Winter Mt. Washington Clothing & Equipment Guide
White Mountain weather is moody. And when it’s bad, it’s bad. It is vital that you are properly clothed and equipped for this experience. Keeping in mind varying conditions and individual preferences and styles, here is a list of items that may be useful to you:
Wicking Layer: Light weight polypro or wool underwear to eliminate evaporative heat loss.
Warmth Layer: Fleece or wool work well here. Some people use synthetic fill “sweaters.” Three layers are typical for the upper body, although this of course varies according to the thickness of each layer. One to two layers is typical for the lower body.
Weather Layer: Waterproof breathable material is needed. Make sure you’ve sized it to fit over all the other layers you’ll be wearing on this trip. Your jacket must have a hood. Your bottoms must have full length zippers or zippers that go at least up to the waist band, so that they can be put on easily while wearing boots and crampons.
Belay Jacket: This will keep you warm during our quick break periods. Down is the most compact, but synthetic fill works. It must be sized to fit over all the other layers you’ll be wearing. A water resistant coating is useful.
Head Gear: You’ll need either a synthetic/wool had and a neck gaiter or a balaclava.
Hand Gear: Warm, weatherproof gloves are key. Also bring at least two pair of liners so that your hands are always dry. A pair of oversize mittens is a good idea for people needing extra warmth when dexterity isn’t an issue. And bringing along some hand warmers is also a nice treat.
Foot Gear: A pair of thin wool or synthetic liners help to wick moisture and reduce chaffing. A synthetic or wool sock goes over this liner. If you don’t sweat a lot, two pair will do; for those who sweat another pair may be useful. People whose feet sweat a lot may want to consider using a vapor barrier. And for those whose feet run cool, putting some toe warmers in their boots at the start of the day is a nice idea.
Boots/Gaiters: We can provide you with double plastic boots. Four season leather boots work, but not as well. Please make sure your gaiters are sized big enough to fit over the double plastic boots we provide or the four season boots you choose to wear.
Crampons: Crampons for mountain travel are much different from ice-climbing crampons—they have fewer points, a simpler binding system, and are much lighter. Anti-balling plates on the bottoms of your crampons are very helpful in reducing the accumulation of wet snow. We can provide crampons that fit standard plastic mountain boots. If you wear over a size 12 boot let us know, as this necessitates an expansion plate. If you choose to bring your own crampons, make completely sure your crampons work for the boots you are wearing (style, size, etc.).
Snowshoes: Depending on conditions, you may need to rent snowshoes—(your guide will let you know if they are necessary based on the conditions forecasted during your climb. Snowshoes should be light and compact, as you may not be wearing them the whole time. Do not bring snowshoes with complex binding systems (e.g., laces, etc) as these are quite difficult to manipulate in cold conditions.
Ax/Trekking Poles: A mountaineering ax is necessary for the Lions Head and Central Gully Routes, and we will provide it. Your ax should barely scrape the ground when you swing it in your arm. Leashes are optional. Pinnacle, Yale, and other gullies demand two technical ice tools. Trekking poles are useful for the hike in, especially for those with joint conditions. Collapsible poles work best for packing and compression lock poles work much better than the “twist lock” variety in cold conditions.
Avalanche Safety: For all Huntington gully routes (Central, Pinnacle, etc), an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe are necessary. We will supply you with these, as needed.
Backpack: An internal frame pack with 2200 cubic inch/35 liter capacity. Top loading packs work best. Lighter and simpler is better.
Eating/Hydration Gear: Remember that all your snack/lunch food should be easy to eat on the go and should be eat-able even when frozen (e.g., small pieces). Two 1 Liter Nalgenes are necessary. Boil your water before putting it in. If you opt to have your water bottle handy for frequent hydration you must cover it with a bottle warmer; other people opt to keep both bottles insulated in their packs until break time. Camelbaks freeze and become useless. A thermos of hot tea or coffee is also an enjoyable treat.
Vision Gear: Sunglasses and goggles are a must. Contact lens wearers are advised to bring back-up eye gear. An LED headlamp (e.g., Petzl Tikka) is lightweight and powerful and important in the event that our hike out is later in the day. Lithium batteries perform best at low temperatures—but if you choose these, please commit to disposing of them safely, the materials within are hazardous.
First Aid: Your guide will have general gear for emergencies. Bring all your necessary medications for this type of activity, as well as moleskin, band-aids, and other personal first-aid needs.
Other: At this point there shouldn’t be much “other”! If you have other items you’re thinking to bring, please check with your guide, as s/he may well be bringing that item for the entire group to use.
If you have any additional questions, please contact us--We're happy to help!