Most skiers and snowboarders will probably never follow in the footsteps of the world's most extreme mountaineers, but all will certainly find themselves high in the mountains, exposed to extreme weather. As the world spins through January, traditionally the coldest month of winter, we asked world-class mountaineer Paul Giorgio for his thoughts on staying warm.
Giorgio, 45, of Central Massachusetts has been to Everest five times, and summited on four of those tirps.
"Basically I never let myself get cold. Once you get the cold into your body, it's hard to get it out. That's how people get sick," Giorgio said. "Once that cold gets it, you have more problems than you want to deal with."
On his last trip to Everest, in 2009, he excavated one of Sir Edmund Hillary's camps, which stood at 28,000 feet, above the South Col and below the Hillary Step.
"We could have gone to the top, but chose not to; there were too many people," he said.
Giorgio plans to return to excavate another of Hillary's camps in 2010, and work on an IMAX film as well, to be part of a world tour of Hillary artifacts in 2011.
Giorgio has climbed five of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each continent, and intends to climb Mount Vinson in Antarctica and Mount Kosciuszko in Australia in 2011 or 2012.
He has a great deal of experience dealing with extreme weather.
"In the mountains I use full polypro layers; here in Central Massachusetts I get by with thermals and fleece. I always have a headband on; that's key, even like today (a balmy 20 degrees Fahrenheit). I don't have to wear a hat unless it's totally brutal. I usually don't even need gloves. If you take care of your head and your core, you're going to be all set," he said. He uses face protection only in the most extreme conditions, as covering his mouth restricts air flow, a major issue at high altitude.
(We would suggest starting a bit more conservatively, with hat, gloves, and face protection as a regular part of the winter wardrobe, on the theory that's it's always easier to take off something you have than to wish you had something you don't. But that's just us, and nobody would mistake us for Everest climbers.)