My First Mountaineering Trip

Willey’s Slide

Yesterday I went mountaineering for the first time with a class through Salt Pump.  It was a lot of fun, I definitely learned a lot of new stuff, and when I got to the top of where we were climbing and looked down I wasn’t even a little nervous either.

I packed for the trip on Friday night, knowing myself enough to know that I wasn’t going to be able to wake up enough to make sure I wasn’t missing anything the next morning.

After a quick meeting at Salt Pump me and my climbing partners headed out to North Conway in New Hampshire, to meet our guide, Jimmy, and borrow gear from Cathedral Mountain Guides.  Quickly we were back on the road, on our way to Willey’s Slide.

Our view of surrounding mountains!

First part of the day we learned the basic stuff, like how to use crampons, how to use the mountaineering axe, self-arrest, ice tools, etc.  We had beautifully calm weather, with next to no wind, and cloud cover, it was perfect for a first time mountaineering.  Considering all the snow the rest of the east coast has gotten in the last few days we were very lucky.

We did get to do some low-angle ice climbing, as well as learn a bit about running belays (AKA Simul Climbing), and eventually went almost all the way up what you saw on the left side, in the first picture.  It was an all around amazing experience.  With proper layering I wasn’t cold most of the climb, except my fingers because I was wearing the fingerless gloves convertible mittens for my gloves.  Let me tell you, swinging an ice tool with numb, tingly fingers is extremely difficult, I do recommend better gloves.  I think I will probably leave my down jacket on while climbing next time, and maybe lose a top base layer instead.  In just my base layers, fleece, and shell I was a bit chilly, even when climbing.

Me, super psyched to be outside climbing for the first time!

We went up, and then hiked down a trail through the woods instead of going down on the mixed ice and snow, it was the easier way to get down.  Walking through the deep snow made me appreciate being so active normally, because though it was a bit tiring on the legs I ended up being the only one, other than our, guide who wasn’t sore afterwards.

It was a fantastic trip, and now I’m just really psyched to get back onto the ice.  I’m planning on going Thursday morning back to Willey’s Slide to tackle the middle section of just low-angle ice with my co-worker, Zack.

No matter what I know I’m going to be getting outside more this winter.  Usually I avoid the snow and cold like the plague, this year I think I will be able to enjoy it more.  Today I even went on a short winter hike to a waterfall near my house.  As amazing as it is to go out and find big adventures there are also small ones close to home, that is something I need to remember when the “wanderlust” sets in.

My First Mountaineering Gear List
Keep in mind I am 105lbs.  I’m very small, and have very little body fat, resulting in more difficulty keeping warm.  Also, this was my first mountaineering trip (hence the title of the post, and gear list), make sure if you’re going mountaineering, ice climbing, or winter hiking to figure out what is best for you!

(* = didn’t use on this trip)


  •  2 Top Base Layers
  • 1 Heavyweight Bottom Base Layer
  • 1 Fleece Jacket Mid-layer
  • 1 Pair Shell Pants, Insulated
  • 1 800-fill Down Jacket, without hood
  • 1 Hardshell Waterproof Jacket, with hood.
  • 2 Pair Darn Tough hike/trek socks (1 worn, 1 extra*)
  • 2 Pair Gloves (1 fingerless with convertible mittens, 1 leather with fleece lining*)
  • Wool Beanie
  • 1 Paid Sunglasses* (It was cloudy most of the trip)
Climbing Gear:
  • 2 Locking Carabiners  (I actually brought 6 total, 3 were mine, 3 were borrowed.  I used 2, each of my climbing partners used 1 of mine, and 1 of their own, and the last 2 of mine were not used at all)
  • 1 ATC-Guide (I didn’t use my personal ATC, but ATC’s were used)
  • Helmet
  • 1 Pair Mountaineering Boots (Borrowed)
  • 1 Pair Crampons (Borrowed)
  • 1 Mountaineering Axe (Borrowed)
  • 1 Ice Tool (Borrowed)
  • 1 Rope (Belonged to the guide, we all used the same one)
  • Ice Screws (Belonged to the guide, I didn’t really use them except to TR, but I didn’t touch them myself)
  • Slings with Carabiners
  • Chapstick
  • 2 Bottles of Water
  • Food
  • Basic First Aid Kit
  • Small Pocket Knife*
I may have forgotten something, which I will add later, but this is pretty much it for the couple hours we were out there!

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