Now that you got that Puff Daddy song stuck in your head (you’re welcome) I’m going to spend some time talking about my next big adventure.  In my first post I talked about my plans to summit Mt. Washington in New Hampshire at the end of this month, and now that we’re closer to that date and things are starting to fall together, I can share details of the trip, how I’m preparing for it and what kind of stuff I’ll be bring with me.

Today I’m going to talk about gear selection and what I’ll be packing on this trip.  Some things I have to consider when stuff my REI duffel bag for the flight up there:

  • Weather – In a word, it’s probably going to be CRAZY.  MT. Washington, while not very tall (only 6288ft) is famous for having the “world’s worst weather”.    To give you an idea of what I mean by crazy, the current temperature on the mountain is -44 degrees with wind chill factored in.  Today they’re getting gusts of up to 70mph.  And this a mild day!  So, packing VERY warm clothing is going to be key
  • Snow – In late February there will be a ton of snow on the ground as well as ice.  If I’m going to make it to the summit through all that (without a lift ticket) I’m going to need some gear to help
  • The climb/hike – While 6288 isn’t very high compared to mountains out West, it’s still a height you have to respect.  We’ll be trying to climb up and all the way back down in one day, and we’ll probably be burning a ton of energy.  Energy means heat and heat means sweat.  All those warm layers won’t do me any good if I’m soaked with sweat from the climb, so lots of layers are going to be just as important as the actual layers themselves
  • The unexpected – Sometimes, the best laid plans are turned to shit at a moment’s notice.  You can’t be prepared for every contingency, but you can do your best to mitigate your risks.  While the views up there are lovely, you probably DON”T want to be stranded on a place like Mt. Washington without a plan B (or even C)
  • Limitations – I can only pack so much stuff into my check bag, and even less in my backpack and on my body when we actually start the climb.  While I’m not going to be ultra-minimalist here, I do need to prioritize what’s going with me.

So with all that in mind, here’s what I’m currently planning on bringing with me.   I’ve done research and have taken ideas from websites, books and articles and from other people who have climbed not only Mt. Washington, but also bigger mountains out west and beyond. This list is subject to be updated at any time and feel free to comment if you think there’s something better i can be hauling with me:


Luggage and bags – In addition to my trusty carry on Timbuktu messenger bag I’ll be bringing:

  • REI Adventure Cargo duffel bag- For hauling all my stuff from home, through the airport and to the base of the mountain
  • Dueter 75L+10 backpack – For the actual summit climb.  It may be a bit big for this kind of hike, but I want to be able to have option to carry more gear if needed
  • Oakley 35L day pack – My smaller backpack.  If the weather looks really nice, I may forgo the big bag and just go out with this one.  It’ll probably be a decision I make the day we climb.

Clothes – Outwear and layers

  • Marmot Yukon down parka – This 650 fill power parka is extremely warm and water proof with an insulated hood and huge insulated pockets.  I’ll be using this if the weather turns really nasty and on the summit
  • REI insulated snow pants – I’ll wear these over my base layer to keep my legs warm and dry
  • Patagonia down jacket – Unless there’s a blizzard, I’ll likely be wearing this as my outer layer around the base of the mountain.  It’s tremendously warm, breathable and lightweight
  • Lowe Alpine fleece – I’ll wear this under the down layer and around the lodge to keep warm and dry and add another layer of insulation
  • Orage 1/2 zip baselayer top – This thick base layer zips down with I need a little bit of cooling but zips all way up the neck when I need to keep out the drafty cold
  • Fleece pants – I haven’t bought these yet but I probably will in the next week or two.  Just another layer option for my legs
  • REI base layer long undies – These aren’t just a great base layer for the legs, they’re a fashion statement around the lodge (with boots of course)
  • North Face fleece hat – Even if we don’t summit, I can totally look like I climb the north face bro
  • Outdoor Research balaclava – Great for keeping your neck, ears and face warm and doubles as a great ninja mask!
  • Three pairs of columbia wool socks – Probably just one pair for each day
  • Liner gloves and liner socks – Don’t have these yet either.  Might pick some up tonight
  • Mountain Hardware Masherbrum Mittens – This mittens are LEGIT.  They’re almost as big as boxing gloves and stuffed full of warm insulation.  I’ll keep these on for most of the trip up the moutain
  • Marmot insulated gloves – Backups for the mittens and also for use on the lower parts of the mountain
  • Mountaineering boots – I don’t own these yet either.  I want to pick up a set, but I may end up renting some at the outfitter.  Depends on whether or not I can find a good deal between now and the time I leave
  • Gaiters – Some boots come with them, but they’ll be necessary to keep the snow out of my boots
  • Other stuff? I’ll be packing a couple of t-shirts, a pair of hiking pants for walking around and maybe another fleece for laying around the lodge


Gear (climbing and otherwise)

  • Jetboil Flash stove – Important for melting snow if we need more drinking water
  • 2 Naglene bottles – both with insulating sleeves to keep from freezing
  • Headlamp with extra batteries – Because you never know. If we get stuck out after dark I don’t want to rely on moonlight to get us back down
  • Black diamond crampons – for traction on the ice and the misc climbs we’ll be doing
  • Ice axe – another item I need to buy.  Probably Black Diamond or REI
  • Ice axe leash – Don’t want to lose your ice axe right!?
  • Rope and carabiners – while we won’t be doing any technical climbing, it’s probably a good idea to carry a length of rope, just in case
  • Jublo glacier goggles – Keeps the sun/wind out of my eyes when we’re heading up the mountain
  • Trekking poles(?) – This is a maybe.  I’m not sure i’ll be needing them or not.  I might just rent a set to have, just in case


  • Snacks – nothing that needs to be cooked and stuff that won’t freeze on the mountain.  Most of our meals will be at the lodge, we just need to have enough food to keep our energy up when we’re hiking
  • First aid kit – Small with just a few things
  • Compass with signal mirror – The trails are well marked, but again, you never know
  • Camera – just a small point and shoot to snap a few pics of the summit
  • Chapstick and sunscreen


So I think that’s about it.  I’m going to be heading up to Casual Adventure tonight to review this list with them and see if they have any last minute recommendations.   Next time I’ll talk a little bit about how I’m preparing myself physically for this trip, and then the last part I’ll talk a little about our itinerary and what kind of other stuff we’ll be doing besides trying to the top of the mountain.  See you then!