Lowest temps you would rock climb in


Original Post
normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100

I've only climbed in colder temps (high 30s-low 40s) once but I noticed that my fingers were getting numb, painful, and not so nimble (if that's the right word). Belaying in gloves was fine but climbing not so much. Fortunately the day warmed up but I did not get a good sense of what temperature would be too cold for me. I wonder what are the coldest temps others would climb in.

Nick Votto · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 320

Bouldering it's probably been in the high 20's and roped probably high 30's....ice climbing the coldest has been 10 below or so......I prefer it warmer these days!

wisam · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 60

Rock maybe 30s in the shade and 20s in the sun. Ice mid teens it leading and -40 for toprope or following.

Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Wind is a huge factor. In the sun on a no-wind day, even 30-40 degree range can be quite reasonable...sort of. For me, anyway.

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,610

funny that 20's in the sun can be quite comfortable, but it can, or could. Agree with Nick, i like it warmer these days. Really depends on what you are climbing. Frozen cracks one buries one's hands in can really suck.

Gavin W · · Surrey, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 183

Yeah, depends on the type of climbing. I did Liberty Bell earlier this year, it was snowing lightly and probably mid-30s, and at one point I fell on the second pitch because I had no feeling in my hands and thus no way to tell if my hand-jam was any good. Once we got out of the windy section of the climb though I was fine.

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

Out near Tarryall on Monday, it got pretty cold when the sun went away and the wind picked up. The forecast was for 52 in Lake George. I think 50, clear, and sunny can be a good day out at Shelf Road. But up here, that's it for the season.

Two jackets, bro.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

Depends.

Late fall, early winter, lower temps just feel colder to me. Same temps in February are glorious!

Also depends on the rock. We have black basalt, which is darkish, and soaks up some sun, at least.

Wind is a huge factor, also. Short answer, 40's no wind, sunny this time of year, same conditions, a little lower temps are okay later.

I'm talking just single pitch stuff, too, where you take turns belaying and climbing.

Best, Helen

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860
Old lady H wrote: Also depends on the rock. We have black basalt, which is darkish, and soaks up some sun, at least. Wind is a huge factor, also.
the basalt can be good in the sun when its well below freezing outside, 26 degrees this day in the shade-
January climbing, high of 26 degrees in the shade this day
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

If it's sunny and south facing, pretty cold. I've climbed at T-wall when it was snowing, no problem. It also depends on the person. I tend to be a wimp in the cold, but others seem to get out on some boulders in shade below freezing. When it gets too cold for free climbing, though, it's nice and toasty with gloves and a puffy in aiders.

CRAG-list-KILLA · · Wisconsin · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 205

Hand warmers in the chalk bag and go till you can't

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 290

I free rope-solo 5/6 pitch routes at Beacon Rock in the Columbia River Gorge in January in below freezing temps with east winds through the Gorge regularly running up to 30-50 knots. Have a pretty thorough but thin layering system with three layers (legs) / four layers (torso) /two layers (head) along with light fingerless gloves.

I eat solid the night before and something decent the morning of to fuel core temp during the day, throw back a niacin tab on the way to the rock (makes blood flow to the skin), [loosely] sport tape a hand heat pack to the underside of each wrist where the blood to the hand flows by, and stick one of the thin heal-shaped shoe heat packs with the sticky tape on one side to the inside of the palm of each fingerless glove.

With all that I can pretty much climb totally oblivious to any amount of cold or wind for somewhere between 3-5 hours depending on how hard the routes are that I pick. It's a system that evolved from a couple of tough years I worked tree and roofing crews all winter long in Chicago bitd. Works.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

Tips on keeping the digits warm enough are definitely appreciated, for me I can be cozy & warm in my clothes at 35F while the granite chills my fingers to the bone in five minutes.

teece303 · · Highlands Ranch, CO · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 598

If a wall is in the sun, into the 20s.

On the other hand, my hands went completely numb and I got something like screaming barfies at a crag that never sees the sunshine: on a nice, 60°F day.

Sunshine on the rock means everything. ( this is in dry, Colorado temps, and without wind)

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

40s in sun can be quite nice. In shade, it's hell.

Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45

15 degrees in bishop in the sun. Hand warmers in pockets, mittens, and a pair for inside your shoes when your not climbing. Add a thermos of tea, warm layers you can climb in and it was pretty doable. Boulder is easier when super could but sport routes would have been fine under the same conditions.

Willis K · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 40
Greg D wrote:If you remove the "in" in your title and your OP you can climb in much colder weather. Dangling prepositions impede your circulation.
None of this. Ending a sentence with a preposition is totally acceptable, and stranded prepositions are often preferable. Usage dictionaries improve circulation hugely.

I struggle on the hand front, too - usually have a hand warmer in the chalk bag and a few in gloves or pockets, but I still find myself finishing climbs with numb fingers at anything below 40 degrees. Sun helps a lot. I might try some of Healyje's tricks, because they sound pretty cool.
normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100
Greg D wrote:If you remove the "in" in your title and your OP you can climb in much colder weather. Dangling prepositions impede your circulation.
Hahaha! Mixing english as a second language and alcohol clearly impedes grammar!
normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100
Healyje wrote:I free rope-solo 5/6 pitch routes at Beacon Rock in the Columbia River Gorge in January in below freezing temps with east winds through the Gorge regularly running up to 30-50 knots. Have a pretty thorough but thin layering system with three layers (legs) / four layers (torso) /two layers (head) along with light fingerless gloves. I eat solid the night before and something decent the morning of to fuel core temp during the day, throw back a niacin tab on the way to the rock (makes blood flow to the skin), [loosely] sport tape a hand heat pack to the underside of each wrist where the blood to the hand flows by, and stick one of the thin heal-shaped shoe heat packs with the sticky tape on one side to the inside of the palm of each fingerless glove. With all that I can pretty much climb totally oblivious to any amount of cold or wind for somewhere between 3-5 hours depending on how hard the routes are that I pick. It's a system that evolved from a couple of tough years I worked tree and roofing crews all winter long in Chicago bitd. Works.
Wow! You have this down to science!
Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549
CRAG-list-KILLA wrote:Hand warmers in the chalk bag and go till you can't
I never found the chalk bag trick that helpful.

Instead, I wear knit wrist warmers in cool weather.
In cold weatehr I tuck a chemical heating pack into each one via a hole crudely hacked into the fabric.

I also think it's vital to keep warm while belaying, hat, parka and some kind of warm pants.
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

Yeah, Healy has it down! Hands are the problem climbing, and warming the wrist thing has been mentioned before, who knows what thread. Probably a debate about where to heat the wrist, or if back of the hand is better! Totally worth doing, if you expect to get out there, Normajean.

Me, I don't mess around with feet when belaying. Go straight to zipping into cozy snow boots.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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