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Winter Hiking in December for The First Time

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  • Winter Hiking in December for The First Time

    I'm planning on climbing Whiteface towards the end of December. What will the conditions be like as in snow and temperature. Also what equipment do I need.

  • #2
    Impossible to say what conditions will be that far out. Here are ranges:

    >Surfaces anything from ice to very deep snow.

    >Weather anything from sun to snow to rain.

    >Temperatures anywhere from -20F to about 45F.

    >Winds from calm to gale.

    >Very short daylight.

    Need at least:

    >Snowshoes and microspikes or crampons.

    >Poles are helpful; ice axe not needed.

    >Multiple clothing layers; at least one significant down or synthetic puffy jacket.

    >Multiple glove or mitten changes.

    >WINTER boots.

    >Ability to navigate, and a planned turn around time.

    >Multiple headlamps.

    Others will chime in with additional thoughts, of course.


    • #3
      See post #2 here... many links to threads about winter hiking...

      End of December in the Adirondacks will be snow (perhaps deep if you're the first one there after a snowstorm and you have to break trail), ice, and cold... possibly below zero. Or it could be 40* with everything melting and refreezing when the temp dips again. You won't know conditions until just days before your hike, maybe even the night before. Warm temps or rain can ruin everything overnight. Impossible to plan for now. The best you can do is have all the gear you need and figure out what you carry that day.

      Before tackling Whiteface in the winter I would suggest tackling a few smaller peaks to familiarize yourself with winter hiking and to do a gear shakedown. It's easy to make mistakes at first. Better to gain some experience first.


      • #4
        Consider the road walk as well. It may not be plowed as it was this past year. I did it twice while plowed.
        bring snowshoes and spikes. Views aplenty the entire time. So, if you choose to turn around, it won't be a total loss.


        • #5
          I would consider doing cascade for my first winter hike.
          Leave No Trace!


          • Eddie Fournier
            Eddie Fournier commented
            Editing a comment
            although I suspect it might be more subject to post-holing than other destinations

          • NickWI
            NickWI commented
            Editing a comment
            Phelps and Big Slide would also be good first winter hikes. My first (not true winter but very snowy mid-December) was Wright which was also nice.

        • #6
          By mid-December last year there was 4' of snow on higher elevations - don't let the conditions around the parking lot fool you.

          It can be fun but it's a lot of work for the solo hiker breaking trail. Whiteface is one trail that is likely to be broken quickly after a snow fall (and it's a marked trail so you can't get lost).