Cold Toes

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dreaming13000
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Cold Toes

Post by dreaming13000 »

Hi all, I have been a long time lurker, this is first time posting. In February of this year I attempted my first winter mountain summit on Quandary. I had so good warm boots and one layer of smart wool socks (snowboarding socks) and microspikes. I turned around due to incredibly cold toes, like worried about frostbite and in pain cold toes.... Just looking to see what others do to prevent this. I did have foot warmers with me, but I just wasn't in a good place when I turned around to take off my boots and deal with the warmers. Do I need better socks? Is there a trick to keep my toes warmer besides foot warmers? (next time I know I will use foot warms before I leave the tree line)
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4thPlaceAtFieldDay
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by 4thPlaceAtFieldDay »

A few things:

1. Did your feet get wet? I know you said you had warm boots, but when you took them off, were your socks wet? Obviously, make sure your boots are waterproof. Don't wear summer hiking boots in winter, go for a mountaineering boot. Did you have gaiters to prevents snow from getting in the top of your boots?
2. I usually wear two pairs of socks in winter (a liner and a wool sock). The liner won't help a lot with warmth, but every little bit helps.
3. Don't tie your boots TOO tight. This can limit circulation to your feet. You want boots tight enough where you won't get blisters, but don't suffocate your feet.
4. Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes the body to store energy and decrease circulation. This can make your hands and feet cold.
5. If you think you'll need toe warmers, you can put them in before you start hiking. That way you don't have to take your boots off once your feet are already cold. The only thing to be careful of is your feet sweating too much and getting wet. Don't put the foot warmer directly on your skin. I usually put it between my two layers of socks.
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climbingcue
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by climbingcue »

4thPlaceAtFieldDay wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:44 am 3. Don't tie your boots TOO tight. This can limit circulation to your feet. You want boots tight enough where you won't get blisters, but don't suffocate your feet.
This is the 1st thing I though of when reading the post, Taylor has great points in his list. My feet get cold at times climbing in the winter, most of the time I just need to keep moving to build up the heat. A common problem in winter when hiking/climbing is not being able to move fast enough to keep warm. With the higher elevation and other conditions.
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WildWanderer
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by WildWanderer »

The above comments are all very useful. Prevention is key. Try to keep moving, and don't sit/stand for long periods. This helps keep the circulation going. In addition, in winter I always carry a jetboil and nalgene so if my toes do get too cold I have a way to warm them (or my hands) up quickly.
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Scott P
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by Scott P »

Overall, I have a high tolerance to cold, but my toes still get cold. It's a circulation issue. Do everything you can to make sure you don't cut off any circulation to your toes and that you can still wiggle them. When my toes get cold I have to keep moving or if I can't, try to wiggle them as much as possible.

The can still get cold when sleeping so I have to wear extra socks when it's below zero outside, even with a warm sleeping bag.
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dreaming13000
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by dreaming13000 »

Thank you all.

My feet were dry, I did have nice winter boots and gaiters on. I might have had my boots too tight, but I think I was mainly not properly hydrated/ fueled for the day (I found it harder to snack and drink water then a summer summit), now that you mentioned it.

I guess I was thinking maybe I didn't wear the proper socks, but they have always worked well for snoboarding in which I have NEVER had cold toe problems. What kind of liner do you use? And what purpose does the liner serve?
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climbingcue
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by climbingcue »

Scott P wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:27 am The can still get cold when sleeping so I have to wear extra socks when it's below zero outside, even with a warm sleeping bag.
I have duck down booties that I sleep with on the super cold nights. -11 F is the coldest night I have had so far, the booties kept my feet warm.
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SkaredShtles
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by SkaredShtles »

Put your warmers in *before* you even start your hike. And let them warm up before putting them in. Those things rely on oxygen to "activate" to get warm, and if you put them on, stuff them in a mostly oxygenless boot, they aren't going to warm up very well.
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by CaptCO »

You need better boots.. unless you already have Nepal’s or phantoms, I’d shop for something heavier duty.
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ker0uac
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by ker0uac »

I have a similar problem with my hands, even in chilly summer days. I think it is a mix of poor circulation and not being warm enough. If you find a guy with gloves on a summer day, it's probably me. In winter, it obviously gets even worse. When I first got into winter mountaineering, I remember freaking out once thinking I was going to lose my hands, but turns out it was just painfully cold. I have learned to live with it and accept I need to pack expedition-style gloves at all times.

Were you postholing a lot at Quandary? Waterproof fabrics like goretex will eventually get wet if you are constantly sinking into snow. If that's what happened, then maybe investing on snowshoes could help you.

Another tip that might not be applicable here, but certainly is for multiday trips - at the end of the day, I put a nalgene bottle inside the boot and fill it up with boiling water.
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dreaming13000
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by dreaming13000 »

SkaredShtles wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:42 am Put your warmers in *before* you even start your hike. And let them warm up before putting them in. Those things rely on oxygen to "activate" to get warm, and if you put them on, stuff them in a mostly oxygenless boot, they aren't going to warm up very well.
Good to know! Thanks :-D
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dreaming13000
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Re: Cold Toes

Post by dreaming13000 »

ker0uac wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:45 pm I have a similar problem with my hands, even in chilly summer days. I think it is a mix of poor circulation and not being warm enough. If you find a guy with gloves on a summer day, it's probably me. In winter, it obviously gets even worse. When I first got into winter mountaineering, I remember freaking out once thinking I was going to lose my hands, but turns out it was just painfully cold. I have learned to live with it and accept I need to pack expedition-style gloves at all times.

Were you postholing a lot at Quandary? Waterproof fabrics like goretex will eventually get wet if you are constantly sinking into snow. If that's what happened, then maybe investing on snowshoes could help you.

Another tip that might not be applicable here, but certainly is for multiday trips - at the end of the day, I put a nalgene bottle inside the boot and fill it up with boiling water.
I did not post hole much before the turn around (descent was a lot more post holing). My feet do tend to stay on the colder side, so it looks like I will just have to be prepared and think ahead, ie, warmer into boots at beginning of the hike, not as needed.
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