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What (And How) The Heck To Eat When Climbing

By Adam Galuszka
October 29, 2013

Ever thought about getting into rock climbing? Or maybe heading to your local rock gym for some bouldering? Nutrition is, arguably, the most ignored part of rock climbing and all of my climbing partners have terrible diets (sorry guys).  Being on rock, regardless of which discipline you practice, is hard work and incredibly demanding physically.  Most climbers are too focused on the goal ahead that they ignore good nutrition practices all together.  Here are some tips for you  next day at the crag, or even in the gym.

Hanging Up Here

You wouldn't want to bonk here! 

If you are preparing for a long day in the mountains, make sure you are well fueled, that means eating a good healthy breakfast.  Long approaches are required for most climbing adventures, which could leave you tired and hungry before you even get to the crag.  Make sure to pack some long-term energy snacks, such as Breeze Bars or Bonk Breakers for the hike in.  You could even include some Honey Stinger Cola Chews, these have 32 mg of caffeine and are the perfect pick-me-up in the morning.

What do I eat while sending?

Sending is the rock-climber terminology for completing a "problem" or route. Eating while sending can be fairly challenging for a number of reasons.  Climbing requires short anaerobic efforts followed by short periods of recovery. It’s safe to say it is comparable to doing intervals all day long.  Fueling for this type of effort is very important because of the high level of physical exertion and mental clarity needed to complete a route.  Snacking is the best way to stay fully energized throughout the day.  Most people don’t have room in their pack for a couple meals’ worth of food so bars and gels are your next best option.  Now make sure your snacking is still healthy, a bag of Doritos and beef jerky, although tasty, is not the way you should be eating.  Instead, pack some Honey Stinger Waffles and Justin’s nut butter for the ultimate snack combo.  High calorie bars such as a Pro Bar Meal will give you the sustained energy to be at the crag for hours.  And if you are on a multi-pitch route, requiring you to be away from your pack for a number of hours, bring Honey Stinger or Gu Gels.  They take up hardly any space and provide an adequate amount of carbohydrates and sugars to keep you going.

Snack Time Hang

Just hanging out? Perfect time for a snack!

     Hydrating while climbing is also extremely important.  You may not be sweating from your short efforts on the rock but you are losing electrolytes like mad!  Most serious days of climbing take place in colder weather, making it hard to want to consume water.  Bring a thermos, or a camp stove to boil water, with Skratch Labs Apples and Cinnamon to warm you up on those cold days.  This will prevent you from becoming dehydrated which could ultimately lead to muscle and mental fatigue.

     Remember that long approach you had on the way in? Well after a full day of climbing, you now have to hike back out.  Taking some sort of recovery here, such as a Fluid single serve or Clif Builder Bar,  will definitely increase your ability to replenish your depleted glycogen stores.  By this point in the day I am sure you will be hungry anyways, so this may come as a welcome snack.

Perched on This Rock.

Proper Hydration and Fueling will make this a little less dangerous!

     I hope these tips increase performance in your future rock climbing endeavors.  Please email any questions you have to Brooks@thefeed.com, maybe ill even come and climb with you!