Cold Weather Climbing

The last couple years in Colorado I’ve been able to climb every month of the year – including the coldest months of January and February. Colorado, for those not from here, actually has a fairly mild winter in comparison to our more northern neighbors, such as Minnesota and Illinois.

I remember walking down the street on a frigid Chicago February, and I thought I was freezing until I turned the corner on Wacker drive, and felt the bitter cold wind coming off the Chicago River. I saw people bundled up in what looked like the Chicago version of space suits, never seeing such thick coats on the ski areas of Colorado!

In Colorado, sunny days of 45-55 (and above!) can be quite common, giving us a needed break with several Indian Summers. And with the sun reflecting off the rocks it can feel 10-15 degrees warmer!

Now, 45 degrees Fahrenheit may seem cold, and it can be, once you factor in wind chill and when you are in shade, but when I see 45 degrees and sunny on the forecast – I start looking to where to climb!

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Some criteria:

  • 45 degrees and above. Warmer is always better, but at least 45 degrees (for me)
  • Sunny crag. Needs a Southern facing wall, with no overhanging wall that shades the climbs.
  • Under 10 mph winds. I prefer 5mph or less, but I sometimes can tolerate higher winds if I can find a more sheltered canyon-type spot.

Places to go in Colorado

Colorado has some fine places to go climb that are fairly close to downtown Denver.

Brad is enjoying the December sun. 50 degrees and sunny!

Golden, CO

Clear Creek

All of the following crags are where I direct folks to go during the Winter months

Clear Creek Canyon

Table Mountain

North Table Mountain guide book

Plenty of sunny climbing at Table Mountain, a classic Colorado Winter crag. Some of the routes have been climbed since the 70’s, so beware of some glossed out holds on the lower grades.

Canon City, CO

Shelf Road comes into it’s own in the Winter, and that’s where many in the Denver Metro area go to climb that’s relatively close by (3 hrs).

Shelf Road guide book

New Mexico, yo!

A little further are the Northern New Mexico climbs. I haven’t been to the Santa Fe and Taos area climbs, but I’ve heard they are pretty good.

I have climbed near Los Alamos, in the Jemez  Valley and El Rito for conglomerate rock. Those are little higher in elevation, so may not be as suitable for Winter climbing.

But a fine Summer destination is the Overlook, a Southern facing cliff that overlooks the Rio Grande river. Gets good sun all year, which makes it particularly good for the Winter.


Rock Climbing New Mexico

I’ve been eyeing Las Cruces, NM. 10 hour drive from Denver, near the Texas, Mexico border. Everything from multi-pitch trad, bolted sport and bouldering here. Haven’t been – looking for beta if you have some!

Rap cliffs, not gifts! (Other Critters, December 10, 2016)


Best Climbs Moab

Never climbed in Moab during the Winter, but I do see folks in my FB feed climbing the cracks at and around Moab in the Winter months.

Mexico, yo!

This December, I will be traveling to Old Mexico – El Potrero Chico in the North Central area of Mexico. Hundreds of limestone bolted sport routes with easy approaches and friendly locals with good Mexican food. How can that be beat?

Potrero Select

The Whole Enchilada

Further East?

Asia climbing is on my radar, but will have to wait a bit for funds, but the Vietnam and Thailand climbing are things I want to explore – and soon!

Ha Long Bay Climbing

Thailand – A climbing Guide

Let me know in the comments below where your favorite Winter climbing is located!


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