Avoiding The Screaming Barfies And How To Keep Your Hands Warm


Lets face it, it doesn’t matter how long you have been climbing, or how good you are, at some point in your climbing career you have had the screaming barfies.  The screaming barfies have been know to turn the hardest core climber into a puddle of humanity crying to be untied from the sharp end.  The technical term for TSB is reperfusion. Its the restoration of the flow of blood to a previously ischemic tissue or organ which causes the extreme pain experienced when the blood flows back into your hands after freezing them while climbing. Picture yourself, mix a bit of nervousness first time climbing, throw in over squeezing the tools, toss in hands over the head forcing the blood out, combined with cold temperatures and you got yourself the perfect formula for the SCREAMING BARFIES!


Glove System

Having experienced two of the coldest winters in recent history, The Michigan Ice Fest staff has compiled a system that works even in the coldest of Upper Peninsula winters. Our guides tend to bring 4 pair of gloves on an outing to Pictured Rocks.

Glove 1

One of the most common mistakes is to use thicker gloves as they may keep your hands warmer.  We use only the thickest gloves to belay in or when you are waiting around to climb.  Thicker gloves tend to make the climber over grip the tools which in turn encourages cold hands.

Gloves 2-3

A proper pair of ice climbing gloves will be fairly thin and preferably have grippy palms. The thin gloves will allow you to hold the ice tool much easier, without having to squeeze too hard. This of course reduces the strength required as well, and also makes it substantially easier to aim your swings. Many experienced climbers actually find that their hands stay warmer with glove that offers good dexterity.

To round out the whole system, we belay with our thicker gloves while “pre heating” a thinner pair under our arm pits.  Simply put these nice and toasty gloves on when ready to climb.  Depending on the ice conditions and how much your hands sweat, this pair should last you several pitches of climbing.  When they wet out, simply “pre heat” another pair and your hands will stay dry and warm!


Want to prevent the screaming barfies?  Fortunately, as you do more ice climbing, you will learn and practice these valuable tips to keep the barfies at bay.

*Use a multiple glove system

*Focus on a relaxed grip after each swing to allow for optimal circulation in extremities

*Drop your hands and shake out often to encourage continued blood flow.

*Stay Hydrated

At this year’s Ice Fest we will have a huge selection of gloves from virtually all of the leading manufacturers including Black Diamond, CAMP USA, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, RAB and more!  Be sure to stop by and get a feel for how these gloves will improve your climbing experience!