Rocktober, the name climbers have affectionately bestowed upon the month of October, is the pinnacle of the climbing season, particularly in the Northeast. October is the high point of autumn at many New England crags thanks to cool temps, traditionally dry weather, and sun-kissed rock, along with the absence of pests like bugs, humidity, and crowds. Simply put, Rocktober is sending season.

Sadly, Rocktober is just 31 days long, and if you want to crush during the prime time to climb, it helps to have a plan. Here are 10 tips to maximize your Rocktober.

Credit: Doug Martland

1. Get Outside

The gym is great for training, hanging with your climbing friends, and keeping fit during the dark days of winter, but sending season is limited and perfect conditions outside are short-lived. Make a commitment to get out of the gym and climb outside this Rocktober. Sure, there’s a little more exposure outside than in, but it’s hard to send your project if you’re only pulling plastic.

2. Have a Plan

Winging it might work if you’re posted up at Rumney or P-way all Rocktober, but most of us want to work out the beta in advance of the scant 31-day season—this is no time to onsight. Create a calendar, schedule days off, know where you’re going to climb, and line up partners in advance so there are no surprises. Really going for it this Rocktober? Have a tick list of the routes/problems you want to send this season. (Pro Tip: Put a jaunt up one of these Crawford Notch Slab Climbs on your tick list to knock off fun climbing and stellar fall foliage in one fell swoop.)

Credit: Tim Peck

3. Adopt a Flexible Mindset

It’s great to have a plan, but the reality is that they often fall apart—for example, the weather doesn’t cooperate, your partner flakes, or you burn out trying your project. A willingness to adapt is key for maximizing your time at the crag, whether it means ditching your trad climbing plans in favor of overhanging sport climbs in the rain or going bouldering at destinations like Lincoln Woods or Pawtuckaway to give yourself a break from your proj or when you can’t drum up a partner.

4. Be Willing to Travel

New England is known for a lot of things, but reliable weather is not one of them—and with just 31 days of prime climbing time in October, you can’t afford to try and run out an unfavorable forecast. New York’s Gunks are often a great alternative when the weather isn’t cooperating in New England, but there’s a chance you might have to travel farther afield. The Red River Gorge in Kentucky and New River Gorge in West Virginia are popular destinations for New England climbers looking to beat bad weather, as are the numerous crags around Chattanooga, Tennessee. Hopefully, your climbing partner is ready for a road trip.

Credit: Tim Peck

5. Embrace Your Automobile

Van life has taken a prominent place in climbing culture, but many of us get gripped just thinking about the cost of a decked-out van. No worries, before van life was a thing, climbers made do with all kinds of vehicles—mostly leaning toward what was most economical. In fact, unlikely cars like a Subaru Impreza or Toyota Prius are awesome adventure vehicles and more discreet than the fancy vans and pimped-out truck campers seen at many crags, which makes it a lot easier to find an under-the-radar spot to car bivy.

6. Create a Competition

Competition is a motivating factor for many of us, and even if paddle dynos aren’t your thing, Rocktober is a perfect occasion to create a contest between you and your climbing partners. For example, see who can get the most days climbing outside, tick the most routes, or climb the most pitches. Have an incentive for the winner, like treating them to après at one of these great breweries in the Northeast at the end of the month.

Credit: Tim Peck

7. Learn to Love Layers

October in New England can mean everything from splitter sunny days in the 70s to freezing temps and unexpected snow—but with the right layers, you can climb all October. When climbers talk about must-have pieces, they’re usually talking about something like a cam or chock, but when it comes to fall rock climbing it’s all about layers: a good puffy, windshirt, and base layers are key to keeping you outside, comfortable, and on the rock all Rocktober.

8. Fresh Rubber

Rocktober is the best part of the year for climbers and you don’t want to go into it with your climbing shoes at their worst. If your kicks are showing serious signs of wear or losing their precision, it’s time to invest in a new pair. After all, a fresh edge can mean the difference between sending that techy Rumney testpiece or whipping at the crux.

Credit: Tim Peck

9. Stay Healthy

For many, spending a lot of time at the crag also means extended time in the car and hanging with climbing buddies. While grabbing fast food on your way home from the crag or hanging out in the parking lot for “one more beer” is enticing, it can sandbag your chances of sending. Eating well and getting good sleep is a recipe for a great Rocktober.

10. Remember to Rest

Committing to a productive Rocktober often means long days outside on the rock. Stack them together and it might soon feel like October is flying by. Just be careful—climbing day after day can take a toll on you physically and mentally. The crux for many climbers in the fall is incorporating a few rest days into their Rocktober plan.

Have a tip for making the most of Rocktober? If so, we want to hear it. Leave your tip in the comments below.