/ Tips on Cold hands
I'm looking for people’s tips/ advice on how to improve on the issue of cold hands during winter climbing. Apart from winter climbing I do suffer from having cold hands on a daily basis. I have invested in good quality gloves and what I tend to do now is try be pro active and shake out continuously, whether leading or seconding, before, during and after each pitch. This makes it manageable but I do wonder how anyone else I climb with doesn't seem to get it as bad.
I'd appreciate all advice bar down the lines of winter climbing is hard work, suck it up!
Get some overmitts for belays?
Buffalo DP or Dachsteins?
I don't winter climb, but some use heated gloves for skiing and other cold activities. Could they work?
I'm afraid this problem just gets worse as you get older and your circulation declines in efficiency. But there are things you can do:
(1) Protect your hands from the cold *all the time*, not just when climbing. E.g. never cycle without gloves (unless it's baking hot).
(2) Protect your wrists and forearms as well.
(3) I haven't done this, but might it help to put some insulating cover over the shaft of your ice-tools? Maybe foam rubber? Certainly metal sucks the heat out of your hands very quickly.
(4) Don't let your hands get cold on the approach or before you start climbing.
(5) Keep them moving on belay.
(6) Carry a lightweight thermos of hot squash/ ribena with you every time you climb. Keeps core heat up, and boosts morale too.
(7) Never allow yourself to get frostnip or frostbite. Once the damage to your capillary system is done, it's irreversible. Don't let it happen in the first place.
(8) Take aspirin in small quantities every day, in a form that's easy on your stomach lining--it's a vasodilator. Some doctors think all middle-aged men (40+) should do this anyway.
(9) Splash the cash on really good gloves that are as waterproof and warm as possible. It's worth it; you won't be getting another pair of hands any time soon.
(1). Take a spare pair of gloves (or three!). If your first pair get damp then your hands will get cold, so dry your hands and put on spare pair. Repeat as necessary.
(2). Get some hand cream. Any brand, it doesn't matter. In the evenings massage hands and fingers with the cream. This stimulates the nerves and helps alleviate any tendency to frost-nip.
Having had hand surgery earlier this year that's nailed the blood supply to one of my thumbs I feel your pain! Keeping your core warm has to be my best tip: if your core is warm then it'll pump more blood to your extremities, or at least will reduce vasoconstriction. Good gloves make a massive difference too: walk in with a pair of windproof leather gardening gloves on, stick on 'proper' gloves for the climbing, have a pair of big mitts in the bag for if you're still cold (I've got Montane Extreme mitts and, apart from the Primaloft being slow to dry, they are excellent). That way you can gear up with thin gloves on, have thick dry gloves to climb in, and a pair of 'emergency' mitts that are still okay to climb in.
The second you feel your hands getting cold, sort it out. The colder they get the longer it takes to get them back. Shaking out can help, and not over-gripping on tools (easier said than done!). If you get hot aches, tell your mate not to laugh.
Chemical hand warmers. About £1-2 for the pair. They're one use only but good for the whole day. I have them on my palms while belaying and move them to the back of my hands for climbing.
The only problem I've found with them is all my climbing buddies have lost all respect for me since finding out I use them!
Two things that work for me and stop me being crippled lying in the foetal position on the floor
1. reduce caffeine intake
2. Keep wrists and forearms warm - you can buy fleece wristwamers
3. Dont go overboard on fancy expensive gloves, they dont make much difference from my experience, ive got about 12 pairs of gloves, and usually the only ones I really wear are some cold weather work gloves and for less cold merino wool liner gloves
One thing that can be over looked in a glove system is good wrist insulation. Marmot do some wrist gaiters that close the gap between sleeve and glove, although they are expensive. I find that some not to tight support bandage doubled over and a thumb hole cut in it works well and is very cheap.
My winter climbing glove system consists of several layers and spare pairs of gloves. My wrist warmers go over my base layer sleeves, and my softshell goes over the wrist warmers. This overlap reduces cold exposed spots. When I'm belaying or need more warmth, My belay jacket goes on, and an XL pair of Montane extreme mitts go on over everything as a they have a large gauntlet and good drawcord.
I've never really bothered with thin liner gloves, as they have always been to much faff, preferring my wrist warmers, and some dexterous winter cycling gloves for climbing, with mitts to go on top.
Regardless of what glove combination i'm wearing, my hands will get painfully cold if i'm stopped for a long time and my gloves are wet through. However, if i'm walking, my hands will stay warm enough in a light fleece glove and montane mitts, despite being able to wring water out of them!
Also, try to keep up the high calorie food, and stay well hydrated!
Failing that, you could buy a charcole / chemical handwarmers, or invest in the expensive petrol fuel zippo warmer.
On top of the good advice above, I invested in a pair of marmot polartec wrist gaiters and find they make a huge difference when combined with the thumb loops of my baselayer. As Tim said, hot aches only seem to get progressively worst if you damage the nerves in your fingers from repeated abuse. So it's best to completely avoid them if possible, I accept the penalty in dexterity of bulkier gloves to try and manage it.
I actually find that I don't get them much on steeper ice and mixed, particularly when leading (Probably more worried about other things!). The worst cases for me have always been seconding up mushy neve or powder which soaks through gloves.
Apparently I am very funny to watch when I do get the hot aches. I writhe like the damned and howl like a dog.
From my own point of view, it feels like I'm going to faint or throw up, neither of which seems a good idea half-way up a route. It's the only pain I know that's bad enough to have that effect.
Well worth avoiding.
This might sound a bit crazy and I don't know if it will help the slightest but as you got some good advice already, here is a bit of madness for the day:
There are some funny receptors in your face (around the eyes) that basically can cause peripheral vasoconstriction when they sense cold water (e.g. if you dived in cold water etc) - this is what slows down your heart rate but also, could move blood away from hands etc. Maybe in addition to the above, try to keep your face warm somehow and definitely dry...
I would guess that getting fitter (as in aerobic fitness) might also help improve circulation a bit.
Crazy-ideas aside, do you do a proper warm-up? Raising your heart beat sufficiently with some cardio and mobility exercises and warming up the whole body should help...
I used to suffer really badly - like hot aches several times per pitch. To the point where I saw a consultant who climbs and got prescribed niphidipine(?) for blood pressure as it's also a vasodilator. It didn't seem to have much effect so never used it much and my systems got better and better which had much more effect. Looking back, it's a miracle I carried on ice climbing. I now get them maybe once a day or so - often worse when seconding.
So my top tips are:
- Climb leashless and shake out loads. Much more than you would ever think necessary
- Wear thin gloves - I wear BD Dry Tool gloves and have done at -25ish (I admit that isn¡¦t pleasant). I find the hot aches are just as bad with much thicker gloves. Just climb fast and shake lots and...
- Swap into mitts at belays. Immediately. Regardless of how warm you think your hands are.
- Ditto for putting on a belay jacket, even if you arrive breathing out your arse.
- Have at least two pairs of climbing gloves, not inc for belays and walk-ins. Keep one pair in chest pockets and swap when initial pair get damp.
- Use the oven. Put the mitts (while climbing) and the gloves (while belaying) tucked right into each armpit. When you put on, they'll be toastie.
- Windmill, penguin dance and hand flick like a loon.
My theory is that when your hands are above your head, squeezing, holding metal, no glove will keep them warm. It's not the warm getting out that's really the problem, but that no warm (blood) is getting in.
wrist gaiters. essential.
Lots of good advice. I am 50 soon, and definitely noticed it getting worse as I get older, and have suffered nips and very bad hot aches.
As I run warm, I think my mistake is under-dressing on the walk-in, and not getting extra layers on quickly enough. I resolved this year to just keep my core warmer, and it definitely helps.
Also, I cannot get on with mitts, so I put an extra two pairs of gloves in my pockets, and change them as soon as they get damp. This has also helped, especially as this year has been lots of plunging in snow.
I agree, expensive gloves have been no better than cheaper ones, so more pairs rather than one/two dear ones is the way to go for me.
I've found the following things (which echo many points above) useful:
Stay well hydrated and fed.
Carry enough gloves to change wet ones (they ALL get wet eventually, a bad day at work is a 6 pair day)
Don't neglect your wrists. Buy a top with long sleeves and wrist loops or make wrist gaiters from an old fleece top or even socks.
I don't personally like mitts- too taffy for all the jobs I use my hands for but a large pair for belaying in and a belay jacket to protect the core and the will power to use them could help.
I do use thin liners (very thin, silk or merino) which I put on under the wrist loops to hold them in place. As well as giving me a little warmth they make changing wet gloves a great deal quicker and easier.
Always only take one glove off if you have too.
If you have one warm hand I find that my body keeps the exposed one warm as well.
Get both cold and it gets out of hand, ( no pun intended ) and your body starts to close down the circulation to the extremities. Difficult to bring it back.
A couple of other things that occur to me:
1. "Where were you last night?" If you start up a route after spending the night twitching fitfully underneath the Shelter Stone while all God's hurricanes howl around it, don't ask your body to do what it can do if you spent last night in a toasty warm B & B in Feshie Bridge. And expect to get colder.
2. Others have pointed out how wrist-loops can restrict circulation in the hands. The same is surely true of rucksack straps. How heavy is your pack, and how tightly strapped in are you? If you can feel the straps pressing against the fronts of your shoulders, then it is restricting circulation in your arms and hands.
3. Think ahead. If you can foresee glove-removing faffage coming up, plan where it's going to happen. Put your crampons on in the lee of the CIC, not amid the dance of the snow-devils a quarter of the way up Observatory.
4. This is just a speculation: might there be a connection between hot aches and carpal tunnel syndrome? We all spend a lot of time on computers, and it does have well-documented effects on our forearm/ wrist/ hand health. Is there a connection? I'm no medic, I'm just wondering.
Avoid getting wet or powder snow on your bare or gloved hands and wear a jacket with good handwarmer pockets or smock with side zips.
Don't stuff you face full of hard to digest food before climbing but snack on easily digested food that doesn't freeze such a fruitcake.
Carry lots of pairs of dry gloves and mitts that aren't restrictive (six or more is the norm)
Keep your core and head really warm when not moving and lead each pitch rather than seconding while keeping your hands relaxed and below your heart as much as possible when doing so.
On easy ground keep moving with no long stops with relaxed open hands below the heart and in the daggering position.
I and most folk I know get the hot aches much more when seconding after a prolonged stop and when using ski poles on the approach!
Hydrate well, eat well and sleep well. Also change gloves often if wet at all and get use to mitts, even second in them + all of the above.
My tips/ideas .
Pack lots of gloves when out on the hill . I mean lots . I routinely carry 3 pairs of insulated gloves , 3 pairs of liner gloves and a pair of waterproof shell mitts in nasty wet cold weather .
Chuck in a couple of chemical handwarmers . These are great for the nightmare senario when your hands get wet for some reason .
Make or buy some wrist gaiters - these will fill any gaps between your sleeve and your gloves . They also give extra insulation to the blood near the surface of the wrists .
I find that it's not so much how warm my gloves are that stops me from getting hotaches, but how warm my core temperature is. When I get cold, from standing around, my hands get cold, so things like putting on a belay jacket when belaying, eating regularly, making sure I've eaten well the night before and at breakfast and am well hydrated, and doing windmills etc if necessary makes a difference.
I've managed to elimate most incidences of hot aches, with one exception. I always get hot aches if I second the first pitch rather than climbing first.
I think it's the combination of exercising hard on the walk in, then stopping still whilst I gear up, followed by standing still for belaying. No amount of extra layers, hot drinks and eating chocolate seems to prevent this. Which is fine if I want to lead the first pitch, but that's not always the case- any suggestions to stop the hot aches at this point?
Belay jacket has mitts in one inside pocket and biscuits in another.
Agree, gloves for walk in, climbing and belaying. Otherwise they get sweaty then cold.
Or change to new climbing gloves each pitch, there is still a warm up period, I only use the pits for climbing gloves when belaying.
I've just started using the chicken dance, it works really well...
This is what I do after suffering in the past. I also suggest lots of snack food too (chocolate biscuits, cookies, ginger snaps or custard creams.) and making sure you are properly hydrated...
Custard creams? Has the fellow run mad? Your sovereign ginger-nut is the only biscuit for the true climber. Anything else is for lightweights.
Wrist gaiters helped me.
I cut up a pair of old socks to use as wrist gaiters. works fairly well. also I blow on my hands and wrists to get circulation back. best way of warming for me.
Plus 1 for the chemical hand warmers. My ex suffered from circulation problems and she swore by them for winter mountaineering and skiing.
For sure! We often try to stop short and gear up somewhat below the base of the climb... necessarily that far, but that 5 minute walk up after gearing up often keeps the second a bit warmer.
And it also doesn't help helps if the leader is either slow or is tempted by longer/linked pitches... I know I'm often guilty of the latter and my partner often suffers
I suffer from cold hands. The best solution I came up with was to use a glove/mitt combo where the mitt goes over the glove - this is warmer than just one or the other. For gearing up or leading something hard you can take the mitts off. For walking, belaying, seconding or even leading you always have the option of wearing both. Another advantage of this is you don't have to remove the glove before putting on the mitt.
For a day winter climbing I take 2 pairs of gloves and one pair of mitts. The gloves are semi water resistant so you don't suffer as soon as you clear away a bit of snow.
Lots of good advice, but speaking as a Reynault's Syndrome sufferer (ie extremely cold hands) the most effective thing which has enabled me to carry on ice climbing is the use of chemical hand warmers. I wear very thin latex gloves with the tea bag sized warmers stuck down the back, so they're always in position. I leave these gloves on all day. Over them I wear my climbing gloves/belay mitts. The latex seems to act as a vapour barrier and of course my hands may get sweaty, but they stay warm enough to function. Have climbed in Rjukan, Cogne and Scotland using this system over the last few years.
You spend 6 days on ginger-nuts then tell me you'd refuse a custard cream or chocolate digestive. "A change is as good as a rest," as they say.
then stopping still whilst I gear up, followed by standing still for belaying
I know you say no amount of extra layers...but do you put a belay jacket on as soon as you stop? Mitts whilst you wait for your faffy mate to gear up/flake the rope, etc?
No amount of extra layers, hot drinks and eating chocolate seems to prevent this. Which is fine if I want to lead the first pitch, but that's not always the case- any suggestions to stop the hot aches at this point?
don't have any great advice other than what's gone before but i tend to under-dress (even if under a shell) on the way in to avoid sweating, but have a warm drink (usually ribena) to drink on the way in & then finish that off with some ginger nuts (custard creams, indeed - pervert!) as you gear up. Like somebody earlier said i tend to find thick gloves worse especially leading steep ice - maybe cos i then grip too hard & squeeze the blood out of my hands?! Oh and wrist warmers (Marmot, old socks, on my midlayer) really help...
Anyone noticed an effect from that ginkgo stuff?
Guys tks for all this and the vast amount of advice given. There is definitely a large amount I can take from this. The Mitts and the wrist gaiters are a must and I will look into the chemical hand warmers. How I combine the extra gloves and mitts is something I'll play around with.
Staying hydrated and snacking is something I'm not bad at but will improve and I do totally agree with above post mentioning its the fact we have our hands mostly above our heads on mental, with reduced blood flow through the hands, to be a big factor.
Very interesting also the observations on the person seconding on the first pitch suffering badly with hot aches etc. I've experienced this only very recently on the rebaffat route on tour ronde on the first pitch while seconding and also being my first day at attitude had me feeling very very ill for 10 min or so but it passed.
Some get thinking outside the box there too re computer use & cut down on the coffee with I'll find hard to do!
I work outside all winter,walling!
Don't stuff your gloves in your rucksack. When you put them on your hands will have to heat the cold gloves. BEFORE you put them on keep them inside your jacket/pockets so they are warm when you put them on.
There's a dissertation in this! I wear baselayers up to the base of the route, then get properly dressed as we gear up (usually quite cold as have added 500+m,) I drink what water I've carried up or picked up from streams (put it in belay jacket to act as insulation, stops carrying flask..)
I think Scottish ice should be graded different to mixed, as it's at least a grade harder, though good footwork (I've identified the problem, not dealt with it!) reduces the pump on ice. Wrist warmers are sorted with a Patagonia R1 hoodie, it really is nice. Have started carrying a jetboil and energy drink on some routes as it is lighter and warmer than energy juice on its own...
?? Tetleys is more my style...
Corrected your mistyping there
>> Your sovereign Tunnock's Caramel Wafer is the only biscuit for the true climber. Anything else is for lightweights.
!!! Only if sponsored! I only have 5 sponsored caramel wafers left... For the price of one I can have a packet of chocolate digestives!
Some kind of mixup? I would no more EAT a Tunnock's Caramel Wafer than I would attempt to set up a belay on Psychedelic Wall using only a ginger-nut.
Your sovereign Tunnock's Caramel Wafer is the only protection for the true goggly-eyed-in-terror ultra-run-out micro-thin Scottish winter ice-route.
Anything else is for people who own bolt-guns and shunts :-)
this thread has inspired me to dig out the old army issue wristlets, nothing on the palm to bulk out your grip but a bit of a pain if you have tight gloves.
i do not do airsoft btw, this is the best photo I could find.
Im trying a Whitby Hand Warmer this year. Its light and will put out heat for up to 12 hrs. Just an idea
Another massive vote for Marmot wrist Gaitors, as well as using base layers with thumb loops if it is really cold.
Also two good pairs of gloves (I use 2 x ME Radonee), keep swapping....and a pair of pile lined (or Pertex) mitts as well if it's a typical scottish day or wet water ice (I use ex-Army or Buffalo).
Agree absolutely about putting the belay jacket on even if you think you don't need it.... once your partner arrives you'll be cold and then it's his turn to lead.....how long will he take? Keep the heat you generate in your core and the blood will flow to your extremities.
and as many others have said, Go leashless and shake out!!
"Hmm"? Whaddaya mean, "hmm"?
This sounds like a good arrangement was what I was considering
They look good
Would you know where could pick marmot wrist gaitors up online and what's best recommended for water proof mitts?
Just google around. I found this instantly:
If you google harder you might well beat that price.
Saw an old film about people gutting fish, their hands were in ice filled water for eight hours a day. After the first twenty minutes they had no trouble with the cold. It seems after the first hot aches the blood flows back to the extremities and by keeping them cool there will be no more pain. Herman Buhl was said to hold lumps of ice until melted as training for climbing.
Excellent selection and description here.....
None of my mitts are strictly waterproof but they are water resistant and warm and as they are pile lined they stay fairly warm even when damp. The Buffalos dry very quickly.
you can get extremities wrist gaiters on amazon for 15 quid.
And we all know what happened to Buhl's hands...
Man up you f.£king pussy Niall!!!!
As his body was never found, will we ever know ?
Basically my experiences seems to match those posted here but anyway -
- stay warm. The last few routes I was hardshell - downjacket - insulated jacket, base layers but most added once the walk in was done.
- don't skimp on your gloves. A few years ago I used my skiing/boarding gloves which were fine for that but rubbish on cold wet belay ledges. I don't swap over on belays but can see where folk are coming from.
- stay hydrated although I am rubbish at this in winter & summer. I never take a flask.
- keep your wrists warm. I also stopped using leashes and moved to lanyards. I found the leashes were either putting pressure on my wrists or rucking up my sleeves exposing my wrists.
- Take care if you are daggering or plunging your axes into wet snow (or lots of powdery snow). I tend to have a wee break even if the climbing is easy as it seems to let the blood flow back in.
- I noticed you said you shook out. I dont bother but if I feel cold I pull my fingers back out the glove fingers for a bit (easier if seconding)
- and finally avoid climbing in really wet snow or the rain! This may have been the most important lesson!
I get cold / white fingers & toes in the summer but tests for everything medical that could cause this were negative. So far since doing the above I've yet to get hot aches.
Tks Jon but i wasnt buying your tips. Nobody mentioned getting your partner to put on your belay plate either while u shake out. Im leading the first pitch next time too. I wont take as long so u wont freeze or get sick like i do :-)
I got a friend to stitch in a pouch to the marmot wrist gaitors so I can pop a chemical warmer in there. She made it out of thermal tights so it doesn't add much bulk when there's no sachet in. It's on the side where the veins are closest the skin. Works quite well although the wrist gaitor itself isn't bad at all.
I do get a touch of Raynauds from time to time so I am a bit paranoid about keeping the hands warm.
Tunnocks are nice dipped in tea.
I used to have a thingummy for cold hands which I used when trying to practice the organ in a freezing cold church. Now, how to describe a thingummy ... hmmm... it's a pocket of some sort of liquid, containing a small metal disc. You press the metal disc and invert it, and the liquid gets warm. You hold it, and your hands get cold enough to bounce through a whole prelude-and-fugue before they cool off again (nothing for the toes, mind, so playing tunes with the feet is a downer in cold weather). Eventually the pocket of liquid goes solid and cools down; you boil it in a saucepan and it liquifies again.
I have never known how the thingummy works, but perhaps someone here can tell me.
Try crystallised dry ginger. I don't know the science behind it but it works immediately for me.
well my advice is a bit contrary but worth a shot..
I always walk in to a climb without gloves as far as I can bare. this has 2 benefits..
1. your hands dry out in the cold air and they do not sweat making them less conductive to heat. non sweaty gloves like Dachsteins are the next best thing.
2. you will get hot aches on the way in, your body initially protects the core but will eventually realise that everything is okay and will allow blood to flow to your extremities more easily.
I always, when walking in winter (around town or whatever) keep my hands out without gloves to let them get good and cold. In the hope that i am training my body to allow normal circulation in cold conditions. this is only beneficial imo if your core is warm. don't stand around in the cold.
this is all quasi science so i'm probably just suffering for no reason.
my (nurse) partner says stop smoking and do more exercise...
Listen to your partner
Cheers will other mitts first tho :-)
Why did you change your name mid thread?
An interesting idea. I reckon that as frost bite develops, your hands will start to feel warm after a while
I rarely wear gloves on the walk in as it's much warmer stuffing them in my smock's handwarmer pockets, with liner gloves as a backup.
I take it easy and try to avoid sweating, I'm also 'bold and start cold' - you warm up too much anyway!
Once we get to below the crag, I normally stop and quickly before cooling off, strip off my damp thermal top, dry skin with it, replace with a dry and warm thermal or pile top then warm hat.
A quick pee before putting my smock, helmet and harness on relaxes muscles and allows much better blood flow to the extremities!
Once I've done all this, I grab a few snacks and some pre-microwave-warmed 500 ml drink/water kept warm in my buffalo mitts for insulation.
At the same time I'm sorting out the gear and fitting crampons, avoiding any contact with metal or moisture and stuffing spare gloves inside my smock.
Once done, I buddy check my partners, start up to the base of the route, dig stance, build belay, sort ropes, maybe replace damp digging gloves with dry Argon work gloves. Off up the first pitch, find and build belay, bring seconds up, if getting cold change into warmer or drier gloves.
Having said change gloves, I usually find as long as I'm always leading and moving fast, I can keep the Argon work gloves on from start to finish, even when damp they work a bit like wetsuit glove as long as you keep them on.
At top of route, de-gear, stuff wet snowy kit into bag before putting on nice warm dry gloves and grabbing some more fruit cake and drink for the descent - job done- happy!
Hope this helps
to try and shake of c*nts like you :-) nd its cooler....
keep moving is the main tip here ?!
I've a nose for this! Watchit!!!
Really good stuff from Tim and I want to emphasise his Item 2: Protect your wrists and forearms as well. The blood in your hands is never going to be warm if the blood in your arms is cold!
That brings me to the thin point theory of winter personal admin. There are points that traditionally are thin on clothing at points where you body's own protection of the muscles and blood supply is poor. Basically these are the neck, wrists, waist and ankles and if you want to be warm and comfy then it is well worth paying extra attention to these points.
Wristlets of thin fleece or polyprop or wool make a difference and are especially helpful if the glove you wear has poor wrist protection. Here is a typical PP version. http://www.survivalaids.com/bcb-thermal-wristovers The same thing can be made from a cut and darned old sock. Some fleece tops have holes in the arms for this.
A couple of points about gloves. The 'get what you pay for' theory doesn't seem to work so well for gloves for winter mountaineering. Dachsteins and a bit of old darned sock around your wrists competes well with over-complicated and overly-tight-fitting £70 high-tech gloves. A cheap leather glove is often successful if the lining is thin polyester fleece or wool and it has been treated with modern water-repellent.
If warmth is important then mitts and loose-fitting gloves work better for the outer layer. If you hunt for dexterity by choosing a tight fit then you will pay dearly for it.
Just got an email today from Adam at Dortech....15% off everything. So the very useful 5 quid Argons, are even cheaper now!
yep, I do - it changed my (cold) life overnight - i take it the day before and any days I am going to be in the cold. It works wonders at keeping the cold at bay…I still get cold, but not nearly as bad or as quickly.
It doesn't stop hot aches, but then you can't have everything.
I take it in tablet form.
Interesting. I injured my right hand last year cutting an artery, tendons and nerve. As a result my pinky is cold most of the time, so now that I'm able to get out again I find I need to wear a glove on that hand most or all the time. My left hand is as normal. The net result is that if I wear a pair of gloves when its cold enough for my right hand but not my left, my left hand gets sweaty. So imagine how stupid I look going about with one glove on. Some friends have suggested its a bit Michael Jacksonish. What you might try are Thermoskin fingerless gloves. These are made of thin insulated neoprene but allow you dexterity. You could wear these the majority of the th time and pop on other gloves or mitts on top as required. I was given these by the hospital but they are available on Amazon for about £20 quid a pair. As for exposing your hands to the cold to harden them up, as suggested by another contributor, older readers on UKC will probably remember reading in their youth accounts of Herman Buhl walking around Innsbruck with lumps of ice in his hands to 'toughen up'. RN
I've also broken several fingers and a wrist over the years playing sport so similar to you this is a contribuary factor for me I reckon. No point me not wearing gloves to harden/ toughen hands up as I don’t think it would reverse any harm done.
I actually deliberately get cold hands on the walk in, get mild, tolerable hot aches and then make sure my hands warm up again. Once you have been through hot aches, they don't happen nearly so easily again.
Also gear up in several stops. One for crampons, one for extra layers of clothing and harness, one for racking, then it's much quicker at the actual start of the route.
Thin pair of gloves for walk in. Two thin pairs climbing gloves (alternately warmed deep in clothing), shell gloves (removed for dexterity once warmed up on pitch), fat belay mitts worn alone on belays.
Interesting suggestion. I accidentally adopted this approach yesterday on a wild and wintry Bowfell. Sadly conditions were too soft for proper climbing, but the weather wasn't. My unprotected hands were frizz by the time we reached 800m and donned crampons. By the time we set off up an easy gully with just a pair of thin leather gloves, my hands were comfortable and stayed that way for the rest of the day.
Several of you have mentioned pre-existing cold injury or other damage and I think this clearly speaks against Herr Buhl's approach. This was underlined for me many years ago when descending from Stob Coire nan Lochan with Mal Duff (a man who rarely shrank from suffering for his craft) who had suffered frostnip during the previous Himalayan season. Desperate for a means of warming his hands, I suggested the tea in my unused flask. This is when we discovered that my glass flask had been smashed. The experience of having a man insisting that you to pour a mixture of warm tea and broken glass over his hands tends to stick in one's mind.
heating hands up that quick could damage the tissues too, aside from the glass that is, that said, its a good story
I used my fleece wrist warmers today (also called wrist gaiters?) they definately helped.
It's just my personal observation, but I reckon you have to be careful how your hands get cold. Letting the blood leave then come back in again is painful, but seems to leave them functional (though clumsy) even when white and bloodless. But letting the muscles that control the fingers get cold means you loose almost all dexterity, even if there's still blood in the fingers, which means you might not be able to do even seemingly trivial things like using zips.
I seem to remember a Ray Mears programme years ago where he said that if you can't touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your little finger, you ought to sort yourself out sharpish
Winter climbing is hard work, suck it up!
I agree with most of the advice, and Dachsteins have been mentioned a couple of times,but what is relevant about them is that they still insulate and keep your hands warm when they are wet, unlike the other gloves and mittens.
Don't belay close in to water-ice where there is no room to move your feet.I once ended up with hypothermia doing this-I could not think straight after waiting there 1.5hrs+.My leader went wrong and had to downclimb,then thankfully we abbed off.(Thank god we found an old peg that worked for us)
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