Winter Alpine Mountaineering Kit List

A summary of technical equipment & clothing required if you are joining us on an alpine mountaineering trip in either the autumn, winter and spring seasons.

This ‘non summer’ alpine style often involves climbing with a larger and heavier pack with much warmer clothing both in terms of your layering system and extras like goggles, face mask, very warm boots and gloves etc.

‘Non Summer’ Alpine Mountaineering Equipment

Autumn, winter or spring mountaineering in the Alps involves a mixture of weather and conditions.  Autumn and winter are cold and probably windy but can see some fair, cold weather; spring is often milder but can see the weather change fast. Thus the mountaineer needs to be prepared for both with a suitable mix of light & cool clothing & sun protection that can be quickly added to with other layers to deal with cold & windy conditions.

Simon on the sustained steep walk to the Albert Premier Hut on the direct route from Le Tour at the upper end of the Chamonix Valley.

Technical Items

  • Mountain Boot – Boots designed for alpine mountaineering and thus able to take crampons effectively (B3 or B2) and well insulated.  Scarpa Phantom 6000 is an ideal boot for technical cold-weather climbing in the Alps; with a warm double-boot design.  La Sportiva G5 Evo boot is also suitable.  Boots can be hired from us or in Chamonix if you don’t have a suitable pair, please contact us if you wish to hire as there are less pairs of these available.
  • Crampons and bag – 12 point mountaineering crampons with anti-balling plates, essential.  The Petzl Vasak crampon makes an ideal crampon, this comes with 2 different binding systems Leverlock Universal (clip for front & back) and Flexlock (plastic bale) the best combination is to have the Flexlock on the front and the Leverlock clip for the rear.  When packed in your rucksack they are best stored in a bag to stop them from damaging anything else.  Avoid both very lightweight walking / ski touring crampons or heavy technical ice climbing crampons.
  • Ice axe – A simple mountaineering ice axe is ideal and preferable to technical climbing models. Petzl Summit Evo, Black Diamond Venom, Grivel air-tech and, cheapest but still totally fine, DMM Cirque. Any straps or leashes on your ice axe should be removed.
  • Harness – General mountaineering harness ideal e.g. DMM Super Couloir / Centre or Black Diamond Bod, with 2 X screw gate Karabiners. If you already have a rock climbing harness this will be fine as long as it is large enough to wear over multiple bulky warm layers.  If you are buying one specifically for Mont Blanc, choose a lightweight alpine mountaineering harness or a good general harness for both rock climbing & mountaineering like the Petzl Corax.
Harness Crampons Axe
Petzl Corax Harness, Vasak Crampon & Summit Ice Axe
  • Helmet – General mountaineering helmet essential e.g. Petzl Elios or other Black Diamond or Petzl mountaineering helmet.
  • Hardware – This kit will be provided by the guide but, if you have your own then please bring a belay plate / Karabiners / Sling (120cm).
  • Rucksack – A 30-50ltr rucksack is required. When it comes to fit it’s best to try some on before buying. Key features to look for are: adjustable waist and shoulder straps; easy to use buckles for opening/closing sack; 1 ideally 2 ice axe attachment points; side compression straps; durable/waterproof fabrics. The sack should come with either a waterproof liner or use some dry bags to keep clothing and other kit dry and separated in your pack. You should be able to get all the kit listed here inside, it’s best to avoid having any kit attached to the outside of the sack other than your axe(s) and if we give you a rope to carry!  A good example of a suitable rucksack is the Arc’teryx Alpha AR 35  Other suitable rucksacks can be viewed HERE.
Arcteryx Alpha AH Rucksack
Arcteryx Alpha AH Rucksack – A suitable rucksack for Alpine Mountaineering


  • Waterproof Shell-Jacket – Gore-Tex material or similar that provides a high level of waterproofness and breathability.  A helmet-compatible hood, external & internal pockets and waterproof zips are good features to look for.  Avoid a softshell material it is can be a gamble if conditions are wet.  A good example is the Arc’teryx Alpha AR jacket available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Waterproof Shell-Trousers – Gore-Tex material or similar that provides a high level of waterproofness and breathability.  Side-zips on the legs are a useful feature as it makes it easier to put them on in tricky situations.  Arc’teryx Beta SV Bib Pant is a good example, available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Down Layer – It is essential to have a down jacket with you for colder conditions, a jacket with a minimum fill of around 700 – 750 is essential.  It should be packable, warm, and have a helmet-compatible hood.  Example Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Mid-Layer(s) – It is best to have a number of lightweight layers to make up your clothing system.  Fleece layers are ideal for this as you can add and remove them according to how you feel and the conditions.  Stretch fleece jacket, half or full-zip options all work well, an example is Arc’teryx Kyanite LT hoody available in both men’s & women’s.
  • Base Layers – this should include your underwear (pants!) and base layer top and legs.  Wearing natural fibers like merino wool next to your skin is good for comfort, breathability, and warmth; not to mention they smell a lot less than synthetic fibers.  Merino or a similar wool base layer for your top and legs is ideal, Smartwool, Icebreaker and other brands all make suitable products.
  • Additional Layers – You must ensure you have additional layers for cold temperatures.  This should include a big duvet jacket and you should have a minimum of 5 layers for your upper body and 3 for your legs.
Examples of Outer Jacket, Down Jacket & Baselayer
Examples of Outer Jacket, Down Jacket & Baselayer suitable for Alpine Mountaineering
  • Hat / Balaclava – You must bring a warm hat for cold conditions and a balaclava or face mask.  Also bring a neck gaiter / ‘buffs’ with you for additional cold protection.  You need to ensure that you can wear items under a climbing helmet.
  • Gloves – You will need at least 3 pairs, ideally a liner pair, a thinner pair for dexterity holding an ice axe, with a grippy leather palm and fingers and a pair of thicker, warmer, insulated gloves.  Examples here.
Glove Selection for autumn winter & spring alpine mountaineering
Wool Glove Liner, Softshell Glove & Warm, Waterproof Gauntlet Style Winter Glove
  • Socks – It is best to only wear 1 pair of socks inside your boots, a medium thickness pair, possibly in wool is a good choice, bring a couple of pairs.
  • Gaiters – These will help to keep snow out of your boots and your feet warm and dry as well as your laces away from your crampons, ideally, they should be breathable.  Examples can be found HERE.  Boots with built-in gaiters also work well and generally mean that you don’t need an additional pair.

It is important to stress that you will need solid warm gear for these trips, if you have any questions or are unsure about what to bring then please give us a call to discuss.

Mid Winter Alpine Mountaineering From Skyway Monte Bianco – A Cold & Tough Business….And Great Expedition Training!


  • Head Torch – With new batteries.  Petzl Swift RL as an example.  Necessary for pre-dawn starts and moving around in the mountain hut at night.
  • Walking Poles – you may wish to bring 1 or a pair of walking poles for walks in & out.  Lightweight, foldable poles are ideal; example Black Diamond Distance Z poles.
  • Sun Glasses & Goggles – Good quality sunglasses that form a good seal with your face and fit securely. Category 3 or 4 for use in strong sunlight with reflection from the snow. Goggles are essential for use in cold temperatures and windy / snowy weather.
  • Sun Cream & Lip Protection – Bring both and use liberally every day regardless of the weather. At least factor 30 and factor 50 preferable. Small bottles are ideal to save weight.
  • Water Bottle – A tough 1L ‘Nalgene’ style water bottle is ideal and can be supplemented with another bottle of sports drink etc. for the summit days. Hot sweet tea is sometimes available in the huts and a good way of keeping your drink warm for longer.
  • Snacks / Hill food – Bring your favorite snacks for the hill, flapjacks, cereal bars, dried fruit, cake, chocolate, energy bars etc. Things can be bought in Chamonix before departure and in the mountain huts which also provide lunch.
  • Personal Medical Items – Blister kit, plasters, painkillers, glasses / contact lenses as necessary
  • Personal Admin Items – Mobile Phone, Cash, Passport if necessary, Insurance details – see our Insurance FAQ

Extra Kit For The Mountain Huts

  • Very thin / light sheet sleeping bag / liner is required in huts (compulsory for hygiene reasons). This is a very small / light item and not a normal sleeping back (which is not required).  Examples can be found on the Needlesports website here and similar or cheaper / heavier ones are also available in shops in Chamonix
  • Spare socks
  • Ear Plugs
  • Toothbrush
  • Hut discount card / Alpine club membership (e.g. BMC / Alpine Club / Austrian Alpine Club etc)
Winter Hut stay
Dinner at the Chabod Hut winter room on our autumn Gran Paradiso course…boil in the bag!

Optional Items

  • Additional mountaineering hardware including 2 prussiks, belay plate, 8ft sling, Ice screw, 1 screw gate and 3 snap-link karabiners
  • Goggles (generally only used on Mont Blanc)
  • Trekking poles
  • GPS

Equipment Provided by your Mountain Guide (but carried by the group as a whole)

  • Rope(s)
  • Climbing hardware / protection
  • First aid kit
  • Group emergency shelter
  • Map & compass
  • Topo / Guide book

For More Technical Climbs

  • For ice & mixed climbs – 2 x technical ice tools
Rothorn Hut Winter Room
Dusk at the Rothorn Hut winter room with the Monte Rosa Massif beyond

Extra Equipment For The Winter Rooms In The Mountain Huts – For An Out Of Season Ascent

  • Larger pack to accommodate all the gear listed below!   45-60L ideal, but still a mountaineering pack and not heavy backpacking style
  • Thin & light sleeping bag to supplement the blankets available in huts, but you never quite know what state the hut will be in with regard to blankets and number of other guests, so it’s recommended to take a small sleeping bag.
  • Small gas stove for snow melting.  But not too small as there is lots of snow melting to do!
  • A pan, lighters and plenty of gas for all the snow melting – on our October 2021 Mont Blanc summit trip, we used just under 1 x 240g can of Coleman gas per person for the 3 day, 2 night trip, for all drinking water, boil in the bags, brews and breakfasts. Eg 4.5 cans for 5 people.
  • Wide-mouthed Nalgene water bottles for ease of filling
  • Mug and spoon
  • Boil in the bag meals and breakfasts
  • Tea, coffee, isotonic sports drinks
  • Rubbish bags
Simon topping out on the North Face of the Aiguille du Chardonnet, November 2021

Pack Weight and Packing Tips

If you have packed all these items and nothing else, and have modern lightweight gear, your pack should weigh around 5-7kg.  Less is fine, if you have everything.  If it weighs more than this you may be carrying more gear than is required which is energy sapping and reduces performance both physically and technically.

Early summer can be a cold time in the high mountains and likewise autumn often arrives in September, thus at these fringes of the season or during unusually cold & snowy periods extra gear and warmer boots may be required.

If you have packed things that are not on this list, check with your Guide that you actually need them because excess baggage really slows you down, tires you out and can spoil your enjoyment of being in the mountains. Common items taken in to the mountains but not required are overly large wash bags, deodorant, books, headphones etc. Keep it light, neat and simple…and remember these 2 things….

  • Light + Light = Heavy!
  • The Only Thing That ‘Weighs Nothing’…Is Nothing!
  • Pack the items in your sack according to how frequently you use them. Snacks, sun cream & hat, light gloves, water bottle all packed in top pockets or at the top of your pack followed by things like your crampons, jacket, warm hat etc. The bottom of your sack is reserved for things like duvet jacket, warm gloves and goggles. Think about using your pockets if you can for handy items like your camera and lip barrier cream so you don’t even need to stop to get them out.
  • Develop a system for where items are stored in your rucksack and stick to it.
  • Take some time adjusting the straps on your rucksack so the main weight of the pack sits on your hips and the shoulder straps keep it in place.

Buying New Kit?

If you plan to make some new kit purchases for this course then we recommend a few places to look online that not only provide a good range of clothing and equipment but also some excellent advice on suitable products for your chosen sport.  They are:

Needle Sports – An independent climbing gear shop that supplies mountaineering, rock, ice, alpine & expedition climbing equipment.  They have a shop in Keswick in the Lake District.

Facewest – with 20 years of providing an excellent online retail experience and plenty of knowledge and enthusiasm, they stock a wide range of products for climbing, skiing, running, and hiking.

Sport Pursuit – is an online retailer, mainly of clothing who sells, at highly discount prices, end of lines, and unsold stock from shops and brands.  If you look carefully through their website you can find some excellent clothing items at a really great price.