Keep Your Winter Psyche: Jacinda Hunter

posted by dpm on 02/03/2010

Cold weather can kill your psyche, and force you into the doors of your local gym. But, if you have determination, Jacinda Hunter has some tips for beating the cold.


Photo courtesy of  Prana

Nothing kills your psyche like watching rain showers and snowfall blanket every square inch of climbable surface. When this happens you have a couple options each one poised with its own gradeable difficulty. The simplest bet is to spend your time training at your local plastic palace, you may have to wait in lines that are reminiscent of Disneyland, but it beats the rain. The next logical step is to out run the weather by road tripping to a dessert Mecca, i.e. Hueco, if you can find the funds and time off work. Or you can join the few, the proud, and the masochistic and fight the cold and wet conditions to work on a project at your own backdoor. DPM caught up with Jacinda Hunter who currently resides in the snow covered state of Utah and she filled us in on her winter efforts and she tossed in some tips just in case you attempt to take on Mother Nature…

Photo courtesy of
“I have been climbing up American Fork Canyon on two different projects. One is called Peripheral vision (14b) and I think its only ascent has been by James Litz, it’s at the red corners wall. My other project is a route tucked deep inside of a cave. Neither of the routes are in the sun yet, but they are dry and hence climbable!
The route, Peripheral Vision, is a barely past vertical straight up limestone finger fuck, I don't know how else to describe it. The holds are small and some of the worst I have ever attempted to pull on. The feet are even worse. It is the most technical and difficult climb I have attempted. Last week I actually did all the moves, but putting them together will be a whole new game. Bolt 1-2 has a V11 move on it that will shut you down and seem impossible the first time you try it. The second crux is between the 4th and 5th bolt. It is also extremely difficult. The moves are long off of small holds. Once you get through all that, you have a beautiful crack climb to the anchors! It’s a welcome relief to grab some big stuff after all the techy climbing. Litz believed this route was harder than I Scream in the Hell Cave, so that alone says a lot.

The “project” is something I had been working for months. Just before all the snow, I actually fell off the very last move on the route. It was heartbreaking to be so close and then have to take a break from it. But I figure it's not going anywhere so I hope to get back there in a few weeks. That route is very different climbing because it is steep. It has small holds for the angle and once you pull on, there is no rest. I have to just power through right till the end. It’s a total power endurance fest climbing out the cave
It's pretty fun because I’ll go to the gym just to do a couple warms ups. When people ask what we’re up to and we tell them were about to head outside and just warming up, they look at us like were crazy! I would so much rather spend my time freezing my ass off on some heinous project outside then climb all day in the gym.”
We’re with you Jacinda! We asked Jacinda how she braves the cold and her overall tactics to con belay partners and march on a route....
Best way to grab a belay partner/slave? Saying things like, "it was so good, and really not that cold" can sometimes fool people into climbing with you. This can only last one day though, so the best idea is actually finding someone as crazy as you to get out with. This can be difficult, so conning is the next best thing.
Best way to warm-up? Hiking through several feet of snow, is a good warm-up so if you can be the first to jump on route then that’s your best bet. Waiting during belay gets really cold and even though standing by a propane heater can help out, lighting yourself on fire is a risk. We have lost a few gloves to the flame, and burned some rubber off of shoes.
Photo courtesy of
How do you keep yourself warm on route? Hand warmers in the chalk bag are essential!! But, NO TORCHING, I would hate to see a very small and very important hold crack! My feet go numb early on, so shoe pain really doesn't exist.
How do you get yourself in the mind-set to send? I try to put myself in a mind-set where I tell myself that even small progress is good, and just being there and familiarizing myself with the route is worth it. It's amazing how little is needed for me to get totally crazed over a climb. Even though progress may come slower in the cold, I'm always thinking red point in the back of my mind. Anything’s possible!
Do you go at the route full on or do you ease into slowly? Usually when I first pull on to the rock, the climbing is very slow and methodical. It's like having to warm your fingers up every burn. If I decided whether or not it was worth climbing in the first 15 minutes on the rock, I would go home every time. Slowly your muscles start to adapt and warm, and the climbing becomes real. I get focused and psyched that I'm there and doing it.
How do you piece together the route? After getting through the initial freeze, I begin to push myself as hard as if it were warmer. Since it takes a while to get warmed up on the route, I don't get as much time for full exertion, so it comes together in small pieces.
Any obstacles? Being cold and stumped can be the most discouraging obstacle. What really keeps me going back is it’s my only option. Local crags may not be world renowned, but they are what keep the majority of us "climbers" actually climbing. Besides, anything beats the gym.
How do you reward yourself after enduring the cold? Have a Cosmo in the bathtub!
We are pullin for you Jacinda!!! And to your belay partners, sorry it is easy to get suckered into an amazing project no matter what the scenario is.