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what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :(
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Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 03:02:36 MST Print View

temp is around 45F ish
wind is noticable but not SUPER strong ( maybe 6~12 MPH)
no precip
im climbing up Mulhacen (3479m @ sierra nevada spain) with crampons etc in snow/ice. last 500m of elevation

i was wearing:
1) torso: BPL merino hoodie+microfleece +Montane windshirt+pcalite jckt
2) bottom: icebreaker 150 long johns+ montane eVent pants+ gaiters
3) head: bpl hoodie hood+ REI fleece earband+ MH dom perignon+ paclite hood
4) hands - OR powerstretch light gloves

I felt good in feet + legs, slightly cold in torso - especially around top of my back, shoulderblades and QUITE cold in face/ears/back of neck. I of course didnt wear all this initially and tried to balance sweat etc but as we climbed it jus got more exposed and cold and i had to layer up. i survived (evidently) but was really concerned, especially if i would get too tired and cold OR get hurt (i was solo) even a bit and move much slower OR if weather would shift (which it did a day earlier and a few hours later) and coming down would be much slower in fog etc

My question is:
1) am i just a cry baby - ie just forge on and take the pain
2) maybe small breakfast was not enough (just 1 piece of toast and a mars bar for a 6 hr day
3)what other layers would you add (eg windstopper vest?, light softshell?, another baselayer?, light balaclava , Buff?

Thanks for any input

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 03:26:35 MST Print View

It sounds like you might just be a cold hiker. 45 degrees without wind is warm enough for me to hike in a t-shirt and sweat. I can also hike in shorts in 45 degree temps with constant rain and 30 mph winds and my legs are fine.

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
hmm on 11/05/2012 06:03:37 MST Print View

@justin - could be.

in reality it could have been 40F and a slightly stronger wind (cause temps changed during the day from around 30F at 4AM to 45F in afternoon and we took off probabaly at 8AM

Note that i met other hikers (8 of them in all) towards and at the summit and ALL were clad with similarly warm stuff and most had thicker layers than I did (notably had microfleece+softshell+gtx and usually a buff or similar) so im not sure it was just me

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: brrr on 11/05/2012 06:10:17 MST Print View

I would have needed more food. And what about water? Temps were cool enough that you may not have felt the need to drink as much as your body actually needed. I would have taken more insulation for my upper body. Lightweight puffy mid layer. 40's are getting cold. Are you use to much warmer temperatures normally?

Edited by kthompson on 11/05/2012 06:13:28 MST.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Elevation? on 11/05/2012 06:27:19 MST Print View

As a low-lander, when I head to ANY elevation I feel it...and one of the biggest ways is that I FREEZE. I freeze in a slight breeze, when the temp even kind of seems that I can't regulate my temperature the same...nor as efficiently.

You weren't THAT high, but it's enough elevation that you should consider it as a factor. Especially with such a light breakfast, depending on hydration (as the previous poster mentioned), how well you slept that night, etc. And the bad part about elevation is that you can't use previous experience as a good judge of future ones.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
insulated wind shirt? on 11/05/2012 07:42:42 MST Print View

Maybe step up to an insulated wind shirt like the Marmot Ether with Driclime?

Also, consider carrying a chemical body warmer to place on your cold spots. I usually place mine on my torso area.

And, I always carry a merino buff. Enormously helpful and I can breath through it.

Edited by flutingaround on 11/05/2012 07:44:40 MST.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 08:30:47 MST Print View

Here are a few more things for you to consider. Might have already been mentioned.

Was it damp/humid? Higher humidity makes things cooler when cool and hotter when hot.

Are you a sweater? Damp clothing with a little breeze can make things cooler.

Is it typically warm where you live? It takes a while to get used to cooler temps if you are not used to them.

People vary a lot. Individuals vary from day to day. Each person has to figure out through trial and error what does and does not work for them. I still haven't figured it out totally and I've been working at it for over 50 years. Good luck. It can be a fun hobby.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 09:25:10 MST Print View

Definitely not enough breakfast in my opinion. I normally have about a 400-500 calorie breakfast at least an hour before I start.

I am out in Colorado in the winter frequently at high altitudes (9,000-13,000ft), so temperatures are quite a bit colder (highs in 20's F) When ascending I am warm in a R1 Hoodie (baselayer) with a softshell hoodie (Mammut Ultimate Hoodie) which is probably a little warmer than what you had. If I stop I throw on a parka (100g Primaloft hooded jacket). I use a heavy winter weight softshell pant, mittens (BD Mercury Mitts) for my hands which typically are the first failure point and a fleece balaclava.

40's are pretty mild and from my setup I described I would normally only need the R1 hoodie, fleece gloves and a beanie/knit cap assuming I was moving 90% of the time.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 09:35:00 MST Print View

Hard to say, but perhaps you had too much insulation and you were sweating too much, which then got you cold. I do poorly in cold, but in similar circumstances where I am active a thin merino/poly top with a Houndini windshirt works for me. When I stop to rest I add a puffy.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 10:11:43 MST Print View

Perhaps the altitude was effecting you? 11,400 feet is nothing to take lightly.
+1 on humidity and/or sweat
+1 on acclimation to cold, especially being completely exposed for long periods.
+1 on breakfast--- that was a snack. Metabolism is tricky and altitude has effect.

Experiment with torso layers. It seems you had enough wind blocking, but getting moisture out away from your skin is important. 45F and high humidity and/or rain is my expected daily climate 9 months of the year. You can get as wet inside as out. my hinch is that a good wicking base layer would have helped, and then continuing the moisture transfer out to your shell.

My preferences:
*Wicking long sleeve base layer
*R1 or Power Stretch mid layer, possibly 200w fleece for wet and colder
*Optional synthetic puffy vest or hoodie <-- belay or very cold conditions if active
*Windproof or waterproof shell, varied with optional puffy layer as conditions dictate, assuming that a puffy layer has good wind-shedding properties.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 10:14:44 MST Print View

Here's my take on it:

Your face was cold, ears and back of the neck- this to me says cold wind!
The temperatures could have been a little lower than you thought, the wind might have been a little stronger than you calculated.
AT 40*f and a wind speed of 15 (just slightly different than you calculations) the wind chill would have been around 32*f. And if it was 35* and the wind 20 the wind chill would have been 24*f.

You had a Bpl hoodie on under a heavy fleece hat, an extra ear band over the hat and hoodie with a paclite hood over everything else- That should have got you down to 20*f or lower!
I'm might be with Nick on this one, given what you were wearing and at those temp; I would have been sweating and I'm a cold to moderate hiker, but with crampons on, I would have been working harder than usual.

All of this is speculation, but its a good to try and figure out what works and doesn't for you- thanks for posting this. It keeps us all thinking.

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
thanks! and some thoughts and data on 11/05/2012 12:21:25 MST Print View

guys - thanks alot for the input...its a appreciated.
As per what you all said - indeed breakfast was not enough (we were pressed for time and i couldnt shove enough in :)
re hydration - without getting TMI on you im sure i didint drink enough (had to do with other issues)
I guess these two factors alone could do it....but to me the mystery lies elsewhere:

Even if i mis judged the temp and wind a bit (the day before was REALLY windy and we abandoned the summit attempt - but this was not AS BAD) still you would expect that at low exertion levels all those layers I had would be enough to be ok....and that was my thought as well (i did have in my pack a MB UL down jacket as another line of defense + MLD rainmitts + another light hat+ spare socks)
what puzzled me the most was that i TRIED to layer LESS as the effort (with crampons and all) was quite high (and indeed i come from the low warm lands - israel - and the height and all that) BUT I WAS TOO COLD not to layer!! I started out with hoodie + windshirt then put on the microfleece under the wind short and then HAD to put on the GTX

I was sweating profusely but couldnt find the balance to keep warm enough and dry enough - i expected to hike up with just base+wind or maybe fleece at the end but very soon i was too cold, soaked and couldnt regain the balance.
now i hear people saying that they hike in that kind of weather with less and they KEP MOVING - maybe i miss judged but to KEEP moving for me at that point (i was also following stronger hikers) was to SWEAT ALOT. I THINK what im trying to say is that although it was easy to maintain a level of effort that would keep my core warm enough my extremities (hands/face/some of the skin) got way too cold - so i had to layer up and they i sweat more etc..

I guess what i am asking is - given what i have said - in similar circumstances (namely - high MET, noticeable wind and exposure, temps around 40F should i consider (except from eating like a wild boar, and hydrating like a beached whale and obviously wearing slightly better face/neck protection):
- wearing a different base layer - i suspect the BPL merino hoodie, although i love the concept, maybe doesnt move sweat away as well as a CAP1
- walk MUCH slower to the point where i keep much dryer
- brute force - just add a micro fleece or any other extra insulation that would carry me through to the summit (which is what i think all the others did in reality cause they were ALL wearing more)
- any other elixir (eg drink my own urine or something?



Locale: South West US
Re: thanks! and some thoughts and data on 11/05/2012 12:52:25 MST Print View

It seems like your mistake was letting your base get soaked. A big no no. You nailed down the solutions. Slowing down would probably be your best bet. Maybe find other hiking parters that know to put the slowest hiker in front.

If no other option, hike shirtless. It'll be miserable, but if you're sweating, you're too hot (barring medical conditions of course).

<--- In my profile pic temps were 40˚F with 30mph gusty wind. The trail I was on gains 2000 ft in 3 miles, so steep but not too bad. I'm wearing just a Houdini on top. I took of my cap2 cuz I was sweatin' too much. I put it back on when I hit the summit.

Edited by oiboyroi on 11/05/2012 17:09:23 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 12:57:32 MST Print View

Probably a combination of all the above! Definitely insufficient food (take more snacks), possibly insufficient hydration, altitude may contribute. I suspect your biggest problem may have been too much clothing at the start.

You state you tried to avoid sweat, but you also say in your subject line that you were cold AND WET. "Wet" is the key. Since there was no precipitation and you presumably didn't fall into a body of water (I've done that!) or wallow in wet snow, the only possible source of "wet" was your body. I suspect that you got too sweaty (because of too much clothing) in the early part of the climb so that your inner clothing was damp (which, with synthetic wicking fabrics and your mind on the climb, you often don't feel). The wind then evaporated the sweat and made you cold. In those conditions, I would have started (and possibly completed) this climb in just a base layer, wind shirt and a headband to keep my ears warm. Anything more (including hood or even gloves at the start) and I would be soggy with sweat. Sweat is just as dangerous as any other form of moisture; I've found that it's better to be a bit on the cold side while actively moving. Of course when I stop, I pile on puffy jacket, hood and gloves and use a sit pad, but those go back in the pack as soon as I start moving again. Going downhill, I may add a light layer and possibly hat and gloves.

Here's an excellent BPL article on thermoregulation:

It might be worth your while to plan to spend a few days in a cool climate just experimenting with regulating your own body temperature at temps ranging from 7 to 2 degrees C (~45-35*F) with varying degrees of activity. Consider wearing a cotton T shirt for some of these experiments (not too far from your lodging) so that you can more easily feel your body moisture. That's basically what I've done and learned on my daily walks near home (I live in a far more temperate climate than yours).

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/05/2012 12:59:40 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 13:04:02 MST Print View

Event is far more breathable than Packlite so that could of caused you to be far wetter on top.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
I agree on 11/05/2012 13:31:34 MST Print View


"I was sweating profusely but couldn't find the balance to keep warm enough and dry enough"

Welcome to my world. I've been dealing with this issue for my entire life. For some of us it is just not possible to prevent profuse sweating. This is how I adjust to this fact of life for me.

(1) I assume that all of my clothing will get soaking wet from sweat.

(2) While hiking I wear enough clothing to maintain my body at what I consider to be a safe level. Allowing myself to get cold won't stop the sweating. It will, however, reduce my manual dexterity and prevent me from staying loose and comfortable and losing too much body heat.

(3) I take along extra clothing to add to or replace the wet stuff when needed.

(4) I change into dry clothing when I reach camp. I don't profusely sweat around camp so I can keep it dry.

(5) I usually carry a closed cell foam float coat as one of my garments. Closed cell foam doesn't lose much of its insulating value when wet. Every other garment that I have tried does.....dramatically so.

(6) I usually carry a large plastic bag or emergency shelter and put it over me when I stop for short breaks. This reduces some of the cooling that is going on due to the soaked clothing.

(7) In cool weather I don't stop for very long until I get to camp. I'd lose too much body heat if I stopped for long with wet clothing.

Here's something I wrote last year when we were having a similar discussion. Is this anything like your experience?

Example: A couple of years ago my low-sweating friend Eric and I were backpacking up a mountain pass with temps in the low 30s. I started off with a short sleeve polypro shirt. He started off with a short sleeve polypro shirt and a fleece pullover. As we hiked he got comfortably warm and took off the fleece. I got wetter and wetter and colder and colder and, after about a half hour, started adding clothing to regain some warmth. A couple of hours later, upon reaching the pass, he was wearing just the short sleeve shirt and was warm. I was wearing the short sleeve shirt, a fiberfill jacket, a windbreaker, a raincoat over the windbreaker (it wasn't raining) and a stocking cap and was still very wet and very cold.


Edited by lyrad1 on 11/05/2012 13:45:48 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: thanks! and some thoughts and data on 11/05/2012 14:45:32 MST Print View

AHA! If you were that wet, I would go with a better wicking base layer and a wicking mid, followed with a wind shell and NO rain shell. Add more insulation if you are cold and not sweaty, but no rain shell unless it is too wet for your wind shell. I like full zip layers so I can vent and conditions and exertion changes. Having cold face and hands when you aren't used to it is miserable and I think it takes a psychological toll.

I like Cap2 better to wick away sweat in cooler weather. It isn't much thicker or heavier than Cap1, but it I think it transfers moisture better. I think micro/100w fleece sucks. All the stuff I have used is warm but it doesn't seem to transfer moisture very well and just turns into a fluffy little sweatbox. That's where the R1 or Power Stretch kicks in: both are good at moving moisture out from your base layer and on out to your shell; either can be worn without a base layer if that gets soaked. IMHO, 200W fleece is more porous than micro-fleece and gives some insulation while breathing much better. It is worthless in wind without a shell. Do consider a vest for 200W stuff used with other wicking layers.

Keep that down layer for belays and after you have dried out or changed to a dry base layer. Sweat into that down at 40F and you have no dry insulation for when you stop-- bad, bad, VERY bad.

Those of us who travel in the PNW coastal areas, BC, SE Alaska (and Scotland) live in a cold sauna and walk a teeter-totter of weather cold enough for hypothermia, high humidity, and long hours of clouds and drizzle where nothing dries out. Going up steep switchbacks with a load, no direct sun, 95% humidity and 45F temps leaves you soggy. You can wear a shell and sweat inside, or leave the shell off and get soggy from precip. These are the conditions when wicking base layers with a DWR wind shell work wonders.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: what am i doing wrong (AKA I am cold and wet :( on 11/05/2012 15:05:25 MST Print View

Hi Michael

Under those temperature/wind conditions Sue and I might have been wearing a Taslan/supplex smock, Taslan/supplex trousers, and Australian bush hats. We might have had a very light Golite Wisp windshirt over the top until we warmed up. We might have had the hoods on our smocks up under our hats to keep our heads warm. Above zero: I doubt we would have been wearing much else, unless it was a thermal top for the first hour while we warmed up. We would have been warm enough - but not hot. We avoid ever getting 'hot' in a cold climate.

I think (my opinion) you may have had two problems:
* Too much clothing, meaning you got sweaty at the start and your clothing stayed damp when you were high up.
* Absolutely NOT enough food! Absolutely NO WAY!

Climbing to 3,479 m? Both Sue and I would have had a really big breakfast, and we would probably have eaten a whole lot more after the first 2.5 hrs as well. And had hot drinks as well. And eaten again at 4.5 - 5 hrs.

Can't stay warm without fuel!


Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
If you normally sweat a lot.... on 11/05/2012 15:14:45 MST Print View

then I would recommend merino wool as a base layer. It is one of the best at retaining heat even when wet.

Nick Brown

Locale: Highland Park
Vapour Rise on 11/05/2012 15:54:35 MST Print View

I would seriously recommend Rab's Vapour Rise kit. It wicks like crazy and has great dwr and wind protection. I hiked hard in very mixed conditions, rain through snow and stayed completely dry after 4 hours. My back was even dry after wearing a frameless MLD Exodus pack.

Also, read this:

It's based around climbing but the principles are the same.