Category Archives: Climbing
Stories and images from my climbing adventures.
By Michael Lanza
As we neared Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park, on the middle day of a three-day family backpacking trip, a man and woman in their fifties stopped to talk with us. They sized up our kids and smiled; Nate was nine and Alex was seven. “We’re impressed!” they told us. “We never had any luck trying to get our kids to backpack when they were young.” We chatted a bit and then headed off in opposite directions on the trail.
After they were out of earshot, Alex turned to me, wanting to clarify a point: “You didn’t get us to do this,” she told me. “We wanted to do it.” Her words, of course, warmed my heart. But her comment also spotlighted the biggest lesson for parents hoping to raise their kids to love the outdoors: Create experiences that make them eager to go out again the next time. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
A few weeks ago, as I hiked with my daughter up the steep Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon, knocking off the last few miles of a three-day backpacking trip that had been wonderful on many levels, I was feeling awfully satisfied. For starters, through most of this fall, I’d had a bad itch to get out somewhere—and the Big Ditch, it turns out, is a pretty good place to scratch that itch. Plus, we’d just enjoyed three absolutely gorgeous, summer-like days of father-daughter time, and the company of two other families who joined us.
But seen from a longer view, returning to the Grand Canyon again felt like the perfect way to cap off another good year outdoors. In 2013, I got to seven national parks; five federal wilderness areas; an Idaho mountain range (the White Cloud Mountains) that might… no, should… become either federal wilderness or a national monument in the near future; and had the unforgettable pleasure of standing with my 12- and 10-year-old kids, my 15-year-old nephew, and my 76-year-old mom on the crater rim of Mount St. Helens. Continue reading →
We heard the young girl crying from a distance, even through the howling wind and mid-July snowstorm on Besseggen Ridge, in Norway’s mountainous Jotunheimen National Park. As we caught up with the family of five, I saw that she was maybe eight or nine years old—about the age of my daughter—crying inconsolably and repeating one word over and over: “Cold! Cold!” Continue reading →
What should you look for in a sleeping bag? For me, it varies depending on the expected range of temperatures—and I’m not just talking about the bag’s temperature rating, as I detail in the tips below. But I’ll also offer my general tips for selecting a bag no matter the temperature rating. (All temperature ratings refer to the Fahrenheit scale.)
1. At the end of each hiking day, wash the dried sweat from your body; it can act like a heat conductor, chilling you.
2. Wear a hat, socks, and extra layers on your body, but avoid putting on so many layers that you isolate your core, which is your body’s furnace, from your extremities, which get cold more easily. It’s often more effective to wear just one or two layers on your body and line your bag with other extra clothing as added insulation for your entire body.
3. Change into dry clothing to sleep, as opposed to the clothes you sweated in while hiking; damp clothes promote conductive heat loss from the body.
4. Stick a water bottle filled with hot water in the foot of your bag. In really cold conditions, put a second bottle filled with hot water in the middle of your bag.
5. Use a pad or air mattress insulated for the lowest temperatures you expect to encounter, and a second pad if you’re sleeping atop frozen ground or snow.
6. If you’re using a short pad (to save weight in milder temperatures), lay your empty pack beneath your feet to insulate them from the ground, which can drain heat from your body even in summer.
7. Pile extra clothing under the foot end of your bag to give your feet more insulation against the cold ground.
8. Use a sleeping bag liner, which can add the equivalent of several degrees of rating to a bag.
9. Eat a snack high in fat right before bed, like a candy bar, to fuel your body through the night.
See also my Pro Tips article “How to Choose a Sleeping Bag.” For reviews of my favorite sleeping bags, type the words “sleeping bags” into the Search box at left.