Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Mountain Mug: Famed Mountain Climber Conrad Anker Talks His Skincare Routine

Janie Osborne

At 56-years-old, Conrad Anker is arguably the most rugged and recognized mountaineer on the planet. He has more than 30 years of experience climbing and a handful of first ascents under his belt. Anker is the Team Leader for The North Face’s Climbing Team and recently teamed up with DoveMen+Care, speaking to the impact his unique job has on his skin health … and the skin health of every dude who hikes, camps, and gets outside.

The Manual sat down with Anker for his essential skincare routine, both on and off the mountain.

Start using Conrad’s tips now so you don’t look like a leathered stick of beef jerky later in life. We can’t promise you’ll look as good as Anker, but close enough.

Prepare For The Elements: Moisturize

“Climbing, by nature, puts you in the elements,” Anker says. “You can get cliff wind, lots of sun if you’re high up, and freezing temperatures. You have to be aware you’re constantly drying out your skin and exposing it to the elements.”

Anker says he learned over time that when your skin is well hydrated and supple, it’s less susceptible to damage. Namely: frostbite.

Photo Courtesy of Seacat Creative / Yeti

“We used to shake on powder to dry our feet out at night on long expeditions in Everest and Antarctica. Our feet would be wet through the perspiration from our boots. In 2007, I had an epiphany.” Anker says, “If your hands and feet are well hydrated and not drying and cracking, they’re warmer in the long run.”

It may sound counterintuitive, but before you hike in a cold climate, moisturize your hands and feet before slipping into socks and gloves.

Protect Your Skin: Cover Up

Anker says, “When I’m outdoors, the primary way I like to protect myself from the sun is with fabric. That’s my foundation.”

While we may think of slopping on sunscreen(still a good idea), Conrad recommends a neck gaiter, hat, and while hiking in the desert or warm climates, light gloves.

“Gloves protect the backs of my hands from getting too much sun,” he adds. “I didn’t think about how damaged my skin could get when I was younger. I’d tough it out and look like a Game of Thrones character at the end. Now, I don’t want to get sunburned.”

In fact, Anker calls gloves “the foundation” of his on-mountain skincare routine. “From a big mitten to a thin protective glove, they are one of the most important layering pieces.”

Janie Osborne

Ward Off Painful Cracks: Manicures & Pedicures

That’s right, one of the most badass men in outdoors is telling you to get a manicure and pedicure.

“With your hands on longer expeditions, the constant change in temperature will create incredibly painful cracks on your fingers,” Anker says. “One of my treats to myself and an expedition hack is at the start of each winter I get a pedicure.”

Anker suggests protecting your hands and feet because they are how you connect with the vertical space you will explore.

Another pro tip? Lip balm, or another petroleum-based product, for your cuticles and to ward off cracks. If you do develop a painful crack in your hands, pull out your trusty gloves again. Apply moisturizer and slip on your gloves before going to sleep.

Keep Oils in Your Skin: Choose Your Soap Wisely

If you do have the luxury of showering on the mountain, bring a soap with a moisturizer built in. Right now, Conrad has the Dove Men+Care Body and Face bar in his bag. Favorite scent: Clean Comfort. “ I’m a little tone deaf when it comes to scents and tend to get sensory overload when I was through Duty-Free. My wife says she likes Clean Comfort on me too.”

The goal of your soap is to keep the oils in your skin. Many hardcore bars, especially in industrial jobs and settings, will take everything out of your skin.

“When you wash daily with intense soap, the chemicals pull away oil and dehydrates your skin,” Anker says.

Off the Mountain: Annual Dermatologist Visits

“I take care of my skin so I’m not as susceptible to sunburn and frostbite. I have had no frostbite.” Anker says, “I also go to a dermatologist annually.”

Because of the nature of his career— spending weeks and months mountaineering at a time — Anker calls his perpetually tan mug “the matchstick” look. He laughs that some guys sun tan themselves to get that look to work in an office — which is not good for your skin health.  If you do have sun damage, start healing with these tips and, for the love of your skin, buy a good pair of gloves.

Editors' Recommendations

Jahla Seppanen
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Born and raised off-the-grid in New Mexico, Jahla Seppanen is currently a sports, fitness, spirits, and culture writer in…
How to treat acne scars at home, according to a dermatologist
A complete, definitive guide to acne scars, including how to get rid of the pesky problem once and for all
Man Treating Acne Scars

Ugh, acne. Is there anything more annoying than having clear skin one second, then breaking out with pimples overnight? As a pre-teen who regularly broke out with bumps, zits, and sores, I feel as though I’m only just now getting over the traumatic toll these blemishes caused me. And while my breakouts are few and far between these days, I’m left struggling with something that’s possibly even more frustrating than acne itself: How to get rid of acne scars.

Yep, although I’ve finally figured out how to treat and take care of my skin, I’m left with the ghosts of pimples' past. Though I wish I could say I’m not bothered by them, I have to admit that I am. Like, really, really am. There are a lot of acne spot treatments for men, but it's better to consult an expert. So, I thought it’d be beneficial for me, and everyone who comes across this, to do a little digging to find out how to get rid of acne scars once and for all. To do this, I spoke with Vichy Medical Consultant, Dr. Erin Gilbert, who provided me with a ton of helpful tips and insights.
Atrophic scars

Read more
Avoid awkward encounters: Your guide to nixing bad breath ASAP
What is halitosis? Your guide to the causes, treatment, and prevention of bad breath
two people brushing their teeth in a bathroom

Remember 2020, when life went virtual and everything from morning huddle-ups to happy hours shifted to Zoom? It's been a while (thankfully). It certainly had its drawbacks — mainly, many humans crave in-person interactions and socialization by nature. However, there was a hidden bonus: You didn’t have to deal with anyone’s bad breath or worry that someone else was dealing with yours.

Bad breath, also called halitosis, is an annoying condition. It happens to the best of us. Common causes of bad breath include eating certain foods, such as fish or something seasoned with garlic. More than pesky, it can also be embarrassing and lower self-esteem, according to one study. Sometimes, bad breath can even be a sign of something more concerning.

Read more
13 foods for hair growth: Eat your way to more enviable locks
Eat your way to better hair with the 13 best foods for hair growth in 2023
man looking at hair loss

Hair loss may seem somewhat inevitable as we age, but many young men also struggle with premature hair thinning and loss. While we can’t stop time or biological aging, and we can’t change other significant factors such as our genetics, we can improve the health of our hair and prevent hair loss by ensuring we are eating a well-rounded, balanced, nutrient-dense diet full of foods for hair growth.
Related Guides

Best Hair Loss Products
Best Foods for Healthy Skin
What to Eat After a Workout

Read more