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MEC Ambassador Emma Contaoe rock climbing outdoors with brightly coloured fall trees in the background

5 reasons why September is the best month to go rock climbing

September 14, 2023

Found in Activities

Picture this: crisp air, clear skies, perfect friction on rock. If you love to climb, you're in for a treat this month. “Fall is prime season for climbers,” says MEC Ambassador Emma Contaoe. “Most of us train all summer so that we get to send our projects in the fall when climbing conditions are ideal.”

Let's dive into a few reasons why September (a.k.a. Sendtember) is the best time of year for rock climbing. Plus, some top gear picks for this season.

1. Milder weather

Bid farewell to the scorching sun. September’s cooler temps creating an inviting atmosphere at crags across the country. Without the intense heat of summer, you can focus more on the climb and less on battling sweat. Just-right temperatures makes crushing projects truly enjoyable.

2. Strong and in the flow

When working on your strength for climbing, it’s important to start slow or risk injury (like a finger pulley injury), which can take a long time to recover. More often than not, September is when you hit your strongest climbing strength and feel the most confident in terms of the mental strength required for lead climbing. This combination will set you up for being ready to tackle your hardest projects.

“I'm kicking off fall by hosting climbing clinics and a retreat, then heading to Spain and Portugal for a climbing trip. I’m excited to come back to Quebec to try projects I started in spring, and hopefully send them!” – MEC Ambassador Emma Contaoe

3. Less crowded crags

There’s nothing worse than getting to the route you’ve been planning to climb only to see four groups ahead of you waiting to go. With schools back in session and summer vacations ending, climbing destinations tend to be less crowded. This means more time spent climbing and less time waiting.

“Most of the crags near me become less busy after the summer rush. On a smaller note, when the trees change colours it's quite majestic.” – MEC Ambassador Sean McColl

4. Optimal friction

Gripping holds and finding secure foot placements are the essence of climbing. September's cooler temperatures translate to better friction on rock surfaces. In simple terms, this means your hands and climbing shoes will find better purchase on the rock, which can give you the confidence to tackle more challenging routes.

MEC Ambassador Emma Contaoe rock climbing outdoors and grabbing onto a hold with hands covered in chalk

5. Less buggy

Climbing’s all about focus, determination and flow. An unexpected insect buzzing around can throw you off balance and break that flow. Fortunately, September sees a decrease in insect activity compared to warmer months. This means you can focus on your climb without swatting at mosquitoes or other buzzing distractions during crux moves.

“For fall comps, my focus is the PanAmerican championships in October. If I win, I'll punch my ticket to the Olympic Games in 2024. Outdoors, Squamish conditions will be prime and I'll be looking for my next project.” – MEC Ambassador Sean McColl

Best gear for fall climbing

“It’s all about layering,” says Emma. “The MEC Rockwall Midlayer is comfortable and warm, yet breathable and flexible, so I can move easily on the rock. For an insulated jacket, the MEC Northern Light Hoodie is great to throw while belaying but light enough to climb with too.”

“For fall layers, I’m excited to put on my MEC Northern Light Hoodie,” says Sean. “There’s nothing better than feeling warm between attempts before taking it off for the send.”

Gear up, pack your chalk bag, and get after it. Next up: Rocktober.

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