Cold-weather Super Bowl survival tips

Staff writerJanuary 27, 2014 

050801 Van Steen Muir shelter

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. mountain guide Alex Van Steen rallies the climbers at the beginning of an orientation talk in RMI's shelter at Camp Muir, August 1, 2005. photo by Peter Haley

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer

— Alex Van Steen knows cold.

He would have stood on top of Mount Everest in 1998 if it wasn’t for the minus-50 degree weather. When his left foot started getting cold, the Rainier Mountaineering Inc. guide had to make a choice. Summit and probably lose a toe or turn back.

He turned back and some in the climbing community teased him for not sacrificing a body part to stand atop the world’s largest peak.

He has no regrets. “I tell people I got to go to the moon but I only got to orbit,” Van Steen said. “It was still cool.”

But Van Steen, who has climbed Mount Rainier 243 times, says some of his most uncomfortably cold moments were winter nights doing outreach work for teenagers on the streets of Tacoma. Here he leaves his high-tech winter gear home in order to fit in.

Handling the cold, Van Steen says, comes down to preparation.

So what would Van Steen do if he was going to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey?

He has a few suggestions:

  • Wear long underwear under your pants.
  • Wear two pair of socks with a plastic bag in between the two layers.
  • Wear multiple layers on the upper body.
  • Wear some sort of hat and something to cover your ears.
  • Wearing a buff will help keep your throat warm.
  • Arrive at the game with a full belly. Calories provide heat.
  • Lay off the alcohol.
  • Get out of the wind when you get a chance. While it’s unlikely there will be open seats to move to, a quick escape to the concourse might allow you to warm up.
  • Van Steen says it would be ideal to bring a Thermos with a warm beverage. They’re not allowed so you might consider splurging on an overpriced coffee or hot chocolate at the game. Van Steen, though, says the serving sizes aren’t likely large enough to make a big difference.
  • No celebratory dumping of beverages – say a sports drink – on your friends. You’re going to get uncomfortable real quick and you’re likely to be standing in the cold for a long time while leaving the stadium
  • “And don’t be Mr. Tough Guy,” Van Steen said. “Be Mr. Realistic so you can enjoy the game.”

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