Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cold Weather Hiking Tips

By Las Vegas standards it has been cold. This weekend calls for temps to only reach the low 40's in Las Vegas. It will be much colder in Red Rock and bitterly cold in Mt. Charleston. As a general rule every 1,000 feet of elevation you gain the temperature drops by four degrees. So, if it's 46 in Vegas (elevation around 2,200 feet) and you are going to be standing on Gunsight Notch Peak (elevation 6,200 feet) in will be 30 degrees!

How to Dress for Cold Weather

Clothing helps you stay dry and comfortable. How do you prevent becoming chilled? Wear layers of clothing. The secret to layering is combining the correct clothing in the proper order. Done correctly it traps air warmed by your body heat while wicking moisture away from your skin.

The first layer (the one closest to your skin) will wick moisture away from your skin while trapping body heat. Any of the wicking fabrics found under the trade names Thermax or Coolmax work well. They come in different thickness. The colder the climate, the thicker the material you will want.
The middle layer acts as insulation. Fleece sweaters, polypro pullovers, or a long-sleeved flannel shirt are good choices. The middle layer can be more than one garment.
The final layer protects from wind. A windbreaker is fine in Las Vegas, except during winter months in Mt. Charleston. Jackets made from GORE-TEX are recommended during winter.
If you become hot, simply peel some of the layers. If you become cold, add layers.
North Face is one of the premiere outdoor clothing companies that I and many others wear their clothes.

Keep Your Hands Warm

If you are like me, your hands can get very cold and actually my hands can become useless. To prevent this I ware a good pair of gloves. These are warm gloves, not the sticky gloves for rappelling or handlining. I also have hand warmers just in case my hands really get cold. They are a non-toxic, environmentally friendly, odorless heat source using all natural ingredients that are non-combustible and are very affordable. In fact, Walmart sells a two pack (four hand warmers) for less than $2!

Best Winter Hikes

Death Valley is one of the warmest places in the US. Manley Beacon is an impossible looking summit with an airy ridge traverse one must do to reach the summit. Not far from Manley Beacon are the sand dunes, which are fun to play in and a great workout.

Tecopa, CA, is home to China Date Ranch where you will find the wildest hike you will ever do! Fence Post Peak is a vertical dirt mountain. You can only reach the summit by pulling yourself up a 100 foot rope!

Closer to Vegas is Lake Mead Recreational Area. One of the best hikes near Lake Mead is Anniversary Narrows and Peak. Beginners or families with small children can just do the Narrows; more advance hikers can include a trip to the peak.

Take advantage of these great winter hikes and stay warm by wearing North Face clothing.