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Mount Washington

 
Mount Washington

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: New Hampshire, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 44.27060°N / 71.3047°W

Object Title: Mount Washington

Elevation: 6288 ft / 1917 m

 

Page By: John

Created/Edited: Mar 23, 2001 / Jul 11, 2006

Object ID: 150248

Hits: 206128 

Page Score: 99.45%  - 112 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote

 

Overview

Mount Washington is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, north of North Carolina, and south of Ellesmere Island in North America. It is also one of most popular hiking, backcountry skiing, alpine climbing and ice climbing destinations in New England. Affectionately known as "the Rock Pile," it is located in northern New Hampshire just west of NH SR-16 between North Conway (to the south) and Gorham. It is also known as the "Home of the World's Worst Weather" and the world record holder for the fastest wind speed ever measured: 231 mph on April 12, 1934 (See the "Mountain Conditions" section for more). Today Mount Washington is known as the tallest peak in the Presidential Range which includes the 5 highest peaks in New England, but early on the entire massif was known as Mount Washington, a 30 mile long mountain running east to west. It wasn't until the 19th century that the surrounding peaks of Adams, Jefferson, Madison, etc. were named. A cog railway and road are also in operation on this mountain which hosts an observatory, musuem, and snack shop on the summit (so don't forget to bring your wallet).

One of the shortest, most scenic, and most popular trails to the summit is the 4.2 mile class 2 Tuckerman Ravine Trail that starts at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (2050'). The Lion Head Trail is probably the second most popular snow free route and the most popular route during the winter months. The Huntington Ravine offers challenging hikes, rock climbs, and ice climbs including: the Huntington Ravine Trail - considered one of the two most difficult hiking trails in the White Mountains; the NE Ridge of Pinnacle Buttress (5.7, 5-6 pitches); and a variety of winter ice climbing routes including the classic Pinnacle Gully (III NEI 3, 4-5 pitches), Odell's Gully (II/III NEI 2-3), South Gully (I NEI 1), and the Escape Hatch (I, popular descent route). The Lion Head, Huntington Ravine, and Boott Spur Trails all share the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center Trailhead with the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. See the Routes Overview Section below for a more complete routes list.

Mount Washington is known as the rock pile because the summit is composed of large blocks of New Hampshire quartzite and mica schist (Ref: injektilo) that you will have the privledge of hiking over during the summer. Winter offers a chance to get your crampons out of the closet travel up snow and/or ice instead. As you can probably tell by all the photos, Mount Washington is an extremely popular place for winter mountaineering, skiing and ice climbing, however, always check for current avalanche and weather conditions as over 120 people have died on this mountain (partial list with location and cause of death).

Routes Overview

Mount Washington has a plethora of hiking, ice, and ski routes. There are a few rock routes as well. The hiking routes ascend the mountain from all directions while ice climbing is generally concentrated in Huntington Ravine with some routes in Tuckerman Ravine and the Great Gulf. Spring skiing is concentrated in Tuckerman Ravine. Pinnacle Buttress (YDS 5.7) is a nice rock climb in Huntington Ravine.

Any information related to filling in this table is highly appreciated.

Routes Overview
# Route Name Difficulty* Type FA FA Party Notes
1 Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail Class 1-3 Hike /
Scramble
Joins Crawford Path at Lakes of the Clouds Hut 1.5 miles southwest of summit.
2 Boott Spur Trail Class 1-2 Hike A primary hiking trail that starts at Pinkham Notch.
3 Crawford Path Hike A primary hiking trail the ascends the Southern Presidentials.
4 Davis Path Hike Climbs Montalban Ridge including Mount Isolation (4003'). Joins either Crawford Path or Tuckerman Ravine Trail 0.6 miles south of summit.
5 Dry River Trail Hike Joins Crawford Path at Lakes of the Clouds Hut 1.5 miles southwest of summit.
6 Glen Boulder Trail Hike Joins Davis Path 0.5 miles south of Boott Spur.
7 Great Gulf Trail Hike Scenic route through the Great Gulf Wilderness ascending Washington's north slope.
7.1
Great Gulf Headwall
III WI 1-2 Ice ? ?
7.2
Wait Until Dark Gully
III WI 3 Ice 1981 Kurt Winkler & Jim Tierney
8 Huntington Ravine Trail Hike Joins Nelson Crag Trail 0.8 miles and northeast of summit. One of the 2 most challenging hiking routes in the Whites. Use this as approach & summit route to technical routes listed below.
8.1
Cloudwalker
II 5.7 WI 4 Mixed 1989 Chris Dube & Bill Holland
8.2
Central Gully
I WI 1 Ice 1927 A.J. Holden & N.L. Goodrich
8.3
Central Gully, Left Wall variation
II WI 2 Ice 1934 Alan Wilcox & William P. House
8.4
Damnation Buttress
II WI 3 Mixed ? ? This is a mixed route to the right of Yale Gully.
8.5
Damnation Gully
III WI 3 Ice 1943 William L. Putnam & Andrew J. Kaufman
8.6
Diagonal Gully
II WI 1-2 Ice ? ? Moderate climb and optional descent route.
8.7
Escape Hatch, The
I Ice ? ? Offers quickest descent from Alpine Gardens.
8.8
North Gully
II WI 3 Ice 1942 Maynard M. Miller & William Latady The north most gully and to the right of Damnation Gully.
8.9
Odell's Gully
II/III WI 2-3 Ice 1928 Noel E. Odell, Lincoln O'Brien, J.C. Hurd & Robert L.M. Underhill Another classic to climber's left of Pinnacle Gully.
8.10
Pinnacle Buttress
5.7 Rock ? ? A 5-6 pitch rock climb. Although 5.7 is "the accepted rating ... in reality it's more like 5.4 ...barely... and mosly Class 3/4." (Ref: Josh)
8.11
Pinnacle Gully
III WI 3 Ice 1930 Samuel A. Scoville & Julian Whittlesey A classic.
8.12
South Gully
I WI 1 Ice ? ? The first major gully to climber's left in the ravine.
8.13
Yale Gully
II WI 2-3 Ice ? ? There are several variations to this route.
9 Jewell Trail Hike Joins Gulfside Trail 1.3 miles and northwest from Washington summit.
10 Lion Head Trail Class 1 Hike The summer and winter routes are different and signed by the USFS. Both routes are easy with the winter route being the most popular route under snow.
11 Nelson Crag Trail Hike Climbs the Nelson Crag (5639') en route to summit from northeast.
12 Tuckerman Ravine Trail Class 2 Hike The very scenic route to the summit during the summer. A challenging route during the winter.
12.1
Cathedral
Snow
/ Ski
? ? See this route photo.
12.2
Dodge's Drop
Snow
/ Ski
? ? This is mostly used as a ski descent. Usual ascent via Hillman Highway. See this route photo.
12.3
Dutchess
Snow
/ Ski
? ? See this route photo.
12.4
Headwall / The Bowl
III D10 R2
D-System rating
Snow
/ Ski
? ? Nice steep ski runs.
12.5
Hillman Highway
Snow
/ Ski
? ? This wide and gradual route is a popular spring ski run. See this route photo.
12.6
John Sherburne Ski Trail
Ski ? ? Gradual ski descent from Hermit Lake to Pinkham Notch.
12.7
Left Gully
Snow
/ Ice
? ? Several variations.
12.8
Right Gully
Snow
/ Ice
? ? Several variations.

* NOTE on Ice Climb Ratings: All ice climbing technical ratings are labelled as WI (water ice) though they were originally rated on the NEI system. This is because ice climb technical ratings are now almost "universally accepted" according to Rick Wilcox (author of An Ice Climber's Guide to Northern New England) so that the NEI designation can be dropped. This would mean a route like Pinnacle Gully would be rated 'III 3', however, this leaves a lot to be desired for mixed routes where a technical rock and/or aid rating may also be used. To eliminate confusion, I have replaced the NEI designation with the more general American WI designation for the technical ice rating.

NOTE ON BOOKS: ROUTES COVERAGE

The following is a list of books and the routes that they cover:


Getting There

PINKHAM NOTCH VISITOR CENTER: Pinkham Notch is the most popular starting point for the climb of Washington. Use this for the Tuckerman Ravine, Huntington Ravine, Lion Head, and Boot Spur Trails. It is located roughly halfway between Gorham and North Conway on Route 16. The visitor center at the Notch is well-defined and marked. To reach the auto road, go to the Glen House a few miles north of the Notch. The cog railroad can be reached by driving in on Mt. Clinton Road from Bretton Woods to the Marshfield Station - signs can be found near the Mt. Washington Hotel.

Red Tape

PARKING PASS (MANDATORY IN SOME AREAS): Like many US National Forests, the White Mountain National Forest now requires a parking pass to park at many of its trailheads. A pass is required if you park in the National Forest including the overflow lots at Pinkham Notch. A pass is not required if you are parking in the Pinkham Notch parking lot proper. There are a variety of pass options ranging from a $20 annual pass to a $3 daily pass as of 2001. The USFS White Mountain NF Parking Pass Program page has more information on how you can order these passes. You can pay for the $3 daily pass at many trailheads.

When To Climb and Ski

The snow free hiking season generally lasts from May to October though you can often find flurries as early as August. Be prepared for rain and wind during the summer months especially if traveling above treeline. During the winter months, outfit yourself mountaineering style with an ice axe and crampons. Also check out the:

MountWashington.com: Winter Hiking page

The skiing is most popular here during the spring between March and May. Skiers should review the information on the NSI / USFS Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines FAQ. Ice climbers should check the EMS Climbing School Ice Climbing Conditions page under the Mountain Conditions Section.

Camping

You can find established campsites at the Hermit Lake Shelters, the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut (5012'), and the Harvard Cabin. The Lakes of the Clouds Hut, located 1 mile southwest of Tuckerman Junction high on the mountain, is a full service hut that is open from June 1 to Sept. 15. During the winter months if you are caught in a jam you should be able to find emergency shelter here in a small "refuge room" that is kept open to provide protection against the wind and blowing snow.

The Harvard Cabin, located about 2.1 miles from Pinkham Notch in Huntington Ravine, by contrast, is open only during the winter from December 1 to March 31. The fees are $15/night inside and $7.50/night outside. The cabin sleeps about 16 (but more can usually squeeze in if neccesary), has a gas stove for cooking, a wood stove for heat, as well as pots and other utensils. There's a caretaker at the cabin who collects fees and keeps the place going. Visitors that wish to stay at the Harvard Cabin must register by signing the logbook located in the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center basement. Sign-up is on a first come, first served basis. Pets are not permitted overnight. To reach the cabin, head up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, turning right on the Lion Head Winter Route, however, head past where the winter route turns left, instead crossing a small bridge to find the cabin on your right. Thanks to russki82 for information on the Harvard Cabin.

If you want to stay in the backcountry check out the WMNF Backcountry Camping Rules. Of special interest is that camping above treeline is only allowed during the winter on 2+ feet of snow and only outside of the Cutler River Drainage. This restricted area includes Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines as well as the general area east of the summit from Nelson Crag to the Boot Spur.

For detailed information on where to stay during the winter check out the Winter Overnights on Mount Washington page.

Mountain Conditions

It's no accident that Mount Washington is known as having "the world's worst weather" - the USFS says so. The average annual summit temperature is 26.5°F with a historical range of -47°F to 72°F. Average snow fall is 256+ inches with a seasonal maximum of 566 inches so beware of avalanche danger during the winter, especially in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. Average annual mean wind speed is 35.3 mph or gale-force winds with hurricane-force winds occuring every 1 day out of 3. If you are ice climbing in Huntington Ravine, be careful of the weather up top since the ravine will often shelter you from bad weather above. Several unsuspecting climbers, upon reaching the top of the ravine, have been literally blown off the mountain (see the March 5, 1999 Mountaineering Accident Report below).

If you come during the summer, you can expect low visibility on the summit, however, during the winter often the skies are clear. Use the following to check current conditions.

PINKHAM NOTCH VISITOR CENTER
P.O. Box 298
(on NH SR-16 just south of Wildcat ski area)
Gorham, NH 03581
(603) 466-2721
(603) 466-3871 FAX

Mount Washington Weather Reports: Mount Washington Observatory
Daily Summit Weather Report: Mount Washington Observatory
Avalanche Bulletin: Latest from USFS
Backcountry Weather and Trail Conditions (late fall to late spring): Mount Washington Observatory
Ice Climbing Conditions: EMS Climbing School
Ice Climbing Conditions: International Mountain Climbing School
2 Web Cams: Mount Washington Observatory

Tuckerman.org: Weather Page
MountWashington.com: "The world's worst weather?" Historical weather data.

USEFUL MESSAGE BOARDS

AMC Outdoors.org Website: Trail Conditions Message Board
Views From The Top: Current New Hampshire Trail Conditions

Miscellaneous Info

RADIO REPEATERS

Use the following Ham repeaters for Mount Washington and the nearby area:

  • Mount Washington: 146.655 Mhz -0.600 and PL tone of 100
  • North Conway: 145.450 Mhz -0.600 and PL tone of 100
Ham radio information provided by: vb6041.

MOUNTAINEERING ACCIDENT REPORTS

March 5, 1999 O'dell's Gully ascent / Escape Hatch descent

External Links

  • Tuckerman.org
    The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol maintains this site in cooperation with the United States Forest Service to ensure that skiing, climbing, and hiking enthusiasts have access to current and accurate information regarding Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.
  • NEice.com
    New England Ice Climbing web site includes information on routes, conditions, events, and articles.
  • White Mountains Info Server
    David Metsky's information packed web site on the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
  • Deaths on the Peak
    A neat site that shows you the 122 deaths that have happed on the Peak since the first one 1849. Unfortunetly people just do not seem to learn there lessons as the deaths continue till 1997 at an ever increasing rate. I am sure there have been more in the last 5 years.
  • Mount Washington, NH, by the Great Gulf Trail

  • Mount Washington (NH) Hiking Trails
    Information (distance, elevation gain, book time) on most hiking trails up Mount Washington.
  • Southern Half of Presidential Traverse in Winter

  • Mt. Washington weather, photos & general info
    This is a great website to see current pictures from the summit, historical weather information, see photos from different times of the year and give general information.
  • attempt via Tuckerman

  • Time for Tuckerman
    great site for skiing info in Tuckerman ravine. Real time cams, route/trail info, snow/avalanche conditions and a message board.

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-5 of 5    
willspUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

In reponse to "Josh" claiming Pinnacle Buttress (Mt. Washington, NH) is barely a 5.4. Though there are some very easy sections, there are several sustained 5.5-5.6 pitches and some moves could qualify as 5.7 (or even 5.8 with variations). For the moderate climber, this is a challenging climb not to be underestimated. Also, keep in mind that there is no reliable fixed protection. That this route may be trivial to some expert climbers is no reason to mislead those who would take the difference between 5.4 and 5.7 very seriously.
Posted Jul 25, 2005 3:56 pm
royswkrMore Hiking Route Classes

Hasn't voted

Lion Head is not Class 1 particularly in winter, it is as tough or worse than Tuckerman Ravine or Ammo Ravine so should be 1-3



Crawford Path former bridle path and now mostly A.T., long and exposed to weather but probably Class 1 in summer



Davis Path also former bridle path in the woods nearly the whole way, Class 1



Dry River Trail partly old logging railroad, potentially difficult stream crossings, Class 1



Glen Boulder Trail similar in difficulty to Boott Spur Trail which you call 1-2



Great Gulf Trail has a long talus slope at headwall and some brook crossings, call it 1-3



Jewell Trail has tedious rocks in footway but probably only Class 1

Posted Apr 5, 2006 10:39 pm
nartrebview identifier guide

nartreb

Hasn't voted

Thought this link was interesting

identification guide



Also zoomed in on Adirondacks
Posted May 16, 2006 5:21 pm
nartrebWind record has been bested

nartreb

Hasn't voted

http://wmo.asu.edu/world-maximum-surface-wind-gust
Posted Jan 26, 2010 10:18 am
nartrebcamping regulations link is 404

nartreb

Hasn't voted

Please link here instead: http://www.summitpost.org/custom-object/393708/white-mountain-nh-me-links-page.html
Posted Jul 8, 2010 9:56 am

Viewing: 1-5 of 5    

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