Mountaineering and Above Tree Line Kit

The equipment listed on this page is needed in addition to our Standard Winter Kit.  This equipment is needed for the following programs:  Mt Washington Ascent, Observatory Overnighter, 3-Day Accelerated Mountaineering course, and any private trip that involves above tree line travel.

The items below are REQUIRED unless otherwise specified.  If you have questions about what to bring, please call the Climbing School at 845-668-2030.

Gear List

The following is required in ADDITION to our Standard Winter Kit.

(1) Glove Liners 
You will need one additional pair.

(2) Mittens 
You should have a total of 3 or more pairs of gloves or mittens.  Insulated gloves, like ski gloves, with a windproof/waterproof shell are a must for higher elevations and more technical climbing.  Mittens with a windproof/waterproof shell are essential for those colder temperatures at higher elevations.

(3) Neoprene Face Mask
This face mask must be made of neoprene (wetsuit material).  Neoprene provides a snug-to-your-face fit and, if adjusted well, will prevent frostbite.  This face mask can be incorporated into your buff or balaclava, but we recommend purchasing just the face mask in order to maintain maximum layering flexibility.

(4) Ski Goggles (2 pairs recommended)
Goggles are an essential component of any mountaineering endeavor.  They cover your eyes and the upper part of your face to shield you from high winds, frostbiting cold temperatures, and damaging UV rays on both sunny and cloudy days.  However, they are hard to manage while hiking uphill and breathing heavily.  Your breath often freezes on the inside of the lens (mostly because you are breathing through your neoprene face mask and your breath is forced up through your goggles) and is nearly impossible to prevent and clear off once this has happened.  This is why we recommend 2 pairs (maybe one new pair and one old pair as a spare).  We have had to turn around on Mt. Washington because of this situation, as our climbers simply couldn’t see and they needed their eyes and face protected from the cold and wind.

(5) Headlamp
This is another crucial item for any mountaineering trip.  Mother Nature doesn’t always provide us with light, so we bring our own.  Carry an LED headlamp with extra batteries (lithium is recommended) for when She decides to flip the switch.  If you are caught in the dark, getting back to your car can take 3-4 times as long without light.

Observatory Overnights

This is the list of overnight gear for the observatory trip.  In addition to your standard winter kit and mountaineering kit, you will need to bring:  a larger capacity backpack (50-65 liters), a very lightweight sleeping bag (nothing warmer than 35 degrees as we are sleeping inside), and comfortable clothing to wear while hanging around inside at the summit.  Please refrain from bringing any alcoholic beverages — the Mt. Washington Observatory has a strict no alcohol policy on the summit.


EMS will provide all climbers with appropriate plastic winter mountaineering boots.  Boot sizes range from women’s 5-men’s 16.  If you have a larger or smaller foot, please let us know before you arrive.

EMS Climbing School Provides

Plastic mountaineering boots, crampons, mountaineering axe, ice tools, harness, helmet, climbing hardware, and ropes.

Helpful Tips

1) When packing clothing for your outing, do not pack any more clothing than you can wear at once.  If we empty your pack and you can’t wear all your clothes because you packed too many layers, you will need to eliminate some clothes.

2) If you are doing a multi-day program, remember all this gear needs to be worn for multiple days.  If it will not dry overnight please bring extra for the following day(s).  Although we have tricks for drying your synthetic long underwear in the tent, it’s nice to have a spare set of “next to skin” layers and socks to wear while your other clothes are drying.

3) If you need help determining which layers to wear, bring more rather than less, and ask us to help you pack. Drop us an email or call with questions.  Remember we are out there every day.

Eastern Mountain Sports Schools