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Cold Rockin'

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Cold Rockin'

Postby Upstate Hiker » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:18 pm

Now that the weather is cooling off, I need some advice about rock climbing when its cool out. Last week I was at CCC and my toes and fingers were numb from the cold and my shoes weren't very sticky. It made for an "interesting" climb. Aside from wearing my warm hat, what can I do/wear to help keep my fingers and toes warm so I can climb more efficiently?

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby Andymcp1 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:39 pm

Climbing gym's are warm in the winter, I personally would start there.

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby Upstate Hiker » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:48 pm

Thanks for the input but that is not happening.

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby TomPierce » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:57 pm

I occasionally use some pretty snug fingerless fleece gloves when climbing on colder days, they even work OK when hand jamming cracks. But if it's cold when belaying pop on some full gloves and a belay jacket (I can climb in full gloves but don't like to on harder stuff). A thin balaclava under the helmet works well, and I always keep my rock shoes warm before starting off on a cool day, ie don't store them in your pack in the trunk of your car overnight, etc. And of course untie them when belaying.

Yep, you could stick to a gym, but you could also seek out climbs that get good early sun. At this time of the year in CCC Red Slab is known to be sunny & warm, Little Eiger is always shady and cool, several climbs at Highlander get good early sun, etc.

-Tom

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby Upstate Hiker » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:11 pm

Thanks, Tom. What do you suggest for staying warm when belaying on multi-pitch?

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Re: Cold Rockin' - Top Five Answers

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:13 pm

The TOP FIVE answers for how to rock climb in winter.


5. Andymcp1 has it right - the climbing gym.
Except he forgot to tell you about how plastic will hurt your fingers, hands, and flexor tendons. But not to worry, that's only once you get good enough to tear these handy structures. Like climbing on 11s and 12s in the gym. Stay on the easier stuff and it's not a problem - just a temptation.

4. Wear the right clothes.
You can actually wear thin wool liner socks in your more comfy climbing shoes. Note: sport-weanies will not be able to do this, as their shoes are so tight they're only good for a single half-pitch of sport. But if you have some trad shoes, crack shoes, or all-day multipitch shoes, this works. Wear wool tights or cycling tights, or something like smartwool medium weight tights under long climbing pants. For upper body, wear a base layer, and thin but insulating outer layers, with something soft but wind-resistant on the outside. A Patagonia down shirt makes a great mid-layer, as it is very warm for zero weight and bulk. A $7 WalMart sweatshirt, with that soft fleece-like underside, actually keeps out the wind pretty well, and keeps the $250 down shirt from getting snagged on the rock. Don't forget the utility of a vest as part of a system that will allow freedom of movement. A beanie is also good. Fingerless gloves are remarkably helpful, and even more remarkable in their ability to facilitate climbing at one's limit. They are a great substitute for taping on hand cracks, and won't slow you down on face climbing. Do not use a space heater to warm hands. If it's that cold, go back to answer #5, above.

3. Stay on south-facing rock.
Pick your days. Sunny but cold can actually work pretty well if it's not too windy. Check to make sure the rock, which should be in the sun, is not cold. You don't want to climb on cold rock.

2. Climb at Shelf Road.
The place is totally solar. We've left Springs in 25 degree weather - snowing sideways - and had a great sunny 40 degree day on warm rock heated by the sun. Bulge wall in the Gallery, and some of the areas in Sand Gulch and the Bank kind of wrap around a bit, blocking breezes and holding the heat. These are S and SW facing walls. Cactus Cliffs, not so good, especially if it's cold and windy. Of course, for Shelf's highly sought-after tanning properties, one must actually have sun. But it's more often sunny there than other areas on the front range.

1. And the top answer to rock climbing in cold weather:
Broncos vs. Chargers. Wear some fingerless gloves, grab a beer, and call it good.

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby B[3] » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:14 pm

We climb outside year round in Colorado by keeping a close watch on the temperature forecast and the cliff aspect. Eldo's West Ridge can be pretty nice in the winter (don't start too early, as Rincon doesn't get sun until the afternoon)--Mescaline gets earlier sun. Castlewood Canyon can also be nice. We've found that if the high temperature of the day is forecast to be less than 48 with wind that it's not pleasant to climb outside.

**I'd also suggest leading first, as it can get cold when you belay first and in colder weather can be hard to warm up.**
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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby TomPierce » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:55 pm

Upstate Hiker wrote:Thanks, Tom. What do you suggest for staying warm when belaying on multi-pitch?


Multipitch is obviously a different animal than most single pitch sport climbs, e.g. I don't like carrying a pack when leading if I can avoid it, and climbing in a belay jacket probably isn't that practical. So it's not likely I'll be toting a belay jacket along on a multipitch climb (unless we're talking about a really cold alpine thing). I'm with Jim, above, I layer up. A really thin long john top as a base, then I use a Mountain Equipment Coop knock-off of the Patagonia R1 Hoody on really cold days as a mid layer, or skip that and put on a snug stretch hoody jacket with a microfleece lining as an outer layer. I have a few of those (warm>really warm=Lowe Alpine, Mountain Hardware, Pearl Izumi). Decent insulation and they block the wind pretty well. I start climbing, unzip as needed, get to a (sunny!) belay, zip up and pop the hood on. Works pretty well for me, but if it's so cold it's miserable I'll just do something else (alpine, skiing, whatever). 5th class climbing on really cold rock is just no fun at all, at least to me.

-Tom

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby Winter8000m » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:06 pm

Put a heat patch and what not in your chalk bag. Really helps with high altitude alpine rock climbing. But of course if its high altitude rock climbing here out of summer then you might forgo the chalk bag and grab the tools, screws, and knife blades. Fingerless gloves that also fold over into a mitt are rad. I got a cheap pair from Wal Mart a year ago. Used them on the Lizard in winter, Hallets Chimney, etc... There bad ass. Sometimes you don't need to pay top dollar for gear. Improvise.
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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:30 pm

I'm with Tom on the multipitch stuff. And Noah is totally the man. These guys know what they're talking about.

I will say that on more temperate days, the down shirt is really nice, because you can put it in its base-ball sized stuff sack, and clip it to your rack. It weighs like 5 oz. That's the same as a #1 BD Camalot. It's also incredibly wind-resistant. A light-weight down sweater would probably work fine as well, at probably about twice the weight and size. Use it at the belay, or when the sun gets low.

I also agree with Tom that there are days you just don't want to be climbing 5th class. Unless you're doing harder winter peak-bagging requiring fifth class. But that's another concept entirely, requiring different equipment and a whole different mindset.

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby TomPierce » Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:31 pm

Winter8000m wrote: Fingerless gloves that also fold over into a mitt are rad.


I forgot all about those, Noah. I used to have a pair years ago. What a great idea!

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Re: Cold Rockin'

Postby Upstate Hiker » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:35 pm

Thanks guys. These are all really great ideas. I especially love the idea about putting a cheap sweatshirt on to protect your down. :-D

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