So, it’s been WAYYY too cold for me to climb outside recently, and I’ve resorted to other means of warmer, indoor exercise. However, many people don’t mind climbing in the cold. If you’re one of those thicker-skinned climbers, here are some common tips I’ve picked up through the years to help you stay warm:
1. Put hand warmers in your chalk bag. Warm fingers are the quickest way to regain your sending power in the cold. Be good to those fingers!
2. Keep your shoes inside your down jacket/sweatshirt. There is nothing more miserable than stiff, cold climbing shoes. Keep them close to your body so your toes can enjoy some warmth too.
3. Wear a hat or beanie when climbing. You lose body heat the fastest from your feet and your head. Keep that head covered and bottle up your body heat.
4. Don’t overhydrate. The more water you drink, the more often you’ll have to urinate. In case you haven’t noticed, your urine is always very warm. For this reason, you’ll stay warmer if you don’t constantly have to pee and lose that inner heating pad. Gross, but true.
5. Warm up properly. Before you touch any rock, do some jumping jacks, jog in place, or try some arm circles - anything to get the blood flowing.
6. Clap your hands. Before you start clinging to frozen rock formations, it’s time to draw the blood to your fingertips. Clap your hands as hard and fast as you can for as long as you can take it. It’s incredibly painful in the cold – everything stings – but when the pain is over, you have yourself some toasty hot fingers.
Many people climb in the cold without any problems, but listen to your own body. Don’t worry about what other climbers around you are doing. If you’re not enjoying yourself, stop doing it. When I started climbing, I was always pressured into climbing in the cold. I always felt like I just wasn’t tough enough or brave enough or hardcore enough to climb in the cold. I always thought I just needed to man up, but then I remembered why I started climbing: because it was fun. The cold weather stole that fun from me, and I deemed it not worth my while to continue climbing in bleak conditions. You might really enjoy climbing in the cold, or you might hate it. Regardless, do what makes YOU happy. It’s your life, after all.