Mountain Monday: Reflecting on New Experiences

Ten things learned from exploring a new climbing area

By Meggan Wenbourne

The one with me in it: The sunburn begins..."On belay?!"

The sunburn begins…”On belay?!”

Long story short, I went climbing last weekend in an area I had only read about. The following list is a representation of my experiences along the way and some things worth considering before your next adventure to a new area.

10) Just because you have purchased a fancy new guide book that’s half the girth of a Harry Potter novel with colorful pictures and maps does not mean you are not going to get lost … and end up on the wrong fire road … at night…driving through streams and cranking into 4WD low up the side of a mountain when it’s supposed to be 2WD. It does not mean you will not end up bush whacking and bruised and scraped and nearly fall off a boulder into a thicket of brush and bushes. Make no mistake, I am not complaining, but assuming these types of things will not happen to you because of your fancy book makes you a fool.

9) Farmer’s tan – seriously though. It’s moderately more acceptable when you wear nothing but long sleeves to work, but being the recipient of a fierce farmer’s tan is in no way, shape or form glamorous, unless you are an actual farmer. Wear sunscreen – all over. Your skin will thank you in 20 years.

8) Elevation does matter when you live at sea level. Do not kid yourself. You will feel it and have to deal with the consequences if you don’t hydrate and take it a little slower than normal. Water yourself the days leading up to an elevation trip – you can thank me later.

7) Do not expect the “easy” ratings to be so easy … especially on a slab … and especially on a slab you have to traverse down a gully and rappel into in order to even start the climb out.

6) Do not ever underestimate the character-building experiences you will have on a “15 minute approach.”

5) Do always make friends with those around you … because especially in the most remote of places, these people have to be pretty cool to be all the way out in the middle of nowhere. And hey, you may discover that the only other climbing party within a 5+ hour radius is a pair you shared a campsite with in Camp 4 nary a month back.

4) Remember there is always an excuse to pick up the pinecones and smell the sap, because you’re in the Sierra and doesn’t everyone do that? However, be prepared to find sap on everything you touch including your cell phone and pillowcase a week later.

3) Always bring coffee. There’s something about drinking coffee at 4 in the afternoon that just seems right when you’re in the mountains.

2) Do not rush yourself, take some time to explore and, dare I say it, do other things than climb? Go check out the views. Find the highest peak and make friends with the old man in the lookout tower – bring him a beer. Never forgo the opportunity to take in the majesty of the mountains we are able to climb and explore.

1) Do not think for a second that the next place you climb, even if you’ve been to some of the most beautiful places in the world, will not take your breath away. Do not be surprised when you freeze mid step and begin to ponder how it is you became so lucky to stumble upon this magical pocket in the mountains.

Thanks Shuteye for an awesome adventure!

View from Sierra Shuteye Lookout Tower. Bird's eye view of the Sierra range!

View from Sierra Shuteye Lookout Tower. Bird’s eye view of the Sierra range!


Meg-IndiansMeggan Wenbourne is an avid climber, mountain biker and backpacker who works and plays in Santa Cruz, CA. She spends her time traveling to the mountains as often as possible to get lost in the pine trees and explore the granite rock of the Sierra Nevada range and has recently developed an obsession with the desert and its red rocks. When not away on an adventure, she can be found eating burritos and training at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym, riding amazing trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains or nestled away in her cozy tiny house with cookies and adventure reading.

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