I obtained my cold weather activities experience with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston Chapter. We mostly did cold weather mountaineering in New Hampshire’s White Mountains including, cross country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and camping.
The AMC Boston chapter ran classes on winter activities starting in early autumn, and with a culminating session on Cold Weather injuries with Dr. Murray Hamlet of the US Army Natick Labs.
The US Northwest organization The Mountaineers publishes educational material. The ADK Winter school run programs in the Northeast. Fine reference books are Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, by The Mountaineers and Don’t Die on the Mountain, Dan Allen, 1998.
ID and Treat Cold Weather Injuries
Images associated with Cold Weather Injuries
Best to start hiking in the summer and into autumn to build up stamina for winter activities.
I also recommend Wilderness First Aid. Wilderness First aid is for when a group is an hour or more away from definitive medical care.
- Dress in layers
- No cotton as cotton holds moisture.
- Drink lots of water and keep drinking.
In winter weather in New Hampshire, it’s best to be able to cover all exposed flesh with a wicking layer e.g. polypro or silk, followed by a insulation layer such as wool or polyester fleece. This includes the face and hands. When doing strenuous activities, you may wish to remove the insulation layer but be prepared to redon the insulation when you stop.
My typical winter dress was:
- Pile or wool hat or balaclava
- Deer skin face mask
- Polypro long underwear top
- Pile insulation jacket
- Gore-tex jacket
- polypro inner gloves
- polypro inner gloves
- Wool or pile outer mitten
- Nylon or gore-tex overmit
- Eyes – wear plastic framed sunglasses to avoid snow blindness and bring ski goggles in case of active snow.
- Polypro long underwear bottom
- nylon shorts
- silk inner sock
- wool outer sock
Appropriate winter footwear e.g. Winter boots with winter gaters.
More on Keeping Warm in the winter
Never go alone.
Always go with experienced people.
Keep an eye on urine color – dark urine means trouble e.g. dehydration
When snowshoeing, trade off the front frequently.
Keep an eye on each others mental state. Hypothermia can sneak up and be deadly.
Bring a sleeping bags and tent in case of emergency.
Drink plenty of water. You can’t drink too much in the winter as the air dehydrates everyone.
Bring headlamps that function well in cold weather. If you are walking out after dark, headlamps can be a lifesaver. Lithium battery or Nickel metal hydride (NIMH) batteries work well if the headlamp is designed to use them.
Adam Selene November 2014
Cold Weather Activities by Adam Selene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.