled. Keep breathing.
Hip flexors
  1. The hip flexors are the muscles that help bring your thigh to your abdomen (think about those high feet and heel hooks you have to throw down). There are two hip flexors, and they run together from the lower back and attach to the head of the femur. If you strain or pull a hip flexor, you can probably kiss heel hooking bye-bye for a little while. To target these muscles, lie with your stomach facing the floor. Place the foam roller just below the pelvic crest (the part of the hip bone you can either feel or see that sort of juts out). Again, this exercise goes better if you target each side individually. To do this, lift one leg of the floor, and stack the toe on the heel of the leg still on the floor, and slightly shift your weight to the side of the floor foot. Being to roll up and down. Rolling the hip flexor does not need to involve huge movements, as it’s not as big as some of the back muscles. Switch to the other side.

LOWER BODY

  1. Quads
  2. There are four individual muscles that make up the group of muscles commonly known as the quadriceps. They provide knee extension, and provide power coming out of a heel hook, going for a dyno, or standing up from a high foot. It’s easy to come straight from rolling the hip flexors to rolling the quads. Start with the foam roller at the top of the thighs, just below the groin. Your arms will be used for support. Take one foot and stack it on top of the other to shift the pressure more to one side. Begin to roll up and down, slow and controlled. You will roll from the top of the thigh to just above the knee. Once you have completed one side, switch your feet and do the same movements for the other side.
Glutes
  1. Start with the bigger muscles by sitting on the foam roller, legs straight out and rolling lightly over both sides of the butt. After a few slow and controlled passes here, shift your body very slightly to one side, just enough to take the pressure off the other. You’ll be targeting a smaller area of the glutes, but one that probably is often tight. Make the same movements in this position. Move the pressure to the other side when you are done.
Hamstrings
  1. Three muscles on the posterior side of the legs make up the hamstrings. They provide knee flexion, another major muscle contraction in heel hooking. As you remain in a sitting position, legs out straight, begin with the foam roller just below the butt. Again, lift one leg off the ground in a relaxed bent position to move the pressure to one side. Roll from the top of the hamstrings to just above the back side of the knee. Repeat this motion several times, always slow and in control. Once you have finished with one leg, switch to the other.  
Calves
  1. In climbing, it’s common that these sweet muscles get neglected. This probably means they are getting neglected in any kind of tension relieving way as well. This time the foam roller will start just below the back of the knee. With one leg straight, take the opposite foot, and cross it over the straight knee. Supporting yourself with your arms, begin to roll the leg that is straight, from just below the back of the knee, to the base of the calf. After your have done this movement a good number of times, switch legs.
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For more from Sarah, check out her blog here!
 
Stay tuned for a post on how to choose a foam roller!
 
Climb On, Sister! 
 
 

Read more http://climbonsister.blogspot.com/2015/02/training-tuesdays-week-21-foam-rolling.html

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

CONTEST: I’ve teamed up with Sunski to give one reader two pairs of Sunski sunglasses. All you have to do to enter is sign up for my email newsletter—everyone who enters gets 10% off their next Sunski order. Contest ends 7/27. 

Sign Up To Win!

 

Imagine a place so colorfully alive it’s inspired the works of both Jimmy Buffett and Ernest Hemingway: two artists who couldn’t be further from each other on the creative spectrum. At the very end of the Overseas Highway — a stretch of road that snakes all the way from Maine to the Florida Keys — you’ll find a tiny chain of islands that ends at Mile Marker 0.

Key West is the southernmost city in the continental U.S., a land of coconuts, coral reefs and trained circus cats. And if you think that sounds a little off-the-cuff, you’re not wrong.

Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s all that fried conch. Or maybe there’s just something in the water. Whatever it is, there’s just something about Key West that makes you want to stay for good. Here, five ideas on how to spend your time in Conch Country (whether you’re a fan of Hemingway or his margarita-loving counterpart).

Go Off-Shore Fishing

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Just 45 minutes north of Key West is Big Pine Key, a quieter island known for its fishing culture.

Whether you bring your own boat or charter one, Lower Keys fishing is not to be missed. Once your line is in the water, you’ll catch everything from yellowtail to grouper, sailfish to tarpon, mahi-mahi to snapper.

Just be prepared for heat and sun unlike any you’ve felt before, and protect yourself with plenty of water, performance fishing shirts and giant straw hats.

Speaking of fishing, Ernest Hemingway found solace and inspiration in the sport when he lived and worked from Key West. In 1938, he caught a world-record seven marlin in one day. Another time, he landed a giant 468-pound marlin in just 65 minutes. His sport-fishing escapades inspired one of his most famous works, The Old Man and the Sea.

Visit the Hemingway House

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway left quite a legacy in Key West, and you can hear about all about the legends at the Hemingway Home, a house built by a salvage wrecker in 1851 and later lived in by Hemingway. There are personal touches everywhere, from his big-game hunting trophies to the massive swimming pool one of his disgruntled wives built there to replace his beloved boxing ring.
Keep an eye out for the 40-some six-toed cats who live there, all descendants from a feline Hemingway was gifted by a sea captain. It’s definitely worth waiting around for a free tour of the house.

Go For A Hike

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Wake up early before the heat and humidity set in and take a walk at the National Key Deer Refuge (key deer are dog-sized whitetails, an endangered species that can only be found here) or Blue Hole — both offer the chance to see snakes, alligators and native birds.

Walk Around Downtown Key West

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

They say it’s Austin we need to keep weird, but nothing can compare to the wackiness of downtown Key West.

From trucks encrusted with fake coral reefs to fresh seafood meals practically plucked from the sea in front of you, there’s nothing dull about this town. Wait in line to take a picture at the Mile Marker 0 sign or check out the distasteful shirt shops on Duval Street. If you’re more into art, visit the Wyland Gallery or swing by the true Margaritaville.

Then, head over to the daily Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Dock, where you can drink freshly cracked coconuts, deep-fried conch, watch the street performers and catch a show from Dominique the Cat Man, who has trained his feline actors to walk on tightropes and jump through fire. His eccentric, over-the-top and baffling show is not to be missed.

Snorkel, Dive, or Spear the Reefs

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

Travel Guide: Key West, Florida

The Florida Keys are home to the only living coral reefs in the continental U.S., and they are teeming with life.

Every snorkel company boasts that they know where the best reefs are, but you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Looe Key area, a protected marine life sanctuary where you’ll see Elkhorn and Star coral, sea turtles, blue tang, barracuda, spotted eagle rays and if you’re lucky, a dolphin or bull shark. Snorkel trips leave out of Bahia Honda State Park daily.

Thank you to Sunski and Igloo Coolers for supporting this trip. This post was originally written for and published by GrindTV.com

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(a bit late but I was busy moving from Chamonix to Bulgaria…) As January was coming to a close, I planned to visit Alice for some action on the Peak District grit. Our excitement was quickly curbed by a catastrophic weather forecast and I said, half jokingly, it was a pity that BIFF registration was closed. I arrived the following day and Alice casually announced that she bumped into Shauna Coxsey and signed us up for the comp. Despite all […]

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This is a guest post from Dirtbag Darling contributor Whitney James. Photos by Robyn Goldblatt.

Portable energy solutions are having a moment. Everywhere you look, professional photographers and outdoor enthusiasts are sharing photos of solar-panel-supported adventures. It’s easy to see why—we’re more reliant on technology than ever before, and that’s especially true when we go into the backcountry. Beacons and GPS devices often require a charge, and for many of us, our cell phones are still the best tool in the box for getting you out of a sticky situation (as long as you have service, of course).

Last month, EnerPlex got in touch to ask if I wanted to test a few of their products. I cocked my head—I had never heard of these guys—but agreed. It would be my first time using anything more than a small USB charger, but I had the perfect trip planned to put the Denver-based company’s products to the ultimate test: a week off the grid at the Flying U Ranch in British Columbia.

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SURFR: Solar and Battery Phone Case

Don’t be fooled: We always unplug while at the ranch, but when we’re riding horses on 40,000 acres without a guide, we want to be as self-sufficient as possible in case of an emergency. The EnerPlex Surfr rode along with us each day with my iPhone 6 safely tucked inside. Both a battery and a solar case, this small but mighty solution ensures you’ll never run out of juice. With the solar panel on the back, it felt a little bit nerdy, but practical enough to garner a spot in the saddlebag. Ease of use: A-.

KICKR IV: Foldable Solar Panel

Over the course of the week, I got a wild idea to track where we rode with my Suunto watch. The Kickr IV was my back-up plan in case the watch ran out of battery (which it did). With a simple USB port, this lightweight solar panel was an awesome, if not slightly ridiculous, addition to my saddlebags. I had never used solar power before, and after seeing how quickly it recharged my watch, I’m completely sold! Ease of use: A+.

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JUMPR SLATE 5K: Portable Power Bank

Get out your wallets, because this is EnerPlex’s number-one piece of gear. The micro-thin portable power pack is more streamlined than your smartphone, has a built in Micro-USB cable (and USB port) so that you can plug in directly, and holds enough juice for several charges. While kicking back in our cabin, I preferred to use this charger instead of an outlet. It was also especially helpful in transit in the airport, where the jacks are always occupied. The best part? Making all your friends jealous of your cool tech. Ease of use: A+.

GENERATR 100: Power Pack

As you’ve probably guessed by now, our week off the grid is anything but low tech. The Generatr 100 was the perfect powerful and lightweight solution for charging all our gear overnight to do it all over again the next day. But unfortunately…I didn’t bring the instructions. I couldn’t figure out how to get the award-winning Generatr working while in Canada, but see it being an excellent tool for charging my laptop later this summer while working outdoors. Ease of use: C. 

Whitney James works with Outside GO, but when the clock strikes five she’s out in the fresh Boulder, Colorado, mountain air riding her bike, running, climbing or riding a horse. She once spent 14 weekends in a row camping. 

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Folding swans and fortune tellers out of paper is child’s play, but designing a fully functional boat using the same techniques? That’s a feat of engineering. That’s exactly what Oru Kayak has accomplished, and they’ve brought more outdoor lovers into the fold (pun fully intended) by doing it.

You’ve probably seen Oru’s white and orange kayaks on Instagram or around the local lake. Inspired by the ancient Japanese art of paper folding, Oru creator Anton Willis developed a first-of-its-kind collapsible kayak that goes from box to boat in minutes (interesting fact: Only one prototype boat sank during initial design testing).

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That means the company’s full-size kayaks — models range in size from the recreational Beach boat to the rugged Expedition+ — can be stowed in the trunk of a car, under a bed or in a closet, making paddling accessible to a subset of people who previously didn’t have the storage space for their own boat. And those people? They’ve noticed.

“They fit my lifestyle better than a traditional boat because they are easy to put together and break down,”photographer Becca Skinner tells Dirtbag Darling. “I don’t have roof racks on my truck and they fit in the back of the bed or I can transfer them over to a friend’s smaller car. I’m not a whitewater kayaker; they fit the recreational piece for me.”

I’ve been using my own Oru for about a month now, and it is, to be quite honest, life changing. But it’s also a big investment—the boats are much more expensive than your big-box store kayak, so before you buy your own you want to be sure it’s right for you. Here are my thoughts on the boats:

Assembly

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Unfolding the Beach Series kayak for the first time was overwhelming and intimidating, but after following the directions once or twice, the folds soon became second nature (like the instructions say, just stick with it and don’t get frustrated). The boat comes with an instructional booklet, but you can also go on the brand’s website if you need more help.

The boat is essentially one piece of plastic that unfolds into a flat “sheet.” From there, you pull the front and back panels together and cross them, securing with the buckles and straps. Insert the floorboard and the seat, clip all the straps together and you’re ready to go. The assembly is actually incredibly user friendly—I’ve timed myself putting it together and I can now do it in under five minutes. If you think about it, that’s as much time as you’d spend unstrapping and unloading your kayak from the roof of your car.

Construction

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These boats weigh no more than 30 pounds, but they are surprisingly durable, stable and adept at tackling both still water and small ocean waves. While there’s no dry storage, there’s plenty of room in the spacious boat for dry bags should you choose to bring gear with you. If you’re worried about leaks, don’t be—in addition to smart folds that keep water out, there are neoprene sleeves that slip over the front and back of the boats to prevent water from entering any gaps.

The hull is made from a custom polypropylene that was treated to stand up to 10 years of UV abuse and more than 20,000 folds — treat it like you would a fiberglass model and it’ll last a lifetime.

The first time I attempted to enter the boat from the water, I assumed I would flip, but nothing of the sort happened. The boat is incredible stable, even in small ocean waves, and handles well, too. It’s actually pretty fast for its size.

Why It’s Perfect for Me

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The price of the Oru Kayak is steeper than big-box store boats, but the benefits are substantial. The boat fits into its own backpack, so I can carry it into remote lakes and rivers. It stores easily and takes less time to set up than it takes to tie a kayak down to your roof racks, and is incredibly lightweight and easy to use. It’s difficult for me to store, carry and load my other kayaks on top of my car—with this, all I have to do is carry the kayak to my car using the backpack, plop it in the trunk, and drive to the lake. It gives me a sense of independence that I didn’t have before.

I won’t lie: The look of the boat is one I love. Instead of the gaudy ombré orange and red kayak I usually use, this one is more aesthetically pleasing and looks great in pictures.

And best of all, after the novelty of the Oru wears off, you’re left with a high-quality boat that’s nimble and fun to paddle.

Thank you to Oru, a Dirtbag Darling partner who provided me with a kayak and paddle at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion.

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