Summer is too hot for climbing. Here’s what to do.

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As I was writing this article, end of July [2017], it was a fiery 95 degrees, with no thunderstorm relief on the western horizon and with a cruel yellow sun blazing in an ozone hazy Front Range sky. I sat in my basement, tucked away, where it was 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the house, shirt off, sweating as I typed. The dog could barely bother to lift his head when his kibble clacked in his bowl at dinner, and the kittens had curled up under the sofa in a room where it was the coolest and darkest, leaving the spiders and mosquitoes crawling all over them because it was too much effort to lift a paw and swat.

I know, I get it: it’s 115 degrees where you live and 200% humidity, and you go out climbing Yum-Yum Heights in the sun anyway with a headband and two wristbands, and a towel wrapped around your waist where your chalk bag belt usually goes so you can blot sweat at the knee pad Pinklydink head wall (5.13c). So why don’t I, Colorado wimp that I am, with my dry heat and 90 degree temps, shut up and go out for a few pitches in the evening?

I’ll tell you why: Because after 30 years in the sport, I know better.

Climbers have long been smitten with Sendtember, when the air turns cold and plans crumble. But very little attention has been paid to what leads up to it, the heart of summer, namely the still, hot, sweltering, endless doldrums of July, when only the craziest or most motivated bother to climb.

That’s right, the hottest new month is “Don’t Try July,” when your best bet is to do as little as possible so you don’t be a bunch of burnt, exhausted, dehydrated human beef once in August. rolls with its crisp mornings that presage the arrival of autumn. And so you’ll still be motivated to climb once fall is here and the good climbing season begins.

So remember, kids, there can be no Sendtember or Rocktober without Don’t-Try July. Yes, July of this year will soon be over, but there will be other Julys and, let’s face it, August still kind of sucks.

A climber digs tunnels inside the rock to escape the summer heat. Photo: Andrew Burr

Four signs it’s too hot to climb

  1. You drank all your water on the approach, before you even started to climb. Your joints need to be hydrated to function properly. if you can’t stay hydrated at the cliff you risk pinching your fingers and knuckles And even if you can carry enough water the sheer weight of H2O in your pack will wear you down en route to the cliffs and you will be a dishcloth on the rock – unless you have a corpulent sub-human with bandaged legs, Heinrich, to do the schlepping while he holds a giant parasol above your person: Heinrich, schnell, schnell! These six gallon jugs aren’t going to carry over to the Pipe Dream! If you’re a good boy, I’ll give you another yoghurt-covered “Sports Pretzl.”
  2. Even departures at 5 am are not enough. You’ve set your alarm clock for 4:30 a.m., swallowed some cereal and a cup of coffee, and you’re still feeling seasick, dizzy, and overall terrible. And yet, somehow, in the next hour or two, you’re supposed to climb the hardest? It doesn’t matter that it’s already 80 degrees at 6 o’clock in the morning: today, the project falls through. Yes, this time it will be different. Maybe there will be a light breeze or a cold front or…. Not! It’s hot, okay. Really fucking hot. Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot! So go back to bed and cuddle with Teddy Ruxpin and write haiku and cry sad, salty tears in your workout log. This shit doesn’t happen, hoss.
  3. Any metal stray in the sun or any black clothing or climbing gear is too hot to touch. Not that you should be climbing in the sun in July anyway, but if you do, it’s way too hot to climb. The only time your belay carabiner should be too hot to grab is when it’s fresh out of the forge or when you’re slashing your partner’s penalty speed after an explosive tussle in front of a crowd on Tuesday night. at the rock gym.
  4. It is a day of the month that falls between June 30 and August 1 on the calendar. Which would mean it’s a day in July. Which, as we all know by now, is “Don’t try July”.

“So what can a motivated climber do instead?” you ask. Good question. Some ideas :

  • Remove four letter notes from your climbing ability. Seriously, do. You’ll expend so much energy trying to grab the proj with your sweaty, slippery skin while your rock shoes click and roll with every take that there’s no way you’re sending. Or, at the very least, you risk serious injury. Do you like having fingers and shoulders that still work in August? Then release the gas and embrace mediocrity. I did this years ago and it’s like coming home – as warm and comforting as peeing in the hot tub when no one is looking.
  • Go to the rock gym. Make sure they have good air conditioning and (if you can) go out after hours, so other customers don’t overwhelm all your precious fresh air with their creamy, hard July bodies. As soon as you feel a bead of sweat on your forehead, gently wipe it off with a soft towel (or have Heinrich do it), stop climbing, and go.
  • Go to the high country. If you have alpine crags or bouldering near you, now is the time. Line up with god-loving, country-loving Murikans on America’s scenic, winding, jam-packed alpine roads. The mountains are for everyone, even this guy in an F-950 pulling a 60 foot motorhome pulling a jeep, two jet skis and four dirt bikes who goes up to 20 mph and doesn’t let anyone pass because this would be an affront to his masculinity as symbolized by the pair of shiny chrome truck nuts hanging just below his personalized “FEARIT” license plate.
  • Netflix and chill. The “and chill” part, and who you chill with, is up to you.
  • Rest. It’s true, I said it: take time. A week or even two can do the body good and can even breathe new life into tired, tired muscles and joints. Hell, it may even improve your attitude – before you end up like me, hot, bitter, exhausted and writing sarcastic columns in a damp, dark basement while you wait Don’t-Try July to Just-Up- and -Die.

High Life: 5 alpine bouldering destinations

Virginia F. Goins