Author Topic: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?  (Read 2707 times)

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Offline hoipolloi

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Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« on: February 10, 2011, 08:45:05 am »
Sup Boys,

Who out there has done some climbing in full winter conditions?  None of this blue bird skies and claiming the winter ascent, but actually in the snow and winter weather.  What did you do different to make it possible, to make it...dare I say...enjoyable...no...manageable.

Been there? Done that?


Discuss, I want to hear some stories, tips and tales.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2011, 09:57:33 am »
does rain in Autumn count? 


nah, sorry, no snow wallin.  I like my fingers and toes.  Good monkey appendages.

Offline mhudon

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2011, 11:16:44 am »
When I was first learning how to climb, I lived near a not too bad cliff. It was in a park and had tennis courts below it. The tennis courts had lights. We used to go over there at night, turn the lights on and climb. One night we went over there while it was snowing, turned the lights on and did this little aid route. It overhung and was about 50 feet long, we had to place maybe 10 pieces. It was snowing and fairly dark and we imagined ourselves to be Herman Buhl on K2 or some such thing. A couple years later I visited Yosemite for the first time and that was the last time I ever climbed in the snow.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:37:49 pm by mhudon »

skully

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 07:10:58 pm »
Enter Kaos...Feb 98. I spent 8 days up there with Spencer Pfinsten.We got clobbered, over & over again. Finally, we'd just had enough.  We bailed from The Kaos-ZM junction. Down aided 2 pitches & tied 5 ropes together. Unweighted the ropes were like 20 feet from touching. The stretch was enough to return to Earth. Worked & put away wet.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 09:12:22 am by skully »

Offline Mr.

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 08:34:14 pm »
one piece long underwear! the best investment i've ever made for climbing in the winter. never comes untucked, doesnt bunch up and give you the gnarly bigwall harness rash. soooo warm.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 11:29:06 pm »
one piece long underwear! the best investment i've ever made for climbing in the winter. never comes untucked, doesnt bunch up and give you the gnarly bigwall harness rash. soooo warm.

brilliant!

what about the pooping part though?  drop seat?

Offline Erik Sloan

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 03:07:29 pm »
Is Dave on the wall? He called about winter climbing tips, said he was thinking of blasting todayish.

Offline lunchbox

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2011, 11:49:11 pm »
Dave's heading up Saturday morning to mess around.  He said he might fix a few pitches over the weekend or just snow shoe around.

Offline hoipolloi

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2011, 01:41:40 am »
I just got off the phone with a friend in the valley.  He said you wouldn't want to be there without 4x4.  What you say to that Nanook?  Snow could turn to rain tomorrow they say... nasty...

My buddy got called into work the day we were both getting into the car to converge on the valley.  oh well.  maybe soon.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2011, 02:55:11 pm »
4x4 was super helpful getting around. got the pics loaded on the home machine. will post a few tonight.

Offline BrendenR

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2011, 11:22:51 am »
Does being Canadian and having a longer winter season than summer season count?  :)

Haven't done any serious aid routes in winter, but have been on my fair share of winter climbing trips.  I'm not just talking about ice climbing either; winter alpine, long mixed routes, winter craggin' because I was sick of winter and ice climbing on a particular day, etc.


Quick clothing tips - Dial in your layering system:


This isn't that "Fall/Spring" layering system that isn't much better than what you'd need for a cold summer alpine trip.  Seriously dial it in. Start by figuring out what layers are needed for approaching without excessive sweating, have a new top base layer and a fresh dry pair of gloves to change into after a long slogging approach.

For on the climb/hauling/etc switch to a system of multiple thin layers below a shell, as opposed to 1 base layer with a fleece or 2 on top.  Multiple thin layers are more efficient at moving moisture, will aid in producing a higher number of dead air spaces, and have a greater comfort range (the temperature range that you are comfortable in your given layers).  This means less constant tweaking of layers and dryer layers.  I'll run up to 3 base layer weight shirts before a fleece, vest, or shell.  Everyone's body is different, figure out yours.
Same thing on your legs, 2 thin pairs of long-johns below soft shell (or hard shell) pants are warmer than one fleece layer and will give a FAR greater comfort range.

In dryer conditions run a soft shell, this includes dry snow conditions.  They breath that much better and dry surprisingly fast.  If conditions are wet (wet snow, drizzle, wet rock/ice, or if the climb might as well be a blue balls cold shower) run a hard shell and vent accordingly.  As temperature drops, add in a vest or fleece.  Even in -30?C I've seen flowing water on ice and mixed routes to the point I've turned around because the climb was "THAT" wet.

Balaclavas are your friend, they double as a touque when folded up (don't roll them... your helmet will not fit as good and it will always be crooked for photos).  Add a thin touque into the system as the temp drops, and consider a touque with ear flaps for really cold conditions.

Get a puffy jacket, if you don't you'll wish you had.  Run down in dry conditions and synthetic in wet conditions; if you only get one look at the typical conditions for your area - if your local winter weather has you wondering if Scotland suddenly shifted to North America a synthetic puffy with a waterproof-breathable shell might be the ticket. Down belay parkas are my choice for Canadian Rockies climbing; our winters just aren't that wet, even with Chinooks.  After high output let your body start to cool slightly before you don your puffy, but without getting to the point you have a chill.  This will keep you from that instant sweat that you can sometimes get right when you put it on and keep you dryer.  Keep your puffy in a stuff sack so it's handy, I clip mine horizontally across the back of my harness when climbing... it's always ready for quick deployment, there's no chance of dropping it, and the stuffsack opening is not exposed to falling precip/water/spindrift/etc.  Use a lined and seam taped stuffsack in wet conditions (I know some who use lightweight small drybags).

Gloves, gloves, gloves, more gloves and mittens.  Seriously, it's hard to have too many gloves on a winter climb.  They get wet, period.  The dexterity benefits of thinner gloves can never be understated, but have a range of gloves.  Thin, mid weight, and heavy gloves/mittens for the belay (or Bivy).
Get good gloves, this does not mean the most expensive.  Fit should be such that you enjoy climbing with them on, and NEVER EVER sloppy.  Gloves that you get at "sports mart" that have the insides curl up while the outer shell stays straight fingered when you grip a ski pole have no place out there.
If you're layering system up to this point is dialed you will have enough core body heat (in most conditions) to run thinner gloves for most of the climbing.  Run at lest one pair of shell/liner type gloves that are thin enough to be comfortable while climbing, and carry an extra pair of liners.
I'll take up to 5 or 6 pairs of Gloves/Mittens on winter climb, typically a minimum of 3 pairs for even warm days.  Whoa, wait, hold the phone... WTF?!  It's not as many as you think.
Here's my typical glove set up for a warm day of winter climbing:
1 pair full finger mountain biking glove or mechanics gloves (you'd be surprised how much of my ice climbing is done in these - These also double as an extra set of liner gloves)
1 pair thin mid-weight gloves, with high dexterity and a snug fit
1 pair mid-weight shell gloves with fleece liners
Cool winter day/Wet conditions:
All the above
+ 1 pair thick warm gloves or mittens for belays
+ 1 or 2 pairs extra liner gloves (even if the second pair are something like the $0.99 one size fits all grocery store variety)
Hell frozen over to the point you balls either invert, eyelids freeze shut, and your wondering why the hell you're out there:
None... or all of the above.  At that point either I have all the above and something has gone seriously wrong and I'm in yet another "extended" trip with accommodations having "world class views" and the most abhorred room service you've aver seen.
Or, I've had some sense of sanity and checked the forecast... in that case the only hand warmer needed is the mug of coffee and Bailey's I'm drinking while reading a book.
Whatever glove system you run, don't put wet gloves in you pack.  Wet gloves are placed inside your layering system as close to your base layer as convenient to dry.  Wring them out first if they are really wet.  Pre-charge your next pair of gloves with heat the same way before changing out pairs.  Any glove clipped you your harness should be clipped with the cuff facing down.  Many gloves now have a clip-in loop on the middle finger, modify them if they don't.


OK, so that wasn't the "quick" list... but it's a list non the less.



B
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 09:41:59 am by BrendenR »

Offline hoipolloi

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2011, 12:45:27 pm »
That is an awesome write up of tips.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2011, 03:54:02 pm »
+1 on the thanks for a great write up

send that shiz to climbing magazine. they need the content.


"I'll run up to 3 base layer weight shirts"

Over the last year or so I'm getting to this stage. Good call.

syn short sleev tshirt, syn long sleeve t, then power stretch long sleeve top pullover, syn puffy zip, shelliac on top o that.

Offline Caz

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 04:22:28 pm »
WOW! You got your system dialed!

Thanks, for the write up


Zac
I do this for fun...

Offline passthepitonspete

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2011, 11:26:38 pm »
After climbing P.O. Wall with Jon Fox, he invited me to go up to Baffin Island with him the next April. Sam Ford Fjord, you know the place.  He told me how he went up in a team of 3, and after much preparation and huge expenses, one of the guys just bailed.  "I'd never do that," I assured Jon. 

That fall, Chris Geisler and I thought we would make a quick run from Toronto out to New Hampshire to climb Labyrinth Wall on Cannon Mountain.  "I need some practice for Baffin," I said.  Because after P.O. I had obviously mastered El Cap.  We left Toronto in typical fall weather, grey skies and 50F.  When we arrived at our objective, it was full-on winter conditions [it was mid-November only] with the Black Dike ice climb in full condition, and a foot of snow on the ground.

We made the approach at night, and bivi'd at the base of the wall.  It was so miserable, beyond words miserable.  I could not believe how much time and effort it took just to stay warm. Chris led the first pitch, or most of it, in his crampons, dry tooling, a real hardman.   I just shivered and was miserable.  I made him bail.  It might have been the most miserable 24 hours of my life.

Talk about a cheap learning experience.  I surely would have bailed from Baffin, no way I have it in me to suffer like that.  I got on the phone and called Jon Fox immediately, and told him that I was no candidate for winter suffering in Baffin Island.

I am Pete, a Hoser, from the Great White North, and I am the Penguin Who Hates The Cold.
Dr. Piton says, "There is always a Better Way!"

Offline hoipolloi

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2011, 11:06:51 am »
Quote
I am Pete, a Hoser, from the Great White North, and I am the Penguin Who Hates The Cold.


Possibly the best line ever written by PTPP
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 11:08:35 am by hoipolloi »

Offline hoipolloi

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2011, 11:11:39 am »
Pete, You have brethren....



Offline *Mucci*

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Re: Climbing in winter conditions, done it?
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2011, 01:36:55 pm »
PENGUIN PETE!!!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHH!!!!!!

Get rid of the crab, time for the penguin mascot.