Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Climbing costumes often follow the same line. You put on a harness, clip on half-a-dozen quickdraws and some other random hardware, don a helmet, and mountaineer’s coil a rope over your shoulder. You’re a climber.
But we’ve all seen—or worn—this costume before. Here are a few new climbing costume ideas for this year’s spooky season. A few of these require the wearer to adopt a certain “persona” for maximum authenticity. But don’t worry, we’ll cover that, too.
The Chalk Bag
A chalk bag is a fairly affordable and easy-to-make costume. It’s also sure to turn a few heads (if your respiratory system can accommodate the strain). Buy a cheap plastic trash can from Walmart and cut the bottom out. Line it with a heavy-duty trash bag or two, and cut holes in the bottom of the bag for your legs. Ensure these holes are a bit smaller than your legs, so that you get a tight seal when you step inside. Next, you’ll need to attach a pair of suspenders to the inside of the “chalk bag” to hold it up. We recommend poking out a small hole in the side of the trashcan and running a strand of cordelette—knotted at each end— through and over your shoulders. Finally, cover the outside of the trash can with fabric from your local crafts store. Voila! You have a chalk bag.
Once you hop inside your costume on the big night, just dump as much loose chalk as you can in with you (until your makeshift suspenders can’t hold up any more). You just need enough so that a chalky haze surrounds you everywhere you go, permeating into every pore of your skin, coating the interior of your lungs with each breath… You get the idea.
The Crag Car Camper
The Crag Car Camper (CCC) is omnipresent around the campsite at your local crag, but elusive on the wall. They might rope up to lap a 10a now and then, or scramble up some V0s and V1s in their approach shoes, but by and large you just see them in their folding chair, drinking beer, smoking pot, and talking about stuff that they saw on Reddit or Discord.
One trademark piece of apparel for the CCC is a bedraggled puffer that should’ve been retired or refilled years ago. (For maximum authenticity, the puffer should have at least one or two crosshatch patches made with climbing tape to hold in what little loft remains.) Other pieces of a solid CCC costume include a beat-up pair of sandals worn no matter the temperature, a cuffed beanie (also worn no matter the temperature), and random bits of Miguel’s apparel—stickers, t-shirts, hoodies, and the like. For finishing touches, cover yourself in chalk dust, tape up at least half of your fingers, pop on a pair of Pit Vipers, and walk around with a yerba maté or other “eco-friendly” energy drink in your hand. If you bring up climbing meme accounts and podcasts in every conversation, you’ll really hit the CCC persona perfectly.
The Weekend Ice Warrior
The most important piece of apparel for a Weekend Ice Warrior is not their tools (old), screws (new), or crampons, but a shiny hardshell jacket, typically in a bright, almost jarring primary color. Unlike the Crag Car Camper, who does their best to dress in neutral-toned, beat-up apparel, the Weekend Ice Warrior aims to look like a Jolly Rancher whenever they rope up. They usually color-coordinate, with matching hues top and bottom, in addition to matching the colors of their rope, harness, and pack, too. (BD Speeds and Deuter Guides are both solid choices to emulate the Weekend Ice Warrior’s pack.) In short, just picture what the Fortnite skin for a climber might look like, and you’ll be on the right track.
Another key piece of attire is a Petzl Sirocco worn extremely high on the head—due to layering of winter headwear underneath the helmet—giving the head the appearance of a double-scoop ice cream cone. Most Weekend Ice Warriors also fancy themselves budding alpinists, so tucking a copy of Training for the Uphill Athlete under your arm will add a bit of nuanced authenticity. Spend at least two-thirds of the costume party talking about if such and such line will form this season or how sick such and such will be while it comes in and you’re well on your way to nailing this character.
The Social Media Sender
The Social Media Sender’s trademark accessory isn’t a piece of climbing gear or apparel, but their phone, usually equipped with a tripod-selfie stick combination. Whether they’re at the gym or the crag, they’ll have this tripod-selfie stick with them at all times, and they’ll set it up for every attempt they make on a route or problem.
Like the Weekend Ice Warrior, they care about the color of their gear and apparel, not because of how it looks on the wall, but because of how it looks in photos. The result is similar, however. Look for a matching helmet, harness, and shoes. In addition to your tripod-selfie stick, strap a GoPro to your helmet or chest, and also carry around a few of your favorite food & beverages (protein bars, energy drinks, meal shakes, etc.). If you can’t promote your 10% OFF pro deals, how are you gonna make money off your content?
Don’t forget the CBD. You can carry CBD cream, gel, gummies, spray, tincture, cookies, coffee… you get the idea. CBD-anything. Just jam all this crap in your pockets and try to hawk it off with a discount code on everyone you meet at your Halloween party, walking around talking into your selfie stick & livestreaming the whole event. You’ll be a stellar Social Media Sender.
The Record Chaser
These are the fellows who are chasing the Seven Summits, the Colorado 14ers, or perhaps the 50 U.S. State High Points. They don’t consider themselves climbers, but they do call themselves mountaineers, and Alan Arnette is their Christ incarnate. These chaps haven’t roped up in a decade, but they will be taking several weeklong courses before their summer ascent of Rainier via the Disappointment Cleaver.
The Record Chaser wears beefy old Timberland or L.L. Bean hiking boots and zip-off synthetic pants, and carries trekking poles at all times. Button-up Columbia shirt-jackets and floppy wide-brim hats are other key parts of a Record Chaser costume. You can also apply copious amounts of sunscreen—and subsequently forget to rub it in so that you look sort of like that one guy from Holes.
Record Chasers also spend a lot of time wandering around REI, talking to the sales associates about nothing in particular and picking up random bits of gear they have no clear use for, like a compact cornhole set for camping, a waterproof National Geographic map of the entire state of California, or an expensive pair of binoculars that weighs several pounds. If you want to dress up as a Record Chaser, pack a couple of these as accessories for bonus style points.
Their favorite piece of climbing literature is Into Thin Air, but they still harbor an insatiable desire to “bag” Everest one day, so it’s unclear how closely they’ve read the work. Regardless, they never fail to bring up Denali, Whitney, Longs, or Everest in any climbing-related conversation lasting longer than 10 minutes, and this is another key component of adopting the Record Chaser character. Godspeed.
The volume is a solid choice because you can go as hardcore or mellow as you want. Either way, it’s sure to be an eye-catcher.
If you’re feeling lazy, just use spare cardboard boxes to make a giant triangular volume and walk around like a Ninja Turtle. If you wanna go all out, you have plenty of room to have fun with this one, designing a textured, multi-angled volume with tons of holds on your back. Just be ready for everyone to constantly want to touch your costume and feel up your holds.