/ Coldest you have ever been?
1. Bivvying in porch of Gouter Hut - no sleeping bag etc just all my clothes.
2. Bivvying on Argentiere glacier - due to first Alpine trip routefinding incompetence - no sleeping bag etc just all my clothes.
3. Caving - Swildons streamway after diving trip.
Cub camp halfway up the mighty Wrekin in Shropshire. -12 in a crap tent in a thin caravanning sleeping bag. A million times harder than Ranulph Fiennes swanning round the artic in his feather romper suit.
Swimming in a lake in the Brecons in Feb one year whilst adventure training with a mad cavalry officer. There was still snow on the hills and when I got out I felt like I'd been set on fire. It was a unique feeling. My jaw locked when I went in, I don't know about spanner water (it tightens your nuts) it was more like those power tools they use for doing up wheel nuts at quick fit.
Camping at Wasdale head in late February 1986 when the temperature was minus ten and more and my sleeping bag inadequate would be next. Alpine bivis have been nothing compared to those two experiences.
strangely enough my coldest experience hsn't been party of any of my alpine routes.
i'm too embarrassed to give all the details but mine involved winter climbing, forgetting our a compass in white out conditions to get off the tops and being in a two person shelter with only climbing kit on and a rubbish mountain hardware down jacket with a mini pork pie to share between two of us ... batteries in headlamps went flat.. first winter climb of the season so not as switche don about gear and preparation as i usually would be.. just eager to get out and climb. i looked like a streak of p**s at the christmas dinner table ..i'd lost so much weight
also mountain biking in winter.. long downhills after long climbs and not wearing enough stuff.. have been known to start crying i've bene so cold
top of helvellyn in white out conditions in inadequate fell running gear.should've turned back earlier because i heli hanson thermal and a pair of ronhill leggings isn't enough
1. Wakeboarding in Nov. Ice around the waters edge and only wearing a thin summer wetsuit. Arse! Took me a good 10mins in the shower before I got the feeling back in my feet...then I wished I hadn't.
2. Waking up in a snowy park after falling asleep pished halfway back to the house. Not clever.
3. Any number of Scottish winter routes as slowly freeze up and become part of the route due to a glacialy slow parter above.
Coldest I've felt was an alpine bivi in a storm but probably not that cold in absolute terms. Coldest I've experienced is -40 in Norway.
Probably cycling down Widcombe hill in Bath, having cycled up it half an hour before. It was snowing heavily, the sweat on my cycling jersey had frozen solid and snow was settling on my face. Once I got home I had to get into a cold shower fully clothed and then slowly turn on the hot tap over about 10 minutes because even the cold water felt like it was scalding me. Not much fun.
After that it was probably an ice route in Norway on the only day of the holiday where it was above freezing, I hadn't realised that damp snow was a MUCH better conductor of heat than powder snow. Not as bad as the first one but blooming awful.
Waited outside in -20'C for the bus to take us to the hotel. I don't know how long we waited but I thought my ears were going to snap off.
Trouble was everytime you tried to get through the hole you damned it so the water level went over your head. it was even harder for my 6ft 5 14 stone mate. He was a bit blue and half drowned when he finally got through so i gave him a mars bar.
He was so cold he was chewing his own lips, blood everywhere, as he couldn't tell where mars bar stopped and his face started. Silly things you do in your teens!
Probably during some school Rugby practice - it was always bloody miserably freezing and drizzly or sleeting and I didn't run around much as I was desperate to avoid possesion and subsequent tackling by some burly forward twice my weight!
I still remember being unable to do up shirt buttons for about an hour afterwards.
Basic training in Otterburn,1981 before goretex, norwegian shirts and decent boots that didn't leak were general issue!
Actually, another possibility:
Having gone a bit fast and light with my layers I spent quite an uncomfortable time sat on a ski-lift on the Nevis Range while some poor unfortunate was disentangled from the seating further up the run. I'd like to apologise to anyone within about half a mile of me who would have heard my language. I'd like to further apologise to anyone who was in the gondalas on the way down when I unlaced my boots and the hot aches hit. A mate thought he had heard the swearing from the next gondala.
Probably walking around Michigan in winter, it can get down to about -28C. My girlfriend and I were geocaching and I was stupidly wearing breathable trail shoes and normal socks. I got home and my foot was completely numb up to the ball. Defrosting it goes down as one of the most painful things I've ever experienced.
Also swimming in Lake Buttermere. So cold I couldn't breathe and I could feel my body stiffening up and shutting down. Your man parts don't help matters.
1) Camping in an old barn near the Grouse Pub after dinner at Grindleford station cafe. 3 walls, concrete floor and no door, in November, with the cheapest, thinnest camping mat possible and a Millets "Snowcat" barely-3-season bag. Woke up to 4 inches of snow. That Christmas, I asked for a new down bag!
2) Surfing in January in an old winter suit and crappy boots and worse gloves, having scraped the ice off the car to get there.
3) caving in the Brecons on a school trip. Ok in the caves, but the windchill getting changed out of wet stuff in the car park was perishing!
1) Caving - ascending a ladder through a small waterfall of icy meltw*ter in the Dales one February. I went from bloody freezing but totally lucid at the bottom to having to be hauled off the ladder and have my kit stripped off me to fit through the entrance series at the top. Only a few moments of total disorientation and my brain started working as soon as I set off down to the car but it was scary to react like that to the cold.
2) Cycling at Easter this year and stupidly was out in shorts, t shirt and fingerless gloves when I got caught out in torrential rain and a howling gale in the Howgills. I managed the 10 miles back from the Tan Hill Inn to Kirby Stephen before admitting defeat and sheltering in a phonebox while I awaited rescue.
Stupidly taking my down jacket off to second a pitch on a day where it didn't get above -33 (coldest that day was -37). I made sure I put it on to lead the second pitch, the other team were even more sensible. They bailed from half way up their first pitch.
Yes, people still take the piss over the first one.
My hottest and coldest were both in the same place in Sevlievo in central Bulgaria.
The hottest was 46 degrees outside but my hosts chose that day to take me on a tour of a metal foundry and goodness only knows what the temperature was in there!
2 and a 1/2 years later I was back in January to experience minus 32 and just walking from the hotel to a restaurant was a major trial. It was a January record but colder temperatures have been known.
So, a 78 degree range! I'm a bit surprised at the condition of the roads which are actually quite reasonable.
I've been at -25C and I swear it didn't feel as cold as camping near the CIC hut at +1/2degree in very raw, damp conditions.
those were the days...
I went to the Pyrennees in Winter when I was 18, basically taking kit that wasn't really adequate for the British Winter, a night at -25 in all my insulation (a fleece) a sleeping bag that weighed 600g and cost £10 new, you can imagine how warm it was and no mat, slowly freezing, wasn't pleasant.
I have been surfing a few times in winter in a summer wetsuit, December was fine in the water, but chilly out, March was lovely out of the water, but indescribably cold for the first ten minutes in the water and just unpleasant until it was time to get out before hypothermia set in.
Fell running when it is 1 or 2 degrees, wet and windy can actually feel a lot colder that, much much colder weather.
> I've been at -25C and I swear it didn't feel as cold as camping near the CIC hut at +1/2degree in very raw, damp conditions.
The coldest i've been (I think) was when the central heating broke one winter and it was -10 during the night, feel a little wimpy compared to some on here but I literally hugged a heater I borrowed from nextdoor because I was so pleased at being warm again, being cold for a few days at a time wasn't fun.
Was a very emotional event.
Hottest: +55C in the Oman desert
Coldest: -48C in Canada
Hottest on a mountain: +48 C, walking up an ophiolite mountain directly behind Muscat, Oman in mid summer. Rock way too hot to touch.
Hottest rock climbing: +42 C at Enchanted Rock, Texas, mid-summer. Gave up at lunchtime when carabiners became too hot to touch.
Hottest bivvy on a mountain: +43 C. Inadvertent night out on a summit near Muscat Oman in the height of summer, when the sun set very fast and there was no moon and I couldn't see the way down. My only accessories or companions: shorts, T-shirt, water-bottle and a tarantula!
Coldest on a mountain: -35 C at Top of the World ski lift at Lake Louise with windspeed of 35 mph - wind chill right off the scale. (I had a small thermometer for skiers with a windchill chart attached, and these conditions were completely off the chart about another whole chart away, diagonally!)
Seriously, the combo of near zero, damp, inactivity and inadequate clothing is infinitely more horrible than serious cold wearing the right stuff. Unless you are immune to suffering of course.
With my old climbing partner Ian we bivvied in the woods at the base of the falls above Llanberis one winter. I had two down bags, one inside the other, and a bivvy bag on a expedition karrimat. He had a run of bubble wrap and a bag made in the days when a thin layer of aluminised fabric was considered more than enough insulation. We settled in to a hollow in the pine needles and admired the twinkling stars and frost silvering the canopy....
A couple of hours later it rained like Noah was out of fashion. I thought I was going to float away in our what-was-once-a-hollow-but-now-reclassified-as-a-pond. It was an utterly miserable night. Ian snored on. When asked the next morning he stated: "When the water came in over my shoulders I did have to hunker down a bit". Which just goes to prove that some people will just always be nails... even if he now wins prizes for his croissant, the big girls' blouse.
The coldest I've been since then has been when I've stupidly gone to normally hot countries unprepared for their winter weather - five days in Damascus and Aleppo in winter in light trousers, short sleeve shirt and a light jacket was no fun!
Walking home from the pub on Sunday. Lovely and warm on the way there, shivered my drunken backside off at 1am in shorts & t-shirt.
Camping in Feb in the Cairngorms - the river outside froze over overnight whilst we froze in 4 season bags fully clothed!
Sleeping out in a bust stop in the Gower one January - god knows why looking back!
Yeah motorbikes have always made me colder than climbing. For me it was riding back one winter at dawn over dartmoor in summer bike gear. With lovely cooling air vents on your gloves to help focus the air flow. Stopped in a petrol station spent 20 minutes shoving newspaper into every possible piece of clothing. I had to ride with my visor up to stop it fogging, for whatever reason the cold air blasting directly onto my face kept causing me to dry retch. I remember getting home and washing my hands under the cold tap and it felt like it was burning.
Sleeping in the porch of Buxton library, easter 1992, having missed the last train from Manchester home to Sheffield and decided to get on one to Buxton because a bivi there seemed preferable to one in the streets of Manchester. Didn't realise what a frost hollow Buxton is. Had nothing but the clothes I stood in plus a few spares in my sac (ended up with a pair of boxers on my head for want of a hat). Dozed painfully on a concrete mattress until 2am, by which time the puddle next to me had frozen. Decided to just get walking, and did so all the way back to Bakewell from where I caught a morning bus to Sheffield. Home at 10.30am, very tired after a week of excess in north Wales and an unusual night out; went to bed for a nap before going to cast my vote in the general election. Awoke at 0830am next day to the news that Major had won. Cried (but only for 5 years).
Mentally: -silly degrees C whilst stuck on the Matterhorn one winter evening, really could have done with a sleeping bag or bivvy bag or down for that one.
Practically: Changing out of a wetsuit after a winter morning surf at Saunton Sands. The wind picked up and the wet suit just wouldn't come fully off at the wrists or feet. Proper tears. :-(
After abandoning camp due to being washed out during a storm at around 4500m in southern Tibet on a cycling trip to Katmandu via Everest. Luckily we found a hospitable family who took us in for the night or i would not be writing this.
Monday just gone under Browncove Crags, had just got a soaking in Helvellyn Gill while gill scrambling and the wind and rain was relentless bit's of hail in it too, turned around and went back to the van, not quite as exciting as your Alpine adventures but i was the coldest i have ever been.
Early 70s, with me Mum on our way back from the Asda, waiting for a bus near Pudsey cenotaph in the rain and the wind in me anorak and shorts.
Coldest for real; Himalayas. Coldest feeling; on exercise in Wales. Yuk.
I have two contenders:
No 1) Trekking in the Kumbu valley, my tent partner wussed out and went in a tea house for the night, I hadn't appreciated how much more heat 2 people in one tent generates until that night of no sleep and frozen socks (on the plus side there was also no snoring!)
No 2) On a canyoning trip in Cyprus, jumping into a pool of snow melt water and coming up not knowing what my own name was never mind what I was doing there or which direction I should swim in.
i also remember having a competition with a few mates about who could sit in a river longest, eventually me and one other guy agreed to get out together, something we shouldve done about half an hour earlier
and then on a school trip we went down how stean gorge when it was snowing
> I have two contenders:
> , I hadn't appreciated how much more heat 2 people in one tent generates until that night of no sleep and frozen socks (on the plus side there was also no snoring!)
Walked a few hundred metres out onto a breakwater in Lake Michigan in January. Turned round to walk back and realised myself and my friend were now walking into the wind. The ambient temperature without wind chill was -25ºC. The next ten minutes were excruciating and then the pain stopped. My friend and I reached shore, lay down in the snow and, giggling like mad, started making snow angels. Then I remembered that not feeling cold any more and euphoria were signs of hypothermia and suggested we get inside.
We made the short walk to our hotel. As we went in, the desk clerk (jokingly, I think), told us not to drink any liquids for several minutes in case the thermal expansion shattered our teeth.
Warmed up, neither of us were the worse for wear. It's not the coldest temperature I've experienced - that was in the same part of the world at night: a cool -40º. However, it's the coldest I've ever actually felt.
The coldest I have ever felt was on a midsummer night. I think I got a bit of sunstroke during the day and we hadn't taken much in the way of sleeping kit. The combination of damp t-shirt, sunstroke and a cool night after a blazing day made me feel like I was dying until the warmth started to creep into the dawn again. I spent the next day puking which wasn't good either.
The sub-teens in Norway felt mild in comparison.
Dream of White Horses. Coldest route in the world.
What were you wearing? I don't really get how this could work unless the wind blew up only when you started walking back. I don't see how you couldn't notice any wind strong enough to make much of a difference just because you were walking with it, which would then chill you so much walking into it? When sailing I know you can feel really warm whilst going with the wind as the air feels still, but freezing when tacking against it as you then feeling the wind plus the additional speed of the boat, and occasionally it feels like that cycling too, but I don't see how it could work just walking?
my top 3 in this funny willy wagging comp would be:
1. aconcagua.. un-planned bivvy on summit ridge above polish glacier direct.
2.Un-named peak in karakoram (hushe valley). planned bivvy but in-adequate gear.
3. Mustag Ata. high camp in storm. recorded - 30 inside the tent!!
great hearing that i am not alone in this bizzare suffer-fest!
Coldest single body part - hands, climbing up to the Fourche hut one afternoon when the entire slope was covered with flowing meltw*ter. Goretex gloves were rubbish, and the flowing cold water caused hellish hot aches.
In contrast -20. -30 in Norway and Colorado when running or skiing has seemed trivial.
Walking up at Carn Liath (Creag Meagaidh) 26 November 2010 during the freak extremely cold early winter. Ground level temp of about -8C.
At the summit plateau I was walking face first into a snow storm and I've no idea what the wind chill was but it must have been below -20C. The snow was sticking to my face & icing up. I got to the summit cairn & headed back down. It would have been suicide to go any further.
> my top 3 in this funny willy wagging comp
If you can do that, you aren't cold. There have been times when I've cold and wondered where it's gone...
> What were you wearing? I don't really get how this could work unless the wind blew up only when you started walking back. I don't see how you couldn't notice any wind strong enough to make much of a difference just because you were walking with it, which would then chill you so much walking into it? When sailing I know you can feel really warm whilst going with the wind as the air feels still, but freezing when tacking against it as you then feeling the wind plus the additional speed of the boat, and occasionally it feels like that cycling too, but I don't see how it could work just walking?
Can't remember - it was years ago. Pretty sure there was a hod though, so with the wind behind me it wasn't blowing on any exposed skin. It was when facing it.
But getting frost nip on exposed skin is a very different sensation and thing from getting your core cold and moving into hypothermia. Of course you can get frost nip really quickly with strong winds, but getting hypothermia in 10 minutes sounds really odd unless you were wet and naked at the same time! :)
Funnily, like others have said here, I reckon I've got colder in terms of body cooling down in soggy Scotland - last autumn I was hill walking and got real bad shivers on the top of the hill I was on until swapping out some wet layers. Here in Finland when it's really cold, it is normally toes and fingers that get worrying cold, but as long has you have decent clothing on your core stay fine as it tends to be so dry.
Was fishing in January on the trent and mersey canal when I was about 20. I dropped a very expensive pole section in the cut and decided as it was only 4 foot deep to strip to me jollies and get in and rescue it. I plunged in and instantly felt pain in my chest, like a vice tightening, I got all breathless <shock induced panic attack?> and crawled out. since then I have always had a healthy respect for water in general, no matter how good a swimmer you are its the cold that disables you.
Had a very cold night on the 'ridge. We half expected a forced bivvy anyway and had a bivvy bag each and a jetboil. It hammered it down all night and we couldn't get any shelter so just dropped where we stood. It was a case of making a brew every 30 mins or so just to give us something to focus on until morning. We agreed to listen out for and check each other every 30 mins to assess each other. It doesn't always have to be sub zero temps for hypo to get you, just being cold, wet and tired is enough.
This year - my eyes froze shut while down climbing a rap on the Cosmiques with Oli Lyon in wild conditions - was SO cold; http://njmurphy.com/2012/02/11/getting-very-cold-with-oli-lyon-chamonix-part-2/
Several years ago we had to bivi on-route and ended having all my toe nails swell up with puss and fall off - which was nothing compared with my climbing partner who lost 3 toes.
1. Mountain biking in the Pentland hills when I was a kid. Started getting exposure without realising, took a wrong turn on a route I had done many times before. Survival instinct kicked in when I found myself on top of a hill and in totally the wrong place, I realised I needed to find help. I got down and made for the nearest light, the army officer who answered the door found a soaking youth standing in wet windy darkness and not capable of talking in any way that made sense. A roaring fire and chocolate cake warmed me enough to start talking sense and give a phone number for my parents.
2. Marmolada south face. Unplanned bivvy in the middle of retreating off the face. Utterly misserable. In the morning I was finding it quite hard to balance and thinking soooo sluggishly.
Only times I can really remember the cold properly affecting my mental functioning. That's where I draw the line at real cold. It isn't about what the thermometer says, it's about what your core body temperature says (or about how many digits you lost to frostbite if that's your bag).
1. Open bivi on the West Ridge of Khan Tengri at about 6400m - Frostbite
2. Open bivi near the summit of Mont Blanc du Tacul - No frostbite but lots of man hugging to keep warm
3. Open bivi on the Boussons glacier during November. This photo speaks volumes about how amused we were with the situation:
Worrying my top 3 were nearly all within a year of one-another (c.2005-6). Fortunately I appear to have got a bit better at mountaineering if unplanned open bivis are anything to go by (else I would probably be dead by now!).
Trying to be romantic (and perhaps a bit macho after a few drinks) on a late night star-lit walk around Nethy Bridge in just a t shirt and jeans one December. Never has a beer jacket been cut through so quickly!
Elsewhere on the site
This years ROCfest will be slightly different. We've decided to run a Climbing Festival, not just a competition! Over... Read more
F ounded in 1993, Mountain Hardwear are a pretty young mountaineering clothing and equipment manufacturer but are also one of... Read more
The Epicentre Mega Winter Sale starts in store 9am Christmas Eve. We have a great selection of in store only deals from... Read more
On Saturday 13th December Greg Boswell and Guy Robertson kicked off their Scottish winter season early by making the... Read more
The release of Peter Jackson's new film The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on 12th December may not appear to link to... Read more