How to Prevent Frostbite in Sub-Zero Temps: Ice Climber’s Tips

How to Prevent Frostbite in Sub-Zero Temps: Ice Climber's Tips

“I always try to hang off my ice climbing tools, as opposed to squeezing onto them,” Gadd says. “If you can train yourself to loosen up, you’ll have much warmer hands.”

Avoiding added constriction from gear is also key.

Gadd warns against wearing undersized or overly tightened ski, climbing, or hiking boots because they can noticeably constrain circulation to your feet. This means never crank the tightness on your boots or wear multiple pairs of socks; always loosen your boots while resting. The same goes for gloves. He recommends choosing a pair of flexible gloves with loose wrist cuffs like Black Diamond’s Guide Finger Gloves or the Absolute Mitts.

Will Gadd climbing in Greenland on October 14, 2018 Project / Event: Will Gadd 2019 Beneath the Ice Photographer Credit: Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

When it Comes to Frostbite, Layering Is BS

Your average outfitter will stress the importance of layering to keep your core, hands, and feet warm. Start with a light baselayer, add a thin wool mid-layer, an insulated puffy jacket, and top it off with a waterproof shell. If you’re too hot, shed a layer; if you’re too cold, add a layer. In theory, these minor adjustments should provide the perfect degree of insulation and protection for a wide range of conditions.

Gadd, on the other hand, thinks layering is nonsense. He suggests you dress for where you’ll be, not where you are.

“Most of the time we’re either a raging furnace when moving or freezing when standing, so I have two outfits—that’s it,” he says. This’ll keep you from “adjusting a thin layer while prancing along.”

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