Cold Weather Climbing

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.

3. Bust out the propane brah. A propane stove or heater can be a great asset on a cold day.

4. 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.

Here's some tips to keep you warm at the crag.

1. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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