My dad and I took a trip to the White Mountains this April break:
We got a bit of a late start, finally hitting the trail a little before nine. We followed the Air Line, and then took the Short Line up to the King Ravine Trail. We followed the trail up to where it passed near some rocks that we went out on for a view. Having eaten, and decided which gully to take up the headwall, the only problem was how to get to the base of the headwall. My father was in favor of going on the trail, and hoping it got us near where we were trying to go, and I wanted to go straight through the woods.
We elected to go straight through the woods, and spent about 45 minutes post-holing maybe a third of a mile. It would have taken longer, but we happened to run into the trail again. Then we began walking up towards an avalanche chute. This was my first time using an ice axe, so I practiced self-arrest. It was kind of fun, except that I bloodied my knuckles. I had meant to put on mittens, but now I couldn't until my hand stopped bleeding.
We continued up instead, hitting a trail of dirty snow that had probably come from the ice filled gully that I imagine a summer trail goes up. We went up another moderate angled snow gully to the left. The snow got very icy, and we decided to go over into the trees whose tops were sticking out of the snow to our left. Going across the gully, I fell, but not very spectacularly; it felt pretty neat actually stopping when I dug the axe in.
We climbed up the snow-covered ridge, until we finally stopped to put crampons on. I felt kind of stupid, but I couldn't get my boot up far enough to get my crampons on, because my dad was resting on the good trees, and I got these two flimsy tops than only just supported me. I ended up having him help me get them on (though I maintain that if I had had better trees I could have done it).
It was much easier climbing now, and the slopes were lessening, now they were maybe 30 degrees. The only problem was the time - it was after 2, which was about the halfway mark that would get us back at sunset. We figured that if we just took a trail down we would go faster, but Mount Madison, our original objective looked very far away. We ended up deciding just to go up, and assumed not looking at the map that we would end up on Mount Sam Adams, or John Quincy Adams, because it didn't look very far up.
As it turned out, we were heading directly for the summit of Adams; it was just well out of sight. The summit cone looked different with some snowfields on it, so I didn't recognize it, despite having been there twice before in the summer. I had also never approached it from quite this vantage point before. It was only when I was clearly way above Madison, and my altimeter read 5700, that I was sure that this actually was Adams.
It was chilly and breezy on the top. My pocket anemometer showed it gusting to 35 MPH.
We fortified ourselves with a stack of 15 beautiful Fig Newtons, and headed down towards Nowell ridge which overlooks King Ravine. We met our first people of the day at thunderstorm junction - the one with the huge cairn. We saw another person with skis a little down Nowell ridge. Still, 3 people total, in one day with good weather isn't bad
The snow, which had been icy coming up, had softened, making most of the slopes as we made it down to tree line not quite steep enough to glissade. On the bright side, tree line was effectively lowered a few hundred feet by the snow that covered the short scrubby trees.
We continued on to Crag Camp, where there were good views looking back into King Ravine, and we could see where we had gone. The steep part of the headwall above the avalanche path looked positively frightening. It didn't seem that steep when we were there, whereas the avalanche path itself seemed steeper than it looks, though not as steep as the gully above. From Crag Camp it was just a long slog down to the car. There were a few nice views - one into the ravine just a few minutes down the trail from Crag Camp, and the creek was nice when we came near it on the Amphibranch Trail. The snow all the way down to 2,000 feet made the descent go quickly, and we made it down in about 3.5 hours, as opposed to our almost 6 on the way up. It was a great day, but we were sure ready for the kielbasas in the campground.
|Looking back on Madison|
|Looking Down King Ravine|
|Looking Back at Mount Adams|
|Mount Washington from the summit of Adams|