So here we are
once again, the days are getting shorter the nights are getting longer
and it's snowing in the high country. Add all this up and you conclude
that climbing season is over. WRONG! Hey peeps, were at the top of the
food chain here and just because the temps deck doesn't mean it's time
to hibernate in the gym till spring. There's still a lot of climbing to
be done on the stone. Winter can open the door to some of the best climbing.
There are a number of advantages to climbing in the cold that can be fully
exploited by a climber "in the know". You know that route you've
been working but you peel at the crux sloper. Well that sloper is sticky
as flypaper now with the cooler temps. The sticky rubber on your shoes
is, yeah you guessed it, even stickier. 5.10 says their rubber is at it's
best in 30 to 40 degree weather and did I mention crowds? Nada! Ok so
now that I've peaked your interest let me dish up some tips to keep your
tips intact while climbing in the cold.
First things first. You're going
to have to take the right gear.
1. Clothing is not optional here.
Basic cold weather cover should include hat, long sleeve tech shirt (no
cotton) and fleece pants are great. You can also go with a layering system
for the pants like power stretch with another pant over the top. Insulating
the wrist and ankle joints can be done with wristbands or a cut off sock
if need be. Make sure to put on socks and gloves when resting.
2. The feet are the key right. We've
all heard this before and it applies here also. Keeping your feet insulated
from the cold ground or snow is key. You can place a mat, piece of carpet
or that bouldering pad on the ground to stand on.
Bust out the propane brah. A propane stove or heater can be a great asset
on a cold day.
Drinks for all my friends. Bring a thermos with some hot drink or soup
to keep the inside fires burning.
5. Fire in the hole. Put inexpensive hand warmer packs in your chalk bag
for some heat on the run.
some tips to keep you warm at the crag.
Remember that circulation = warmth so when choosing your routes steer
clear of routes requiring jamming, pockets and taping of fingers or hands
which restrict circulation.
2. Warm your hands by the fire. When you reach a rest where you would
normally shake it out warm your hand on the nape of your neck. This is
your body's hot spot and a great warmth resource.
Stoke the fire before takeoff. You're a climbing machine right? Well we
all know that ya gotta warm the engine up before takeoff. Bust a move
on your carpet, mat or boulder pad that you have laid out as an insulator
on the ground. Jumping Jacks, Jumping Jills, pushups, whatever but get
that motor revved up before you head up.
Keep your core warm. It's a lot easier to maintain warmth than to create
it. Here's where we put the stove, thermos, car heater and mind to use.
Know your body and be smart about using these tools to your advantage.
Warm your shoes before you climb. You can heat them up in the car or near
the stove. Put them inside your jacket while on belay to keep them warm.
Increased circulation equals warmer extremities. Maximize your advantage
by poppin some pills. Gingko, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and magnesium
all help to increase blood flow.
7. This one is not for the meek or
faint of heart, but
.there not reading this anyhow! Let me
ask you this. HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? All right that's what I thought
so here goes. PRE-FREEZE your hands in the snow or on the rock then thaw
them out so you're cryin like a little baby from the pain. You'll get
two benefits from this demented behavior. First is that you know climbing
the route can't possibly hurt as bad as that just did. Mental game WON!
Second is that your hands are now desensitized to the cold and the blood
is pumpin heat into those digits. Your ready to rock.
Now that you're armed with the tools
and have a few tricks up your sleeve there's no stopping you from realizing
your untapped potential in the winter wonderland of cold weather rock
climbing. So go get some!
by Rope Gunn