Health Interview with Fitness Trainer Tasha Price

In today's culture, fitness is everywhere. From 10 minute abs, 21 day this to a month of that, there certainly exists a highly saturated world of fitness. What has intrigued me about this subculture is the immense variety. There is a regime out there for anyone and everyone.

Tasha Price has been a personal trainer for nearly 10 years and leads the Shasta Rock Club fitness classes. Recently, we caught up to chat about her passion for people, fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. One of the most thought-provoking elements of our conversation revolved around people's relationship with “working out.” Her insights on physical activity were curiously liberating and even caused me to reflect on how I define working out. Check out some of our conversation:

Q. Why do you workout?

A. I focus on immediate benefits and long term benefits. The immediate benefits of working out are increased energy, confidence and peace. It gives me an outlet to clear my mind, which allows room for creative ideas and simply feeling more connected to myself.

Our body is worth investing in. It is the vehicle that takes us through our day and different seasons of life. When we take a few moments each day to walk, move, jump and get our heart rate up, not only does it kickstart the day, but also provides momentum for tomorrow.

Q. What does “working out” mean to you?

A. Working out can mean so many different things. It's not just going to the gym and doing so many reps or rounds of a movement. Although that style is great, working out can mean just purposed movement in your day. Riding a bike, walking the dog, playing frisbee or even just doing intentional stretching after dinner. Physical activity is meant to be fun! Often times people have a poor relationship with “working out” because they associate it with a negative experience. Pain or punishment are common thoughts surrounding physical activity, whether from a sport in high school to trying to lose weight.

This is huge. Redefining what it means to “work out” is a big step in taking the pressure off of ourselves. It is essential we have a healthy relationship with how we view physical activity. What if we were successful each day in our attempt to work out, simply by looking through a different lens?

Q. What do you do to motivate yourself when you don't feel like working out?

A. First of all, I have a good relationship with physical exercise. I give myself permission to stop after 5 minutes if I am just not feeling it. Fitness isn't punishment and you shouldn't feel slave to it. I focus on the immediate benefits. Feeling great, clear and peaceful are at the forefront of my mind, instead of dwelling on the negatives.

Permission to quit after 5 minutes?! This was a foreign concept to me. Wouldn't you just stop every day after 5 minutes? What about pushing through the pain and enduring no matter the cost? But the more I talked to Tasha, the more I realized she genuinely loved physical activity. Especially when it involved other people.

Q. What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone who is going after a fitness goal?

A. Feeling unmotivated, facing obstacles, and asking “is this even worth it?,” is completely normal! It is easy to identify what is challenging, and often times difficult to focus on the positives. Embrace the good of the journey. The change that takes place while going after a goal is just as important as the end result. Also, keep it light and fun! Invite a friend, get plugged into a community and don't take yourself too seriously.

The process of moving toward a goal is transforming. It's not just about standing atop your fitness goal mountain and waiving the flag of victory, but all of the smaller victories preceding that moment. Keep your eyes on the step in front of you, and before you know it, the top will be near.

Q. Speaking of goals, what have you been able to achieve due to living a healthy and fit lifestyle?

A. I actually had the opportunity to run a marathon in place of a cross country coach who had cancer, which was an incredible experience! When I was in the Air Force Boot Camp, I received the “Top Athlete” award out of men and women which was a huge honor. Prioritizing my health and physical fitness has allowed me to seize a variety of opportunities. When I started rock climbing, I quickly realized many movements from my training background translated really well to being on the wall.

Tasha mentioned something that struck a chord in me. Through these endeavors, she learned perseverance. By engaging physically with the world around us, an inner muscle also gets strengthened, giving us the courage to face our daily obstacles.

Q. So I've got to ask, what is your least favorite type of working out?

A. Iso-metric movements!! Planking or anything of that nature I just don't enjoy!

Okay cool, she is human.

Q. What can people expect from SRC's fitness classes?

A. Lots of variety! Our goal is to create an upbeat and positive atmosphere that incorporates many styles of fitness. Working out should be fun, and it's even better when you are doing it with a community of people who care. The programming is diverse and aims to help people improve their rock climbing, but also for anyone just wanting to develop their overall fitness level. From strength and endurance, to power and game-style workouts, the classes will have something for everyone.

Backpacking Essentials

Have you ever embarked on a backpacking, camping, business or family trip and quickly realize you forgot something? Something important...maybe essential to your experience? I certainly have. Not only has it happened, but seemingly inevitable that it will occur again. Unfortunately, when the light bulb moment occurs, it's too late. You've gone too far. You are past the point of no return. That elusive something you left behind is missing out on the adventure, or adding to it, for that matter.

Eight miles into the heart of the Trinity Alps, I experienced one of these 'light bulb' moments. The socks, underwear, and gloves that I had meticulously laid out, folded, and prepared for the journey had been left behind. I could only imagine what they were up too. Enjoying the warmth, security, and cleanliness of my home, while I was left swampy sweaty by day and crazy cold by night. Granted clean underwear and dry socks aren't a necessity, but they do provide a much-needed morale boost. Not to mention, keep my travel companions from wanting to barbecue me along with the fresh caught trout.

Preparing for an adventure often times feels like a puzzling math problem. By the time you shove everything you deem “necessary” into your pack, you are left carrying half of your house into the mountains. Trust me, I have learned this the hard way. Raw, rosy-red shoulders have told the tale of overpacking. The great outdoors have a way of simplifying life. The comforts of everyday living don't always translate to campfire chats and breathtaking views. They don't need to. Experiences out in the wilderness offer a different type of comfort; one that is lasting and significant. Leave your favorite body wash, designer cologne, and fluffy pillow at home. Don't worry, they will be there waiting for you when you return, ask my socks and underwear.

The following is by no means an encyclopedic list of gear, but a few essentials I recommend for your next backpacking/camping trip:

  • Socks & Underwear :)

  • Headlamp/Flashlight (Bring extra batteries)

  • Map, Compass & Whistle

  • Sunscreen, Chapstick & Sunglasses

  • Insulation and Layers (Hats, gloves, jacket, pants, base layer)

  • First Aid Kit

  • Waterproof Matches

  • Duct Tape

  • Multi-Tool & Knife

  • Water Bottle/Bladder

  • Water Filter or other treatment system

  • Fishing Pole (optional)

  • Backpack

  • Tent or Bivy

  • Emergency Reflective Blanket/Bivy

  • Sleeping Bag

  • Sleeping Pad (really nice to have)

  • Meals (+ a day)

  • Energy Snack (bars, trail mix, chews)

  • Stove & Fuel

  • Cook-set, Scrubber, Dishes & Utensils

  • Bear Canister (If applicable)

  • 50' Nylon Chord (Hanging food)

  • Pen & Paper (Write down those inspiring thoughts!)

  • Trash bags

  • Bug Spray

  • Biodegradable All-Purpose Soap

  • Toothbrush/toiletry kit

  • Quick Drying Towel

  • Cell Phone

  • Moleskin

  • A post-adventure cold one :)

Note: Always let a friend or family member know when you are heading out into the woods. Give them a copy of your itinerary and a time they can expect you to return!

Written by: Alex Wittmer 

Summer Bucklet List for Families

Summer may be seen as time to relax - but tell that to the kids bouncing off the walls with energy or yelling, "I'm bored." As parents, we want to create valuable memories with our children while showing them the beauty of the world around us. Sometimes the thought of taking kids on a backpacking trip or a climbing trip feels stressful, fear can creep in and motivate parents to choose the easy route, rather than taking the adventurous and fun endeavor that requires more effort. 

Exposing kids to outdoor activities at a young age will help foster an appreciation for adventure that will last generations. Research has shown that children that play outside are healthier, happier and stronger. Some of the health benefits include: Improves Vision, Increases Attention Span, Provides Vitamin D and Reduces Stress. Most importantly it creates an opportunity for family connection; the memories created are priceless and are worth the investment. 

Here are some great ideas to get you started.

1. Whiskeytown Lake - Located outside of Redding on 299 West, Whiskeytown is a great destination for the whole family. From beaches, swimming areas, rope swings and camping to fishing, boating and waterfall hikes, Whiskeytown alone has enough to explore for the whole summer. Pack a swimsuit, a picnic and plan to spend lots of hours on the water.

We Recommend taking a moonlight kayaking tour around the lake or renting a Stand-Up Paddle board at Brandy Creek. 

2. Enterprise Park - Centrally located in Redding off of Victor Ave, Enterprise Park is a great place with many great options including Disc Golf, Soccer Fields, Picnic Pavilion, Basketball Courts, Shaded Children Play Area, and Outdoor Roller Hockey. Lots to choose from and plenty of shady trees for reading a book or taking a nap.

We Recommend packing a cooler of water balloons and having a good old fashion water balloon fight. Don't forget the sunscreen, favorite lunch and lots of water. 

3. Lake Shasta Caverns - Roughly 20 mins north of Redding just off the I-5, this family-filled activity includes a scenic boat ride across Lake Shasta and an impressive tour of the limestone caves. Plan on spending at least 2 hours at the Caverns which include the boat and bus ride.

We Recommend renting a catamaran and spending half the day cruising & swimming on the lake. Cost is $26 for adults and $15 for kids (3-15 years old). For more information visit: lakeshastacaverns.com

4. The Sacramento River Trail - Located in the heart of Redding, alongside the beautiful and refreshing Sacramento River, this is considered the "crown jewel" of the Redding trail system. Offering almost 18 miles of paved trail from the Sundial Bridge to the Shasta Dam, there are lots of options for running, walking, and biking along this stunning river which includes the Sun Dial Bridge, Lake Redding Park and Caldwell Park.

We Recommend riding bikes across the Sundial Bridge and Shasta Dam. Both bike rides offer breath-taking beauty. 

5. Lassen Volcanic National Park - Located about 1.5 hours east of Redding, there is an north entrance from the 44 or a south entrance from I-5. This National Park has it all: camping, hiking, lakes, swimming, fishing, waterfalls, star-gazing, horseback riding, backpacking, snowshoeing and skiing to name a few. With over 150 miles of hiking trails, day hiking and backpacking are some of the most popular summer activities.

We Recommend camping at one of the lakes and doing day trips around the park. If you plan it well, hike to the summit of Lassen Peak during a full moon. Enjoy the lunar-lit environment. 

 

Northern California Summer Bucket List

Growing up in Ohio, my understanding of mountains was limited. Seriously. My interpretation of a “mountain” as a kid was the large pile of snow created by my father's plow, or Sand Hill Cemetery, which towered a staggering 32 feet above the road. Regardless of my limited experience with actual peaks and pitches, it didn't stop me from doodling mountains on the top of every school assignment. They spoke of distant lands, crystal clear alpine lakes and beautiful forests. Certainly void of endless corn fields and flatlands. Don't get me wrong, there is beauty in rolling pastures and seas of livestock, but my heart was seeking scenery with a different texture.

Five years ago I moved to Redding, California. When you say you are moving to California to a fellow Ohioan, a common response often includes white sandy beaches, surfing or meeting a Hollywood superstar. My research of Redding prior to my trek across the country almost guaranteed none of the above, but I was up for the adventure. As we were descending down route 44 toward the city in a 27-foot, jam packed moving truck, something spectacular caught my eye; Mount Shasta. My heart nearly flew out of my chest. Piercing through the sky and making her presence known, this was a serious mountain. My father's snow “mountains” paled in comparison to the peak still covered in powder despite the triple digit temperatures in the middle of August. At this point I realized I was home.

Redding, California 

Redding, California 

Lakes, rivers, a volcanic national park and a 14,000 foot mountain within a hour's drive and the Pacific Ocean only three hours away? Unreal. I quickly discovered something about Redding; it hardly ever rains. With over 300 days of sunshine, the opportunity for outdoor exploration is nearly endless. In Ohio, all plans were tentative at best. One day it could be 70 degrees and sunny only to wake up with 6 inches of snow and your car door frozen shut the following morning. But where to start? It seemed that any direction I drove I was bound to discover more of the beauty hidden in Northern California.

Backpacking in the Trinity Alps Wilderness // Grizzly Falls 

Backpacking in the Trinity Alps Wilderness // Grizzly Falls 

Fast forward five years and my fair share of adventures, I have only scratched the surface of my own backyard. We live in one of the most diverse, unique and awe-inspiring regions in the entire country. Although I have just begun, here are a handful of my favorite destinations and adventures in Northern California I recommend you add to your summer bucket list:

  • Backpack to Grizzly Lake in The Trinity Alps Wilderness

  • Swim at Potem Falls

  • Snow Shoe up Broke-off Mountain in Lassen Volcanic National Park

  • Climb Mount Shasta

  • Backpack the Lost Coast Trail

  • Float down the Sacramento River on an air mattress or tube

  • Climb the Oceanside Boulders at Moonstone Beach

  • Star Gaze at the top of Shasta Bally

  • Explore the granite spires of Castle Crags

  • Mountain bike the Swasey Recreation Trails

  • Bike the River Trail to Shasta Dam

Written by: Alex Wittmer

Photos: Alex Wittmer & Josh Huth 

Shasta Rock Club Update

Hi Climbers,

Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful spring weather! It has been in our heart to give an update on our expansion project. We have been hoping for concrete, positive news to communicate, however here is a look into the progress of our next steps...  

The Building: Over the past month, we have been negotiating with an organization about collaborating and leasing 5,000 sqft of their building. The space was in a great location and would suit SRC quite well, however today we received news that this opportunity was not best for their vision. Although we are disappointed, we believe doors close for a reason, and a better option is around the corner.

Plan B: In the meantime, we made an offer on another building, which is also in a great location. Today we will be submitting a counter offer, and expect to hear back fairly soon.

Our Goal: To open our doors as soon as possible, but more importantly, build SRC to last. We are looking for a building that will give us the opportunity to grow and thrive now and in the future. Finding what’s best for now, may not be what’s best in 10 years. Thank you for being patient with us in the midst of this project. Your support and encouragement has been appreciated and received!  

We are committed to improving Shasta Rock Club. Our team will continue to refine our systems, upgrade our programs, and embrace exciting changes for when our doors open again. We are viewing this time as a blessing in disguise. Be on the lookout for events, as we aim to keep the community connected and the momentum going. We are stoked to climb with you again soon!

Much love,

Shasta Rock Club  

 

A Picture Worth a Couple Words

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This whole trip to Smith Rock was about capturing one picture: the picture on the cover of the Smith Rock climbing guide book. The more I climb these days the more I want to capture the experiences of being on the rock. I want people to feel the exposure high above the ground, to grimace with me in the finger cracks, feel the awe of beautiful scenery, and share in triumph at the top of the mountain.

We had no idea what getting this picture was going to entail, but adding this goal to our climbing just added an extra dimension of awesomeness.

So we looked at the topos, did the research, and concluded that it was out of our league, but we were going to do it anyway. The last pitch was harder trad than I had ever done, and the rest of the climb was barely within my ability, and the romanticism of the project was too much to pass up. Even the route name: Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, was a sign that we had to push the limits.

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Before I knew it, the rack was biting into my shoulder, the metal was clinking against my thigh, and I was leaving the ground with thunderous excitement. The sun was basking us in power. As I looked up at the monolithic rock towering above us, I could not wait to be a speck on the exposed face high high above.
This piece of rock was impressive. The shadowed face way above looked down on me like a parent, and I was the feeble child clawing my way to the top.

At the top of the second pitch I thought we were going to quit.

The climbing was hard. A plethora of curses floated up to me from my follower. I had just climbed on this rock a week prior but my partner had not. It's takes some mileage before your feet remember how to stand on nubbins the size of a pea. The rock was spitting him out like sour milk, but he kept coming. He churned past each crux and cloved into the anchor, breathless. I was ready to setup the rap-rings, and head back to the ground. I had already said "good game."

Nonsense! Ryan was ready to tackle this thing even if it took him to the vet. I said vet because he had just become a beast, and we would need an animal doctor.

I'm pretty sure I was shaking on the fourth pitch. The sun had gone behind the hill and an icy wind was kicking up. I don't know if I was quaking from the excitement or the cold. The fourth pitch was a beautiful line up slightly overhanging flakes with only awed spectators hundred of feet below. As i pulled through the crux and traversed over air to reach the next chains, I felt the last euphoric thrill of the climb.

I slowly froze at that fourth belay station. I wasn't smart enough to bring pants, and sitting on that exposed arete the wind started thrashing hard. The blood drained from my fingers, my toes were going numb, the freezing wind was ripping through me, and I was ready to be done with this climb. 

The final pitch was the crux pitch, and I think I could say I was miserable as I hobbled off the belay ledge. I plugged a cam with frozen fingers and prepared myself to pull the roof crux. I heaved over the bulge and reached high for a rattly finger jam. I desperately reached for my gear and wedged myself insecurely between two slabs. The wind was roaring and trying to pull me off the rock. I yelled breathlessly in anger and fear, cursing the wind and the cold and my own anxiety. I placed my gear, crossed my fingers, and yelled "TAKE."

I hung on the rope, Ryan groaned from the harness constricting his nether-region, we were both in pain. I wasn't sure if this was fun anymore. "Last pitch" I had to remind myself. I pulled, flailed, and jammed my way up the crack. I climbed like a human being recovering from a stroke, but eventually I heaped myself onto the ledge with the chains. I pulled on them like a prisoner trying to break free, and I caught my breath.

When Ryan gained the ledge with me, the last thing we wanted to do was re-climb that pitch and get pictures. It was some kind of self-abuse, but in retrospect it was our penance to get the photo. We set up the top-rope and I rappelled down. We hauled that camera up 600 feet, we couldn't leave without using it. I climbed/ cheated my way back up the rock, and he shot me with tired fingers. 

The top of the rock wasn't the vacation we hoped for. The wind gustedlike a monster and we had to leave quick. After many difficult rappels, the rope getting stuck once, and some sketchy down-climbing, we were high-fiving with bloody and black hands on the ground. It did feel good. We were rewarded by walking back to camp next to Tommy Caldwell, wondering if he could tell how badass we just were. 

Written by Kyle Sherby

Photos by Ryan Thompson & Kyle Sherby

Adventure Awaits

Photo: Ryan Thompson

Photo: Ryan Thompson

There is a fine line between adventure as a hobby and adventure as a lifestyle. Over the past few years, I have observed the growing emergence of individuals who feel “called” to the outdoors as a lifestyle.  In the eyes of most, it seems irresponsible, maybe even slightly ridiculous. What about the pursuit of security, a career and the elusive 401k? They seem like polarizing dreams. I often experience this internal whisper that speaks of getting outside, climbing a mountain or jumping in the car and driving somewhere epic with no plans of immediate return. But what about my job, responsibilities and everything I have worked so hard to build? Is it possible for someone to simultaneously pursue both the logic and order of responsibility and the freedom and spontaneity of a life on the road? I recently caught up with avid climber, philosophy grad and friend, Kyle Sherby, to discuss this beautiful tension.

Dirt Bag Diaries

The term “Dirt Bag” has such an interesting and distasteful sound, yet thousands identify with this subculture of adventurers. Climbers, backpackers, road trippers and lovers of nature often hear “Dirt Bag” as a badge of honor; one who has weathered life on the road and is loaded with heaps of stories to tell. With Kyle having the repertoire and history of living this lifestyle, I was eager to hear his take on the allure of living out of a truck, chasing difficult crags and eating couscous for meals on end.  As the stories unfolded, it was clear that he was speaking out of a place of passion for something he believed in deeply. This wasn't just a weekend hobby for him or to take photos for Instagram, but something he was willing to make immense sacrifices for. I felt compelled to ask him about his greatest fear. For someone who climbs super exposed, run-out, thousand foot multi-pitch crags, I could think of dozens of potential fear inducing scenarios. However, after a brief pause, Kyle revealed what scared him the most: regret. It wasn't the possibility of falling or being caught in a vicious lighting storm while camping out in the desert, but it was living without taking the risk of pursuing his dreams. What if that risk leads him to a crossroad in the future where he is left asking questions and wondering what else he could have done with his life? The possibility exists and sort of seems certain, but I believe most of us often wonder what we are meant to do with our lives. For someone who grew up in a wealthy family and has multiple college degrees, Kyle has come to realize that money can't purchase happiness or fulfillment. Happiness comes from pursuing what you are passionate about with tenacity and boldness, no matter what that may be.    

The Line 

What I know to be true is that every individual is unique and on their own journey in life. It is highly unlikely that most people would find the same satisfaction and pleasure in climbing a tedious, granite slab at Sugarloaf like Kyle, but adventure wears many different hats. It can look like going on a bike ride on the river trail and getting caught in a downpour or taking your 2 year old to the park and experiencing wonder through their eyes, but I believe its important to stay open to the transformation these experiences offer. It is our choice to either engage in the world around us or simply let the hours tick by without being present to these awaiting opportunities. As my friend Kyle stated, “it's easier to fall into routine rather than be bold and take risks”. So as the whisper inside you gets louder, I must ask, what adventure is awaiting you?

Sneak Peak

Favorite Climbing Parter: Jen King

Local Spot: Trinity Aretes or the Shredding

Favorite route at the Shredding: Spread Eagle or No Quarter

Biggest accomplishment: Epinephrin at Red Rocks

Road Trip Essentials: Jet Boil, Oatmeal, a good book and most of all, great company!  

Biggest expense on the road: Gas

Resourced used the most for finding great climbing spots: Mountain Project

 

- Adventure Awaits by Alex Wittmer

Expansion Project Update

Friends,

Shasta Rock Club needs your help. We have less than 3 days left on our crowd-funding campaign (ends March 20th at midnight).

Our heart is to bring transformation to Northern California through the vehicle of climbing & fitness. Check out our video and please contribute to our project. Let's do this together! Click the link to contribute. 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shasta-rock-club-expansion-project/x/13220975#/

Why is Climbing beneficial for Kids?

When I began climbing I often found myself wondering whether I was wasting my time. What on earth was climbing good for anyway? At the time I didn’t see all the benefits; all I knew was that a new part of me came alive every time I approached the wall. As a climbing coach and river guide I have often asked myself how these activities benefit myself and my students. Through the years I have found the benefits to be both diverse and numerous.  

On one level climbing is a fantastic mental and physical challenge. It is a puzzle to be solved with both the mind and body. Climbing problems are unique because climbers of different heights and overall body types have to climb the same route.  It helps you to develop an understanding of patterns and unique sense of spacial awareness. Furthermore, it provides a distinct type of physical fitness. First, climbing increases muscle and bone density; it strengthens the muscle rather than simply expanding muscle mass. It is a full body exercise, requiring more lower body strength and control than initially anticipated. It likewise requires great control and helps develop controlled movement and flexibility.  

On a whole other level, beyond these initial benefits, climbing offers what one of my previous instructors refers to as a “microcosm for life.”  It is an environment where kids not only develop mental and physical strength and endurance, but have the opportunity to develop character traits that will impact their entire lives.  Climbers, young and old alike, are forced to overcome obstacles.  Whether these obstacles are the physical challenge of a new climbing problem or a fear of heights, climbers are constantly faced with a new challenge to overcome. Overcoming different challenges requires decision making and helps students to develop self-confidence. Rock Climbing becomes the practice field for life; students can learn how to make decisions and overcome obstacles before they enter into marriage or the work force, helping them be better equipped and adjusted.

At Shasta Rock Club we seek to incorporate each of these areas into our programming, but even more so we have found that climbing can be an avenue through which kids learn to accept themselves. It becomes a “love language.” Kids learn that while they might not be able to climb a problem the same as someone else, they can still climb it their way.  It is a mental and physical exercise tailored to challenge students without crushing them.  At Shasta Rock Club students learn how to be distinct individuals with their own unique climbing style in the context of a larger team and community. It is a privilege serving our students and helping them to grow into their true and full identities.

For more information on our Kid’s programs, please check out the programs tab on our website. We hope to see you and children at Shasta Rock Club here soon!

by: Hillary Kline, the newest addition to the SRC team

Cold Weather Climbing Tips

Photo: Benjamin Goodpasture // Climber: Christian Lablanc // Red River Gorge // BOHICA 5.13b

Photo: Benjamin Goodpasture // Climber: Christian Lablanc // Red River Gorge // BOHICA 5.13b

Cold Weather Climbing Tips


It happened too fast for me. The temperatures raced straight pass comfortable to frigid, my down jackets are draped over armchairs around the house, and I'm suddenly craving cookies and chocolate by the fire. These are all ominous signs that Winter is coming. While some precipitation is good for the rest of the state, we poor climbers are left with our hands in mittens waiting for the next opportunity to climb. Fear not my friends! Although this weather makes it much more difficult to climb, the adventurous among us will still find rocks to pull on. I have made a few excursions out into this unkind weather, and I have learned a few things to make the climbing manageable.

Here are my 6 cold weather climbing tips:

1. Layer the Belayer
Dressing warmly enough can't be stressed enough on a cold weather climbing mission. The constant struggle you will face is keeping your fingers and toe warm. For climbers, this is the worst adaptation of our body during cold weather. It becomes a challenge getting through the next crux when you are shoving meaty finger popcicles onto ledges, praying that they are doing what your brain is telling them to do. Neither will you be able to stand on that small foot jib because you will get no feedback from your frost-bitten toes.

Wear TWO pairs of gloves and socks. I wear a thin pair of base gloves and my snowboarding gloves over them when I am belaying or hiking. The mistake I often make is wearing thin cotton socks when I hike up, and my toes are numb before I even put on my frozen climbing shoes. Lastly, wear a beanie under your helmet. There are a number of arteries and veins along your brow to your ears that will dissipate a lot of heat if not covered up. Furthermore, having a good wool base layer under your climbing pants will keep the rest of your body warm more than you realize. 

When climbing a multi-pitch, make sure to bring everything you need up the climb: clip gloves to your harness, wear your jacket, and shove socks in your jacket pocket if need be. 

2. Blow into your shoes
You are full of more hot air than significant other has told you. Putting on a warm pair of climbing shoes is a magical experience in cold weather. Huff and puff, like the big bad wolf, straight into the toes before putting your shoes on. The extra few degrees of heat feels profound after your toes have been flailing around in the elements. 

3. Get down with down
Not only is down the warmest insulator, but the most compressible. You can shove it into the empty space of your pack before leaving just in case things are bit colder than you anticipated. I have worn two down jackets and looked more puffed up than Ralphie from A Christmas Story, and I felt no remorse about it. The only caveat: try to keep down dry. It does not perform as well when wet, so bring a hardshell if you expect precipitation. 

4. South facing is essential
During these cold days you must chase the sun. A 60 degree sunny day can feel like a Summer day in Redding or a Winter day at the North Pole. The direct exposure to the sun can make a 50 degree day a climbable one. Not only is the south face important for sunshine, but it dries the rock more quickly. A south facing crag can be dry 1-2 days after a rain (depending on wind) if the exposure to the sun is adequate. Most topographical maps are oriented Northerly, so find the walls that have climbing on the south side, unencumbered by tall trees or shadows.  

5. Think twice about chalk. 
For most people, chalking up before a climb is more of a psychological crutch than friction aid. Studies have shown that hand friction is actually better WITHOUT chalk. However, chalk makes a substantial different when your hands are sweaty. This is why we chalk up: to dry out our hands. For cold weather climbing, sweating isn't really a concern. At a certain temperature, our hands no longer sweat, so our friction co-efficient is at its highest. This is why climbers like Daniel Woods attempt their projects at night with million lumen lamps illuminating the rock: they want sending temps! If you need to chalk up to climb...just because, go for it; just remember that you will lose some friction.

Another good point to keep in mind is that your shoes will be less sticky than you are used to. Shoes are designed to work optimally at the temperature your hands stop sweating. This means the rubber is going to be more firm. This firmness should help performance, but you may need to apply more pressure to your toe to get the same stick you are accustomed to.  

6. Windy day stay away
An often over-looked weather prediction is wind speed. A sunny day in 65 degree weather may be unbearable if you have cold winds in an alpine environment. One of my favorite websites is www.weatherunderground.com. Although wind speed is a very unreliable factor, you can generally anticipate more wind on low pressure days. Bring a shell to throw over your jacket and eliminate the precipitating heat loss from wind trying to sneak into your britches.

If you can manage to stay warm, and stay psyched, cold weather is really the time to see optimal performance. Get out there and send my friends!

Written by: Kyle Sherby, a long time Shasta Rock Club member and current team member who helps with route setting and outdoor climbing events.