With this week’s weather forecast looking distinctly wintry with snow showers forecast over the fells here in the Lake District I have been wearing warmer layers of clothing more often than not. After many years of searching for the perfect shell jacket I have begun to realise that perhaps what you wear underneath is more important in keeping you comfortable than the outer layers. With that in mind over the next few posts I will be reprising what I wear for winter mountaineering.
The first piece of clothing that goes on in the morning is a comfortable wicking base layer. My favourite two materials for this layer are Patagonia Capilene 2 and merino wool. I generally choose the capilene in warmer weather or for faster paced activities such as fell running or cycling as the material’s ability to wick away moisture is important. The merino goes on when the temperature drops or when I am looking for all day comfort. Another bonus of the merino is it doesn’t smell! I wore one of my favourite tops for seven days straight on a trip last year to the Bugaboos in Canada and no one in the hut complained!!
When choosing a base layer look for a long sleeved top with a zip neck that is easy to vent. Lighter colours will reflect the sun and help keep you cool in hotter climates.
When winter climbing I often walk in wearing a capilene t-shirt and then change into a merino base layer at the start of the route once the t-shirt is saturated. The clean dry top helps keep me much warmer and comfortable on long, chilly belays.