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I figured this would be a good beginners topic for any beginners that come here to learn and ask questions. I'm not an expert by any means, but I found myself very frustrated over the weekend during a hike I was on.
I can't stress the importance of beginners doing their research before heading out somewhere. What type of clothing, supplies, and shelter do you need? What is the climate in the area like? What are the weather patterns?
This weekend while hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I experienced a typicaly frustration for lots of people who have hiked or climbed there. Extreme weather combined with easy access = dangerous situations.
During my night out, we abandoned our attempt on 3 summits due to snow, hail, and 75 mph sustained winds. The next day on the hike back to the car, we met hikers at lower elevations who had no clue what they were heading into. Granted, the weather for that night was predicted to be better, but that's not too hard when the weather the night before was atrocious.
At lower altitudes, temperatures were 20 degrees warmer, there was no snow, no ice, and not much wind. At about 3800 feet, crampons became necessary, wind was cutting, and weather became less predictable.
Yet we met SEVERAL people, completely unprepared. Wearing cotton tshirts, shorts, sneakers, light hikers, no pack, tiny pack, etc etc. There were also some groups who were very well prepared, and as we talked to some on the way down to explain conditions above, they actually turned around and understood that they were unprepared to continue. One hiker told us of a storm he was in the week before. As he headed up the mountain, he saw foot steps straying off the path. He checked it out and found a young adult man in cotton sweatshirt and sweat pants, shivering and in a ball. He surely would have died if this guy hadn't checked it out just for the heck of it.
Do your homework, ask questions, go with someone who's experienced, and don't be afraid to turn around. The mountains will still be there next time you go back.