Winters in the Northeast can be difficult for the climber on your holiday shopping list. With temperatures too cold for cragging and the best boulders often blanketed by snow, many climbers retreat to the climbing gym’s warm confines to get their sending fix. Although the gym provides temporary relief, its fluorescent lights, urethane holds, and chalk-filled air are no replacement for the freedom and fresh air of climbing an iconic alpine route like the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

Just the thought of sending the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle’s money pitch, the Fairy Tale Traverse should be enough to get your beloved climber through a winter of dreary days battling the “pink problem” in the gym. However, if the climber on your list needs more than inspiration, consider gifting them a key piece of gear to help make this dream line a reality.

Alpha Guides

10 Gifts Your Loved One Needs to Climb the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle

1. The Gift of Beta

Moderately rated climbing and incredible exposure should be enough to put the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle on every northeastern climber’s tick list, but it’s the route’s home on iconic Mount Washington that makes it a must-do. Considering Mount Washington’s fearful reputation, make sure the climber on your list knows what to expect with goEast’s Alpha Guide: Climbing the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle.

2. Shoe in for Best Present

Downturned and tight-fitting climbing shoes are a recipe for success while training for the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle in the gym, just not on the route itself. Sending an alpine route like this means spending a lot of time in your shoes, making kicks that prioritize comfort, as well as performance a must. For decades, the La Sportiva Mythos have been a staple on long, moderate routes—they’re almost as iconic as the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle itself—and continue to deliver today.

The climber on your list might also appreciate an approach shoe like the La Sportiva TX3 (men’s/women’s). These sticky-soled shoes provide plenty of comfort for the long approach to the climb, the push to the summit of Mount Washington, and the descent to Pinkham Notch. Thanks to their “climbing zone,” the person on your list might even keep them on for a few pitches.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

3. Keep More Than the Holidays on Their Mind

Alpine routes, even ones as well traveled as the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle, have some loose rock. Considering the classic nature of this climb, odds are the climber on your list won’t be the only party on the route—making a helmet mandatory. The Black Diamond Vision delivers an ideal blend of low weight and protection. Of course, if you really love the person on your list, consider trading up to the super-lightweight Black Diamond Vapor. After all, every ounce counts when making the long approach up Huntington Ravine and the equally long descent down the Lion Head.

4. The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer is Carrying Lightweight Gear

Unless your climber takes the “Euro Approach” (i.e., drives up the auto road), rock climbing only accounts for a third of the time climbers spend on a trip up the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle. The rest is spent hiking up to, and down from, the climb carrying a pack filled with layers, climbing gear, and food. In the Alpha Guide, we suggest bringing 8-10 alpine draws on the trip, which you can help lighten up with feathery Black Diamond Dynex runners and super-light Camp Nano 22 carabiners.

On top of the first pitch. | Credit: Tim Peck
On top of the first pitch. | Credit: Tim Peck

5. Yule Be Glad They Have the Right Protection

Modern climbers love cams for their ease of use. However, that ease of use comes at a cost: weight. Consider snagging the climber on your list some of Black Diamond’s Ultralight Cams (.5, .75, #1, #2, #3), which are considerably lighter than other modern cams. Another easy way to lighten your favorite climber’s load is by supplementing their rack with passive protection. Camp Tricams (0.5, 1.0, 1.5) are a lightweight and simple way to leave a few cams behind in the car. Stoppers are another easy way to keep pack weight down—this Black Diamond Stopper Set covers all of the sizes recommended in the Alpha Guide.

6. Baby It’s Cold Outside

The exposed nature of the Pinnacle itself—along with the considerable amount of time climbers will spend hiking above treeline while crossing the Alpine Garden and descending the Lion Head—subjects them to the full force of Mount Washington’s record-setting winds. Not to mention, the summit cone of Mount Washington can be white in the summer, much less at Christmas. A quality wind shirt, such as the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoodie (men’s/women’s) is tough enough to fight off Mount Washington’s winds and stand up to the route’s coarse granite.

Another great option is a lightweight and packable puffy coat. The EMS Featherpack Hooded Jacket (men’s/women’s) is a great choice for keeping the climber on your list warm on “the Rockpile” and transitions nicely to bragging about your send at the classic climber hangout, the Moat Mountain Brewing and Smokehouse.

7. Spruce Up Their Wardrobe

The normal monthly average temperature on Mount Washington’s summit never exceeds 50°F and the record-high summit temperature is just 72 degrees. Because of this, a good pair of tough, wicking climbing pants is recommended. The Prana Men’s Stretch Zion Pant and the Prana Women’s Halle Pant offer excellent mobility and breathability. Plus, their roll-up leg snaps are great for warm approaches low on the mountain and cooler temps up high. As an added bonus, these pants are perfect for winter training sessions in the gym.

The Fairytale Traverse. | Credit: Tim Peck
The Fairy Tale Traverse. | Credit: Tim Peck

8. Have A Merry Little Climb

Hauling a long workhorse rope all the way to the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle and back down to Pinkham Notch is no fun. It’s heavy, takes up a lot of pack space, and isn’t necessary if you have a sleek cord like the Sterling Fusion Nano IX 9.0. The route was first climbed in 1928—when ropes were between 60 and 120 feet long—and has no monster pitches. In other words, 60 meters is more than enough rope.

9. Sleigh Après

Climbing an iconic route like the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle is worthy of celebrating, and Pinkham Notch—the jumping-off point for the Pinnacle—is one of the great outdoor hubs in the Northeast. Once back in the parking lot, the climber on your list is sure to appreciate putting a cold one in the Hydro Flask Cooler Cup (12 oz./16 oz.) to toast their ascent. These clever can coolers are perfect for keeping drinks discreet and cockles warm while savoring success and watching other climbers and hikers amble into the parking lot from Mount Washington.

10. It’s the Most Wonderful Time for a Trip With the EMS Climbing School

If a trip up a dreamy line like the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle is something that the climber on your list would love but seems a little over their head, consider contacting the EMS Climbing School. The oldest climbing school on the East Coast, EMS has been guiding climbs and teaching skills for the past 50 years and offers everything from privately guided climbs to teaching classes—such as learn to lead—that will give the climber in your life the skills they need to go it alone.

Crossing the Alpine Garden. | Credit: Tim Peck
Crossing the Alpine Garden. | Credit: Tim Peck

Is There a Key Piece of Climbing Gear You Would Recommend This Holiday?

Have a key piece of gear that you would suggest for the person more interested in climbing rocks than rocking around the Christmas tree? If so, leave it in the comments below!