Climbing in the winter can be incredibly difficult. Certainly, there are other ways to get after it like ice, mixed and alpine, but what if you really love rock climbing and aren’t a fan of doing it indoors? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back.
Picking your destination:
1. Chase the Sun
Normally we’d save the most epic suggestion for last, but this really is your best option. Head someplace warm! If you’re stuck in the U.S., take a road trip to the Southwest. According to climbing website Mountain Project, Arizona has nearly 7,000 established routes and New Mexico has a respectable 4,000.
If you’ve got a little bigger budget to work with, go international and try something off the beaten path like Morocco, Turkey or Malaysia. All have amazing temperatures while we’re shivering over here.
2. Wait for the Weather
Ok, even if you can’t take an international trip, there are still ways to climb in moderate climates like UT, CO, TN and WV year round (just to name a few).
The first step is to wait for a sunny day. If it’s cloudy or snowing, we’re not going to stop you from climbing, but be prepared to shiver and pack an extra puffy. Next, do a little research ahead of time and choose areas and rocks that face south. This will guarantee the most sunlight and warmest temps. They also tend to stay driest, or dry the fastest, between snow, ice and rainstorms.
Cold Weather Gear Hacks:
3. Dress Right
There are always other things that can help keep you warm besides sunlight too. First off, dress appropriately. SmartWool baselayers will keep you warm on-route as well as when it’s your turn to belay. And speaking of belaying, bring some warmer shoes or boots and throw on a warm pair of socks. And that puffy, never forget that puffy!
4. Gloves, No Gloves, or Some Gloves?
This one might lose you some cool points with certain people, but it’s not unheard of to wear gloves on some more moderate routes. Black Diamond makes a ¾ finger Stone Climbing Glove that is primarily for belaying, but can used until it warms up enough to get rid of them altogether. And hey, if your partner gives you a hard time, you know what’s better than not climbing? Climbing.
5. Warm your Core
An old winter camping trick: fill a small bottle full of your favorite hot beverage (or just hot water) and keep it under your jacket. It will keep you warm for a while, and if you get thirsty, you’ve got a nice little treat waiting for you. Plus, one of the best ways to warm up your core is by sipping on a toasty beverage.
6. Warm the Extremities
Need something that lasts a little longer than a bottle of hot coffee? Grab some hand or foot warmers that last up to 8 hours. Stuff one in your chalk bag, put one in each glove, shove a couple in your pockets. Just be sure you don’t put any of these directly against your skin for long periods of time. They do get hot enough to cause burns.
7. Bring the Heat?
Ok, this last tip is a little bit of a stretch, but it’s certainly plausible. Say you’re going to a bouldering cave with a short approach. Say it’s really cold out. And say you’ve got enough people to spread out carrying the load. Who’s to say you can’t bring a Mr. Buddy heater with a couple 1lb. propane tanks? We’re not here to judge. We just want to make sure you get the send.