Mount Washington Gear List (Winter)
As anyone who has spent time on Mount Washington in the winter will tell you, it’s in your best interest to NOT take this mountain lightly. Mt. Washington has the notorious nickname of “Home of the World’s Worst Weather” for good reason – very good reason. It is not uncommon for wind gusts to approach 100 mph high on the mountain and wind chill temperatures can subsequently plummet to 50 degrees Fahrenheit below zero or lower.
If you plan on attempting to climb Mount Washington in the winter, also plan to use virtually everything in your pack. This is not one of those climbs where you look at your backpack after descending and say, “I shouldn’t have taken that, or that, or that.” Barring a few emergency items that (hopefully) will not venture out of your pack, you will most likely make use of everything else in your backpack. Plan wisely and expect to use nearly everything you have with you.
Recommended for a Mount Washington winter climb
- Crampons – these are an absolute must.
- Ice Axe – again, this piece of gear is an absolute must.
- Gaiters – Protect yourself from the snow and from your own crampons.
- Microspikes – you could opt to use micropikes or other traction gear for lower sections of the trail, or you could use your crampons for the lower sections, if necessary.
- Trekking Poles – These are optional but can be useful for the lower section of the climb
- Balaclava – Protect your face from the fierce wind gusts.
- Goggles – Without these, visibility could be a big problem in the last quarter of the climb.
- Multiple layers – Be prepared to use them all, including a down outer layer if you have it.
- Long Underwear – A good base layer is key.
- Extra Gloves – Don’t get caught with a gloveless hand after a wind gust carries one away.
- Extra Socks – Don’t want to get to point where you need socks and don’t have them.
- Sturdy Mountaineering Boots – Leave the day hikers at home.
- Headlamp – If planning to start before sunrise (highly recommended).
- Helmet – May or may not be 100% necessary, depending on route.
Not recommended for a Mount Washington winter climb
- Bladder for Water – These will likely freeze, as will a lot of metal water bottles.
- Food That Will Freeze – And it will freeze.
- Trekking poles only – Using an ice axe of the second part of the climb is highly recommended.
- Lightweight Hiking Boots – Leave the shoes and lightweight hikers behind and wear sturdy mountaineering boots instead.
- “Just In Case” Clothing – Scrutinize your layering system and make sure that you don’t add unnecessary extra weight.
When it comes to attempting Mount Washington in the winter, being prepared is of the utmost importance. This mountain’s unpredictable and harsh weather can test your limits.