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How to have fun on a winter hike January 5, 2010

Posted by Jenny in hiking, White Mountains.
Tags: , , , ,

Shortly before ignominiously turning around near the Lion's Head

Various things have prevented me from having any great winter adventures so far this year in my new home in NC, even though we seem to have plenty of icy, crappy snow around.  So, instead of talking about some new exploit,  I am sharing my vast accumulated wisdom from past experiences.

1.  Accumulate as much gear as possible, particularly items that are specific to winter: goggles, face mask, ice axe, crampons.  Duplication of items is quite all right.  This will make you feel like a real mountaineer.  But don’t wear your new crampons in your living room.

2.  Decide which style of mountaineer you want to be: the Gore-Tex, synthetic fleece, plastic boot “X-treme Sport” type, or the old-fashioned flannel shirt, wool sweater, Sorel boot, strap-on crampon, “North Woods”  type.

3.  Do something different from what everyone else is doing.  If you’re peakbagging, don’t just wait for other people to pack down the most heavily travelled route so that you don’t need to use your snowshoes.  Go a different way, and have an adventure instead of just checking off a peak.

4.  Remember that minus 20 with clear skies and no wind is better than plus 20 with no visibility and high winds.

5.  Try to go far enough off trail that you don’t make yellow snow right next to the trail.  If it is orange snow instead of yellow snow, drink more water. If you pee while wearing snowshoes, try not to pee on the snowshoes.

6.  Put your food in pockets next to your body so that you don’t break your teeth biting into that frozen Power Bar.

7.  Realize that most people above treeline have frozen snot hanging from their nose, so don’t worry about it too much.

8.  When you stop for lunch, layer up before you start eating, rather than after, when your fingers will be too stiff to zip the zippers.  Those activated-charcoal hand warmers are a fine idea, too, but only if you open the plastic pack before your fingers freeze.

9.  Don’t use snowshoes if you don’t need to, but don’t post-hole on a trail with deep new snow on it.  Everyone coming after you will send powerful curses upon your spirit, and you will go into a special snowshoe section of Hell.

10.  Butt-sliding down steep slopes is fine, though.  So much fun.  People coming after you should either slide like you did, or have traction to deal with it.  Just try to remember if there is a steep vertical ledge at the bottom.

11.  Figure out the places the snow machine people like to go, and stay far away unless you get high from inhaling those fumes.

12.  Plan on having a large meal with several beers, some hot soup, and a big plate full of pasta after the hike.  Make sure you have a motel reservation for immediately after the meal.

We bushwhacked up the west branch of the North Fork of Gale River for this climb of Garfield


1. Kimberly Aardal - January 5, 2010

Great tips! Number 4 and number 11 are so important.

2. Elizabeth - January 7, 2010

Are crampons similar to tampons? Haha, just kidding! Though, I really have no idea what crampons are.

Jenny - January 7, 2010

Well, ummm, I’d hate to see someone trying to use tampons to prevent slipping down an icy slope. “Oh, crampons! I thought you said tampons!”
They are metal spikes that fasten to your boots.

3. mike d - January 20, 2010

Hi- That photo is an oldie but goodie. Was that April 94?
I always knew I’d be famous.

Jenny - January 20, 2010

Hi Mike! It wasn’t April 94, because I didn’t meet Bob (and you and Steve) until October 94. I’m thinking it was a few years after that, but I don’t know for sure, because all my old calendars are in a storage unit right now. And, as far as you being famous is concerned, well, of course!

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