It’s send temps out there, folks. You might lose some feeling in your hands, and maybe you can see your breath a little too well…but winter is on its way and it’s here to stay. How can you get winter sends in the freezing cold? theDIHEDRAL team is here to help you send through the ice. And when it’s all over, you can review Summer Sends.
Growing up in Michigan forces you to accept long cold winters as a part of life. Skiing, sledding, and just playing around in the snow is fantastic fun, but there is a difference between playing outside on snow days, and rock climbing in cold temps. The most obvious difference is the need for dexterity and mobility. While skiing, you can just toss on thick hats, gloves, jackets, pants, scarfs, etc… Gloves and jackets can become a hindrance when you’re trying to move up a rock. If you aren’t ice-climbing, winter layers are restricting. You could pay $60 for a heated chalk bag, or you could follow these tried and tested guidelines for staying warm pre and post send! It’s called tequila! No, I’m just kidding, that can come after. While at the wall/trail/ there are three requirements to keep the stoke! #1) Grabber Hand Warmers – these things offer seven hours of loving warmth, like little grandma hugs for your hands. While you’re climbing, keep one in your chalk bag. While you’re belaying, keep one in your gloves and one in your shoes. #2) A Thermos filled with hot cocoa. It’s gotta be the real stuff (no instant cocoa), and it has to be your grandpa’s big green Thermos with the lid that doubles as a cup. Anything less, and your trip will be an utter failure! #3) Hot Food! Whether it’s another Thermos filled with chili, or a jet boil, or an open fire to do some cooking, hot food makes a world of difference when you are freezing your butt off with friends. With hot food, it won’t matter if you fall off every single route, all that will matter is that first warm bite erasing the pain of failure, numb fingers, and chapped lips. Hot food on cold days is the ultimate game changer!
Carrot stole my sound advice about drinking tequila to stay warm, and then passed it off as a joke, so I guess I can’t say that as my answer. Whiskey really puts a heat in your belly anyway.
But really, my biggest issue with climbing or working out in the cold is the dry and cracked hands you get afterward. Shea or cocoa butter is your BFF during these trying times. However, DO NOT do this while you’re climbing, unless you want to cheese grate down the wall (you probably don’t, but maybe you’re a masochist, IDK). This is AFTER care. This will also help any cuts or scrapes you get on the wall heal up nicely.
During your visit to the crag, make sure to glove up whenever you’re not climbing or belaying. Glove warmers can also really soothe you in-between climbs. Cover the areas that won’t hinder your climb while on the wall (like have a good beanie for your head).
But mostly, whiskey.
I’m with Chubbygirlclimbing on this one…Carrot stole our thunder…but the facts are the facts.
- Warm food—If you’re wondering if you should bring your camp stove, the answer is yes. The crew morale will sky rocket the second you light the stove. The little flame will remind everyone of their fiery passion for rock climbing, and the send train will start again. You’ll taste food again and remember that warmth does exist, and you’ll experience it again.
- Warm hands—Personally, I’m not a hand warmer person, but I’ve heard hand warmers in the chalk bag is the way to go (as Carrot suggested). If you’re like me, the way to go is blow on your hands when you chalk up. This way, you blow off the excess chalk and the heat from your breath will warm your hands and give them some moisture.
- Buffs—If you’re not familiar with Buff headwear, you should definitely check Buff out. Bringing a Buff with you will keep your ears warm, your hair back, and your style on point. I love all kinds of hats, but sometimes it can be stressful while you’re on a spicy route and you have to worry if your hat will fall off or catch on something. With a Buff, it stays tight to your head so you don’t have to worry about it falling off or catching. Even more, if you want to keep your head warm under your helmet, these will fit underneath.
Be safe out there, send hard, and comment anything we left out!