If you’ve ever fantasized about doing yoga on the top of a mountain, or wished somehow you could combine snowtubing with burgers and beer, but don’t have a car or a clue, help is on the way. This past weekend, we joined Brooklyn Outfitters on a Mount Washington climbing expedition, and discovered the company offers a range of awesome, affordable getaways to New Yorkers looking to escape the city and revel in the outdoors—steely skylines not included.
We loaded into the van early on Saturday morning and headed towards North Conway, New Hampshire. The six-hour ride provided the perfect time to get to know each other, Stetson Hundgen, co-founder of the company, assistant guide Anh Yu, and four fellow New Yorkers, before even beginning the climb.
Upon arriving to the archetypical New England resort town, the Brooklyn Outfitters crew rented technical gear, then we had lunch and headed to Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch for a good night’s rest. But first, we would have a hearty three-course meal and a team pow-wow, which provided us with the fuel and mental ease to feel prepared for Sunday’s challenge.
Stetson and Anh briefed us on possible dangers and checked over our packs and clothing. The final meeting served to remind us of the importance of staying together and knowing our limits. Anh eased any apprehensions, “We are only as fast as our slowest hiker. We like to keep everybody together and keep the level where it’s satisfying for everybody. If someone is struggling, we don’t keep pushing forward.”
This ethos proved highly valuable during our climb. After a hearty 6:30am breakfast with Stetson harking, “Eat lots of fats! Fats are key to staying warm on the mountain,” we began our ascent. We stayed together as a group, stopping to drink water, eat snacks or adjust layers and then continuing once we were all ready. The sun was out and the day, while crisp and windy, was exactly what I had been craving after New York’s mild winter.
As the trail steepened, we fastened on our crampons and used the front spikes to dig into the mountain. Besides one small portion that required some technical maneuvering and a rope, the climb was manageable for almost everyone. Adrenaline rushing, feeling the height of the adventure, we knew there was little room for error. Stetson and Anh made the executive decision that today was not the day to summit and having already hiked a considerable portion, we all agreed that the best decision was to turn around.
We didn’t reach the summit, but we had enjoyed the day, become a real team, and recovered with a sense of accomplishment over delicious wood-fired pizza and beer. Fellow climber and seasoned mountaineer Brad Alter explained, “I knew what the weather could be like. I was really surprised at just how beautiful it was… The climates and the different environments were very impressive.”
If Mount Washington still seems a bit on the extreme side, be sure to check out the variety of options offered by Brooklyn Outfitters, including canoe trips down the Delaware, climbing adventures with Brooklyn Boulders, yoga in the Catskills, and many more.
When asked what inspired the launch of the company, Stetson cited, “The passion for the outdoors and sharing that with others. Anything worth having is worth sharing.” Martin Stankiewicz and Stetson Hundgen are creating well-organized, budget-friendly solutions that continue to successfully satisfy the New Yorker’s cravings for an adrenaline-pumping city break. Be sure to check back on the calendar for their winter trips; we hear awesome outings like Snowshoe to Echo Lake, Breakneck Ridge at Sunset, Cross Country Skiing in Clarence Fahnestock State Park are in store.
Photos: Brooklyn Outfitters, Amanda Coen