Looks like fun. Is fun. Hurts, too. Photo by Adam Fagen

Looks like fun. Is fun. Hurts, too. Photo by Adam Fagen

Winter brings all sorts of fun: powder days, fatbiking on snow, quiet snowshoe trails, the strange Cro-Magnon appeal of losing track of time absentmindedly watching logs burn in a fireplace. But it also brings its own specific kind of pain and discomfort-like the first time you have to scrape your car and you realize you lack the proper implement for it and end up using your driver’s license. Sometimes they just come with the territory above the 35th parallel, and sometimes we seek them out.

Here are a few ways to make yourself slightly (or incredibly) miserable in the colder months:

1. Ice Climbing
Although it’s fun in its own way, ice climbing might be the most masochistic of all the climbing disciplines: swinging picks into frozen water, which can fracture into small (or large) pieces and fall onto unprotected joints and bones-for extra fun, try to guide falling ice blocks onto your kneecaps. When you get to the top of a pitch, clip your tools to your harness, let your hands down below your waist, and revel in the unique pain of the screaming barfies, as warm blood returns to your frozen hands and you want to both yell and vomit or do both at the same time, which could be called “yomiting.”

2. Ice Skating
Ice skating can be a beautiful thing in the hands of professionals, or even practiced amateurs. But if you’re new to it, have had several beers before you try it, or just kind of suck at it, you might note that falling is quite painful. Ice, when it’s solidified enough to skate on, is quite unforgiving-like concrete, but a little less friction. So at least you have the hope of sliding a little bit.

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3. Shoveling
Six inches of fresh snow is awesome when you’re looking down at it between your skis from a chairlift. When you have to relocate several cubic feet of it so you can get your car out of your driveway to go to work, you can’t even enjoy your morning coffee without constantly glancing out the window watching it pile up. Imagine waking up in the summertime and finding out you have to bale hay for twenty minutes. The upside is you get a little exercise; the downside is a lot of people have heart attacks doing it.

4. Getting Frostbite
Plenty of high-altitude mountaineers can attest to how much frostbite sucks. Often, the ensuing gangrene means you’re losing a digit or ten, or sometimes a whole hand or foot. You don’t have to spend all that money on a trip to the Himalayas, though. Just head outside with your hands or ears exposed when the temperature is one syllable, or below zero, and hang out a while.

5. Checking the Snow Report
Some years, it’s fun. Some years, most of us aren’t having so much fun.


6. Licking Metal Things Outdoors

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7. Working While You Could Be Skiing
While we have no statistical evidence that most powder days happen on days when you are in an office instead of Saturdays or Sundays, I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes at least 85 percent of the time.

8. Falling in a Tree Well

9. Looking at Your Road Bike/Climbing Gear/Mountain Bike/Summer Stuff
Summer is four months-or a plane ticket to a warmer place-away.


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Brendan Leonard is a contributing editor to Adventure Journal. Follow him at his blog, Semi-Rad.