An Adventurers Journal

Op micro-avontuur in de Ardennen – Entre Lesse et Lomme

´Het zal toch geen waar zijn hé?´

We hebben enkele weken terug gepland om een paar dagen op avontuur te trekken in de Belgische Ardennen. Nu lijken de aankomende maatregelen van onze regering roet in het eten te strooien en het land volledig in lockdown te plaatsen.

´Opnieuw zes weken opgesloten zitten in mijn leefomgeving waar zo goed als geen natuur is, overleef ik niet.´, begin ik. Gelukkig komt het zo ver niet en laat de lockdown toe om naar de Ardennen te reizen. Ideaal om te genieten van het zonnige herfstweer en ons te wagen aan de tocht Entre Lesse et Lomme.

Drie dagen in de bossen

Een van de voordelen van de Covid-19 crisis is dat we opnieuw met andere ogen naar ons eigen land zijn gaan kijken. In mijn geval is dit vooral naar de Ardennen. Waar ik de voorbije jaren de Ardennen vaak links liet liggen voor andere bestemmingen, ben ik deze dit jaar meer gaan appreciëren. Zeker tijdens de herfstperiode waar de nachten koeler en de rivieren wilder zijn dan tijdens de drukkere zomermaanden, is het de perfecte setting voor een micro-avontuur. Ik kwam dan ook al snel uit op de welgekende Entre Lesse et Lomme wandeling, een tocht van 78 kilometer. De omschrijving belooft niets anders dan onverharde paden en oneindige bossen.

Met de auto rijden we vanuit Mechelen naar het station van Poix-Saint-Hubert, waar de trail dichtbij passeert. Met een zware rugzak met kampeermateriaal en vier dagen proviand zetten we onze eerste kilometers in richting de eerste bivakzone Bois de Bané in Ochamps. Meteen voldoet de wandeling aan alle verwachtingen. Prachtige herfstkleuren, bospaadjes bedekt met rood en bruine bladeren, en daarbovenop een helderblauwe hemel waardoor de kleuren nog meer tot hun recht komen.

Opwarmen bij het kampvuur

Als er één iets is wat de koude herfsttemperaturen aangenaam maken is de mogelijkheid om ´s avonds op te warmen bij een gezellig kampvuur. De warme vlammen zijn niet alleen de plaats voor gezelligheid, maar tevens de ontmoetingsplaats met andere wandelaars die hetzelfde traject volgen. Leuke kampvuurverhalen worden afgewisseld met ervaringen van de dag (of het delen van kwaaltjes en pijnlijke spieren).

´s Ochtends zijn we telkens vroeg uit de veren. Ondanks de barkoude temperaturen kruipen we nog net voor zonsopgang uit onze slaapzak. Zo hopen Lisa en ikzelf nog wildlife te kunnen spotten. Sporen zijn er de voorbije dagen alvast meer dan genoeg geweest. Everzwijnen, damherten, wasberen, … allemaal hebben ze ons pad gekruist, maar nooit wisten we ze te spotten.

Tijdens de tweede helft van de tocht wandelen we iets meer in het zicht van de twee rivieren die eigenlijk nooit veraf zijn: de Lesse en de Lomme. De omgeving die de voorbije drie dagen toch een indruk op ons heeft nagelaten doet ons al dromen van een packraft avontuur in deze streek een van de komende weken.

Praktische info

Bewijzering: De hele route is in wijzerzin aangeduid met witte bordjes met een groene rechthoek. Ook alternatieve routes naar nabijgelegen dorpjes stonden aangeduid.

Bevoorrading: Entre Lesse et Lomme is een wandeling doorheen de bossen en die dorpjes en dus winkels tracht te vermijden. Net om die reden is het belangrijk om zelfvoorzienend te zijn. Wel kun je altijd een omweg maken naar een van de nabijgelegen dorpen. Al is dat met de flinke wandelafstanden niet altijd praktisch even handig.

Openbaar vervoer: De meeste mensen starten de tocht in het kleine dorp Lesse. Wie echter met het openbaar vervoer komt, zal genoodzaakt zijn de trein te nemen naar Poix-Saint-Hubert. Wel kijk je best vooraf naar de uren van de trein, want deze zijn erg beperkt.

Bear Guide – How to Deal with Grizzlies?

Next summer we are hoping to go on a 2-month packraft expedition in the Yukon / Alaska. A region inhabited by black bears and grizzlies. Fortunately we have some experience in dealing with bears ever since we encountered a polar bear during our kayak expedition in Spitsbergen. But still, dealing with grizzlies might prove to be something different…

It could just happen to you while walking in one of the US national parks or when adventuring in the wilderness regions of North America: suddenly you come face to face with a grizzly or black bear. What are you doing then?

Here is what you need to know when hiking in bear territory.

Avoid contact with bears while hiking / camping

Prevention is better than cure and that certainly applies to dealing with bears. You want to avoid encounters with bears or grizzlies as much as possible.

While walking

Tip 1 – Only hike on commonly used paths and trails.

The trails in the national parks are used by multiple hikers every day. The chance that you will bump into a bear along such a path is much smaller than when you deviate from the regular hiking trails.

Tip 2 – Walk in a group

The risk is even smaller when you walk in a group. Bears rarely attack groups of four or more people.

Tip 3 – Make noise

Let the bear know you are coming by talking and making as much noise as possible while walking. In remote mountain areas, hikers often hang bells from their backpacks. However, these are not always sufficient in the vicinity of streams and rivers. A tin with stones that you shake with, clap your hands loudly from time to time or blow a whistle regularly is much more effective. When a bear hears a noise, the animal will move away from the noise. Most confrontations with bears happen when the animal is surprised. You also want to avoid unexpectedly ending up between a mother and her young.

Tip 4 – Keep your eyes open

Keep your eyes peeled for signs of the presence of bears such as fresh footprints or feces. Be especially careful around rivers and streams. Bushes with berries are an important food source for bears. So don’t stay around too long.

While camping

Tip 4 – Keep food away from your tent

Especially when you go camping it is important to take your precautions. Bears are attracted to many things, but of course mainly to food. Keep food scraps away from your tent and eat fifty or a hundred meters away so that there is no food odor in your tent. Store food in the car or hang it from a tree at least twelve feet from the ground. (Read: How to hang a bear bag)

bear bag hanging

Tip 5 – Avoid odor of sex, perfumes, deodarants and more..

The smell of sex also attracts bears. So watch what you do in your tent if you want to avoid a drastic interruption of intercourse. You should avoid using products such as perfumes, deodorants or lotions when staying in a tent because strong smells attract bears. Also avoid wearing the same clothes to sleep that you wore to eat.

Tip 6 – Choose your camping spot wisely

Are you going camping in the backcountry (so for example on multi-day hikes?). Make sure you camp about 100 yards (91 meters) from cooking and food storage areas. Also, don’t camp on trails or near dead animals, fresh bear signs (watch for footprints and bear poo), and near blueberries.

Safety Tips for Bear Encounters

Face to face with a bear: now what?

If you consciously try to avoid contact with bears, the chance that you will cross a bear in your path is very small. If it does happen, don’t panic but hope for the best. There is a lot of debate about the right approach and tactics because bears are very unpredictable animals. What works for one bear does not work for another animal. You should know some general guidelines:

Tip 1 – Stay calm and don´t run

When suddenly a bear is in front of you, you have to stay calm. The bear may just leave you alone. Bears don’t really want to attack but want to see if you are a threat. Stay on the spot and don’t move. Under no circumstances should you turn around and run. This instinctively triggers the bear’s reaction to see you as prey. You don’t stand a chance: a bear can reach speeds over thirty kilometers per hour and even the fastest Olympic athlete cannot. Slowly and gradually, try to move sideways and backwards from the bear in small steps.

Tip 2 – Give it space

When you notice a bear in the distance, it is best to turn around or make a big turn past the animal. After all, it is very important that the bear has enough space to run away.

Tip 3 – Distract the bear

Place your backpack or carrying bag on the ground in front of you. That way you increase the chances that the bear will be distracted by this and will focus on your backpack rather than you. Others claim it is best to hold on the pack as it will offer protection in case of attack (see below).

Tip 4 – Avoid direct eye contact with the bear

Under no circumstances should you look the bear straight in the eye. The animal sees this as a sign of aggression and it can trigger a response in which it attacks.

Tip 5 – Make yourself as big as possible

You want to convince the bear not to attack you. Therefore make yourself as big as possible. Stand on the tips of your toes and gently spread your arms. Another tip is to raise your arms very slowly above your head and gently wave your hands. Monkeys and humans are the only species that can do this. That way you let the bear know that you are not another animal. Do not make sudden movements

Tip 6 – Do not shout or yell

Don’t start yelling or screaming. The bear will experience this as aggressive and may decide to attack.

Tip 7 – Speak to the bear softly and in a low voice

This seems ridiculous, but it often works. You must make it clear to the bear that you are not a threat and do not want to harm him. You do this by speaking softly to the bear. It doesn’t matter what you say, but a phrase like “calm, I won’t hurt you and don’t want to hurt you” that you repeat all the time is good. Contrary to what many people think, an animal is indeed capable of understanding and feeling a lot. Animals cannot speak but communicate instinctively and sometimes almost telepathically with their kind or other creatures. You often calm the bear by speaking softly to it.

Help, the bear is attacking!

A bear standing on its hind legs is a terrifying sight but no reason to panic yet. Often times, the bear is just trying to gauge the situation and find out if you are a threat to him.

You will notice that the bear plans to attack when it makes blowing noises, clicks its teeth or hangs its head, shakes it back and forth between its shoulders, and moves towards you. When it comes to that, there’s little you can do except hope for the best. With luck, it’s just a mock attack or bluff. The bear then rushes towards you but stops halfway, turns around and leaves again. Such behavior has often been observed in bears.

Opinions differ widely on what to do if an attack comes on. Fight back or lie for dead? In most cases, the second strategy is the best.

First strategy: fight back (best for black bear)

A bear does not usually see humans as “food”. But when a bear attacks at night, it may be out for food. Also, if you are walking during the day and it appears that the bear is “stalking” you by repeatedly appearing and disappearing again, its attack will be a “predatory attack.” Fighting back or scaring the bear by throwing stones at it might be your only chance. A bear that does this is usually young and inexperienced and can therefore be chased away quite easily.

In most cases, however, you shouldn’t try to fight back. You will always lose out against a strong and powerful animal like a bear and the more you hit back the more aggressive the bear becomes. It is true that there are people who fought back and where the bear slipped on the face after one good blow. However, the danger of this strategy is that you do not know in advance how the bear will react. Every animal is different.

Another way to defend yourself is by using bear spray. Bear spray has been proven to scare away aggressive bears. Research has shown that people survived a bear attack by defending themselves with bear spray. The spray is said to be very painful for bears, but is recommended by the local authorities if you are in bear territory. Do not use pepper spray. You can buy the spray in the country where bears occur.

Strategy 2: Lie on the floor and pretend you’re dead (best for grizzly)

The other strategy is to lie on the floor in a fetal position and make yourself as small as possible. Especially if you are dealing with a grizzly, it is best to choose this strategy. Protect your head and neck with arms and hands and pull your elbows under your body to keep the bear from turning you over. Chances are the bear will give you one claw and then leave you alone. Stay down as long as the bear is around. If you don’t resist, the bear usually gets tired of it after a while. The animal then no longer finds you interesting and leaves.

bear attack

Reading bear signals – What does the bear want to tell me?

Bears can display certain behavioral patterns that can tell you something. However, these patterns are limited and primitive and their meaning largely depends on the context of the situation.

Here is a description of the different behavioral patterns and a general interpretation to help you understand what a bear means. Mind you, each bear is an individual in itself, and each encounter is unique.

Stand on the hind legs

When a bear stands on its two hind legs, it does not want to express aggression, but simply to acquire more information, both in terms of sight and smell.

Stationary lateral position

This position is often assumed by the bear to ensure its safety. In human encounters, this position is often interpreted as a demonstration of its size.

Stationary frontal position

A bear standing right in front of you and looking you in the eye does not want to be submissive. On the contrary. This is an aggressive position and can be an attack. He is waiting for you to withdraw.

Yawn

When the bear yawns, it means that it is tense because there may be another bear or human presence nearby.

Excessive drooling

A clear sign of tension. When a bear is drooling, white foam can be seen around the bear’s mouth.

Wat je Moet Weten voor je Gaat Klimmen

Hoe doe je een klimharnas aan?

Leg het harnas neer met de gespen en beenlussen voor je. Leg het harnas op de grond of houd het voor je. Je harnas heeft een heupgordel met een paar gespen, die over de voorkant van je lichaam lopen. Het heeft ook een centrale lus, of zekeringslus, die de heupriem verbindt met de beenlussen die eronder hangen. Draai de riem zodat de zekeringslus naar voren is gericht en van je lichaam af is gericht.
Door de zekeringslus correct te plaatsen, worden ook de beenlussen georiënteerd. Ze zijn allemaal aan elkaar gehecht, dus je hoeft je geen zorgen te maken over het afzonderlijk verplaatsen.
Zorg ervoor dat de riemen niet in de knoop raken. Let ook op eventuele plekken waar de riemen uit de gespen zijn gekomen.

klimharnas stap 1

Stap in het harnas door je benen door de beenlussen te halen. Het is alsof je een broek aantrekt. Zorg ervoor dat de beenlussen onder de heupgordel zitten, zodat je er tegelijkertijd doorheen kunt stappen. Steek dan je linkerbeen door de linkerlus en je rechterbeen door de rechterlus. Het is gemakkelijk, en als je een fout maakt, trek dan het harnas naar beneden, ontwar het en probeer het opnieuw.
Stap altijd eerst door de heupgordel. Als je alleen in de beenlussen komt, kun je het harnas niet correct dragen.

klimharnas stap 3

Trek het harnas omhoog totdat de heupgordel zich boven je heupen bevindt. De tailleband moet precies boven je heupen zitten, zodat je heupbeenderen hem op zijn plaats houden. Nadat je de tailleband hebt omgedaan, pas je de beenlussen zo nodig aan. Plaats de beenbanden bovenaan je dijen, precies onder je lies.
Als je de heupriemen niet omhoog kunt krijgen, maak je de beenlussen los door de riemen uit de gespen te trekken die ze op hun plaats houden.

harnas

Trek de heupriem aan door aan de uiteinden van de riemen te trekken. Nieuwere harnassen zijn verstelbaar zoals veel andere soorten kleding. Als je harnas verstelbaar is, zoek dan naar de gespen links en rechts van je. Trek de riemen van je lichaam af totdat de riem strak aanvoelt maar niet verstikkend werkt.
Test de heupgordel door diep in te ademen en probeer 2 vingers onder de riem te glijden. De riem kan een beetje oncomfortabel aanvoelen de eerste keer dat je hem omdoet, maar het is noodzakelijk voor een veilige klim.

harnas deel 5

Dubbel de riemlus terug als die van jou los zit. Oudere harnassen hebben lussen die loskomen en moeten handmatig worden vastgemaakt. Om dit te doen, haal je de riem helemaal uit de lus en trek je hem vervolgens naar het midden van uw lichaam en door de riemgesp. Draai de richting om en trek de riem voor de tweede keer over zichzelf en weer terug door de gesp. Trek vervolgens de uiteinden van de riemen weg van de gespen om het harnas te spannen.

harnas 7

Voer de uiteinden van de riemen door de riemgespen. Er bungelt waarschijnlijk wat overtollig materiaal aan de voorkant van je riem. Omdat deze afleidingen een klim in de weg staan, stop je de uiteinden van de riem in je riemgespen. Sommige harnassen hebben ook secundaire gespen of plastic lussen aan de zijkanten die je kunt gebruiken om de riemen vast te zetten.
Controleer je harnas nog een laatste keer voordat je klimt door het te inspecteren en te proberen het van je heupen te trekken. Als het klaar is voor gebruik, kun je het niet van je heupen trekken.

Je klimtouw aan je harnas bevestigen

harnas touw

Meet ongeveer 89 cm vanaf het uiteinde van een klimtouw. Vastbinden betekent een dragende klimtouw aan je harnas knopen. Om vast te binden, heb je eerst een klimtouw nodig van ongeveer 60 m lang. Meet vervolgens de afstand vanaf het ene uiteinde. De meting hoeft niet nauwkeurig te zijn en je kunt deze gemakkelijk schatten met uw arm.
De lengte van het touw dat je nodig hebt, is iets langer dan de lengte van je arm. Strek een arm uit en strek het touw van de toppen van je vingers tot je schouder.
Het touw dat je aan je harnas knoopt, houdt je van de grond als je valt, dus het is net zo essentieel als het harnas.

klimtouw 8

Draai het touw twee keer om zichzelf heen om een ​​bocht te vormen. Knijp in het touw op het punt dat je hebt gemeten, en laat de uiteinden naast elkaar hangen. Draai vervolgens de touwen om elkaar heen om de lus te vormen. De kortere lengte van het touw dat je hebt gemeten, wordt het werkuiteinde genoemd. Dit is het deel dat je nodig hebt om de knoop af te maken, dus noteer waar het is.
De tegenovergestelde lengte van het touw is het staande uiteinde. Dit onderdeel is de lengte die je aan een ankerpunt vastmaakt.

touw harnas

Steek het werkende uiteinde van het touw in de lus die je hebt gemaakt. Terwijl je de lus in één hand houdt, beweeg je het touw met je andere hand. Trek hem helemaal door de lus om een ​​8-knoop te maken. Je moet nog steeds de knoop gebruiken om het vastmaken af ​​te maken, dus draai hem net genoeg vast om hem bij elkaar te houden.
Knopen van figuur 8 kunnen moeilijk ongedaan te maken zijn als je ze te strak aanspant. Houd het touw wat speling en houd de knoop op zijn plaats om dit te voorkomen.

Image titled Use a Harness for Rock Climbing Step 11

Trek het werkende uiteinde onder de zekeringslus van je harnas. Zodra je de knoop van figuur 8 hebt gedaan, houd je hem opzij om het touw aan je harnas te binden. Zoek het paar bindlussen rond de zekeringslus op je harnas. Breng het touw door de onderste bindlus, achter de zekeringslus en door de bovenste bindlus. Trek hem dan erdoor totdat de knoop ongeveer 5 cm van je lichaam verwijderd is.
Zorg ervoor dat het touw goed tussen je lichaam en de lus van je harnas past. Het is een heel belangrijk onderdeel van veilig klimmen!

klimharnas touw

Voer het touw door het onderste deel van de 8-knoop. Houd de knoop horizontaal voor je zekeringslus om het proces een beetje gemakkelijker te visualiseren te maken. Breng dan het uiteinde van het touw naar beneden tussen de knoop en je lichaam. Trek hem helemaal door de onderste lus om de tweede knoop te beginnen.
Soms wordt dit deel een beetje verwarrend. Zorg ervoor dat je het touw van je zekeringslus naar de knoop volgt.

harnas touw

Trek het touw een tweede keer door de onderste lus. Breng het uiteinde van het touw nog niet terug onder de knoop. Houd in plaats daarvan de knoop stil en zoek een opening tussen de knoop en de doorgang die je zojuist hebt gemaakt. Duw het touw door de lus en onder de rand van de originele knoop.
Als je niet weet waar je het touw vervolgens moet nemen, volg dan de touwlengte vanaf je zekeringslus. Om de tie-in te voltooien, volg je de stappen die je deed voor de eerste knoop in omgekeerde volgorde.

double eight

Haal het touw door de bovenste lus om een ​​tweede knoop te maken. In feite creëer je een identieke 8-knoop. Om de tweede knoop te voltooien, beweeg je het uiteinde van het touw naar je toe en onder je oorspronkelijke knoop. Zoek naar een kleine opening in de bovenste lus van de knoop. Als je het vindt, trek je het touw er helemaal doorheen om de dubbele 8 vast te maken en strak te trekken.
Controleer je werk. Als je knopen er vreemd uitzien, maak dan de tweede knoop los om hem opnieuw te binden. De knopen zien er identiek uit als ze perfect zijn.

klimharnas touw

Bind het resterende touw vast met verschillende platte knopen. Door het touw vast te maken, heb je ongeveer 7,6 cm extra lengte aan het werkeinde. Neem de tegenovergestelde lengte van het touw dat je tot nu toe hebt genegeerd, het staande uiteinde, en houd ze naast elkaar. Knoop het werkende uiteinde zo vaak mogelijk vast aan het staande uiteinde.
De resterende lengte van het touw is voor je ankerpunt, dus bind het werkeinde er niet aan vast. Bind het in plaats daarvan vast aan de lengte voorbij de 8-knoop.

Een zekeringsapparaat aan je touw bevestigen

belay

Maak een bocht in het midden van het klimtouw. Pak het staande uiteinde van het touw dat de andere klimmer gebruikte om zijn harnas vast te binden. Knijp het ongeveer 30 cm vanaf het einde in, zodat je een bocht maakt zoals je doet wanneer je vastbindt. Deze bocht gebruik je om aan het zekeringsapparaat te bevestigen, dus zorg ervoor dat je voldoende lengte hebt om mee te werken.

belay

Duw de bocht in een ATC-apparaat. Je hebt een zekeringsapparaat nodig, een ATC genaamd, als je van plan bent je touw aan een andere klimmer te haken. De meeste ATC’s hebben een draadlus die uit één uiteinde steekt, wat een geleidingssysteem is om het touw vast te zetten. Om het te gebruiken, duw je de bocht door het metalen deel van de ATC. Wanneer de bocht aan het andere uiteinde naar buiten komt, lijnt je deze uit met de draadlus.
De touwlus die je maakt, moet dezelfde maat hebben als de draadlus. Als het de juiste maat heeft, rust het over de draadlus.
Door ATC’s te zekeren, kunt je aan een andere klimmer haken. Het is net als in films waarin een klimmer zijn vallende partner vangt. Elke klimmer heeft zijn eigen ATC nodig om dit te laten werken.

klimharnas

Klem de ATC vast aan de zekeringslus op je harnas. De ATC clips op dezelfde lus die je voor de tie-in hebt gebruikt. Je verbindt de lussen met een vergrendelbare karabijnhaak. Om de karabijnhaak te openen, draai je het poortonderdeel tegen de klok in en duw je het naar voren. Daarna hoef je alleen maar de karabijnhaak rond de draad- en touwlussen te haken die je hebt gemaakt.
De karabijnhaak vergrendelt automatisch wanneer je het weer op zijn plaats duwt.

klimharnas

Trek zo nodig aan het touw en laat het los om speling te creëren. Als je de zekerder bent, of de klimmer lager op de rots, heb je de leiding over het touw. Houd het lange uiteinde van het klimtouw vast met je zwakkere hand en het korte uiteinde met je dominante hand. Het naar beneden trekken van het kortere uiteinde “remt”, of voorkomt dat het touw beweegt. Door het los te laten, krijgt de lijn meer speling, zodat je partner de muur op kan klimmen.
Als je niet bekend bent met zekeren, schrijf je dan in voor een instructieles om een ​​aantal technieken te leren die je beschermen tijdens het klimmen!

Start to… Rock climbing

Winter season is near and this means outdoor activities are getting limited. Don´t get me wrong, I don´t mind a bit of cold or snow, but winter in the place where I live is mostly wet. So that is why I will be picking up some indoor activities that I´ve been neglecting the last few years. One of these is… indoor rock climbing.

But… how to start rock climbing?

Know what to expect

We´ve all seen those type of climbers scaling sheer cliffs in the Alps or through binoculars on the face of “El Cap” in Yosemite. And yes, when we see them, we all dream of reaching that level one day. But just like anyone, they have started once too. Most likely in an indoor climbing hall.

Rock climbing can seem intimidating and is often considered a dangerous pursuit. However it is more likely a rewarding effort and comes in many levels. Also climbing is more than an effort of your arms. Technique will get you further (read: higher) than strength alone. Beginners should pay attention to their balance and footwork. You can learn by watching others climb. Muscles in the lower body are stronger, so it´s only logical to make them do most of the work.

Getting started

Begin indoors

As mentioned before, an indoor climbing hall is the best way to get started. If you are rock climbing indoors, it may be best to follow an introduction course that allows you to learn about the gear used, basic techniques and how to belay. If you are serious about setting your steps into the sport, consider taking a Top rope climbing course, which will get you certificated. You may needed in most indoor climbing halls.

indoor toprope

What do I need?

A climbing partner

The best thing is of course if you have a friend with whom you can climb together. Are you alone? No problem! There are always plenty of people you can climb with. Just speak to someone and ask if you can climb with him / her or them.

Climbing harness

Climbing harnesses are available in various models and sizes. It is extremely important that you know how to put on your own climbing belt properly. First you need to tighten the waistband around your waist. Make sure that your hip belt is above the pelvis, so that you cannot fall out of your harness in case you end up hanging upside down. Then tighten the leg loops tightly around the thighs.

A climbing harness usually has several loops:

Binding loops: These loops serve to tie yourself ‘directly’ with the rope when you go climbing. You do this with the help of a double eight-knot. Not all climbing harnesses have separate binding loops.

Safety loop: The safety loop is attached to the binding loops of many climbing harnesses and thus keeps the leg loops and the hip loop together. Often the securing loop also has a different color than the binding loops. The safety loop is the strongest part of a climbing harness and can carry a lot of strength or absorb serious falls. The loop is used to attach your carabiner to which the belay device hangs. Some climbing halls do not allow you to tie yourself in directly, but provide the eight knots themselves in the ropes. In this case you have to attach yourself ‘indirectly’ to the rope using a safebiner or two propped screw carabiners. In this case, you attach the carabiner (s) to your belay loop.

Equipment Loops: These are for attaching additional climbing equipment that you are not currently using. They are not designed to bind or secure to it! So never bind to the material loops! These don’t even hold ten kilos! Accidents have been reported in which a climber accidentally tied himself in or secured to a material loop and the material loop broke. Some climbing centers therefore remove the material loops from the front of rental belts. Do not leave any material on your belt while climbing. This way, material can never (accidentally) come loose from your belt while climbing and fall on bystanders.

climbing harness anatomy

Climbing shoes

Climbing shoes come in all shapes and sizes. In general, the shoes should be snug so that they don’t twist, slide or bend too much when you step on a grip. The choice of footwear depends on the climbing environment. If you choose to climb and bouldering exclusively in a climbing gym, light and tight-fitting, slipper-like climbing shoes will suffice. With this type you can feel very well the grips on which you put your feet. This is especially an advantage for the advanced climber, a beginner will not experience it that way. Slipper-like models do not provide much support or protection for the foot. The firmer the shoe, the less you will feel small grips. Not every shoe model is suitable for every foot. It is therefore advisable to try on several shoes when purchasing climbing shoes.

Belaying device

The term belaying is used in climbing sports to protect a person against the risk of falling. The use of a rope, climbing harnesses, carabiners and a belaying device prevents the person from hitting the ground in the event of a fall. There are many different types of belay devices. Most sport climbers nowadays use a tuber-like type for top rope (such as Petzl’s reverso or black diamond’s ATC). The operation is the same with most belay devices and they are very suitable for novice belayers, partly due to their simplicity and the improved braking power on newer models. Belay devices are always used in combination with a screw carabiner or twistlock carabiner, but preferably with a safebiner.

Carabiners

To attach the belaying device to the safety loop of your climbing harness, you need a carabiner. Various options are also possible for this. There are carabiners with and without secure closure. You can use carabiners that are secured against uncontrolled opening for securing and binding. There are various protections for this:

Screw carabiners

The screw carabiner is the most famous karabiner with secure closure. He has the disadvantage that you can forget to close the closure. In addition, in the event of an unfavorable rope course, the closure can be turned open because the rope rubs against it.

carabiners

Twistlock carabiners

With twistlock carabiners there is also a risk that the closure will open due to the course of the rope. However, you cannot forget to close the twist-lock carabiner because it closes automatically.

Safebiners

Uncontrolled opening is impossible with a safe-lock carabiner (or safebiner) because you have to perform three actions to open the carabiner. Examples of safebiners are the dmm Belay Master, Petzl Ball-lock carabiners and carabiners with the dmm Locksafe or Petzl Triact-Lock closure. With the Belay Master, a black plastic cap (which only fits when the screw is closed) prevents unintentional opening. The Ball-Lock carabiner from Petzl can only be opened if a green ball is pressed simultaneously with the thumb. Since the ball is arranged in a small recess, it cannot be compressed by unfavorable rope routing. The dmm Locksafe or Petzl Triact-Lock closure resembles a twistlock carabiner, but you have to slide the closure sleeve up before you can turn it and open it. The safebiners of many other brands also use this type of closure.

NEVER use carabiners without a secure clasp for binding or belaying!

Magnesium

Magnesium powder improves the grip of the hands because it absorbs moisture from the skin. Magnesium powder is available in block form and as magnesium balls. Magnesium is carried around your waist in a bag, the so-called chalk bag. Liquid magnesium, based on alcohol, does not produce dust.

Is Climbing safe?

Sport climbing is fun and challenging but not without risks. Climbing involves falling and by falling you get to know your own limits. If climbers obey the safety rules and master the belaying technique, nothing will happen in the event of a fall. But ignorance and inattention can lead to life-threatening situations. In addition to this risk awareness, a sense of responsibility, confidence, a serious attitude and good control of the techniques are important.

Types of climbing

After climbing (Toprope)

With top rope climbing, the route is already equipped with a rope that runs through a diversion point at the top of the route. The belayer is on the ground and constantly keeps the rope taut by overtaking it as the climber goes up. When the climber has reached the top of the route, he will hang in the rope and the belayer will lower him / her to the ground. Top rope climbing is the most common form of sport climbing in many climbing centers. Novice climbers can get acquainted with climbing safely in this way, while advanced climbers can train in a safe situation on more difficult climbing routes.

Lead climbing

For lead climbing on an artificial climbing wall, the route is equipped with hooks, in which intermediate fuses (or “sets”) hang or are hung by the climber. As the climber climbs up, he attaches the rope to these intermediate securing devices. When the climber falls, he does not fall to the ground, but only the distance above the last intermediate fuse, times two. If it is a route that can be climbed with one length of rope (usually less than 40m), then there is a diversion point (or “relay”) at the end of the route. When a route spreads over several rope lengths (multi-pitch routes), there will be one or more sites along the way from which to re-secure. Lead climbing is the most common form of rock and ice climbing and competitive climbing.

top rope vs sport climb

Bouldering

Bouldering involves climbing on a short, difficult route (boulder) without a rope. There are usually thick mats on the floor for safety. A bouldering route is often referred to as a “problem” because the boulders are built in such a way that a limited number of movements are possible to climb the boulder. In terms of effort, bouldering is comparable to the 100-meter sprint, in which strength, explosiveness and technique come together. You can also use bouldering to practice new moves at a low altitude before applying them high up on the wall. Bouldering can also be done outside on rocks, such as in France in the most famous bouldering area: Fontainebleau.

Climbing Levels and Difficulty Levels

In a climbing center you can usually recognize routes by the color of the handles. Each route is assigned a difficulty level by the route builder. This difficulty level is shown at the bottom of the route, along with the rope you need to climb on. The level of difficulty gives a rough indication of the physical and technical requirements of a route.

There are several difficulty scales in use worldwide, such as the French scale, the UIAA scale or the Yosemite decimal system.
The French scale is usually used in European climbing centers. It looks like this:

French 1 – 3 4a 4b 4c 5a 5b 5c 6a 6a+ 6b 6b+ 6c 6c+ 7a 7a+ 7b

Most climbers climb routes of difficulty 4, 5 and 6 (French). In 2013, a 9b + is the most heavily claimed route ever.

Basic Climbing Techniques to Know

WikiHow has a very instructive post about how to use your harness and how to attach it to the rope and belay device. Read about it here.

Get Outside

Once you’ve built strength and technique, learned the skills to climb safely, acquired some gear, and met people to climb with, it’s time to get outside. This is a major step beyond the climbing hall, however. Climbing outside means you are relaying on your own skills and equipment. Unless you are convinced of your group´s capabilities, consider hiring a guide the first time. Enjoy!

The Satisfaction of Adventurous Group Travel

Ik schrok ervan toen ik eerder deze week op de radio hoorde dat de meteorologische herfst opnieuw is begonnen. De zomer lijkt zo verschrikkelijk snel voorbij te zijn gegaan. Niet onlogisch, want het is dan ook behoorlijk druk geweest de laatste maanden.

Dit weekend staan alweer de laatste groepsreizen voor het zomerseizoen op het programma, maar ook de voorbije reizen zijn intens geweest. Kleine, toffe groepen waarin ieder zijn grenzen heeft verlegd. Of het nu in Zweden was of in de Belgische Ardennen. Op fysiek vlak, door een angst te overwinnen of gewoon een nieuwe skill aan te leren. Dat is dan ook de essentie van avontuurlijke groepsreizen: in groep je persoonlijke grens verleggen. Even uit je comfortzone treden.

I was shocked when I heard on the radio earlier this week that the meteorological fall has started again. Summer seems to have passed so terribly fast. Not illogical, because it has been quite busy in recent months.

The last group trips for the summer season are already on the program this weekend, but the past trips have also been intense. Small, cool groups in which everyone has pushed their boundaries. Whether in Sweden or in the Belgian Ardennes. On a physical level, by overcoming a fear or simply by learning a new skill. That is the essence of adventurous group travel: pushing your personal boundaries in a group. Just step out of your comfort zone.

Vuur maken met een vuurstick

Packraften in Snowdonia

Ook is er deze zomer heel wat veranderd. Niet alleen heb ik mijn vriendin leren kennen die straks mee op avontuur kan, maar ook op professioneel vlak verandert wat. Vanaf volgend jaar begeleid ik niet alleen reizen voor Mr Yeti, maar stippel ik ook expedities uit die vanaf volgende zomer in het programma komen te zitten. De eerste wordt een packraft expeditie in Snowdonia, Wales. Een bestemming die ik een vijftal jaar geleden heb leren kennen en meteen smaakte naar meer. Ik kijk er dan ook naar uit om met een kleine groep dit indrukwekkende nationale park met zijn ruige bergtoppen te doorkruisen.

Stiekem kijk ik al uit naar de komende jaren, want Wales wordt slechts de eerste van vele expedities waarbij ik hoop reizigers dezelfde ervaring te bieden als die ik op mijn eigen reizen meemaak. Of het nu in Centraal-Amerika is of in een van de desolate poolgebieden. Sinds mijn kajakexpeditie op Spitsbergen in 2017 is het een droom geweest om ook hier ooit groepen te begeleiden. Maar het onfortuinlijke ongeluk met een ijsbeer op de camping van Longyearbyen maakt duidelijk waarom dit geen sinecure wordt.

Snowdonia

A lot has also changed this summer. Not only did I get to know my girlfriend who will soon be able to go on an even more adventure, but also professionally. From next year, I will not only guide trips for Mr Yeti, but I will also map out expeditions that will be included in the program starting from next summer. The first will be a packraft expedition in Snowdonia, Wales. A destination that I got to know about five years ago and immediately tasted like more. I am therefore looking forward to cross this impressive national park with its rugged mountain peaks with a small group.

Secretly, I am already looking forward to the coming years, as Wales will be just the first of many expeditions where I hope to offer travelers the same experience as I have on my own travels. Whether in Central America or in one of the desolate polar regions. Since my kayaking expedition on Spitsbergen in 2017, it has been a dream to one day guide groups here too. But the unfortunate accident with a polar bear at the Longyearbyen campsite makes it clear why this is not going to be an easy task.

How to Make a Fire in the Outdoors without a Lighter?

Finland Karhunpolku

Man is the only one who has learned to control and make fire. In ancient civilizations, fire was a precious commodity for cooking, light, heating and more It was obtained and maintained with difficulty. Even up to day, knowing how to make a fire is an essential survival skill.

Fortunately, 400 000 years since the first time man managed to make a fire, has led to easier tools to do so, such as matches or a lighter. So easy-peasy right?

But what if your matches are wet or your lighter is lost or ran out of fuel? These are situations that can easily happen when in the outdoors. Therefore, it is essential in survival to know how to start a fire without matches or a lighter.

How to Build your Fire?

Step 1 – Create your fire bed

Safety comes first when building a campfire. If there are no designated fire areas where you are staying, you will need to make a new fire bed. Choose a site away from trees, bushes and plants. The best place for a fire bed is on bare earth. Avoid grass (especially dry grass!) Once you found or made a clear area, you can gather dirt and place it in the center to make a platform. You can surround the fire bed with rocks to avoid that the fire can spread.

Step 2 – Gather your Wood

No fire without wood. However, when making fire, it´s impossible to start with huge logs. No, you will have to build it up. For this you need three types of wood.

Tinder

Every well-build campfire starts with Tinder. This is the type of wood that ignites with a single spark. Useful when you are using a fire stick to ignite. The downside of tinder is that it burns really fast. Tinder materials that work great include dry leaves, pine straw, dry bark, wood shavings, dry grass. Well prepared survivalists bring their own tinder. Think of paper, cotton (tampons are light and small). Some people even bring vaseline cotton balls.

Make sure the tinder is super-dry as it is intended to catch fire with a single spark.

Kindling

Tinder won´t give you a good campfire. No, its sole intention is to make sure a spark is catching on and gives the campfire time to grow. So to keep the flame going, you will need something more: kindling. Huge logs would smother your fire, so this is where kindling comes in.  Small twigs and branches work best here. Go for something that’s about the width of a pencil. Like tinder, kindling needs to be dry or else it won’t burn as easily. If all you can find is wet wood, you can whittle away the damp bark of the twigs with your pocket knife. Most times, it is only the surface that is wet.

What is Kindling and Why is it Dangerous?

Fuel wood

Now that you managed to get the fire going, it is time to build it into a real campfire. Collect huge branches and logs to get the fire going. Unlike tinder and kindling, it may be a little damp (although dry works best) as it will have the time to dry out. Just keep in mind that this will give quite some smoke. Once you fuel wood is burning, you have a solid campfire.

Extra tips when making a fire

Collecting the right wood is essential when building a fire. Make sure you have plenty of tinder and kindling to start your fire. Building a fire from scratch isn´t easy and may take some times (especially when you are not used to it). Making that you have enough tinder and kindling averts that you will have to start all over.

Tinder and kindling needs to be very dry as it has to ignite really easily. Tinder doesn´t last long, so the short amount of burning time needs to be sufficient for your kindling to strike. You can scrape off the damp bark of wet branches to make the wood dry. Make sure to scrape away from you to avoid injuries. Wood that can be bend, is often not dry enough.

Oxygen is essential! When your spark has ignited the tinder and the tinder has jumped over to the kindling, your fire will need oxygen to build up. Blow oxygen to the base of your fire. Don´t be afraid to snuff out your fire. Controlled blowing will have the opposite effect.

Step 3 – Lay your fire

There are several ways to lay your fire, but the most common one is the Teepee Fire Lay.

Start by placing your tinder bundle in the middle of your site. Above this, build a teepee with your kindling. Make sure there is an opening for oxygen. Work your way up to pencil-sized twigs.

Make a larger teepee on top of it with fuel wood. The way this works is that fire works its way up. Once the fire reaches the fuel wood, your teepee structure will collapse, but at this point you can just add fuel wood on top of your fire.

Tepee Fire | Exploration Survival

How to Ignite a Spark for your Fire?

Firestick

A firestick is a very useful to have with you when you spend time in the outdoors. It is weatherproof and allows you to create sparks by moving the scraper hard over your firesteel. Depending on the firestick, this works best in an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. It’s just a matter of trying out what works best for you. Aim the sparks to the tinder you use.

12 Best Ferro Rods (Battle-Tested and Highly Rated)

Fire Plow

This is the way bushcraft lovers want to learn to make a campfire. The fire plow or fire plough technique allows you to start a fire with sticks. The technique in itself is very easy, but it is hard work. The spark originates by the friction caused by scraping your stick in a plow board. It is important that your stick is harder wood than the plow board. This way your scraping will result in wooden dust particles in the plow board that will work as tinder.

The plow board is ideally a large piece of wood that is split longways in the middle. Use this split as a pathway for your stick to run through. The stick should have a blunt end.

Bow Drill

The bow drill is a similar technique as it also works with the friction of wood on wood. It is more effective than the fire plow as it is easier to maintain the speed and pressure you need create enough friction to start a fire. In addition to the spindle and fireboard, you’ll also need a socket and a bow.

The socket is used to put pressure on the other end of the spindle as you’re rotating it with the bow. The socket can be a stone or another piece of wood.

he bow should be about as long as your arm. Use a flexible piece of wood that has a slight curve. The string of the bow can be anything. A shoelace or rope works great. Just find something that won’t break. String up your bow and you’re ready to go.

The fireboard should have a v-shaped notch. Underneath the notch, place your tinder.

Belize Jungle Survival
Belize Jungle Survival

How to Build a Shelter and Protect yourself from the Elements

Most people won´t end up in a situation where it is a matter of life and death, but when you are more than often in the outdoors, knowing basic survival techniques might save your life one day.

When you are in a survival situation, you will have to find water, know how to make a fire and… build a shelter to protect you from the elements.

Since the environment you are in will determine how easy or difficult it is to complete these tasks, we will share some shelter techniques that work in different environments.

Basic Emergency Shelter tools

To build a shelter, it is very useful to have some tools. These include:

  • Cutting tool (knife or axe)
  • Paracord or rope
  • Tarp

Steps for building a shelter

Step 1 – Choose a site

The same goes when you are looking for a place to wildcamp. It takes a trained eye to find a spot that meets all conditions. The place needs to be dry, flat, preferably not too far from a water source, but not right at it, have space in front for a fire pit and needs to be on a safe spot, where there is no chance of having rocks or branches falling.

Step 2 – Determine what you need

Do you want to be easily found or well camouflaged? How many people need to sleep in the shelter? Is it for long-term or short-term use?

Step 3 – Check what tools you have for making a shelter

In best-case scenarios you will have a knife or axe, some rope and maybe even a tarp and sleeping bag available for building a basic shelter. However, there is a chance that you are in an emergency and find yourself in an unplanned situation with little to no tools at all.

Step 4 – Decide on the type of shelter

This decision will be made based on the different parameters above and the environment you are in. Below we will give instructions to build a basic shelter in different environments: forest, snow, jungle and desert.

Forest Survival Shelter

The Tarp shelter

This is a very easy type of shelter to make. For this you only need a tarp and some cordage.

How to make?

Use your cordage to make the ridge line for your shelter. Tie your ridge line to the trees (or sticks). You can read about which knots to use in our post Essential Knots for Camping, Hiking and Survival. Make sure the rope is tied around shoulder height.

Place your tarp over the center of your ridge line so it is folded in half over the line.

Most tarps have holes at their corners enabling you to place a line through and use this to stake the edges down. Pull the lines tigh to ensure the strenght and support of your shelter.

However, there is more than one design possible to build a shelter with just a tarp and cord. The options are endless.

Simple types of shelters : coolguides
Natural shelters

Building a shelter when you don´t have a tarp can be time-consuming, so before you start building one, we recommend to check if there are natural shelters nearby such as outcrops, caves, large burrows, or natural depressions.

Debris shelter

The debris shelter is your best option of shelter when you don´t have a tarp and you can´t find a natural shelter. This type of shelter uses natural resources you can find around such as trunks, branches, leaves, mud, etc.

Basically there are two options to go from here: make a lean-to shelter or make a debris hut.

Gerelateerde afbeelding

How to build?

First of all you will need a spine branch. It should be longer than your body and strong as it will need to hold most of the weight of your shelter. Next step is to find a tree (see picture above) or two strong branches to hold the spine branch up. If you want a horizontal roof instead of a leaning one, go for four branches. Put the branches in a A-shape in which you can lay your spine branch to rest.

Tip: If you don´t find a good spine branch, you can opt for a fallen tree as well, and go from there.

Next, look for branches to lean against the spine branch. The last step will be to cover these with foliage or moss as this will work as insulation. Don´t stop when you think it looks pretty, as this will not keep your warm. Make sure the foliage insulation is at least 20 cm thick to ensure a warm night.

A Debris Shelter | 14 Survival Shelters You Can Build For Any ...

IMPORTANT

Being in a warm shelter is one thing, but make sure to add ground insulation as well to avoid that your body heat gets lost through the cold ground. Again, use foliage or moss to prevent this.

Snow Survival Shelter

Snow Cave

What is there are no trees or debris around and only snow can be found? It can easily be like this when going on a winter trekking.

Building a snow cave is hard work, but easy and straight-forward. Snow in itself may be cold, but traps the heat well, making it perfect insulation.

However, a fair warning, building a snow cave is not without risk. Avoid cooking inside to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, heavy sweating in combination with the cold can result in hyporthermic reaction.

Snow caves are perfect for short-term but not for long-term as they will collapse in time as a result of rain or warmer temperatures. If you plan to spend longer times in snow conditions, opt for an igloo.

Jungle Survival Shelter

Tarp shelter

In the jungle a tarp shelter like mentioned above is your best option. Combine this with a hammock so you are lifted from the ground. This way you will avoid snakes, spiders and bugs that are crawling on the jungle floor at night. Being lifted from the floor is top priority in the wet jungle environment!

Swamp bed

If you don´t have a hammock, you will need to make a bed that is lifted. A swamp bed can easily be made. Find four trees that are in a rectangular position. These trees will be used to make a platform in between. Look for two strong logs to connect on each long side of the trees. You can do this by using square lashing. Read more about Essential Knots for Camping, Hiking and Survival.

Once your framework is done, you will have to find strong branches to create the bed floor. Cover these with foliage and moss for insulation.

Gerelateerde afbeelding
Ideal construction to combine with a debris shelter

Alternative tip: instead of using branches as floor bed, you can opt for paracord as well to create a webbing.

Desert Survival Shelter

Another extreme environment where it will take unique skills to build a shelter is the desert. While deserts can be hot in daytime, the nights are often very cold, making shelter very much needed.

If you are stranded in the desert because your car broke down, your vehicle can be your shelter. However if you are lost in the desert on foot, you will need to find another way.

Use natural shelter

Rock outcrops are not uncommon in desert environment and can provide good options for shelter. However, avoid wash areas as they are prone to flash floods.

Trench

When you are in a sandy environment with little to no trees, shelter options are limited.

One way is to dig a trench. This is best done in the early morning when the sun is still low, to avoid dehydration. Use the sand to build a mound of sand on three sides. Ideally, find something as a roof to cover your trench (such as a tarp, poncho, …). This can be held in place by the weight of the sand of the mounds.

Shelter in the Desert

Vi ka till Sverige!

Een week geleden stond een try-out packrafttrip gepland doorheen de Vlaamse velden. Omdat een nieuwe packraft toch wat aanpassen is, plande ik de dag voordien al een korte trip op de Leie in Kortrijk. Kwestie van het materiaal wat leren te kennen. Het belang van een testtrip werd meteen duidelijk, want ondanks de vele positieve aspecten van mijn Anfibio Rebel 2k – superlicht, enorm wendbaar en vooral makkelijk in opblazen en opruimen – heeft mijn huidige pakket één nadeel: hij is te wendbaar voor kalme wateren.

Er zat dus maar één iets op. Mijn vierdaagse tocht uitstellen en de extra vin die niet standaard in het pakket zit bestellen. Ondertussen zijn we opnieuw een week verder en kon ik gisteren de packraft, deze keer met vin, uittesten op de Handzamevaart. Resultaat? Test geslaagd.

A try-out packraft trip was planned a week ago through Flanders fields. Because a new packraft is a bit of a change, I already planned a short trip on the Leie in Kortrijk the day before. Just getting to know the material. The importance of a test trip immediately became clear, because despite the many positive aspects of my Anfibio Rebel 2k – super light, extremely manoeuvrable and especially easy to inflate and store – my current package has one drawback: it is too manoeuvrable for calm waters.

So there was only one thing on it. Postpone my four-day trip and order the extra fin that is not standard in the package. In the meantime we are another week further and I was able to test the packraft, this time with fin, yesterday on the Handzamevaart. Result? It passed the test.

Code Orange

Tijd voor de vierdaagse tocht is er de komende weken echter niet. Zoals verwacht trok onze regering de beslissing om Zweden op rood te zetten binnen de 48 uur al in en is reizen naar het noorden opnieuw toegestaan. Zaterdag begeleid ik dan ook de 14-daagse groepsreis Zweden. Een kleine groep waardoor de ervaring van het wildkamperen, leren vuur maken, de Zweedse wildernis te voet en al kanoënd nog intenser wordt! Zeker nu we helemaal de stedelijke gebieden vermijden.

Wil je zelf ook mee naar Zweden? Dan kan je nog steeds boeken via deze website.

However, there is no time for the four-day trip in the coming weeks. As expected, our government revoked the decision to put Sweden in red within 48 hours and travel to the north is again allowed. On Saturday I also accompany the 14-day group trip to Sweden. A small group that makes the experience of wild camping, learning to make a fire, the Swedish wilderness on foot and canoeing even more intense! Especially now that we completely avoid urban areas.

Finland Karhunpolku
Me, 4 years ago in Dalarna