September and October climbing in New England can produce some of the best conditions of the year – no bugs, no humidity, and good temperature for friction. When November rolls around, we frequently have a dead zone where the ice has not yet formed and it’s a little cold for rock climbing. Though I and many others have ventured out on those colder days, I frequently question whether or not the climbing is worth the discomfort. This November, however, I have found the conditions fantastic! Many of the days at Rumney have been sunny and in the 40s, affording us the opportunity to climb in minimal gear and much less suffering.
Belaying in a short-sleeved shirt in November, and I’m not the only one!
Even with the warmer temps, I have found that a few factors help improve my enjoyment and productivity during the day: get a nice warm up, bring a range of cold weather clothes, and find a sunny crag.
Steve on the first pitch of the classic Rock du Jour
Especially in the cold, I have found that warming up helps to prevent injury and also gets me in a good mindset for the day. Sometimes I take a second lap on a route I have dialed; other times I go down an extra grade for the first route or two. In addition to feeling a little more in the groove, the sun has some time to warm up the rock.
Katie entering the crux of Sweet Polly Purebred
Eric heading for the “secret” hold on Underdog
While it has been warm enough some days to climb at the main cliff in a t-shirt, one does need to be prepared for colder temperatures. I have three staples in my late fall wardrobe: the Mammut Kala Patter Tech Jacket, an excellent mid-weight hooded layer that fits under my harness but stretches when I climb; the Mammut Pokiok jacket, a light softshell that blocks the wind and helps insulate me when I hike or climb (and I am amazed at how many layers I have fit underneath it and it still works great), and the Broad Peak Hooded Jacket, a recent addition to my wardrobe.
The Broad Peak is light and packs down to a small bundle, making it easy to fit into my backpack, and it is warm. It fits over my other layers when I belay, and keeps me from cooling down too much before getting back on the rock.
Art rockin’ the Broad Peak Hooded Jacket
Once the leaves fall from the trees, several Rumney crags get more sun than usual. As a result, the options for climbing on sunny days at Rumney increase.
Art starting up Sky Pilot
While 40s and 50s might sound cold, getting outside at a sunny crag allows you to leave the long johns at home. We have a limited number of these warm days left, so I plan to take advantage of them!
Hard to believe that there are so few cars in the small lot on a Friday.