Summer is upon us, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere any way. Depending on where you are that can mean hot and humid, hot and dry, scorching hot, or hot and thunderstorms. Can you still get your climb on?
I’ve found myself climbing in all of those conditions in various parts of North America. Here are a few tips I’ve found that work for me:
- Adjust your climbing schedule. My climbing partners and I tend to shift to an early morning session if the weather’s going to be really hot. This is particularly advisable if you are some where where afternoon thunderstorms can develop like the Sierras. Locally in Southern California, we’ll sometimes climb early, take an afternoon break and then climb well into the evening. Always having a headlamp in your pack gives you great options.
- Dress accordingly. Some might think this always means shorts and tank tops (or no shirt if you ‘re a guy) but
if you’re going to have a lot of sun exposure you might think about a wicking long sleeve shirt for a cover up. I’ve been cooler wearing my white long sleeve sun shirt than bare arms at times. Also, don’t forget about a sun hat. You may not wear it while climbing but even short approaches can be made more comfortable if you’re bringing some portable shade with you. Think about your footwear as well. Approach shoes with a lot of mesh or Chaco sandals are my top choices for when it gets really hot. I’ll sometimes wear Injinji sock liners with my Chacos on a long approach where I want to be careful not to get blisters. Speaking of blisters, I try to air out my feet when I can on a hot day, for example if we take a break from the approach before climbing. Moisture can mean blisters (and smelly climbing shoes!).
- Drink lots of liquids. I think we all know how important water is when you’re climbing. Bring more than usual though. I always like to bring “Sports drinks” in the summer, I find the flavor helps me drink more and this is one time my body really can use the electrolytes. There are two ways I might bring a sports drink. One tip a friend shared with me is to bring the powdered version of a drink, then you can decide how strong you want to make your drink, or if you just want to stick to water for a bit longer. My favorite way to bring a sports drink though is to bring it frozen. I freeze a Gatorade bottle before a crag day and then I have a nice slushy/cold drink at the crag!
- Climb in the shade. Follow the shade! This is how I was able to climb in Joshua Tree in August. Do a bit of research before heading to a new place and find out which climbs will be shaded. If you can’t research before you go to a place, ask some locals. A nice waitress in Mammoth steered my friends and I to a new crag with advice for shade. We were quite grateful for it.
So there you go, my top 4 tips for climbing in warm weather. I’ll do a follow up post on some specific bonus things I found handy for warm weather but for now, let’s share some information! What’s your favorite way to combat the heat and keep climbing?