Rock Climbing in Boone

Right around the corner from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC the outdoor outfitters at Foot Sloggers offer 2 hour climbing classes through their affiliate Rock Dimensions.  For $75 you can face off against 50 foot rock faces in the Pisgah National Forest.

Rock Climbing is Golf with Grit

Rock climbing is a great activity for any age.  Although it may be frustrating and laborious at first, it pays off in an absorbing trial that combines the rigor of physical exercise with the tactical challenge of a good board game.  Think of it as golf with grit.

To climb a sheer rock face engraved with crevices and riddled with knuckles, pocks and narrow ledges, requires a strategy, one that won’t maroon you two-thirds of the way up with nothing to do but lunge desperately for the next hand hold.  Climbers are often seen peering up, mentally mapping the wall above them, trying to figure a way forward.

They will usually have help from a partner, for rock climbing is team sport, involving two people, one to climb, and the other to control the ropes and prevent serious injury.  The man on the ground is the belayer, feeding out the rope and locking it off should the climber fall, preventing a fatal plunge.

The belayer can also study the wall, calling out suggestions to the climber.  “Grab that outcropping to the right.”  “There’s a toehold just to the right of your left foot.”  The military has long recognized rock climbing as an excellent combination of coordinated exercise and team building skills.

No rock climber has ever had to be reminded that the reward is in the journey, but at the same time, most rock climbers know the triumph of having reached a goal by pressing forward against what seem to be impossible obstacles.  Unlike many experiences in life, the goal is almost always within sight and the effort is usually rewarded with measurable progress.  But that doesn’t mean it is without occasional pain and humiliation.

Rock Climbing in Boone, NC

Boone, a town of 17,000 residents, is situated in northwest North Carolina.  Nestled on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is within 75 miles of the highest point in America east of the Mississippi.  The rock here is a complex mixture of granite and other materials that have been squeezed, fractured, faulted and folded by millions of years of geologic activity.  It is the most rugged topography in the eastern United States.

Although its history reaches back to its founding in the early 1800’s by the nephews of legendary explorer Daniel Boone, the town today is mostly a college town, home to Appalachian State University.  The school draws students from Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, and plenty of them.  66% of Boone’s population is between the ages of 18 and 24.
The surrounding area is serviced by several outfitters offering white water rafting, hiking, caving, canoeing and rock climbing.  Foot Sloggers is located in the middle of town, surrounded by bistros, bakeries and popular eateries like the Black Cat Burrito and Melanie’s Café.

Rock Dimensions, located inside Foot Sloggers, offers a slate of half day and full day climbing expeditions and instruction for groups of 2 to 12.  We were a group of four.

Our Fellow Climbers, Exceptional Beings All

Ryan, our guide, was relaxed and friendly, patient and thorough, incapable of being becoming annoyed no matter how many times we incorrectly tied our ropes or failed to lock off our carabineers.  He had a deep background in climbing, having once scaled the famed El Capitan over the course of 5 days, sleeping in a hammock on the sheer rock face during the night and picking his way up through narrow fissures and precarious toe-holds each day.

We were accompanied by Harrison 12 and Mackenzie 13, two precocious youngsters, much enamored of their own accomplishments and competing with each other to impress.  Harrison claimed to have a boating license and be an expert hunter, having killed and eaten a squirrel on a recent expedition.

Mackenzie was strongly opinionated on just about any subject and somewhat loud, albeit remarkably articulate.  It later came out that she was being homeschooled, along with her two sisters (one of whom, she informed us, was suffering horribly from eczema) and was concentrating on becoming an actress – a full day of her studies each week being devoted to drama and theatrical exercises, which she laid out to us in great detail.

Both of these youngsters came from wealthy households and were offspring of what folks around here call “half-backs”.  Half-backs are well-to-do sorts who moved to Florida years ago to escape the cold but then found the summers so unbearably hot that they bought summer homes in the mountains of North Carolina and moved halfway back.

Fold together the country club set with suburban college kids and old time mountain folk and you get a pretty good idea of the demographic mix of northwest North Carolina today.

Climbing Lessons with Rock Dimensions in Boone

Ryan starts you off with a lesson in belaying, feeding out the rope and locking it off, showing you how to monitor the progress of your partner until he summits, and then guiding him down as he rappels back to earth.  You do this a few times and then change places.

You start on a slope that’s pitched about 60 degrees and then graduate to a 90 degree wall, which is the essence of technical climbing.  Technical climbing is distinguished from survival climbing in that it’s all about scaling sheer rock faces.

Survival climbing, on the other hand, while it may involve some technical climbing, is largely about reaching difficult summits by whatever means necessary, hiking, snowshoeing, crawling on all fours.  The books and movies about mountain climbing are mostly about survival climbing.

The proper gear for climbing is essential and is usually provided by the outfitter.  In addition to the ropes, cleats and carabineers, climbing shoes are indispensible.  With a fit like ballet slippers, these shoes are remarkable for allowing you to gain a toehold on the merest button of an outcropping.

One of the first challenges in rock climbing is to trust your gear and your guide.  When you hear a seasoned veteran like Ryan telling you that you can put all your weight on a toehold the size of wooden nickel, you must trust him.  The toe of your shoe and your clenched-tooth determination to keep from falling will keep you there.

The Rewards of Rock Climbing

Up you go, finding purchase on narrow ledges, wedging your shoulder into slender crevices, swinging your leg up to hook your instep on a tiny notch of rock.  Before long you are amazed at what you are doing.

If you do fall, it’s not the end of the world (unless your partner is caught napping).  The rope will snatch you up and leave you bouncing gently in air.  You catch your breath and carry on.  When, at length, you finally hook your elbows on the edge of the cliff and pull yourself up like you’re emerging from a swimming pool you feel a mixture of relief and elation.  Then you’re rappelling down the wall, touching earth and ready to do it all over again.

In the course of things you will likely get a few scrapes and bruises, and as the morning wears on, your muscles will grow tired, your limbs begin to quiver and the going will become tougher.  By the time you are finished for the day, you will be dripping with sweat, smeared with dirt and thirsty.  But you will have the pride of having accomplished something physically demanding and mentally challenging.

Tips on Skimboarding

For those who are not really familiar with this sport, skimboarding is performed on a baseboard which looks a lot like a regular surfboard. The only difference is that a skimboard is slightly smaller than the surfboard; this is to let the board glide easily on water. This sport is often known as skimming, where a person (namely, skimmer) stands on the board and slides the board on shallow water. You can find shallow water to skim when the waves are low, and closer to the beach. If you happen to look at someone skimboarding, you will see that the technique is similar to surfing. However, instead of battling the big waves, you are safe on shallow waters. All you need to do is throw your board onto the water, run in its direction, and get on it to skim.

Tips and Tricks to Follow

Once you learn to balance yourself on the board, you can easily glide on the waves and do some amazing tricks.

Selecting the Board
For beginners, the first thing to concentrate on what type of board you wish to choose. Go with either a fiberglass or wooden skimboard. Also, your height and weight will play a big part in deciding which board is right for you. Now although the skimboarding boards are smaller in size, there are a few variations in them. If you pick a board which is too small for you, it could mean that while skimming over the waves, your board may sink rather than glide. The best way to find the right board is by visiting your nearest sporting goods store and ask for assistance from the sales staff.

Finding the Location
Hands down, California is one state that offers one of the best beaches, not only in the U.S., but also around the world. But not everyone is lucky enough to be living here. In order to choose an ideal spot, choose either a beach that’s close to you, or opt to practice near a lake. Yes, a lake is an ideal spot for this sport. But there are certain rules, if I may, that you need to keep in mind. The water in the lake should be still and it needs to meet the sand. Make sure there aren’t big rocks as the board may topple over due to friction.

Checking your Momentum
Next in our line is understanding the wind pattern and your speed. Now no matter how fast or slow the winds may be, always keep in mind not to jump on the board. You have to run onto it as it will make sure that you don’t fall off the board or the board doesn’t sink in. When you run to climb on the board, your speed won’t decrease and you can actually move it closer to the waves in less time. The speed is the key to skimming.

Waxing your Board
Many skimmers believe that regular waxing of the board can make it go faster. The point here is that while skimboarding, sand can be a sticky situation, literally. It will stick to your board from the bottom and make it heavier to glide smoothly. So using the right kind of wax, depending on the temperature and frequency of use, you can actually make the board glide faster.

Standing in the Right Place
Last, but certainly not the least, inspect how you stand on the board. Where do you normally keep your feet on the board? Is your back foot at the back of the board, or do you stand a little towards the front? Your stance on the board will make a huge difference between an amateur skimmer and an expert. The right way to mount the board is to keep the back foot at the back of the board and the front one up close. This will help you stay balanced and reduce the chances of falling off, or sinking the board in.

Now the next time you and your friends are at the beach and getting bored, grab your skimboards and hit the waves. Practice as much as you can, and showoff your knowledge of the sport to everyone!

Top Extreme Sports

The sport activities that involve a significant amount of risk to life and include speed, great heights, or physical exertion are classified under the group of extreme sports. These sports are characterized by an element of thrill and excitement. Stunts and dangerous feats also fall under this category. Sports enthusiasts enjoy participating in such thrilling activities. Those of the daring type take part in all types of adventure sports for that adrenaline rush, while safe-players prefer watching them. In general, extreme sports have reached far and wide and have become popular among the youngsters today.

The advancement in technology became one of the important reasons behind the emergence of extreme sports. Perhaps, the absence of the risk factor, rather the adventure element in daily living generates the need for adventure, which is best met through extreme sports. People began to engage in extreme sports mainly for the thrill involved and in some cases, also for publicity. The emergence of extreme sports can be traced back to the 18th century. They have come a long way and have become a craze.

Top 10 Extreme Sports

Hang Gliding: It is an air sport wherein a pilot flies a foot-launchable aircraft, which is known as a hang glider. The pilots maneuver the aircraft by shifting body weight or by modern aircraft control systems. Owing to the advances in technology, pilots can soar high covering large distances while also performing aerobatics. Today, the Federation of World Air Sports organizes world championships in hang gliding.

Paragliding: Closely related to hang gliding, paragliding is another flying sport. The design of the aircraft and the way of flying are similar to those observed in hang gliding. Paragliders have no solid support. They are foot-launched. Hence turbulent weather imposes a great amount of risk on the sportsperson. For efficient paragliding, a person needs to have a know-how of the aircraft design, the concept of flying, the engineering involved in the activity, and meteorology.

Surfing: The activity of going along the face of a breaking wave by means of a surfboard is known as surfing. It is a surface water sport. The variations in the designs of the surfboard and the style of riding have classified surfing into two classes namely, long boarding and short boarding. Surfing is believed to have been a part of the ancient Polynesian culture and was first observed by Europeans. Some people practice surfing as a recreational activity while others devote their lives to it. Today, it is a widely popular extreme sport.

Windsurfing: Windsurfing is another surface water sport that is practiced using a windsurf board that is known as a surfboard. It is driven by a single sail. The sport is a combination of sailing and surfing. Winds from about 15-25 knots create an ideal environment for wind surfing. This sport emerged in the late years of the 20th century. Today different types of windsurfing boards and sails are available. Robby Naish and Bjorn Dunkerbeck were among the windsurfers who gained international acclaim. Training from an early age is the key to success in windsurfing.

Ice Climbing: The activity that involves climbing up inclined ice formations is known as ice climbing. Sportspeople practicing ice climbing, ascend along icefalls or frozen waterfalls as also rocks capped with ice. Alpine ice climbing involves crossing the mountain environment while water ice climbing is done beneath waterfalls or on cliffs. Depending on the texture of the ice to climb on, and the nature of the slope, climbers determine the equipment to be carried. Ice climbers and mountaineers are members of different clubs which arrange training and expeditions for ice climbers. The Mazamas and the American Alpine Club are some of the oldest clubs in the United States and Canada.

Hot Air Ballooning: An air balloon was the first human-carrying flight technology. The first manned flight of a balloon was recorded in France in 1783. A bag in the balloon that is known as an envelope contains hot air. A wicker basket suspended from the balloon carries the passengers. In the balloons used in hot air ballooning as a sport, the envelope is made out of nylon-like material and the mouth of the balloon is made of a fire-resistant material. Air ballooning is one of the very popular extreme sports around the world.

Skydiving: Also known as parachuting, skydiving involves a planned drop from a height using a parachute. There are records about successful parachute jumps from hot air balloons in the year 1797. The sport became international only in 1951. This sport demands free-falling skills and knowledge about parachuting techniques. Today, it is among the most popular recreational activities and competitive sports.

Mountain Biking: This extreme sport comprises riding bicycles over rough terrains. Specially designed bikes known as mountain bikes or hybrid road bikes are used in this sport. Depending on the terrain to be traveled and the way of riding, mountain biking is classified into four types namely, cross-country, freeride, downhill, and street riding. Mountain biking evolved in the 1970s. Many riders of the United States claim to have contributed in the evolution of mountain biking as an extreme sport. In the honor of the pioneering mountain bikers, the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame was established in 1988. This sport involves a journey across different kinds of deserted terrains. Hence the bikers need to possess survival skills, a great amount of self-reliance, and most importantly, bike-riding skills.

Bungee Jumping: The act of jumping from a tall structure while tied to a long elastic cord is known as bungee jumping. The tall structure is often a tall building, a bridge or a crane. The free falling that is experienced in bungee jumping makes it a sport full of thrill and excitement. The cord absorbs the energy of the fall and oscillates until the energy is consumed. The oscillations of the cord make the jumper fly up and down. The first modern bungee jumping provision was made in 1979 in Bristol. But the initial commercial bungee jumping began to be practiced in New Zealand in 1986. Today, it has earned a mixed popularity among the masses.

Mountaineering: Mountaineering is one of the most popular activities carried out as a sport and hobby. It combines walking, trekking, and hiking. It originated with the intent to trek to the highest points, which were never climbed before. But it soon became a sport requiring athletic abilities. In Europe, mountaineering is known by the name, Alpinism and is largely practiced in the Alps. Some derive pleasure from expeditions over rock while others love to explore snow-covered mountains. Experience brings in expertise in case of mountaineering.

Those enlisted above, as the top ten extreme sports were included in this list based on their popularity. If they were to be enlisted based on the degree of adventure they involve, the order could have been different and would have differed from person to person as well. Here, we give you some more adventure sports that can be included among the top ones. They are some of the mentions our readers requested, we make.

Skateboarding: Born in the 1940s out of the wish to surf on flat waves, skateboarding became quite popular by the ’60s. During the ’70s, various skateboarding competitions began to be held and improvements were made in the sports equipment, thus promoting skateboarding as a sport. The first skateparks were built in the late 1970s, further boosting the sport’s popularity. The 1990s and 2000s witnessed the introductions of tricks to skateboarding, further improvement in the gear, greater consideration to safety, more popularity, and wider participation. Today, this adventure sport enjoys a following of millions around the world.

Scuba Diving: It is an underwater sport where a diver goes underwater carrying a breathing equipment and moves with the help of fins attached to his feet. As the breathing apparatus is with the diver, he can span longer distances and remain underwater for a longer time. Scuba diving is enjoyed as a recreational activity and is undertaken in areas where rich marine life thrives. It is also a popular sport in regions of the coral reefs.

Motocross: Motorcycle trails evolved into Motocross. The sport was born in the United Kingdom from where it spread to other parts of the world. In the late ’60s, the Japanese dominated this sport. The motorcycle manufacturers who boosted the sport were Japanese. In the 2000s, environment-friendly technology was adopted in the production of motorcycles.

BMX: Closely linked with Motocross, BMX is a cycle sport that uses BMX bikes. It developed in southern California in the 1970s, when kids used to bicycle on dirt tracks. The international BMX Federation was founded in 1981 and the first world championships were held in 1982. In 2003, BMX was made an Olympic sport.

How To Design A Climbing Wall

The three-dimensional model you made of poster board or construction paper is now ready to be transitioned to design drawing. Begin with a simple sketch to define the dimensions. CAD or computer aided design software may be used or you can draw it by hand. CAD is not required, if you can define the entire dimension mathematically.

Each joint or edge should be labeled for the exact distance from the last joint. The distance from existing structure such as wall, floor, ceiling is to be referred. Establish distances, angles and dimensions of the entire structure. Take into consideration the thickness of the plywood sheathing, and the wall studs also, considering the width of the anchoring structure and keep sufficient margins.

Lumber: Actual size and Nominal size

In the US, the size of the unfinished wood is called as nominal size, after the wood is plainer and sanded to the actual size. Usually plaining and sanding will scrape off a quarter or half inch from the nominal size. However, plywood has the same nominal and actual size.

In over hanging sections, spacing and size of the joist will dictate the joist span length. Greater span lengths require larger joists.

An engineer is the right person to determine the design specifications for an overhanging wall, as many factors such as strength of the wood, reinforcement of the joists, and the type of anchor has to be considered.

Climbing walls being heavy need really strong support. The support should not only be able to bear the live load of the climbers, but also bear dead load of the wall itself. Live load of the climbers varies with every move the climber makes and at times can be many times the weight of the climber. The stress the wall undergoes requires it to be supported strongly, if the climbing wall is going to be supported by an existing structure. Then you have to make sure that the existing structure is strong enough to support the climbing wall.

Vertical walls transfer all the weight to the floor, but also exert angular force on the joints away from the wall. In steep overhang sections, three forces are acting on the wall; the weight of the wall itself, the climbers weight, and the forces caused by the climber’s movement. It is advised to seek expert’s and specialist’s opinion before proceeding.

The load the wall is likely to be subjected to will determine the type and size of the joists, anchors, and the thickness of wall studs. Existing structure should be strong enough to take the load of the climbers and should hold itself after being subjected to enormous stress exerted by the climbers. In vertical walls the plywood will offer a lot of vertical strength, but the support should be strong enough to take the live load stress, torque, and resist shearing.

Taking expert advice from structural engineers will ensure that all engineering considerations are taken into account and specifications for the material required finalized. Once this is done, you will be better placed to budget for the material required to build the climbing wall.