Ten Reasons to Keep Climbing in Winter

Doug Williams
 

Real cold and ice can turn rock climbing into another level of excitement and adventure.  Don’t pack away your climbing gear and head to a gym to stay in shape for when summer rolls around again, think about the new challenges that winter climbing offers.  So pack up your ice climbing gear, not forgetting your normal rock gear as well, and head for the mountains.

1 Bare rocks heats up like an oven in sunlight

In winter you can now climb those areas that are too hot in summer.  It is a well-known fact that the dark colors of the rocks attracts and holds the heat in the sunshine.  It especially does this in areas of desert and on sandstone cliffs.  So those rocks will be nice and clear of snow for you.

2 Your shoes will have better grip

The colder temperature of the surrounding environment will not only keep you from overheating but also means that your shoes are less likely to slide down the rock surface.  The cold temperatures will help your feet stay on those tiny edges.  The colder temperature not only improves the performance of your climbing shoes but also boosts the holding abilities of your hands and fingers.

3 Ice Climbing

Out in Colorado, there are wonderful free hanging ice pillars.  People travel from all around the world to climb these amazing structures.  Some hints and tips, however, include looking closely at the pillar before you start your ascent, and staying away from thin, spindly looking examples as these tend to shatter.  Look for cracks that suggest weakness. If in doubt ask advice. Locals in the area are experts on these things.

4 Mixed Ice Climbing

Mixed routes are sometimes ice, snow, rock and frozen turf.  This is a style of climbing where you’ll be using crampons and ice axes as you climb up ice and across the rock.  There are many great mixed routes across the world and at many of these places you can get expert guides to start you on your way.

5 Winter Climbers

The people you met out and about on the snowy crags are usually more dedicated than the summer crowd.  You may consider yourself as being very experienced as a summer climber, but the winter climbers will be able to show you a thing or two.  It is a specialised field, climbing in sub-zero temperatures.  It takes way more effort to climb in winter just in the prep work alone.

6 Ice Climbing on Waterfalls

Start off small and work your way up to bigger things.  Try little ice falls to learn how ice holds your weight and how to move up and across on it.  It is better to have your falls on the lower ice than halfway up a waterfall.  Try at night as well and see how the frozen falls absorb the light, turning things into a fairyland.

7 Mountains Become Your Play land

With your gear and experience, you will be able to venture into places only climbers and other mountaineers have gone.  A whole world of opportunities for new challenges will open ahead of you.  Take your camera – who knows what you will see out there.

8 The Crags Are Empty

Of people as opposed to wildlife that is.  The popular areas will still be crowded, so head off the beaten track.  With your skills, you will be able to find places that only experienced climbers can tackle, and that solitude will once again be yours.

9 Winter Camping

Gear is continuously evolving and improving and with the right planning you can make trips last from days to weeks out in the backcountry.  Avalanche beacons are mandatory; also take a snow shovel, probe, and extra layers.  Remember to take an insulated sleeping pad to make your sleeping bag more effective.  Check out online stores, ask other climbers what they use and research the area and conditions you can expect.  Make sure you let people know where you are and when to expect you back.  Stay safe on the roads with the correct snow tires so you get to where you are headed, Matador Network reported.

10 Alternatives to Sleeping in The Snow

It is doubtful there will be hotels out where you are headed, so check out other options such as winterized campervans.   These vans are insulated and often come with a kitchen as well as a heater.  So they provide some luxury for those who want it. Otherwise, stick to tents and sleeping bags or day trips.

So plan ahead, take every day as it comes, and have fun out there.

 
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