Staying warm while Ice climbing is often quite easy. The climbing itself is strenuous enough so you will probably err on the side of being overdressed while you are moving. In very cold weather it is especially important not to overheat and drench your clothes in sweat, which will cause an instant chill when you stop to belay or rest. Learn to anticipate the exact clothing you will need to wear and adjust things accordingly before committing to a pitch. If the climbing is so difficult that you are leading without a pack, a light parka in a stuff sack can be clipped to your harness, ready to be put on at the end of the lead, before you start to cool down.
When you feel your hands or feet getting too cold, stop immediately and warm them up. Vigorous swinging in a wide arc is the quickest way to force warm blood to the extremities. Keep a constant bit of awareness focused on the temperature of all extremities, including the exposed and delicate nose, cheeks, ears, and chin. These are often frostbitten without the victim even being aware of a problem.
Protect your core temperature with an adequate intake of the right foods and liquids, and try not to exhaust yourself- Take pride in never succumbing to cold injuries, a more subtle accomplishment than climbing itself, but equally satisfying and more difficult irt the long run.
Was this article helpful?