How to Survive The Climbing Academy

-By Olivia Ogier, TCA sophomore.image1
Here is your go-to guide to surviving a year at The Climbing Academy and all the crazy stuff that happens along the way.

Animal Encounters

If you attend The Climbing Academy, it’s more than likely you will have a somewhat frighteningly up-close and personal encounter with a moose, or even have one walk through your English class. As someone who has had a moose step on the side of their tent at 1 AM, I have some advice to survive your encounter.
Back away slowly.
If a moose is very close and is looking directly at you, you’ve made a moose-stake!! Calmly back up, and get your Instagram pics later. It would be tragic to be attacked by a moose because you stopped to get a rad selfie like this one.

Photo by Nic Manship

If you think there is a moose outside your tent, make sure there is actually an animal outside and not a person or the wind before freaking out. There are two ways you can do this.
Unzip the rain cover of your tent, instead of the whole door. If you have a tent with a mesh opening on your door, this is the best option. Then, you can also see the size of the moose.
Listen. If you hear a snort or a stomping sound, then you most likely have a moose outside.

What to do if there is absolutely a moose outside your tent:
-Don’t scream. It’ll just scare the moose.
-If you have a tent with two doors, you can quietly check if there are more moose on the other side of your tent or if you can exit your tent from there and go the opposite direction.
-Stay calm. Don’t freak out and build a barrier around your tent like I did. It will eventually leave your tent for some better grass.

Conditions and Weather Problems at The Climbing Academy

At TCA, it gets cold. Fast. As a person who normally lives in Atlanta, where it was 70 degrees this past Christmas, the chilly temps were a bit shocking at first. In the past 2 weeks I have learned how to avoid freezing in the cold, and I have some tips.

How to sleep in a tent in freezing temperatures:

-Put on all your layers.
One of the many tricks I was taught while staying in Ten Sleep, Wyoming is to wear your down jacket/hoodie to bed. It might not feel cold when you go to sleep, but it will be. No one likes waking up shivering because you don’t have enough layers on.

-Put clothes in the bottom of your sleeping bag.
A lot of the time if your feet are cold in the bottom of your sleeping bag, it’s because there is dead air in the bottom of your bag, which can be really cold. It makes a huge difference if you stuff clothes into the bottom of your sleeping bag, just enough so that there isn’t space between your feet and the bottom of the bag.
P.S- It’s very nice to have a tarp for underneath your tent in case of rain/snow getting in.

Going to classes in the cold:

-Try to find a place indoors, or at least sheltered from wind/snow.
Most likely your teachers won’t want to suffer in the cold either, so if you suggest having class, for example, in the van, where its warm and protected from the wind, they will probably use your idea. You can have class in the van, in the kitchen with the tent doors closed, in a cabin. Basically anywhere that you won’t freeze.
-Bring your sleeping bag.
When I first saw someone bring their sleeping bag to class, I was practically drooling over the thought of being cocooned in my bag while in math. It seriously changed everything. Just make sure you aren’t toooo warm and fall asleep. That would be bad.

Climbing in the cold:

Double check. Triple even. Your day at the crag will be ruined if you don’t have any layers. I forgot my jacket the first day that it got cold and I was miserable. If you have an extra pair of sweat pants you can even just leave them in your crag bag at the end of the day for future uses.
-The higher in the mountains, the colder the temps usually are.
Even if where you are camping is warm and sunny, that doesn’t mean the crag will be. Because crags are at high elevation, it can be way colder and windier up there. Don’t be fooled by the warm temps at camp!

How to Deal with Injury and Sickness

Altitude and elevation change:
-Although a lot of TCA is  the west where elevation is very high, there are a few students, myself included, that are from close to sea level elevation. It was extremely hard from the get-go to adjust, especially on the trails. Make sure to pace yourself. I learned this the hard way. Even if the rest of the group is a mile ahead of you, it’s better to go slow than to pass out or throw up from the high elevation. Also, make sure to warm up slow, because you can get easily pumped if you don’t.

Optimal snackage:
-The first few days of the semester, I would get these awful, crampy stomach aches at around 5pm every single day we were on the trail. I figured out I wasn’t eating anything after lunch in between dinner, and it was causing awful stomach pains. Snacking is necessary! Always bring more food than you think you need, because chances are someone else will forget.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Packing

The do’s:
-Bring a blanket.
Trust me, a blanket is heavenly after a long day at the crag, or as extra fluff in your sleeping bag. If you don’t have room, you can always buy a cheap one at a grocery store.
Long underwear.
This is really nice under loose pants because where the fabric touches your leg, it’s very cold.
-Bring a scarf.
If you have a puffy coat with a hood, this isn’t too necessary, but if you don’t have one its essential.
I didn’t bring a single chapstick with me and my lips were cracked and bleeding after three days. This is essential.
-Portable battery.
When you don’t have a way to charge your phone, you’re going to want a portable charger.

The don’ts
I brought about 5 pairs of shorts with me and I have worn exactly one pair, to go swimming. They may seem like an essential when you are packing in the summer, but it gets cold fast.
-Foam roller.
Aaron will most definitely have one of these, you don’t need to bring your own.
Anything other than shampoo, conditioner, hair ties, and face lotion is not necessary. I haven’t worn the makeup or bobby pins I brought once. If you absolutely need something cosmetic, there are enough stores you can get it at that bringing all of your cosmetics is useless.

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