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Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

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Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby FloridaMountaineer » Tue May 08, 2012 5:28 pm

Plan on trying to climb Mt Washington on July 5. No problem but my 12 yo daughter wants to give it a go. Should be fun and memorable and she is pretty athletic and does great in track etc.

I have summitted a few of the usual big peaks out west, Rainer, Hood, Whtiney etc. I know Washington deserves a ton of respect with the weather and will pack along all my heavy mountain gear just in case. I am sure there are days where you just need shorts. I may even have the wife and other kids just meet us at the top to make it easy. For me I guess that counts as bagging a peak :D .

I will be doing some reading and prepping but just wanted to start here. Not looking to do anything but get to the top with the daughter. It sounds like Tuckerman ravine is the "mule trail" whic is fine in this case. I would appreciate any advice. I have never laid eyes on Washington or climbed anything in the Northeast.(not sure if Cadillac counts).

Books, outfitting services, websites, etc are all in play. To kill 150 people, the mountain is getting a ton of respect from me. I would imagine most happened in the winter but I would rather be safe than sorry, especially with the daughter wanting to go. I would love this to be fun and challenging for her and maybe we will do more together in the future.

Thanks for indulging my questions. I have enjoyed reading for years but never posted.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby kozman18 » Tue May 08, 2012 5:52 pm

The key is to watch the weather and your daughter's physical condition -- be willing to turn around if either of those become suspect. The weather can change quickly. If you are hiking the Tuckerman Ravine trail (from the east), you might not see the weather coming (from the west). Get a good mountain forecast before heading out -- obviously.

Even if you get a good forecast, carry rain/windproof gear, and an insulating layer. Chances are you won't need them, but if you get caught in the wind/rain high on the mountain, you'll need them. You probably won't be alone that time of year, but you should have a plan if either of you gets injured, especially above treeline. I usually carry a lightweight bivy just in case you are stuck out in the open for a period of time.

If you want a suggestion for a trail from the west, try the Caps Ridge Trail up to Mount Jefferson. It starts at 3,000 feet, so you cut off over 1,000 feet of elevation gain (as compared to Tuckerman's), and you get to treeline very quickly (less trudging in the woods). Great views of the Presidentials without the crowds you'll see on Washington (and easier to scout the weather). Just an idea.

Have fun.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby Bark Eater » Tue May 08, 2012 5:56 pm

Sounds like she is in good shape and she'll do fine. People with kids of this age climb Washington all the time. You've done enough big mountains to know to prepare for and respect the weather. Keep that in mind and have a fun trip!
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby nartreb » Tue May 08, 2012 6:00 pm

A lot, I think a majority, of the deaths are skiers and ice climbers; There are also plenty of deaths from hypothermia, especially in the autumn.

There used to be a multi-decade list of fatalities for the northern presis available online, but I can't find it now. This page looks like it was cribbed from the one I remember: http://www.mountwashington.org/about/vi ... viving.php Scroll down to see the various categories (hypothermia, drowning, fall, avalanche, etc) and keep a running tally by month.

In July your primary concern is heat and humidity. Do plan for wind and fog and temps below 60 Fahrenheit at the summit: bring windproof jacket and pants, a hat and gloves, and a light fleece jacket. But don't be surprised if you stay in T-shirts all day. Bring lots of water (or better, bring a filter and pick a route that stays near water most of the way).

In short, do NOT "pack along all my heavy mountain gear." You'll look like an utter pillock if you bring an ice axe in July, and the extra weight and bulk will actually diminish your safety.

I'm not a big fan of the Tuckerman Ravine route. Aside from being very crowded, you've got a long slog before a very steep headwall (admittedly with good ravine views and near some waterfalls) - I find that combination particularly tiring. It's also one of the more dangerous routes should you encounter slippery conditions or poor visibility. I suggest a loop up Ammonoosuc Ravine trail and down the Jewell trail. This lets you stop at the LoTC hut if above-treeline conditions are nasty (with option of getting Monroe instead / in addition to Washington), and on a good day gives you views to the west, south, and north rather than keeping you in an east-facing ravine until you reach the summit.
Last edited by nartreb on Tue May 08, 2012 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby FloridaMountaineer » Tue May 08, 2012 6:07 pm

Ha, Ha. Yeah the ice ax and puffy will not be on the plane.

I am open to all ideas and routes as I have very little at the moment but will research the routes and the mountain quite a bit. With the daughter I think anyone can appreciate why I am going to be overcautions. Absolutely conditions will dictate if we go at all. That would be dissapointing but my crew got snowed out of a Longs attempt last year. IT happens.

We are staying at Mt Washington Inn for the 4th(the family does not know it is simply for me to be able to go at Mt Washington the next day). Hitting Grand Teton in August with my usual crew so it will be a nice way to get amped for what follows in the next month.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby nartreb » Tue May 08, 2012 6:14 pm

If you meant the Mt Washington Hotel (huge white building with red roof, site of the Bretton Woods treaty negotiations), you're on the west side already, definitely choose a western approach and minimize your traffic hassles on both the road and the trail.
That's a swank place, plan to take advantage of the facilities (e.g. horseback riding).

PS if you can let go of the name recognition factor, you'd probably have more fun on Mt Jefferson or Mt Adams.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby FloridaMountaineer » Tue May 08, 2012 6:36 pm

Yeah it is pretty swank, try to take the kids on one cool trip a year. They are already going nuts just looking at the pictures of the place.

Just staying there one night and then onward to other parts of New England.

No doubt hung up on the name factor. I also have nailed a few state high points so that is nice. I don't really have a defense.

So ammonusuc ravine trail is the one? I am having the wife drop us off at the trailhead in the morning so close to the hotel is nice. I really appreciate all the tips. I just told my climbing buddies everyone on summit post is lot nicer than them!
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby DukeJH » Thu May 10, 2012 12:53 am

I hiked Tuckerman Ravine sight unseen based on the AMC Guudebook in September 2011. Got an early start and saw no one on the trail until I crested the headwall. The weather in the trees was sunny, warm and calm. The trail in the trees is a brutal, rock strewn slog IMHO. As I approached the headwall clouds were blowing into the ravine from the west and I got some wind. At the top of the headwall, visibility dropped to 50 feet and the wind was 30-40 mph. I didn't know I was at the road until I saw a car drive by. Hot coffee at the summit house was very welcome.

Be smart, be safe, and you'll be fine.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby AlexeyD » Thu May 10, 2012 6:58 pm

I would second the Ammo-Jewell loop recommendation as a good "kid-friendly" option. In addition to the Lakes of the Clouds hut, there is also a nice swimming hole with a waterfall (Gem Pool) about 1.5 miles from the trailhead on the Ammo trail, as well as some cool waterfalls along the ravine headwall. I have good memories from hiking that trail when I was about 12 :)
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby nartreb » Thu May 10, 2012 10:22 pm

One thing to note about the Jewell trail that may not be clear on all maps: it doesn't go all the way to the top of the ridge. You have to take the Gulfside trail proper, not the Mt Clay summit loop, if you want to hit the Jewell trail without doubling back. (Zoom in on this map to see what I'm talking about. I've marked the relevant intersections. Note that Point B, the southern intersection of Gulfside with the Clay loop, is placed based at the current trail intersection as revealed in satellite view, not the old trail as drawn on the topo map.

This is one of those things that's totally trivial in good visibility (the trails are really close to each other), but awfully confusing in the fog if you're not expecting it.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby MoapaPk » Fri May 11, 2012 5:24 pm

Athletic kids often take off too fast and tire themselves out.

My one time over Washington in July, we hit a cold rain and hail, with very strong winds. Take good rain gear that will double as windbreakers.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby Patrick B » Thu May 17, 2012 8:45 pm

I was also twelve when I first hiked Mt Washington. I took the Lion's Head trail to ascend and Tuckerman's Ravine to descend. Looking back, neither would have been great on the descent. Tuckerman's gets flooded with people in the afternoon and can be dicey when passing other hikers on the way down the headwall. The base of Lion's Head, even for a twelve year old, was tough on the knees. Going towards the summit on Lion's Head had great views of Tuckerman's Ravine and is relatively short. [At the time I was a cross country runner and had done some longer hikes, so I was in good shape]. My dad and I got lucky with the weather, although even on a beautiful day I wore my North Face on the summit as it gets very windy. Bring a windbreaker, sweatshirt, pants, plenty of water, a headlamp (just in case), and a little food. Overall, the hike is fantastic and either of these trails are great. Enjoy! pmb
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby gwave47 » Fri May 25, 2012 9:21 pm

Do yourself a favor and leave your "heavy mountain gear" at home. A fleece jacket, a rain jacket, some pants, and a hat will be enough. It gets cold with the wind conditions on the summit, but you don't need your heavy mountain gear. If you need to warm up you can hop in the store to grab lunch, pick out a souvenir, mail your kids a post card from the top of Mt. Washington, you get the idea; you're not going to die alone and cold on the summit because you left your down parka at home.

Your daughter is probably going to think it's cool to climb up the mountain, and once she has the excitement of reaching the top, she may not be too excited about the long hike down. Consider hitching a ride with your wife and other children from the summit back down to your car. My dad went with me a few years ago, he has horrible knees, he has had several operations; we took the Lions Head to summit, grabbed lunch in the gift shop, and walked the road back down. Of course taking the road back down is a good bit longer, but it's a lot easier on the knees.

We went in early June, it was probably in the mid to upper 50's for the hike up, when we reached the summit and got out in the wind, I would guess the wind chill was probably between 25 and 35 degrees. I was uncomfortable with just my rain jacket and some rain pants, but it was never even close to being life threatening (there were half a dozen six year olds up there in long sleeve tshirts). As soon as we were out off the summit and out of the wind, we warmed right back up.
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Re: Climbing Mt Washington with 12 y o daughter

Postby FloridaMountaineer » Tue May 29, 2012 6:25 pm

For the second time yes the crampons,puffy, ice ax, helmet and rope will not be transported to the hotels throughout Quebec prior to Washington. But I really do appreciate all advice. The one of taking one of the trails on the west side makes all the sense in the world. I guess I was just trying to let everyone know that I took the mountain seriously and would have some appropriate clothes in the backpack if the wind/temp dipped. Nothing foolhardy about that I believe. Any other advice is truly appreciated!!!
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