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Airline Winter Attempt
Trip Report

Airline Winter Attempt

 

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: New Hampshire, United States, North America

Object Title: Airline Winter Attempt

Date Climbed/Hiked: Feb 18, 2006

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Winter

 

Page By: Isaiah

Created/Edited: Mar 12, 2006 / Mar 12, 2006

Object ID: 180440

Hits: 1587 

Page Score: 0%  - 0 Votes 

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Late start

I slept through my cell phone alarm down here in Massachusettes. An all to bad habbit that happens too often. So basically we were supposed to leave at 4 and I woke up at 7 and immediately realized my mistake. Fortunately, Ian the climbing partner who i was going to introduce to mountaineering that day sent me an email at like 4:20 asking where I was so I immediately called him and he was still up for going and since I had my whole day planned for this trip I decided that we must go. Leaving Worcester at 7:30 we made our way north.

Below Treeline

We hopped out of the car and finished dressing and it was chilly out I was really surprised how cold it was. It was interesting as we got ready to go Ian had never used crampons or an ice-axe before so I was attempting to give him a few tips about how they work. fortunately the trail was quite straitforward and even though we had to ascend some ice it was not very steep more of a little stream that had frozen into little waterfalls. I realized that teaching crampon technique is really somthing that requires practice fortunately though most of the walking was duck walking uphill and no flat-footing french technique was required. There was not much snow as we ascended we passed other groups on the way up so we ended up have to break trail but it was only a few inches deep so it was no problem. We stopped at the treeline sign to take a quick break before the wind would blast us.

Above Treeline

It became brutal the moment we stepped out above treeline. I have been out above treeline a number of times in the Presidentials but this was different. For me personally I only weigh 135 pounds so I find that at 50 miles an hour I can't walk a strait line and placing my feet takes concentration. When the wind gets to 60 mph I must brace myself and can not walk. We walked out and I started to have a little trouble walking probably like 40-45 mph winds so i stopped quick by a rock and put my parka on. That is the first time I have ever had to put my parka on when I was still heading up. I told Ian that if it got much worse we would turn around. About 5 minutes later I pulled the plug and we headed down. My fingers were getting cold and when I told Ian we were heading back he said his toes were cold and he didn't have a face mask and his face was visibly red and if it was me I would have easily headed back. We headed strait down and it was amazing how things turned for the better so quickly. My glacier glasses had fogged and frozed and my eyebrows had subsiquently frozen because of my breath going up through my glasses to my eyebrows and condencing. It was pretty funny I had these lumps of ice at the top of my vision it must have looked funny. It was so cold that they didn't end up melting until I was in my van for a few mintues.

The Retreat

When we got below treeline we warmed up and the wind dropped to nearly nothing. We passed a group that was going up to camp below treeline for the night and they had a thermometer and it read -5! I was amazed because it was colder higher up and much much more windy I checked on the government weather website and calculated the windchill up there to be between -40 and -50! No wonder we were cold. I still think of the Presidentials as training for other mountains because they mostly just have interesting weather the altitude and difficulty overall is not to great compared to other ranges. Going down I had to teach Ian how to walk down in crampons so that he wouldn't fall down the mini-waterfall ice like he had on a flat stretch just after we turned around. It turned out alright we made it back down in one piece with no forstbite or hypothermia and we had both encountered the coldest temperatures of our lives so far. I also think that normally the wind hitting the Presidentials comes from the northwest so the airline trail probably get hit with wind fairly often perhaps even more than Mount Washington. Of course not at the very top but from 5500 to 4500 feet there is a posibility that the weather is worse than on the Lions Head or Tuckerman Ravine trail. Also, as a matter of fact be careful becuase 1991 Toyota Previas with 245,000 miles might not start as easily below 0 as they do in warm weather.

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