AMC Outdoors, January/February 2003
Garrett Banuk, 23, is a computer programmer from Cambridge, Mass. He hikes every weekend in winter and posts his photos at www.mongeese.org.
Q. What was your first winter hiking experience?
A. A couple of years ago, I went with my college outing club up Mount Lafayette. It was really windy and I got frostbite on my fingers. I felt I could improve on it the next time.
Q. What has been your best experience?
A. In November, I climbed Mount Eisenhower. It was 40-below with the windchill but I felt really good. I had a down coat and was so comfortable and self-sufficient being up there in those conditions.
Q. What piece of gear do you never leave home without?
A. A good down coat. Then a candle lantern — it helps warm up the tent and gets rid of condensation.
Q. What is your favorite backcountry winter destination in the Northeast?
A. Well, everything in the Presidentials. It’s not as crowded in the winter. Eisenhower is more remote than the others — sometimes you’re the first one to break trail there.
Q. What are your goals for this winter?
A. One big thing for me is the Presidential Traverse over four days. I hope to do it over Christmas vacation.
Q. What would be your advice to the first-time winter hiker?
A. The most important thing is to have a sleeping bag and shelter. You may have to stay out overnight unexpectedly and people aren’t equipped to stay over. One time, coming down Washington late in the cold and fog, I couldn’t see and had to stop and camp overnight. I had my tent and bag.
[But in general,] people think it will be a lot colder than it actually is. People expect to be cold the whole time they’re hiking — and they aren’t.