Category Archives: Knowledge

Gear for Non-Technical Mountaineering and Hiking in the Rocky Mountains

There has been an increase in the number of alpine rescues for people venturing into the Colorado high country without the appropriate clothing and equipment. Many high-country emergencies can be avoided by preparing yourself with some essential items. The list of equipment that I’m sharing with you is the one I use for a one-day (3-12 hours) summer hike or climb in Colorado. Use it as an example, but tailor your own list to meet your needs and the site conditions for your hike. Always make your own list and double check that you have everything before departing on your adventure.

You should tailor your list for a number of factors, including weather, personal needs, season, predicted temperatures, site-specific conditions, on-trail or off-trail hiking, technical or non-technical, and the difficulty level. For example, if I am climbing in the Elk Range I know there is an increased risk of encountering rock fall due to the geology there. So, I would take a climbing helmet with me. If I’m climbing in May or June, there is a good chance I’ll have to cross snowfields, so I take my ice ax and possibly crampons. If you are going to be climbing on icy rocks, you need an ice ax and crampons. You can encounter icy conditions in any month of the year, but not as likely in July and August. Spend some extra time planning what you will need to make sure you are prepared.

Adjust your quantities based on your personal needs and the distance you plan to hike. Don’t skimp on water. Half of the weight that I typically start out carrying is water. Water is heavy, but it will lighten as you hydrate yourself during the day. Most people can survive for 2-3 weeks without food, so I seldom pack a lot of food. You want to pack enough to give you plenty of energy for your hike. If you get cold easily, pack extra clothing or warmer clothing.

When I see people climbing above 11,000 feet wearing shorts and running shoes without a pack for extra gear, I think it is foolhardy. One time I saw a person climbing a Fourteener with a light jacket, no water, and a plastic shopping bag that they intended to use if it rained. You don’t have to go very far into the backcountry to become disoriented, wander off of the trail, and become lost. Low clouds and unexpected snow squalls can cut your visibility down to a few yards.

Make sure your light sources have good batteries. I recommend having at least two light sources and some extra batteries. It is common for people to misjudge time and end up hiking back in the dark. Hiking in the dark affects your balance and makes it harder to see tripping hazards.        

Another consideration is to think about being 3+ miles into the wilderness and being injured, possibly unable to walk. You could be out for at least one night before help arrives. If you are alone (not recommended), it could be much longer. Always let someone know where you are going and your intended return time.

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Fifteen Quick Hits of Wisdom

By TJ Burr, 1/5/2017

The following words of wisdom were culled from the top twenty in my notes on wisdom. I have kept a “living” list of wisdom for 35 years. I keep written lists and notes on every major topic that interests me so that I can keep the best information for each subject in one document. My notes on wisdom contain 161 pages, 62,700 words. These are words of wisdom that have been reinforced through my personal experiences.

  1. Communication is the most important skill in life. Learn how to be an effective communicator. Time spent learning how to communicate better is a great investment in something you will use throughout your life.
  2. Less is more. The more you have, the more complicated life is. Be content with simple things in life. Cherish the sunrise, sunset, mountains, food, shelter, clothing, family, and a smiling face. The credit for this advice goes to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, German-born Architect & Educator (1886-1969).
  3. Strive to be humble in your life. Know your limitations. Humility and wisdom are deeply linked in literature and philosophy. According to Kant, humility is an essential virtue.
  4. There are no guarantees in life. We cannot control the hand we are dealt, but we can decide how to play the hand. Remember that life is not fair.
  5. Every decision is a financial decision. However, some decisions must be made on higher principles than financial ones. Nearly every decision you make in life has a financial component, either for you or someone else. My dad used to say, “Every time you leave the house it costs you something.” He was right.
  6. Silence is often the best answer. Confucius once said, “The superior man is sparing in words.” In some situations, silence is difficult but necessary.
  7. If you aren’t to an appointment five minutes early, you’re late. I heard this from a good friend. Ever since then, I try to arrive at least five minutes early to an appointment. Just the difference in two different clocks could mean being late. My watch or phone may show 1:57 PM and the person I’m meeting with may have a clock that shows 2:02 PM, a five-minute difference. You do not want to be late for a job interview.
  8. Regardless of how careful you are with legal contracts, you still must TRUST the people you are doing business with. Learn a little about their character. The best contract in the world is worthless if both parties aren’t committed to making it work. People break contracts all the time. There are consequences to breaking contracts, but it still happens.
  9. The importance of having a positive attitude in life cannot be overexpressed. Attitude and being able to express enthusiasm is everything! I once had a supervisor tell me that he could teach a person a skill, but not how to have the right attitude. An employee with a good attitude is way more valuable than an employee with a certain skill.
  10. Use the power of forgiveness. If you forgive someone who made a mistake and is truly sorry, you will both be happier.
  11. Always leave a place better than you found it. This stems from camping etiquette of always leaving a campsite a little cleaner than you found it. If you make a mess, clean up your mess and more. This is similar to the concept of “paying it forward”.
  12. When visiting friends, always give them something as a token of appreciation for the visit. Don’t just go to someone’s house expecting them to provide everything you may use or consume while there. Take a token of your appreciation for being their guest.
  13. Give and love unconditionally. If you expect something in return, then you are giving for the wrong reasons.
  14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk. Playing it safe often leads to mediocre results.
  15. Follow the three Rs: Respect yourself; Respect others; and Responsibility for your actions.

There are many other words of advice from many sources. These are just a few that made the top of my list.

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