Climbing Case Studies


Central Rock Gym

The Heist  2013 - Live Demo

The Heist was the first all female, professional caliber rock climbing competition – produced entirely by women – for amateur and pro-level female competitors in September 2013. The event was created as a way to support and inspire women in the climbing industry. A wide range of clinics were available after the competition and I was asked to host a Nutrition Clinic for Climbers. 

After the clinic, I had the opportunity to have a private discussion with a coach and her competitive climbers. They had many questions about foods that would help with keeping their energy levels up during school, during climbing and what they should be eating after climbing.  Middle school children have bodies that demand high amounts of fuel.  Tacking on a sport like rock climbing increases the need for nutrient dense foods along with quality calories, but finding these types of foods while on the road can be challenging.  I discussed with them the importance of making high quality food choices a priority while at home (AND when training) as that is the basis for their overall performance.  After taking notes on their food habits, concerns and questions, I devised a menu to fit their needs while at home and the best choices for them while on the road.

Boston Rock Gym

Social Outcast Club 2013 - Live Demo

In December 2012, I offered to speak at the Boston Rock Gym’s “Social Outcast Club” – a new way for climbers to learn, socialize and share experiences about what we all love in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.  Being a chef/nutritionist amongst a sea of engineers, I am asked dietary and nutrition advice all the time, which led me to think that maybe a Crash Course on Nutrition might be helpful.  I decided to make it into a fun game, a small competition (climbers are very competitive) and, as always, informative.  I gave a short dissertation on each caloric contributing nutrient, where they could be found and what they provided for climbers.  I interrupted the conversation periodically with questions that related to the subject to promote learning and to stimulate memory.  I passed out samples to the crowd to keep them interested, rewarded them for participating and subjected them to a quiz at the end.  I welcomed a Q&A session afterward as the world of Food and Nutrition can be very confusing.  There is a lot of misinformation out there and it’s not every day you have a Nutritionist outside of a clinical setting.   

Crux Crush

Nutrition 101 For Climbers

I have also had the opportunity to contribute to the blog Crux Crush, written by three women who are psyched on climbing and want to connect with more women climbers and all they “crush on” in the climbing world. I offered to write some guest posts about nutrition for climbers and we have collaborated on a series of articles as well as been a part of “Ladies Night” at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville, MA. Be sure to check out the Crux Crush articles on the "About Lisa" page of this site.

Climber One-On-One: Harry Connors

A friend found himself to be losing too much weight and he became concerned about it affecting his climbing.  His energy levels, attentiveness at work and his physical activities were high, but he knew he was not going to be able to sustain them over a long period of time with the continuing weight loss.  He asked me what he should do to start putting on “healthy” weight and a series of conversations began.  After getting his biometric measurements and daily food habits having him answer a series of metabolic based questions (how and where he goes about obtaining his meals), I came up with his overall picture.

Harry’s metabolism works best on a mix of complex and simple carbohydrates, low, healthy fats and vegetable based proteins.  We found that his energy levels would become depleted when eating a meal that had large amounts of fat and animal proteins.  Snacks consisting of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates (to maintain energy levels, add on healthy weight) and an array of colors (antioxidants and anti inflammatory substances for recovery) would be best for him.  I also explained what foods and nutrients would provide him on a cellular level, several examples of the “perfect meal” for him and how he could go about folding these new, healthy habits into his busy life.

Climber One-On-One: Matt Ritter

Matt Ritter is the owner of Walkabout Mountain Guides, LLC based out of Compton, NH.  I was interested in learning more about the best types of foods to bring on a night hike during the winter and decided to set up a NYE night hike and conversation.  Much of what I found out was due to my own error, some prior knowledge, planning and tremendous amount of insight from Matt. 

I always carry a small, 3 liter camelback when I climb.  It was a short hike, I didn’t need much for food or gear so I thought it would suffice.  I took a drink right before we started the hike and Matt suggested that I “blow the water back out of the tubing” as it may freeze when exposed to air.  I agreed and did so.  We reached the summit of Welch and Dickey in a little over an hour and decided to eat.  I had brought Powerballs, Duck Proscuitto, Homemade Jam and two oranges. I reached for my water and found it to be frozen solid.  Not good.  I was surprised at this and Matt piped up, “You should have placed your pack under your jacket. (Wow, how simple!) Would you like some warm Gatorade?”  I grimaced at the thought of it, to which he added, “I bet you’ll love it once you try it. And it definitely beats the frozen water in your tube!”  Matt took an upside down Nalgene bottle out and unscrewed it for me.  I drank it, and he was right, I was surprised.  “Not bad. Why did you invert it?”  Matt explained, “The Nalgene bottle will have a tendency to freeze from the top down, so inverting it enables you to be able to unscrew it and still drink from it, leaving the bottom frozen.  Heating it up keeps it from freezing longer.”

I inquired if the food I brought were on any level of intelligence and he said, “Yes!” I was elated that my food choices sufficed and have returned with a learning experience that I will surely not forget!

A few other thoughts on winter and night hiking:

  • Quick, high calorie foods, with a focus on complex carbs, proteins and a ton of healthy fats.

  • 1 meat based sandwich with avocado (quick to eat and soft).

  • A “smoothie” in the morning and on the drive to the climb or hike. Made with coconut milk, milk and fresh fruits, upwards of 1000 calories.

  • Stay away from sugary energy foods and eat regular, healthful meals when not on the mountain.