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Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

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Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

Postby JonnyAces7 » Sat Nov 06, 2010 6:16 pm

Most of my winter routes last year involved the winter Lions Head. Being our first year using crampons, etc...we were basically just looking to get comfortable with the axe and crampons and hit the summit. Now looking for some alternative and maybe even somewhat more aggressive routes in the area. My buddies and I picked up a bit more mountaineering experience this summer in doing mt Rainier so would like to seek out some challenging trails in the local region, ones that can be done with primarily crampons and ice axe. The only on-trail rope experience we have is limited to glacier travel techniques, so no ice climbing gear yet. Any suggestions?

Also, how are the trails at this point in the year?
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Re: Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

Postby Athos791 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 12:03 am

Hey,
As I'm sure you've heard about in your travels up mount Washington, huntingtons ravine is the premier winter spot in the area. Check the routes page for more info but I believe there's a few more moderate, non-vertical ice routes; such as south gully I believe. Also one of my favorite winter hikes is the Lincoln lafayette loop. It will often require crampons due to ice but is by no means technical. This route Is further south than the Washington group. Also on Washington, amanoosic ravine is a fun route in winter give that a go as well.
Cheers,
Luke
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Re: Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

Postby nartreb » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:16 am

There are a bunch of routes in Tuckerman Ravine that are often done unroped - specifically by skiers checking for crevasses and ice before they ski down. They are also used by the alpinism schools teaching basic axe, rope, and winter gear. Make sure you check the avvy forecast.

You might also consider Central Gully in Huntington ravine, in most conditions it's mostly a snow climb but with a section of ice (not steep at all by ice standards, crampons and glacier axe will be OK, but you will want to rope up and protect this section with pickets and/or a couple of screws).

This time of year the areas above treeline see lots of snow flurries but tend to get swept almost-bare by wind and then cleared a bit further by sun. A few hard-core high-speed maniacs will climb the ice routes (unroped, for speed) in the early morning before they melt out in the afternoon. Normal people start looking for ice in December. Early December there usually isn't much snow (good for ice climbers because there's less avvy danger), mid to late December is when the snow routes start coming in.

Oh, you said "trails". Right now you can bare-boot most of the trails, but it's a good idea to carry light traction (Microspikes or similar). At treeline on Franconia Ridge today there were a couple of inches of snow, mostly packed down to a half-inch icy crust thanks to foot traffic. Lots of bare rock above treeline thanks to wind and sun.
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Re: Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

Postby woodsxc » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:17 am

Do you have any experience with roped travel and placing protection in snow?

If you do, you can do any of a number of gullies in Hunt. If not, try going up some of the ski descents in Tuckermans.
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Re: Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

Postby triyoda » Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:13 am

South gully is probably your only bet in Huntington. Central gully is pretty easy to solo, but I would not do it without two tools and you should have had at least a one-day intro to ice IMO. I did South gully and then balked on Central when I got to the ice pitch. Took a course and then came back and did it no problem with a couple of ice tools.

There are probably a few more options in Tuckermans.

I am assuming you did the DC on Rainier. Aside from route finding through the crevasses (which the guide takes care of), this is a pretty low angle route. South gully will approach 45 degrees even though it is all snow. Route finding is not a problem, but some people will even rope up for this because self arrest may be difficult at that angle. It is also a good route to practice on. DC is probably no worse than 30 degrees. FWIW, the 1/2 day course that RMI gives for Rainier is only the most rudimentary basics for a guided climb, it really does not prepare you at all to go out on your own.

If you want to try some harder stuff on Washington I would recommend at least a one day ice course or get someone experienced to take you through the basics and then you may be ready for something like central gully. I took a one day course with Synod guides last year, thought it was very useful.
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Re: Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

Postby JonnyAces7 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:47 am

Great stuff. Thanks all. Looking forward to trying some of these out. Will also be planning on doing an ice course at some point. For now, stickin to the basics but I gotta admit, the ice really looks fun. Seems my list for new gear to buy continues to grow.

Oh, and yes we did the DC.
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Re: Good winter route suggestions around Mt Wash?

Postby bdynkin » Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:40 pm

JonnyAces7 wrote:Now looking for some alternative and maybe even somewhat more aggressive routes in the area. The only on-trail rope experience we have is limited to glacier travel techniques, so no ice climbing gear yet. Any suggestions?

Also, how are the trails at this point in the year?


The trails that originate on rt 16 a few miles north of Pinckham Notch (Great Gulf branching out to Six Husbands, Wamsutta, Madison Gulf) are long and fairly steep on the headwall section. Snowshoes, crampons and ice axe is all you need. I did Great Gulf on a cold November day last year and it was spicy due to lots of low-angle ice and iced-over rocks but no technical gear was required. We have not seen anyone that day.

Typical trails conditions in November? Little snow with iced-up rocks higher up.
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