/ Women and winter climbing
A friend of mine whose a climber is thinking of trying the winter stuff but she's a bit hesitant. Her build is quite slight, is strength an issue - re axes and crampon use as well as lugging heavy backpacks?
I'm interested in particularly womens' input into this. Cheers.
I've climbed with women in winter and its no different than any other time really, if strength is an issue then she'll be best seconding where a tight rope would boost her and lower grades accordingly. If she is really as slight as you say then she'll perhaps need fastening in to belays <first pitch bottom> for an upward pull just down to the weight difference. Using a single rope would help as the bloke can carry it just to save her a little weight but otherwise she'll have to 'man up' with the sack, cramps, axes etc.
The only concern with the couple of females I've been out with is having a wee when wrapped up like the michelin man but a she-wee will sort that.
For males or females winter climbing is hard, lesson number one!
Hi I don't climb in Scotland but NZ which would be similar temps i think. I'm a 5 2 female but a bit of a tomboy.
My main issues were warmth / Comfort related.
When walking in Women loose warmth faster when you stop so Snacks in pockets, and a consistent pace rather than lots of stops
A GOOD warm hooded jacket (That fits over helmet and racked harness) and gloves for when you do stop. Dry gloves for belaying. A themos Of some thing nice and warm Is nice too.
Peeing- Salopete type Pants meant you had to take your jacket off I prefer no shoulder straps so I can get my Pants down without stripping down and everything blowing away.
Stuff is the same weight Regardless of your size unfortunately. I like Light axes and leashless (warmer, easier to shake out if getting pumped) No height problems, face climbing so balance will help, the climbing itself shouldn't be a problem
Will Gadd wrote an Iceclimbing book and there is a womens chapter. He discusses Layering and Nutrition for temp control. I found it useful.
Back pack wise I can carry a complete set of stuff by myself, but I find a good fitting hip belt Important as I can take more weight there than my shoulders.
Keep her warm..I almost didn't go back after the first time.
Thanks, sound advice. The cold is definitely her biggest worry.
Spend time and money in a comfy rucksack...if she's concerned with weight that'll make a difference.
I would also take seriously the going light approach: I don't mean crazy lightweight (which could even be dangerous) but more the approach of you do NOT necessarily need all the shite people tell you you need. Be selective, experiment, think it through.
I climb mainly with blokes, but I've had a few female climbing partners and they were as trustworthy and reliable as any of my other regulars. To the extent that I've never thought in terms of gender, more availibilty when conditions are in.
Blanchie summed it up nicely, they're tiring days regardless of who you are.
Specifically with regard to Scottish winter, Heike who posts on here could be a good person to ask - she's super-experienced and seems very approachable.
I've only been winter climbing once, but I would agree with the others that have mentioned layering and nutrition, I made sure I had plenty of layers and checked constantly with my partner who was much more experienced that I was (and still is), about taking things off and putting things on depending on where we were as I was fully aware, of getting too warm and then sweating, which ultimately, on a long cold day in the mountains is very important!
> When walking in Women loose warmth faster when you stop so Snacks in pockets, and a consistent pace rather than lots of stops
> Keep her warm..I almost didn't go back after the first time.
Depends on the woman surely - I keep much warmer than most of the blokes I climb with. Probably my nice warm pie - jacket ;-D
A good rucksack means you don't feel the weight as much. I love my Osprey Mutant - feels heavy when you pick it up, but light enough once walking. I also overheat stupidly on walk-ins - often just wear a tshirt, but lose heat very very fast once stopped, so I have a big heavy belay jacket (PHD Zeta) and we do everything we can organisation/packing-wise to minimise gearing up time. I have climbed in hideous weather, but nowadays the wuss factor kicks in, and I won't walk in in drizzle, zero vis, low cloud and blowing a hoolie (I'll go for a walk/scramble instead). Slight build is no issue, I'm size 8.
If she's concerned about the weeing thing I can recommend buffalo salopettes - mine have a crotch zip running from front to back meaning I can stop for a wee without taking any clothing off!
Well generalising of course, but apparently it's common to warm up slower and certainly with me personally.
Pummelzacken: No excuses..I'm out there. I Just had to adapt a system to be warm and happy that differs from the people I learnt from.
Milesy: I find "don't look this way for a minute, I'm going to pee" solves the problem
Climbing Pixie: I had those. May it's be the small market here but couldn't buy thermal leggings with a corresponding Access.
Please could you try and post in the correct forum, it makes life easier for both users and moderators.
Winter Climbing - From Scottish gullies to Rjukan ice falls, this is the forum to discuss everything involved with winter climbing. Conditions, what's in and what's not, avalanche risk, recommended routes plus accounts of your exploits.
More Forum descriptions - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/info/forums.html
I would second that, although I am a bloke I have always been pretty weedy.
I have found that if I use the right techniques (using leg muscles as much as possible and balance) I can avoid a lot of strenuous arm moves on routes up to and including grade IV.
I must add I prefer traditional routes (neve and ice) as opposed to the more technically demanding and physical modern mixed (powder on rock).
Just start on the grade Is and IIs and work your way up.
My goose is not interested in winter climbing as she hates the cold.
My female partners certainly do seem to feel the cold a little more, and I agree with the weeing issue - She-wees seem to be the way forward.
The strength issue is usually for the walk-in/out, not the climbing. I have often ended up with both rack and rope unfortunately once real fatigue sets in.
The technique finesse arguement is the same for winter as summer.
I'm female and do lots of winter climbing when conditions allow.
Having a pee is a challenge but I have ME waterproofs that unzipp from the top down so you can pull them right out of the way or there's always the shee wee.
As everyone else has said winter outings are hard work for everyone a heavy bag does slow me down a lot but I seem to manage to keep up with my male friends.
Climbing wise I don't think I'm at any disadvantage being female I'm just rubbish but I still enjoy it.
I've been winter climbing for about 5 years, not sure if these issues are related to being a woman as I don't winter climb with many other women so it might just be me:
Over heating on the walk ins.
I used to have problems carrying lots of gear until I got a CRUX rucksack, simple design and stays close to my back. I am also a bit of a waif.
Never used to have problems with hot aches until last year, but I think that is down to upping my grade.
I wouldn't say strength is an issue, it's all relative when it comes to the actual climbing. Being able to lock off is handy.
I would say I'm slower on the walk ins than any man I have climbed with but I wouldn't say I am slow as such.
I would also say I am faster on the walk outs, and always without fail the person driving the car home when my man is fast asleep!
I think your pal should def give it a go, I have many female climbing friends who are super strong who just aren't keen to go out in winter and it would be nice to see more women out and about.
Feel free to tell her to get in touch if she wants any more advice.
I am female and love winter climbing, am out as often as possible. The only issue I think is non-specific kit (i.e. they don't make enough good women's kit). Strength is not an issue, it's more a question of persistence. Anything else is IMHO an imposed issue from the outside, e.g. why are there many women climbing to a high level, but there is not enough fitting gear? I don't know. As some people say, exposing your bum to to a gale and snow storm is a bit of an issue, but you get used to it and I can't be bothered to walk more then a few metres away. If it offends any men climbers sensibilities, they should try themselves ;-) Lugging heavy backpacks? No issue at all, it's just a question of what you are used to. I climb with loads of different people and some are weak and some are strong - nothing to do with gender. I have often carried heavier packs for guys and girls, then again I have other partners who are stronger then me, then they carry heavier packs, simple.
Oh, and to the posters who say women fell the cold more, I think this is a myth. Can't confirm this from my own or friends perspective.
I am 5 foot 4 and pretty light too, the walk-ins used to screw me over and knacker me out, (especially if i was chasing after super fast boys!) this had a habit of destroying my psyche totally.... now that I'm much more hill fit I actually enjoy the climbing and sometimes outbeast the boys ;) though I wish I didn't scream like a girl when I take lead falls.
Gear is going to become her main problem as companies seem to be cutting down on their women specific gear even more. TNF for example are discontinuing the womens Point Five jacket as there isn't enough demand for them apparently. Having size 36-37 feet means that finding boots is pretty tricky so if she has small feet trying before buying may not be an option!
Go climbing in a 3 with her, then you have some belay banter which always makes the day more pleasant and less scary :) Definitely get her out there though, there are a lot of keen women winter climbers about suddenly, which is sweet! I think I may almost have more female climbing partners than male these days....
I think this may be partly related to the gear issue - not so much now, but 20 years ago when it was only really unisex (ie men's!) fit, I everything was too big for me, and so loads of spaces for warm air to escape. I was only really walking at the time, but it was a big whinge for the women winter mountaineers I knew, particularly the shorter/slighter ones.
It's well worth giving her an introduction. I have climbed with Fiona Murray and Helen Rennard who climb at a very high level and obviously derive a lot of enjoyment from the sport. They carry all their own kit and if they don't notice some of mine as well. I walk in fast and never have to wait. I will be introducing my daughter to the sport when studies permit and she is just your average girlie teenager. No special kit required just the right attitude from mentor and new recruit.
I think I feel the cold more than anyone I've climbed with so I combat this by always wearing mittens, even leading.
My girlfriend's top tip is to get a massive sleeping bag and keep your clothes in it so they are warm in the morning.
She absolutely powned me. Casually climbed the overhang on the right-hand line, which some of you will know about. I didn't even notice because I was flailing about on the easiest line at the time.
Gender differences are real but still, I often think of this encounter.
Elsewhere on the site
This Winter Conditions page gives a summary of what is being climbed at the moment, what is 'in' nick and what the prospects are... Read more
Perhaps the perfect Xmas gift for the climber in your life... Wild Country's Crack School has two of the worlds best crack... 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 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
Rock shoes stink – let’s face it. Boot Bananas are the perfect way to fight the funk and keep them fresh. They help... Read more
Tonight's Friday Night Video features the Norwegian town of Rjukan, once believed to be the home of the world's tallest... Read more