How to Keep Climbing When the Temp Drops

Maybe conditions aren't perfect... but that's not stopping us.

So maybe conditions aren’t perfect… but that’s not stopping us.

You know the story, it’s the end of the fall season or beginning of spring, and even though you know it’s probably too cold for climbing you have to go for it anyway. Sometimes this ends in numb fingertips and retreating to the nearest bar, but sometimes, just sometimes, you can beat out the cold. Today we’re embracing the battle against winter with a bunch of tips for how to keep climbing on those more-than-brisk fall days and “I swear late February counts as spring” afternoons.

Stowaway hand warmers. Put one in your chalk bag for that extra bit of warmth while you climb and have them in your jacket pockets in between climbs. There’s nothing better than the surprise warmth you feel when you’ve forgotten they’re in there.

Seek out the sun. Use the exact opposite of your strategy in the summertime and actually seek out climbs in the sun. The sunshine will keep your body warm and you won’t be gripping freezing cold rock.

Get in there little babies.

Get in there little babies.

Keep your climbing shoes warm. Try stuffing your climbing shoes into your jacket. While this trick does make you look like you’ve got a misshapen baby bump under your puffy, it will also keep your shoes from getting cold and stiff.

Layer up. There are the obvious base layers, fleece, and puffy, but pay special attention your hands, feet, and head. Belay gloves are great for keeping your digits warm, but if you don’t have any or don’t love the way they feel try wearing fingerless gloves while belaying. Invest in some great socks – my personal favorite is anything from SmartWool. And finally, don’t forget a warm hat.


Hot and caffeinated, yes please.

Warm your insides. Bring along a thermos of hot tea, coffee, cocoa, or even soup to warm yourself from the inside out.

Use your “hot spots”. Just before climbing or even at a good rest during a climb touch your cold hands to the back of your neck or in your armpits. You may look like you’re channeling Mary Katherine Gallagher, but at least your hands will steal some of that armpit warmth.

Boulder. This way there’s no freezing cold belayer standing around while you work out 80 feet of a route. And you’ll only need to keep your fingers and body warm for 10 moves instead of 60.

How do you stay warm? Share your tips and tricks with us!

Climb on!

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3 thoughts on “How to Keep Climbing When the Temp Drops

  1. keeth says:

    For route climbing, I don’t like to alternate climbs with my belayer since the cold creeps in during the time I’m on rope duty. The solution (for mE) is to split the day in half. I’ll belay 1/2 the day (with tons of down and hand warmers etc), and then switch over to constant climbing mode for the other 1/2.

  2. Great tips, I love winter rock climbing! Bring a Jetboil to make hot drinks, heat up water for a hot water bottle you can put in your jacket, etc. Also I always seem to forget that the trails will probably be sloppier/muddier, so wearing good, sturdy boots to the crag is a must.

  3. […] How to Keep Climbing When the Temp Drops at Crux Crush […]

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