Cold Weather Climbing

Cold Weather Climbing

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The last couple years in Colorado I’ve been able to climb every month of the year — including the coldest months of January and February. Colorado, for those not from here, actually has a fairly mild winter in comparison to our more northern neighbors, such as Minnesota and Illinois.

I remember walking down the street on a frigid Chicago February, and I thought I was freezing until I turned the corner on Wacker drive, and felt the bitter cold wind coming off the Chicago River. I saw people bundled up in what looked like the Chicago version of space suits, never seeing such thick coats on the ski areas of Colorado!

In Colorado, sunny days of 45–55 (and above!) can be quite common, giving us a needed break with several Indian Summers. And with the sun reflecting off the rocks it can feel 10–15 degrees warmer!

Now, 45 degrees Fahrenheit may seem cold, and it can be, once you factor in wind chill and when you are in shade, but when I see 45 degrees and sunny on the forecast — I start looking to where to climb!

Related Posts:

Some criteria:

  • 45 degrees and above. Warmer is always better, but at least 45 degrees (for me)
  • Sunny crag. Needs a Southern facing wall, with no overhanging wall that shades the climbs.
  • Under 10 mph winds. I prefer 5mph or less, but I sometimes can tolerate higher winds if I can find a more sheltered canyon-type spot.

Places to go in Colorado

Colorado has some fine places to go climb that are fairly close to downtown Denver.

Brad is enjoying the December sun. 50 degrees and sunny!

Golden, CO

Clear Creek

All of the following crags are where I direct folks to go during the Winter months

Clear Creek Canyon

Table Mountain

North Table Mountain guide book

Plenty of sunny climbing at Table Mountain, a classic Colorado Winter crag. Some of the routes have been climbed since the 70’s, so beware of some glossed out holds on the lower grades.

Canon City, CO

Shelf Road comes into it’s own in the Winter, and that’s where many in the Denver Metro area go to climb that’s relatively close by (3 hrs).

Shelf Road guide book

Brad pulling the roof at Minnesota Gopher, Other Critters, Clear Creek, Golden

New Mexico, yo!

A little further are the Northern New Mexico climbs. I haven’t been to the Santa Fe and Taos area climbs, but I’ve heard they are pretty good.

I have climbed near Los Alamos, in the Jemez Valley and El Rito for conglomerate rock. Those are little higher in elevation, so may not be as suitable for Winter climbing.

But a fine Summer destination is the Overlook, a Southern facing cliff that overlooks the Rio Grande river. Gets good sun all year, which makes it particularly good for the Winter.

Rock Climbing New Mexico

I’ve been eyeing Las Cruces, NM. 10 hour drive from Denver, near the Texas, Mexico border. Everything from multi-pitch trad, bolted sport and bouldering here. Haven’t been — looking for beta if you have some!

Rap cliffs, not gifts! (Other Critters, December 10, 2016)

Moab?

Best Climbs Moab

Never climbed in Moab during the Winter, but I do see folks in my FB feed climbing the cracks at and around Moab in the Winter months.

Mexico, yo!

This December, I will be traveling to Old Mexico — El Potrero Chico in the North Central area of Mexico. Hundreds of limestone bolted sport routes with easy approaches and friendly locals with good Mexican food. How can that be beat?

Potrero Select

The Whole Enchilada

Further East?

Asia climbing is on my radar, but will have to wait a bit for funds, but the Vietnam and Thailand climbing are things I want to explore — and soon!

Ha Long Bay Climbing

Thailand — A climbing Guide

Let me know in the comments below where your favorite Winter climbing is located!

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This entry was posted in Blog, Rock Climbing and tagged rock climbing, Winter Climbing on December 12, 2016.

Best Climbing Techniques DVD: Neil Gresham’s Masterclass

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When I was first getting started in rock climbing, I was lucky enough to have a few good mentors. I also took what technique classes I could from different rock gyms in and around Denver. Both were helpful.

But, when learning from fellow climbers, much of it can be considered ‘Bro-learning’, which most of the time is what works well, and is the standard. Later I’ve found that some of the bro-tips and way of doing things were more specific to that particular climber, but sometimes was even an out-dated method, or even downright wrong.

Another thing is that when you go out climbing with someone, they may not be suited to teach — perhaps they have difficulty explaining how to do something, or just saying, “Just go up!” I’ve encountered that more times than I can remember, sometimes said jokingly, sometimes with frustration.

Your partner may also just want to climb. Teaching climbing can be a drag, and I’ve heard more than one person avoid newbies, limited to leading easy pitches, and supervising the newbies safety called ‘babysitting.’

I get it.

After learning how to climb with partners, classes and YouTube, one of the best ways I’ve found is through a good video training course. And the climbing techniques DVD I like the best is:

Masterclass Part 1: Technique and Training: Improve Your Climbing with Neil Gresham

Neil Gresham, Masterclass Part 1, $18.37 Amazon

The Masterclass comes in two parts, with the main sport techniques taught in Part 1, and more advanced concepts taught in Part 2.

The reason I like this set is that Neil very lucidly explains the route problem and the technique that solves it, and then demonstrates both the right and wrong way of doing overcoming the problem.

The other thing I like about this series is that explains certain techniques in a way that I’ve never encountered before — even in one-on-one training. You can tell he’s thought through the concepts, as well as the best way to explain the how’s and why’s of doing the technique a certain way.

For example, I really didn’t understand the reason for using a front-flag — seemed more trouble than what it was worth. But the way he discusses balance, moving the leg in opposition to the hand and how it extended the body length — was where the lightbulb went off!

With a live class, you can only ask classes in the moment — as it occurs to you. But you don’t have anything on hand to review the lessons learned. With a DVD you can just pop it in and watch it again — to remind and reinforce the situations where one would use a particular technique.

Masterclass Part 2: Skills and Tactics for Sport and Trad Climbing: Improve Your Climbing with Neil Gresham

Neil Gresham, Masterclass Part 2

Part 2 gets into more advanced concepts such as deadpointing, roofs and trad techniques. Also a very good DVD climbing techniques series to have on hand.

I pop both of these DVDs in to watch, or reinforce a particular technique. I find that I can get sloppy after climbing on my own, overcoming routes with strength rather than technique. But technique can make the impossible possible. More routes can be climbed at strength because climbing with good technique is climbing efficiently.

Style, as Neil says, is important in climbing, as it helps a person climb more easily, and with grace. In Part 2, for example, he shows an example of himself climbing a roof which to untrained eyes may look correct — hey he made it to the top, right?

Compare his sloppy technique with another climber, Gabby, who demonstrates how to climb a roof in an energy efficient manner that harbors your energy by using straight arms, squatting at rest, heel hooks and making the turn of the roof without an unnecessary dyno.

Good stuff!

I recommend adding both DVDs to your climbing videos collection. They are both worth the price you pay in explaining and demonstrating rock climbing tips and techniques in an easy to understand manner. Highly recommended!

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