Clothing and Extra Clothing
- Balaclava, one of the most important tools for staying comfortable. Keep them in your pocket so you can quickly take them off or put them on without having to stop and take off your pack.
- A rain/wind layer for the top part of your body with pit zips and hood. For situations where frozen sleet is blowing sideways make sure the hood completely covers your face when it is up and completely zipped. Don't buy expensive ones as they'll likely get torn at some point (~$100 is a good price).
- A rain/wind layer for the bottom part of your body with full length zippers (allows pants to be removed without taking off harness, crampons, or boots). Don't buy expensive ones as they'll likely get torn at some point (~$100 is a good price).
- Wool or Synthetic Mittens (much warmer than gloves) plus rain/wind shell for these.
- Thinnest of synthetic gloves to keep hands from sticking to metal. Keep them in your pocket so you can quickly take them off or put them on without having to stop and take off your pack.
- Short sleeve and long sleeve base layer for top (made of synthetic or wool, get warmer by having both on, cool off by removing long sleeve).
- Thin synthetic pants (when ascending staying cool enough is frequently a problem). Some folks use cheap synthetic running pants with pockets.
- Gaiters help prevent snow, rain, or small pebbles from entering through boot tops. They also add some warmth by keeping your feet dryer.
- Hooded Puffy Jacket (preferably synthetic given our typical weather).
- Emergency Puffy Pants (preferably synthetic given our typical weather, can be combined with lightest of summer sleeping bags to keep weight down on overnight trips)
- Plastic garbage sack to line pack (keeps gear dry even in a down pour). Some folks also use a nylon pack cover.
- For extra clothing (kept in the plastic bag) an extra pair of wool/synthetic long johns (tops and bottoms), socks, balaclava, and mittens (in other words, a complete layer). On extra cold trips some folks even bring an extra puffy jacket or a heavier version of their puffy jacket.
Crampons (for trips that require them)
Some folks recommended that your first pair of crampons be aluminum and field adjustable (without tools) with universal bindings to allow their use on boots or approach shoes. Deeper crampon teeth are also worthwhile on aluminum crampons as aluminum wears faster (deeper teeth also help you reach ice when it’s under a few inches of soft snow). These Stubai Ultralights are one example of crampons with these characteristics and have lasted 5 years for some folks. You might want to postpone the purchase of anti-balling plates until after you’ve learned the technique for avoiding snow balling up on your crampons. You can always buy them later, avoiding them helps reduce weight, and you should learn the technique anyway as anti-balling plates sometimes don’t work.
Snowshoes (for trips that require them)
A key difference between snowshoes are those with flexible decks (as found in the MSR Lightning Ascent), and those with rigid decks (as found in the MSR Evo Ascent). When breaking trail downhill where the snow has a crust some folks find that the rigid decks are preferable since you can apply more force to the rear of the snowshoe to break through the crust. Some folks opt to rent snowshoes before deciding which type to buy. This can be a zero additional cost approach if the store lets you apply the rental cost to the purchase price.
Crevasse Rescue Pulley (for trips that require them)
There are two kinds of rescue pulleys, those that are designed for crevasse rescue (which means good self tending characteristics), and those that aren’t. Self tending pulleys have ‘just the right’ width as well as a square shoulder (not round) where the prusik knot first touches the pulley which prevents the prusik knot from being sucked into the pulley. Other desirable characteristics are low weight and low cost. This SMC Crevasse Rescue Pulley is my favorite as it achieves all of these design goals. Some folks frequently carry two of these (owing to their low weight and cost) for use on crevasse rescues as well as rock rescues.