Snuggling up to the Big Chill

| August 4, 2008

Note: I will be in Boulder, CO attending a Serac Advenure Films class until Tuesday and have limited computer access.

You don’t have to love the cold to be a ski mountaineer, but it definitely helps.  At the very least, try to fake it.  As much as anything, cold is a state of mind and in that regard, you have some control over it.  Look at the positive side of being cold; it means you are alive, it means you are probably in the mountains, it means that your nerve endings are working, and it means the snow is also cold, which in turn means it will probably be good skiing.  It also means you aren’t sweltering in the heat of a flat, sandy desert.  See, there are all sorts of advantages to being cold!

Ben Ditto enjoying a brisk, early morning start.
Ben Ditto enjoying a brisk, early morning start.

Fighting cold is counterproductive and it is far better to accept it (even love it if you can) and realize that this is a small price to pay for ski mountaineering. The state of being cold is a mindset that can toyed with – convince yourself that that burning feeling is actually heat, not frostbite.  This usually works for about ten seconds, but by doing it multiple times and continually moving, you will gradually warm up to operating temperature and lose the cold anxiety.

Your main source of heat is your body, so make sure it has plenty of fuel to burn in the form of calories.  Cold is an excellent appetite suppressor, which can make it hard to eat.  The last thing you want to do when you are freezing is to stop, get even colder and then chow down a big cold lunch.  Instead, keep the inner fires going with constant grazing on pocket food, like bars, GORP, jerky or cheese.  Think of it as burning kindling, and save the big logs/calories for breakfast and dinner when you are nice and warm.

Tomorrow: drenching cold

Help support and get 15% off on an ultra-toasty Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero SL Hooded Down Jacket from! Click the photo below…



Category: 08 Adversity

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (2)

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  1. Polly says:

    what about coffee?

  2. Brian says:

    Well I like the idea of convincing myself that the cold is just a state of mind. I promise to give it a try this winter but I’m not quite sure that it will work! :)

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