21 Suggestions for Climbing in Snow and Chilly Climate

Listed here are my high 21 suggestions for mountain climbing in snow and chilly climate, from dressing correctly to selecting the best mountain climbing gear to staying heat and protected.

With winter climate comes the chance to hike in stunning, snow-covered surroundings. However earlier than you hit the paths, there are some things you must know to remain protected. seize your coat and boots, and let’s get began!

I’ve been mountain climbing for over 20 years. Nonetheless, it took me a number of seasons of summer season mountain climbing earlier than I began mountain climbing in winter. Initially, I believed I’d be too chilly to get pleasure from it or that it wasn’t actually value it since you could possibly solely do straightforward hikes.

I couldn’t have been extra unsuitable! I now love winter mountain climbing and do it frequently.

Take a look at my high winter mountain climbing suggestions earlier than you head out to make sure that you’ll find yourself loving it as a lot as I do!

hiking in winter

Staying Heat Whereas Climbing in Winter

1) Costume in Layers to Keep Heat and Modify to Altering Temperatures.

Defending your extremities from the chilly ought to be a precedence. By sporting wool socks, you possibly can be certain that your ft can be dry and wholesome as a result of wool’s superior means to wick away moisture. Cotton socks don’t present the identical degree of safety, so wool is all the time advisable.

For a similar cause, keep away from a cotton pair of gloves as effectively and be certain that your gloves are insulated.

You also needs to convey additional gloves and an additional pair of socks in case yours get moist.

I like to recommend a fleece-lined hat which you could put on below your coat’s hood. That means, your head will keep heat and dry.

Waterproof boots are a should too! I typically put on my common water resistant mountain climbing boots in winter however spray them with a water-resistant spray first. Should you’re mountain climbing in actually chilly temperatures, then think about insulated winter mountain climbing boots. 

With the fitting mixture of layered clothes, staying heat whereas mountain climbing in cooler temperatures received’t be a problem. Investing in high quality winter mountain climbing gear like wool socks, a fleece-lined hat, wool layers and insulated gloves will assist you to get pleasure from mountain climbing in winter.

Take a look at our winter mountain climbing gear put up for extra info.

laurel hiking in winter

2) Convey Additional Dry Clothes With You In Case Yours Get Moist

After I lived in Calgary and hiked in Banff, it was typically a 2-hour automobile trip house. It’s far more comfy in case you have dry garments you possibly can become.

You solely have to take a seat in moist clothes for an extended automobile trip to study this uncomfortable lesson, which I don’t suggest. 

3) Drink a Heat Beverage

Convey an insulated thermos with some espresso, tea, sizzling cocoa or one other heat beverage that may heat you up once you cease for a break.

I typically discover that my physique temperature is OK whereas I’m mountain climbing in winter circumstances however rapidly cools off. It’s a deal with to drink one thing heat.

laurel with a hiking buddy

4) Put Your Waterbottle Someplace Protected So It Received’t Freeze

Whereas it may be handy to hold your water bottle on the surface of your backpack, within the winter months, it may well freeze and depart you with nothing to drink. That’s very true of water bladders wherein the tube freezes.

To keep away from this, use different gear to insulate your water bottle. Should you’re utilizing a water bladder, then purchase an insulating tube to forestall it from freezing.

5) Take Shorter Breaks When Climbing Throughout the Winter Months

As I discussed above, you’ll cool off in a short time once you cease mountain climbing, so plan for extra frequent however shorter breaks. Whereas I would cease for an hour’s lunch when mountain climbing in hotter months, in winter, it’s not often longer than 10 -Quarter-hour until it’s a heat day.

And keep in mind, you continue to must hydrate, even in case you don’t really feel thirsty. So drink one thing each time you cease for a break.

taking a shorter breaks when winter hiking

Extra Winter Climbing Gear

Along with your fundamental mountain climbing gear, you’ll additionally wish to convey: 

6) Select the Proper Footwear – Boots with Good Traction + Microspikes and Snowshoes for Snow and Ice

snowshoes for winter hiking

As talked about above, you’ll wish to be certain that your boots are waterproof. Additionally, be certain that they’ve a very good tread that can present steady footing when traversing snow drifts or strolling on icy trails.

The opposite important merchandise you must all the time carry when mountain climbing in winter are microspikes. These match over your boot and supply additional traction on icy surfaces and when going up steep slopes. 

Relying on the kind of winter hike you’re doing, you might also wish to convey snowshoes. It actually depends upon whether or not you’re mountain climbing on a groomed path or mountain climbing on a path that might have deep snow.

I convey my snowshoes on virtually each winter hike and infrequently put on them for simply a part of the hike when the snow begins to get deep. One of many issues I really like about mountain climbing in winter is that you just typically don’t know whether or not you’ll be mountain climbing or snowshoeing, which retains it attention-grabbing.

7) Use Trekking Poles on Winter Hikes

use trekking poles on winter hikes

You should use common mountain climbing poles, so long as they’ve snow baskets, which preserve them from sinking into the snow.

I really like utilizing trekking poles at any time of the 12 months, however particularly on winter hikes since they supply additional stability and traction on icy terrain.

8) Convey a Pair of Gaiters

winter hiking with gaiters

Gaiters match over your boots and are available as much as slightly below your knee. They’re water resistant and assist preserve snow out, which is very helpful once you’re mountain climbing in deep snow. Plus, they supply an additional layer of heat. 

Staying Protected Whereas Climbing in Winter

9) Don’t Hike Alone – go together with a HIking Buddy or with a Group

winter hiking with group of friends

Whereas I really like mountain climbing alone, I don’t do it in winter until I’m not going very far and am entering into a well-liked space.

The additional dangers of slipping on ice, chilly publicity, and getting caught in altering climate circumstances like a blizzard imply it’s a lot safer to go in a bunch.

Additionally, be careful for indicators of hypothermia in your mountain climbing buddies. These embrace shivering, slurred speech, and confusion.

Should you or somebody in your group begins to exhibit these signs, search shelter and heat up instantly. If that’s not attainable, then flip round.

Overlook about reaching your vacation spot. Winter mountain climbing requires extra flexibility than mountain climbing at different occasions of the 12 months. You and your mountain climbing buddy’s security is way extra vital than reaching your vacation spot.

10) Be Ready for Emergencies and Carry a First Assist Package, Headlamp, Whistle, Fireplace Starter and a Thermal Blanket

Which may seem to be lots, however I carry that in my backpack always,e even in summer season, excluding the hearth starter. Probably the most appreciable threat of winter mountain climbing is hypothermia.

What in case you slipped, twisted your knee and couldn’t stroll? Whereas a knee harm is annoying, it’s now change into life-threatening in case you get hypothermia.

Having the above objects will assist preserve you protected. You will discover extra data about every of those in our winter mountain climbing gear put up.

11) Keep away from Climbing in Extreme Climate Situations

winter hiking in severe weather conditions

Test the climate forecast within the space you’re going to, not within the metropolis you’re coming from. You’ll discover the mountain forecast is commonly a lot completely different and extra excessive than within the metropolis.

You additionally should be ready for sudden adjustments in climate circumstances, which might occur in a short time in winter, particularly within the mountains.

Watch the sky and in case you discover a drop in temperature or a rise in wind velocity or heavy snow, cease your hike and switch round instantly.

12) Begin Your Hike Early within the Day So You’ll Have Extra Daylight Hours 

When mountain climbing in winter, you may have much less daylight to hike in, so reap the benefits of the daylight by beginning early. You also needs to know when the solar goes down.

Plan to complete your winter hike one hour earlier than then to keep away from getting caught on the path after darkish and to offer your self additional time. Along with a lot much less visibility, chilly temperatures actually set in when the solar goes down.

13) Keep on the Marked Climbing Path to Keep away from Getting Misplaced

Whereas I really like exploring and going off the path when mountain climbing in summer season,  winter isn’t the time to do it due to the elevated dangers. You’ll wish to follow a well-marked path. Search for one which’s well-liked in winter as effectively.

Take a look at our Banff Winter Hikes so that you just’ll see different hikers in case you run into points and want somebody to assist.

hiking in a snowy trail on winter

14) Know If the Path is Maintained in Winter Earlier than You Begin Your Hike

It’s vital to know the present path circumstances. Some winter trails are maintained, particularly these in nationwide or provincial parks. Which means they’ll have packed snow which is far simpler to navigate and simpler to hike on than an ungroomed mountain climbing path

Different trails aren’t, so you might be making recent tracks. Additionally, with out a seen path, it’s a lot simpler to get misplaced.

Should you’re not but an skilled winter hiker, then solely select mountain climbing trails which are maintained in winter. After getting extra expertise, you possibly can enterprise off onto much less explored trails.

And keep in mind, mountain circumstances change rapidly, so simply because there wasn’t a variety of snow final weekend, doesn’t imply that there received’t be this weekend. 

15) At all times Have a Bodily Path Map of Your Winter Hike

Whereas I really like utilizing GPS to map out my hike, telephones can freeze rapidly in chilly circumstances and cease working or make your battery run out rapidly. Obtain no matter routes you want beforehand so that you’ve them offline and put your cellphone in airplane mode.

At all times have a paper path map along with your route clearly marked as a backup. I like to recommend this at any time of the 12 months, however particularly when mountain climbing 

easy hikes on winter

16) Select an Simpler Hike within the Colder Months Than You Would in Summer season

Climbing in winter is far more tough than in summer season, particularly if there’s a variety of snow, which makes every step tougher, or if there’s ice, which makes every step slower, so select a neater hike to begin with.

Even in case you’re in nice form and frequently do 6-hour hikes, you might discover that it’s too lengthy within the chilly.

17) Plan For the Sudden On Your Winter Hike

There have been many extra occasions that I’ve needed to flip round in winter and never attain my vacation spot than there have been once I was mountain climbing in summer season.

Don’t be afraid to take action. Whereas it’s regular to be chilly once you first begin mountain climbing, in case you’re nonetheless chilly after 10 minutes, flip round. Don’t proceed.

You may additionally discover there’s extra snow than anticipated, or a much bigger threat of an avalanche than anticipated, or {that a} path you thought was maintained isn’t.

When mountain climbing in winter, you’ll typically must adapt your plan. Bear in mind, it’s extra vital to be protected than to succeed in a lake or a peak.

laurel on a short break during unexpected weather

18) Concentrate on Avalanche Hazard When Climbing in Mountainous Areas

You must keep away from mountain climbing in avalanche-prone areas until you’re educated and geared up to deal with them. Should you’re uncertain, then hike at a provincial, state or nationwide park when you possibly can verify in and ask which areas are protected earlier than you begin mountain climbing.

It’s additionally a good suggestion to take an avalanche consciousness course in order that you become familiar with what to search for and what to do in case you do get caught in a single whereas winter mountain climbing.

19) Search for Indicators of Wildlife

look for wildlife tracks on your hike

One of many nice issues about mountain climbing in winter is that wildlife tracks are a lot simpler to see. Should you see there are recent deer tracks; you possibly can preserve going. Nonetheless, in case you discover recent cougar tracks, you must flip round.

It’s unlikely; nonetheless, it has occurred to me on two hikes within the Canadian Rockies. Luckily, I rotated and prevented working into the cougar on the path.

20) Inform Somebody the Title of Your Climbing Path

Earlier than I head out on a winter hike, even when I’m going with a mountain climbing buddy, I all the time inform somebody the place I’m going and once I’m anticipating to return. I inform them the title of the hike I’m doing and ship them the GPS tracks of the hike to make it simpler to search out me.

With a stable security plan in place, it would give each myself and people at house peace of thoughts as I discover the outside.

leave no trace when winter hiking

21) Depart No Hint

This is applicable once you’re mountain climbing at any time of the 12 months, however bears repeating. Pack out what you pack in. That features no matter trash or meals waste you generate whereas mountain climbing, even natural meals waste, like an apple core.

Not solely is it thoughtful of different hikers who might observe behind you, however it additionally helps preserve our trails clear. You possibly can see the seven rules right here.


Winter mountain climbing is a good way to get some train and revel in the fantastic thing about the season, however it’s vital to be ready.

These 21 suggestions for hikes in snow and chilly climate will enable you keep protected and cozy so you possibly can concentrate on having fun with your hike.

For extra info, take a look at our put up on winter mountain climbing gear.

Tips for Hiking in Snow and Cold Weather


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