Climber's Kitchen: We Tried Making Famous Climbers' Favorite Recipes.

Ever wondered whether the meal recipes famous climbers swear by in magazines, on social media, or on their blogs actually taste good? Well, when goEast recently tasked us with finding out, we dug into some well-known climbers’ kitchens to discover what they’re eating, tried out their recipes, and taste-tested them. Our verdicts are below, along with some beta in case you want to try making these meals yourself.

Alex Honnold’s Breakfast Smoothie

When Alex Honnold raved about his green breakfast smoothie in a recent Men’s Journal article, we just had to try it. Here’s his recipe: Add almonds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, frozen berries, a banana, a scoop of protein powder, and a couple handfuls of spinach to a blender and mix.

Beta: While Honnold has this recipe so dialed that he just eyeballs the proportions, your blender is gonna get the Elvis Leg unless you add a little water to ease the blending process.

Difficulty: Ingredient guesstimates may cause on-sighters to pause, but with a little experimentation, even kitchen novices can suss out every move on Honnold’s breakfast smoothie.

Taste: Climbers with sensitive palates will immediately notice the banana overtones. If that’s a turnoff, consider reducing or replacing the banana.

Verdict: Packed with nutrients, Alex Honnold’s high-calorie breakfast smoothie will fill you up, but probably won’t help you free solo your project.

Steph Davis’ Vegan Blueberry Muffins

In a February 2021 blog post, well-known climber Steph Davis claimed her Vegan Blueberry Muffins are “Good for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.” Here’s the recipe: in one bowl, mix apple cider vinegar (2 tsp) and soy or almond milk (1 cup), then let sit for a few minutes while it curdles. In a second bowl, mix canola oil (1⁄3 cup) and a sweetener (½ cup of maple or coconut palm sugar). Add vanilla (1 tsp), lemon zest (optional), and the apple cider-almond milk blend from the first bowl. Stir in organic unbleached flour (1 ⅓ cups), baking powder (1 tsp), baking soda (¾ tsp), and salt (½ tsp). Add blueberries (1 cup). Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes, then cool in pans for 5 minutes.

Beta: Don’t let this recipe description deter you—it sounds harder than it is. Also, if you don’t have almond milk, you can always make your own.

Difficulty: Preparation is relatively straightforward, but it’s unlikely that most climbers will have all these ingredients on their pantry shelves. Plan on a trip to the store before attempting to onsight this recipe.

Taste: Like blueberry muffins with a lemon kick. That said, we did go a little heavy on the optional lemon zest.

Verdict: Good… but not good enough to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Sasha DiGiulian’s Raw Macadelicious Bars

Sasha DiGiulian makes a variety of energy bars, as she detailed in an Outside piece. For our project, we decided to make her Raw Macadelicious Bars. Here’s the recipe: blend macadamia nuts (2 cups) and oats (2 cups) in a blender until it turns into a flour-like consistency. In a separate bowl, mix dates (1 cup) and honey (1 cup) together, then blend with the oat-nut mixture. Add coconut flakes and cranberries (½ cup of each) and blend again. Finally, stir in 2 cups each of coconut flakes and chocolate chips, spread onto a cookie sheet, and cut into bar size. Freeze to harden.

Beta: A food processor aces all the blending this recipe requires.

Difficulty: After finding the mixture a little crumbly when we tried to cut it into bar size, we swapped the two final steps and froze before slicing.

Taste: Great, if you like macadamia nuts. Consider substituting almonds or cashews if you don’t.

Verdict: If you’re interested in making a ProBar-like energy bar at home, this is a great base recipe for you. It’s also easy to envision ingredient swaps that suit your personal preference.

Beth Rodden’s Potato Leek Soup

We struggled finding a dinner recipe until we stumbled upon Beth Rodden’s recipe for Potato Leek Soup. Here’s how to make it: Slice 2-3 leeks, then sauté in olive oil over medium heat until the leeks are soft. Add garlic (4-6 cloves, chopped), sauté for 3 minutes. Add salt (1 tsp), potatoes (1 lb), and broth (4 cups). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add leafy greens (1 head) and thyme (2 tsp) and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and blend.

Beta: An immersion blender makes quick work of this recipe’s final step.

Difficulty: Not overly difficult, but between chopping, sautéing, simmering, and blending, this was the most time-intensive recipe we tested—it’s no wonder Beth likes big wall climbing. Plan on devoting at least 60 minutes to preparation.

Taste: Unlike so many of Rodden’s leads, we needed to add some red chili pepper flakes to spice it up.

Verdict: There are plenty of better dinner options out there, but bookmark this one for when your CSA box has leeks.

Beth Rodden’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

With Rodden’s Potato Leek Soup leaving us a little hungry, we decided to make her Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were a major hit! Rodden’s recipe: Mix natural peanut butter (16 oz), white sugar (¾ cup), brown sugar (“generous” ¾ cup) in a bowl. Stir in eggs (2), baking soda (2 tsp), salt (pinch), and vanilla (1 tbsp). Add chocolate chips (½ cup to 1 cup, depending on preference). Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 9-10 min. Allow to cool.

Beta: Unless you want a chocolate peanut-buttery choss-fest, let these cookies cool for 30+ minutes before transferring or serving.

Difficulty: Easy-peasy. Most can have these in the oven in less time than it takes to set up a top-rope to try some famous Rodden line.

Taste: Perfecto (if you like peanut butter and chocolate combos, of course).

Verdict: Delicious! Even your gluten-free friends will enjoy injecting this peanut butter-sugar-chocolate combo right into their veins.


A Women's Work: Pioneering Climber Miriam Underhill

Miriam O’Brien Underhill led a life of firsts. One of the Northeast’s most prominent early alpinists, she popularized the idea of “manless” climbing and, in the 1920s and 1930s, made the first all-female ascents of the Aiguille du Peigne, the Grépon, and the Matterhorn. She was also the first woman to summit all of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers and was a charter member (along with her husband Robert) of the White Mountains Winter Four Thousand Footer Club, completing the endeavor in a single season. One of the U.S.’s first great alpinists, Underhill helped pave the way for generations of Northeast climbers.

Miriam Underhill

Cordée en Féminine

Already an accomplished climber and mountaineer, Underhill (then O’Brien) broke a major barrier for women in 1927 when she and her partner Winifred Marples climbed the iconic Aiguille du Peigne in Chamonix alone and unsupported. Just three days later, she and Alice Damesme made the first women-only traverse of the Grépon, which at the time was considered one of the toughest climbs in the Alps.

Despite being one of the greatest U.S. climbers, there was not always contemporary adulation for Underhill. For instance, after the first female ascent of the Grépon, famed alpinist Étienne Bruhl remarked, “The Grépon has disappeared. Now that it has been done by two women alone, no self-respecting man can undertake it. A pity, too, because it used to be a very good climb.” Others treated the ascent as an anomaly, with The Alpine Journal—the annual publication by the Alpine Club of London—noting, “Few ladies, even in these days are even capable of mountaineering unaccompanied.”

Nevertheless, Underhill quite enjoyed that style of climbing. As she described in her memoir Give Me the Hills:

“The one who goes up first on the rope has even more fun, as he solves the immediate problems of technique, tactics and strategy as they occur. And if he is, as he usually is, the leader, the one who carries the responsibility for the expedition, he tastes the supreme joy…The exercise of proper judgment is of more consequence than in most sports, for mountaineering (like lion-hunting or white-water canoeing!) is a game with real and sometimes drastic penalty for failure…I saw no reason, why women, ipso facto, should be incapable of leading a good climb.”

In the following years, Underhill continued to make manless climbing a reality. In 1932, she teamed up with Damesme once again to make the first all-female ascent of the Matterhorn. All told, she made nine climbs cordée en féminine between 1929 and 1932. In 1934, the National Geographic Society published an article she wrote encapsulating her all-female ascent titled “Manless Alpine Climbing: The First Woman to Scale the Grépon, the Matterhorn and Other Famous Peaks Without Masculine Support.”

Underhill’s Northeast Training Ground

Underhill’s European success had its origins in years she spent romping in the Whites, exploring Mount Washington’s ravines and rock climbing in New England’s then-fledgling climbing areas. Miriam, along with a group of notable climbers from the era, would visit crags that remain popular today such as Crow Hill, the Quincy Quarries, and Pawtuckaway. Among those notable climbers was her younger brother Lincoln, an accomplished climber in his own right and whose first ascents include both Cannon and the Eaglet, routes he put up with Robert Underhill—Miriam’s future husband.

Miriam and Robert Underhill climbing in the White Mountains in the 1960s. | AMC Library and Archives

The Northeast’s Power Couple

Marriage put an end to Miriam’s women-only climbing, but not her passion for the mountains. She stated in her memoir, “Manless climbing [was] fun for a while, but this other arrangement is better!” While happy to share a rope with her husband, she wasn’t about to forgo the sharp end and the couple shared leads on climbs across the country for the next few decades. Additionally, they continued to share a love of the White Mountains.

In 1960, the couple, then with two adult sons, put another indelible mark on the region, becoming the third and fourth members of the White Mountains 4,000-footer club when they summited all 46 peaks. (Today there are 48 4,000-footers, but South Twin was not added until 1975, and Bondcliff was added in 1980.) The Underhills’ accomplishment is especially impressive considering mountains like Cabot, Waumbek, Tom, Zealand, Owl’s Head, West Bond, and the Hancocks were all without maintained trails at the time.

That same year, the Underhills established the Winter 4,000-Footer Club, completing their effort on Mount Jefferson in below-zero temperatures with winds howling at speeds more than 70 mph. At the time of their accomplishment, Miriam was 62 and Robert 71. Their rules for the Winter 4,000-Footers Club were simple: Climbs had to occur during calendar winter (“‘Snow on the ground’ and other namby-pamby criteria definitely did not count.”)

Underhill’s contribution to the region extended well beyond physical activities. Miriam edited Appalachia—the AMC’s journal—in the 1950s and 1960s, a position once held by her husband, who edited Appalachia from 1928 to 1934. Miriam’s photos also grace the AMC’s book Mountain Flowers of New England.

Miriam Underhill, left, at the Mizpah Springs Hut in 1965.

Underhill’s Legacy 

The Underhills’ legacy extends well beyond New England; the couple took climbing trips to Wyoming’s Tetons and Wind River Range (where you’ll find Miriam’s Peak and Bob’s Towers standing next to each other); Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains; and Montana’s Swan, Mission, and Beartooth ranges. Along with trips to Europe, Miriam climbed the Matterhorn for the third time in 1952.

Today, the Robert and Miriam Underhill Award is given annually by the American Alpine Club to “a person who, in the opinion of the selection committee, has demonstrated the highest level of skill in the mountaineering arts and who, through the application of this skill, courage, and perseverance, has achieved outstanding success in the various fields of mountaineering endeavor.”


Video: Go Higher

“That’s how far I climbed!”


The Gear You Need to Climb Mount Marcy in the Winter

For a winter adventure that’s equal parts unforgettable and challenging, it’s hard to beat a winter ascent of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack High Peaks. Checking in at an elevation of 5,344 feet, Mount Marcy is the highest peak in New York and offers commanding views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and valleys in all directions. With over 3,000 feet of elevation gain and a round-trip distance of nearly 15 miles via the shortest route to the summit, Mount Marcy makes for a long and challenging hike any time of year, but especially in winter when the temperature drops, the wind howls, and the days are short. Along with possessing the necessary fitness and knowledge, having the proper gear is paramount to completing a winter summit bid not only successfully, but also safely. In addition to common essentials such as a winter hat, gloves/mittens, snowshoes, and waterproof (and possibly insulated) hiking boots, the following 10 gear items are critical for any winter climb of Marcy.

Traction: EMS Ice Talons

Proper traction in winter is absolutely essential, and it seems like every winter weekend an unprepared hiker in bare boots (or even tennis shoes) slips and gets hurt in the High Peaks. With the amount of snow and ice varying from week to week in the winter, as well as with elevation, it’s wise to be prepared for hiking in both deep powder and ice-coated rock slabs on any winter ascent of Marcy. Even when the trail leading to the final summit approach is covered in feet of fluffy snow, the exposed, wind-swept rock slabs that comprise the summit dome are often largely devoid of powdery snow and are instead coated in a thick layer of ice. Snowshoes are typically too clunky and don’t offer sufficient traction for such terrain, but this is where traction devices such as the EMS Ice Talons really shine. Lighter and much more user-friendly than classic crampons, the EMS Ice Talons will allow you to confidently and safely navigate the rime ice and crunchy snow that will almost certainly be encountered below Marcy’s summit.

Trekking Poles: Leki Makalu Lite Cor Tec

The use of trekking poles while hiking is largely a personal decision, but they can be especially handy on a winter ascent of Marcy. In addition to alleviating some lower body stress (especially on the knees while descending), trekking poles can provide critical stability on the exposed final summit push where the wind can be so strong it can throw off your balance and sometimes even knock you on your feet. For hiking in powdery snow, be sure to put some wider baskets at the end of the trekking poles. Similar in concept to snowshoes, broader winter baskets give trekking poles better flotation in deep snow.

Snow Goggles

Snow googles will serve two purposes on this hike. For one thing, they’ll keep your eyelids from freezing shut if the summit is windy (which it often is) and snow is blowing in the air. Secondly, most snow goggles also act as sunglasses to protect against snow blindness, which can occur when unprotected eyes are subjected to extended periods of bright sunshine reflecting off of white snow. While you might be able to get away with using typical sunglasses for eye protection on calm days, mountain weather is unpredictable and winds can whip up in an instant, making snow goggles a prudent accessory to toss in your pack for a winter climb of Marcy.

Wicking Base Layer: EMS Lightweight Synthetic Base Layer Tights and Crewneck Long Sleeve Shirt

Sweating too much while hiking in the winter is one sure-fire way to get into a dangerous, hypothermic situation. Dressing in layers is essential for regulating body temperature, and it all starts with the next-to-skin base layer. Choosing a base layer material that’s wicking and quick-drying is key, and the old adage “cotton kills” comes to mind here. Unlike cotton, which takes a long time to dry once it’s wet and will sap your body of heat, it’s best to utilize synthetic materials or merino wool when choosing a base layer. The EMS Lightweight Synthetic Base Layer tights and crewneck long sleeve, for example, are made of moisture-wicking and quick-drying 100% polyester, which will pull perspiration away from the body to better regulate body temperature and prevent a bone-chilling cold to set in, especially while stopping for a break.

More: How to Dress While Snowshoeing

Credit: Joey Priola

Outdoor Research Skyward II Pants and Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket

Being at the highest elevation in the state comes with some of the harshest weather in the Northeast. For protection against wind, precipitation, and trudging through deep snow, a breathable outer layer that’s wind and water-proof is key. Pants such as the Skyward II, and a jacket such as the Interstellar (both from Outdoor Research) help form a protective barrier between you and the harsh winter elements, especially when in the exposed alpine zone.

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters

Wet, cold feet are likely the most common complaint among people new to winter hiking. In addition to hiking in sturdy and waterproof boots, gaiters are the best accessory to ensure that feet stay dry and toasty, and are worth their weight in gold on hikes through deep snow. Gaiters effectively cover boot tops and prevent snow from getting in, even when hiking through waist-deep snow. The Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiters are the classic, gold-standard gaiter for winter hiking, and come with a Gore-Tex membrane to ensure that the gaiters don’t wet-out even in slushy conditions.

Credit: Joey Priola

Socks: EMS X-Static Sock Liners and Smartwool Women’s PhD Pro Medium Crew Socks

Continuing with the keeping feet warm and dry theme, choosing the right socks can be the difference between a safe and comfortable hike and a painful and dangerous slog. Just as the aforementioned base layers for your upper and lower body help manage sweat and regulate body temperature, use a thin pair of synthetic liner socks like the EMS X-Static Sock Liners help to pull perspiration away from the foot to prevent cold and clammy feet. Following up the liner sock with a mid-weight sock such as the Smartwool PhD Pro adds extra insulation without overheating.

Down Jacket: EMS Men’s Feather Pack Hooded Jacket

As previously mentioned, layering clothing is critical in winter. A warm yet lightweight insulated jacket should always be in your pack in winter, and will come in handy while stopping to take a snack break and for braving the exposed alpine zone on the final approach to Marcy’s summit. Down offers an optimal warmth-to-weight ratio, and modern down jackets such as the EMS Feather Pack Hooded Jacket now offer water-repellent down which retains its insulation value even in wet conditions.

More: How to Choose the Right Jacket for Winter Adventures

Credit: Joey Priola

Headlamp: Petzl Tikka

Short winter days coupled with a nearly 15 mile round-trip hike means that part of your hike will likely be spent in the dark. Packing a headlamp (and spare batteries) such as the Petzl Tikka will help keep the trail illuminated and you safe when it’s dark out.

Insulated Water Bottle: Camelbak Carry Cap 32 oz Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle

Staying properly hydrated is always important while hiking, but no matter how much water you carry, it won’t do you any good if it’s frozen. Boiling water before the hike and keeping water bottles inside your backpack is typically good enough to keep water from freezing on a day hike, but an insulated water bottle or thermos such as the Camelbak Carry Cap 32 oz Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle will eliminate any doubt that your beverage of choice will be in a liquid state when you need it.


Dawn Patrol: Why You Should Be Ice Climbing Before Work

It’s a little before 10:00 pm and I’m in the parking lot of my regular climbing gym, tucking away my rock shoes and racking screws, slings, and cordalettes onto my harness. I’ve just wrapped up a late evening session and, in about eight hours, will be doing some early-bird laps at a nearby ice climbing area. All before work begins at 9:00 am.

If this sounds obsessive, that’s because it probably is. See, it’s finally winter in Connecticut and the local ice is finally in a climbable way—after a January full of obscenely early mornings and ridiculously long drives north, the idea of climbing nearby is all too alluring to pass up. That, and the acknowledgement that Southern New England’s winters are a lot shorter than they used to be, means it’s time to strike while the iron’s hot. Tomorrow, that means getting up early and getting after it before clocking in.

To surfers and skiers, this ritual is a familiar one known as the “dawn patrol.” And the first thing to accept about the dawn patrol is that there won’t be a ton of daylight to work with—the winter sun is a late riser and the workday starts when it always does. Making the most out of pre-work laps means packing efficiently, picking the right spot, and being comfortable alone in the dark.

Leaving the harness, helmet, and crampons out of the pack will make for a quicker transition out of the lot. | Credit: John Lepak

And that’s exactly what I’m doing in a parking lot outside a closed climbing gym: packing efficiently. I’m working with the space in the recently-emptied trunk of my Subaru instead of the inside of my pack.

In the middle, my harness is racked and double-checked to make sure everything I need is on there. To the left, my crampons are laid out ready to go. Above, my helmet, with a headlamp already in place. To the right, my pack: tools fixed to the outside, rope coiled within, stacked atop the remaining essentials. The ride in the morning is going to be short, so I’ll throw the boots and the gaiters on before hitting the road and my hat and gloves are in the passenger seat, alongside a breakfast of a banana and a granola bar.

Everything is in its right place and this is going to make things fly come morning. The harness, helmet, and pack go right on in the lot—the crampons as soon as I cross the street and get onto the snow-packed trail. By the time I reach the ice, I’m already ready to go.

A familiar spot with easy top-out access and a concentration of routes can give you efficiency and variety in your pre-work laps. | Credit: John Lepak

It’s worth noting that dawn patrol ice climbing isn’t going to work just anywhere—selecting the right place is just as critical as preparing the gear ahead of time. I’ve picked my spot carefully: I scouted the ice the previous week and I know, without any certainty, that it’s going to be good to go. I’m also familiar with it, so there won’t be any guess work finding the climbers’ path or accessing the top of the routes in the dark. I’ve got my anchor trees in mind, and I know exactly how I’m going to set up so I can get as many laps in on as many routes as time will allow.

Most importantly, both the drive and the approach are short. Long drives and big hikes are for the weekends—I’ve done my due diligence to seek out areas that are neither far from home nor far from the road so I’m not spending all my time either behind the wheel or huffing my way up the trail.

Oftentimes the dawn patrol is a lonely—but rewarding—experience. | Credit: John Lepak

Partners are typically hard to come by on the dawn patrol—a lot of ice climbers are willing to get an early start for a full day of climbing but the numbers thin out when talking about an hour or two before heading into a full day of work. More often than not these missions are rope-solo missions.

Climbing alone is weird, but one with many worthy merits. Like hiking alone—a much more common experience—climbing by yourself comes with a very unique headspace. My safety is exclusively in my hands, and I know it: there’s no partner check, nor is there any belay save a self-belay—no one’s calling for rescue should something go wrong.  Every move I make needs to be cautious and deliberate. Though, with the silence of the forest, the brightening dawn, and the singular concentration required to move safely comes a meditative state—a centeredness all-to-uncommon for a weekday.


The Gear You Need to Ice Climb at Hillyer Ravine

The deep, dark recesses of Kaaterskill Clove, in the eastern Catskills, are home to some of the area’s best ice climbing. Noteworthy areas include the popular roadside destination of Moore’s Bridge, the looming pillars of Kaaterskill Falls and the long, tiered waterfalls known collectively as The Ravines. The Ravines—including Hillyer, Viola, Wildcat, and Buttermilk—offer some of the Cats’ best long, moderate routes: All weigh in at between four and six pitches in length with a difficulty in the WI3 to WI4 range. The relatively long, strenuous approaches make for a full day affair and lend a remote, backcountry vibe to each. Moreover, their northerly aspect makes for reliable ice throughout the season.

The most accessible of the bunch is Hillyer. Hillyer Ravine climbs about 200 feet in four moderate pitches with each going at around WI3. Substantial ledges separate one pitch from the next and, though you won’t likely see the same number of people here as you would elsewhere in the Cats—the rigor of the approach and the dearth of parking thin the crowds out a bit—there is plenty of room for multiple parties to set up shop. The wide second and third pitches in particular offer a ton of climbable ice and an entire day could easily be spent doing laps on these two pitches alone.

All in all, a day in Hillyer Ravine is a day well spent. And, like any day out, proper preparation and equipment is key—here’s what you need to bring to climb Hillyer.

Credit: John Lepak

Beal Booster 9.7mm Dry Rope

No single tier of Hillyer Ravine stretches higher than 50 feet so a single 60 meter rope will be more than enough—but be sure it’s a dry one. Dry-treated ropes have a coating that prevents water absorption which, on ice, is critical. A frozen climbing rope can ruin your day real quick. The Beal Booster 9.7 mm Dry Rope is a good bet to keep things running smoothly and safely.

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

Whether you’re climbing ice, rock, or indoors, a harness is compulsory. For ice, get one with adjustable leg loops—to account for thick winter layers like the Black Diamond Momentum (men’s/women’s). A couple of Petzl Caritool Evo Holders are a good add for racking screws on the way up and tools on the way down.

Petzl Nomic Ice Tools

There are many types of ice axes, each with their own specific utility. For vertical ice like what you’ll find on Hillyer, a pair of technical ice tools—so defined by their bent shaft, curved pick, and offset grip—are the way to go. The Petzl Nomic is a balanced, workhorse of a tool that’s great for the variety of terrain you’ll find in the Ravines.

Black Diamond Cyborg Pro

Like ice axes, crampons also come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific function. Crampons with vertical front points like the Black Diamond Cyborg Pro, clipped into a pair of stiff-soled mountaineering boots like the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX will get you up Hillyer—and most other routes in the Cats, for that matter—no problem.

Ice Rack

The overwhelming majority of routes in the Catskills are doable with a fistful of ice screws. A couple of Petzl Laserspeed Ice Screws in the 13 to 17cm range will have you covered in Hillyer Ravine. A good bit of cord is definitely handy for building belays between pitches too—20 feet of Sterling 7mm Accessory Cord, two Petzl Attaché Locking Carabiners, and a sturdy tree will make you a nice monopoint anchor.

Tip: The guidebook, An Ice Climber’s Guide to the Catskill Mountains, provides greater detail on what constitutes a typical Catskills ice rack—as well as everything else you need to know about the area.

Outdoor Research Vigor Midweight Sensor Gloves

Keeping your hands warm and dry is a constant challenge on any winter outing and this rings especially true for ice climbing when your arms are elevated and circulation is limited. A pair of gloves that split the difference between warmth and dexterity—like the Outdoor Research Vigor Midweight Sensor Gloves (men’s/women’s)—will help ward off the dreaded screaming barfies while allowing you to still place screws and clip ropes effectively. Bring two pairs so you can easily replace one if they get soaked.

EMS Feather Pack Hooded Jacket

Staying warm and dry is incredibly important in any winter activity, and layering properly is the best way to do it. The layers you’re going to want to use will largely depend on the conditions but, on a backcountry climb like Hillyer Ravine, it’s important to be prepared for everything with lightweight, packable options. In warmer weather, when things get wet, a light hardshell, like the Marmot Precip Eco Jacket (men’s/women’s) makes things a lot more comfortable. In colder weather, an insulated jacket like the EMS Feather Pack Hooded Jacket (men’s/women’s) keeps the heat in while gearing up, belaying, or having lunch.

Trail Spikes

Clocking in at one mile with 1000 feet of elevation gain from the parking area to the base of the climb, Hillyer Ravine’s approach is a stiff one. Conditions on the well-worn climbers’ trail vary but you can bet on the need for traction. Toss a pair of the new EMS Ice Talons in your pack and you’ll be ready for whatever.

Tip: Hillyer Ravine shares most of its approach with neighboring Viola Ravine and it’s not uncommon to tick both in the same trip by climbing one, rappelling the second, then reversing the order.


52 in 52: The Ultimate Northeast Peakbagger’s Checklist

It’s time to put 2020 in the past (phew!) and start looking ahead. If you dream of filling your 2021 with sitting on craggy mountain tops, running narrow ridgelines, and exploring high places, then we’ve got the list for you. Below are 52 peaks to explore over the next 52 weeks.

Hiking along Franconia Ridge. | Credit: Tim Peck

Winter

  1. Kick off the new year with an ascent of the Northeast’s tallest mountain via its most classic route—the Lion Head on Mount Washington.
  2. What’s better than hiking up New Hampshire’s Mount Moosilaukee? Skiing down it!
  3. Tick not one, but three High Peak summits—Wright, Algonquin, and Iroquois—with a winter traverse of the MacIntyre Range.
  4. Summit Mount Watatic, the southern terminus of the Wapack Trail, and enjoy some pow on the descent. It’s so nice, you’ll want to summit twice.
  5. Climb Mount Colden by the Trap Dike.
  6. Slide into New Hampshire’s 52 With a View with a ski ascent/descent of Mount Cardigan.
  7. Tag two New Hampshire 4,000-footers on one of the most stunning hikes in the White Mountains: Franconia Ridge.
  8. Take the road less traveled by a ski ascent/descent of Whiteface Mountain on the auto road.
  9. Challenge yourself on one of the premier mountaineering routes in the Adirondacks (and tick the tenth highest peak in the range)—the North Face of Gothics.
  10. Get a start on earning your membership to the Catskill 3500 Club with an ascent of Panther Peak, or one of these other awesome winter hikes for aspiring Catskill 3500ers.
  11. Get off trail in the Adirondacks and bushwack to the summit of Number 8 Mountain.
  12. Dip your toe into winter hiking with an ascent of Bauneg Beg Mountain in North Berwick, Maine.
  13. Climb New Hampshire’s best moderate ice climb, Shoestring Gully, then scamper to the top of Mount Webster.
Taking in the views from the rocky summit of Monadnock. | Credit: Tim Peck

Spring

  1. Beat the crowds to the summit of Mount Monadnock—the U.S.’s most-hiked peak—with an early season ascent.
  2. Summit one of the Catskill’s two 4,000-footers, or put your early season legs to the test and try to do them both in a day.
  3. The Thunderbolt Trail on Mount Greylock is one of New England’s most historic ski runs, but once the snow melts, it’s time to challenge your hiking legs on its steep slopes.
  4. “Hike” or “non-technical climbing route”? Either way, the Precipice Trail is one of the best adventures in the Northeast.
  5. Go bouldering and tackle tiny rocks in the country’s smallest state at Lincoln Woods—the Iron Cross boulder might only be 10ish-feet tall, but conquering it by its namesake problem is an accomplishment any pebble wrestler will appreciate.
  6. Take on Connecticut’s tallest peak, Bear Mountain
  7. Climb the fire tower that adorns the summit of New Jersey’s Apple Pie Hill—the highest point in the Pine Barrens at 209 feet above sea level—with a backpacking trip on the Batona Trail.
  8. Ski season at Killington winds down at the end of spring, but hiking season at Killington is just starting.
  9. Escape to warmer weather and complete Virginia’s Triple Crown.
  10. Tick off the peaks along the Skyline Trail in the Blue Hills while the more northern mountains thaw out.
  11. Take in one of the best views in the White Mountains from the summit of Mount Carrigain (and don’t forget to check out the ghost town near its base).
  12. Lay low during mud season, but not too low with an ascent of Vermont’s 968-foot-tall Mount Philo.
  13. Hike to the top of Bald Mountain and take in the views of Sugarloaf and Mount Washington, both of which might still have snow (and skiers!) on them.

Summer

  1. Visit the summit of Monument Mountain and earn bonus points for reciting the famous William Cullen Bryant poem of the same name at the peak.
  2. Avoid crowded summer trails on a trip to the top of Mount Isolation or one of the other often-avoided New Hampshire 4,000-footers.
  3. A dip in a lake is a favorite summer activity for some, others prefer a stellar summit in the Lakes.
  4. Visit Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, Vermont….ugh, we mean summit Camel’s Hump.
  5. Try a classic Northeast Sufferfest like the White Mountain Hut to Hut Traverse. Let us know if you remember summiting South Twin! 
  6. Summit, swim, and sit back with your toes in the sand on the Beehive in Acadia National Park.
  7. Take advantage of long summer days to make this nearly 15-mile trek to the tallest peak in the Adirondacks, Mount Marcy.
  8. Discover what the Von Trapps meant when they sang, “The hills are alive…” on Vermont’s Mount Mansfield.
  9. Summit Mount Katahdin then edge your way across its most recognizable feature—the Knife Edge Trail.
  10. Take a trip to the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy and climb the highest hill in Providence, Rhode Island, at 296 feet above sea level.
  11. There’s no better trip in the White Mountains for standing on the summits of 4,000-footers than the Pemi Loop—you can tick twelve summits from your list, a quarter of the NH48!
  12. Tackle one of these popular Franconia Notch peaks from a different direction.
  13. Climb the aptly named Ladder Trail to the summit of Dorr Mountain and take in the incredible 360-degree view.  
Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. | Credit: Tim Peck

Fall

  1. Get an early start on the South Ridge on Cadillac Mountain and be one of the first people in the U.S. to see the sunrise.
  2. Explore a local foliage fave, Pack Monadnock, in southern New Hampshire. If your legs are springy, add North Pack to your hike as well.
  3. Get out of The City for some hiking—try Bear Mountain or one of these other spectacular peaks. 
  4. Dodge leaf peepers and peak baggers on Mount Guyot or one of these other non-counting New Hampshire 4,000 footers.
  5. Enjoy the foliage from two of Pennsylvania’s best viewpoints, the summits of Pulpit the Pinnacle.
  6. The top of the Eaglet in Franconia Notch is undoubtedly one of the most striking spots in the Northeast.
  7. There’s no better time for a trip to South and North Hancock than after the leaves have hit the ground and traffic quiets down on the Kancamagus.
  8. Bag your first ADK 46er with a trip to the top of Cascade Mountain.
  9. Country roads, take me home / to the place, I belong…West Virginia, mountain(s).
  10. Make the march to the summit of Storm King Mountain and then take a break for a beer at Industrial Arts Brewing Company.
  11. Summit four New Hampshire 4,000-footers—Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, and Washington—on a hike along  the country’s oldest continuously maintained hiking trail, the Crawford Path.
  12. Cross the summit of six more New Hampshire 4,000-footers off your list with a backpacking trip across the Carter Range.
  13. Sneak in a trip up Maine’s Mount Reddington before winter conditions make it one of the Northeast’s toughest climbs.

Let’s hope the weirdness peaked in 2020 and we can focus on getting to the top of these 52 peaks in 2021!

Descending Killington. | Credit: Tim Peck

goEast Countdown to Winter Advent(ure) Calendar

For those who are more amped about snowy fun than Christmas Day, you can count down to the official start of winter with this 21-day advent(ure) calendar. Tick them daily for a treat-a-day leading up to December 21, or use it as a guide to the most wonderful time of year. Either way, you’re in for a whole lot of fun!

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Tim Peck

  • December 18: Not ready to tackle Tucks? Ski Mount Washington from the west along the more mellow Cog Railway.
  • December 19: Some argue the best skiing in New Hampshire isn’t found on the state’s biggest peaks, but rather in the woods. Check out some of the Granite State’s best tree skiing.
  • December 20: Conquer a classic multi-pitch ice climb with an ascent of Shoestring Gully.
  • December 21: Celebrate the first official day of winter in style—check one of the Northeast’s most classic mountaineering lines off your list with an ascent of the Lion Head on Mount Washington. Not ready to go it alone? The EMS Climbing School runs trips up the Rockpile all winter.

’Tis the season to be jolly, especially if you tick these awesome activities off this winter. Have other adventures schemed up for the advent of winter? If so, let us know about them in the comments!