Like flocks of swirling swallows or shimmering schools of tropical fish, our customers swoop in with mysteriously synchronized concerns and questions on a regular basis, prompting the need for ready answers. Times like these, nothing would be more handy than magically beaming knowledge out into the ether. Building on his "+1 Core for Winter Climbing" post, Kelly Cordes is back in the Trenches with more layering advice for winter climbing. - Ed
Another winter climbing tip, this one a key component to the clothing system: Overlayering, a.k.a. the belay parka. Everyone’s heard of layering, but the standard method can be wildly impractical for the stop-and-go activity of climbing, and so too often people err on the side of warmth (understandably enough), and wear too much insulation from the start – too much? Yes, definitely. They dress for standing around, which makes sense except that then you overheat when you’re moving. That makes you sweat. Then your clothes get damp and lose some insulating value – even the fancy synthetics drop-off some when wet. Then you’re cold. And wearing too much is bulky and uncomfortable, restricting your movement so you can’t climb as well, which means less fun. It’s rough, this micromanaging of your environment. Solution? Fairly simple: dress lighter and throw on an overlayer, or belay jacket, or puffy coat, whatever you want to call it.
How warm the overlayer depends on how cold the climbing. For winter climbing, everyone loves the DAS Parka and the higher-fill down parkas (as opposed to lighter three-season pieces like our Down Sweater). Soon I’ll get into the utility of superlight variations on the overlayering theme, what I sometimes call the “Micro Belay Parka,” like the Nano Puff.
Anyway, a lot goes into regulating body temperature while climbing in the cold, and we know most of it: don’t wear cotton, start with a wicking baselayer, add the right amount of insulation, put on a shell. Stay hydrated and well fed. Wear a hat. But what’s the “right amount of insulation”?
[Jonny Copp makes good use of his belay parka in Alaska, while descending from the first ascent of “Going Monk.” Photo: Kelly Cordes]