Welcome to SP!  -
Areas & RangesMountains & RocksRoutesImagesArticlesTrip ReportsGearOtherPeoplePlans & PartnersWhat's NewForum

Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Eastern US. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Eastern US Climbing Partners section.
 

Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby WalksWithBlackflies » Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:48 pm

I plan to hike up Washington in late January (with approximately 5 others). Day 1: 1/2 day walk to camp, Day 2: summit and back to camp, Day 3: 1/2 day walk out. I am well-aware of the weather difficulties. I've been winter camping in the Adks for years, but would like a more alpine experience.

I know the standard wiinter route up Washington is Lion's Head, but that seems kinda boring. What other route options do I have? What options for camping? I'll have ice axe and crampons, but no technical gear. Would a direct ascent of Tucks be feasible (assuming no avy danger)? I'll be with a small group (approx 5 others).

Thanks.
User Avatar
WalksWithBlackflies

 
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2004 4:37 pm
Location: Syracuse, New York, United States
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby cms829 » Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:39 pm

you can certainly get up in Tucks if the avy danger isnt in question. Otherwise, Lions head isnt a "boring" route by any means. Its different, but fun in its own right. Ive gone up right gully in tucks in the winter, but early winter. Before avy danger was a possibility. If your heading up into tucks mid winter, unless its still a light snow year and its consolidated, I would carry (and know how to use!) a probe, shovel, and beacons (everyone in your group)

Better to be prepared and have the right gear, otherwise, stick to lions head for a winter ascent. You will still have a blast, and be a lot safer. I am by no means telling you what to do, just offering some advice. If your up to snuff on your avy skills, by all means go for the more difficult route! But with that said, On washington, in the winter, stay within your comfort zone. It gets dark and cold quick, and being cold and wet in zero vis with no idea where you are, is not fun. People may tell you no way man stick to lions head, tucks in the winter is too dangerous, but if you have the skill set and confidence, by all means have at it and bring back some great photos. If on the other hand you have no clue how a beacon works, stick with what you know, and you will have a safe and fun trip. Take chances, take risks, within your specific knowledge level.
User Avatar
cms829

 
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:53 pm
Location: W Paterson, New Jersey, United States
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post

The following user would like to thank cms829 for this post
WalksWithBlackflies

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby WalksWithBlackflies » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:21 pm

Thanks CMS. Some in our group will not be avalanche savvy, so Tucks may be out unless the snow is light. What are your thoughts on an ascent of Boot Spur, with a descent of Lions Head?
User Avatar
WalksWithBlackflies

 
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2004 4:37 pm
Location: Syracuse, New York, United States
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby Hotoven » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:52 pm

I don't know to much about Tucks, but I know at Harvard Cabin over by Huntington Ravine there's camping for I think $10.00 a night. That's not a bad place to camp if you want to head up lions head, its only like a half mile or less from the trail head. Diagonal Gully In Huntington is a fun low angled climb that gets you up to the garden trail, but depending on conditions, one might need technical gear to get to the base of the gully.
"Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!"
- The Dude, Lebowski
User Avatar
Hotoven

 
Posts: 1861
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:06 pm
Location: Summit County, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 115 times in 87 posts

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby geeyore » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:16 pm

Agree with some of the comments above:

(1) Lion Head is not at all boring but can be a slog even if the temps are -20F. However people have been avalanched on the Lion Head winter trail so check the advisories at Pinkham Notch or at Harvard Cabin before heading out. Personally I'd not go up Tuck's, it's a non-trivial 1,200 foot ascent/descent option requiring alpine experience, avalanche skills, self-arrest skills, etc.

(2) Agree that Harvard Cabin might be an overnight option for either Lion Head or Huntington summer trail if the conditions allow it. There's a web site for it I believe.

(3) The entire route from Pinkham to Lion Head winter trail to the summit and back down to the Pinkham parking lot can be done in a long day, allow 8 - 10 hours with breaks at a moderate pace.

(4) Boot Spur is doable in winter, but I seem to recall needing to use snowshoes.

(5) No matter which route you choose, crampons and an axe are necessary from the fire road all the way to the summit. Not that you'll need them all the way up, but there are likely to be spots along the route where you will need them.
User Avatar
geeyore

 
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:32 pm
Location: Virginia, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 2 posts

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby nartreb » Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:49 pm

I happen to know that WWBF is very comfortable with exposure, though I don't know what he or his friends have done in winter. Avy permitting, a direct line up the Bowl is right up his alley - pick a line that's not too steep or icy. The nice thing about Tux is that the avvy forecast is posted daily. Watch the forecast for a few days before your trip, and chat with the rangers when you get there.

Failing that, the Boott Spur trail is a good option in good weather: less crowded, but therefore a little bit harder to follow, than the LH winter route.

Another option is to approach from the west: Ammonoosuc Ravine trail, and if the weather's good, loop over Mt Clay and down the Jewell Trail.

See the Presi Range page here on SP for discussion of camping options.
User Avatar
nartreb

 
Posts: 1961
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 10:45 pm
Location: online or in boston, Massachusetts, United States
Thanked: 95 times in 79 posts

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby geeyore » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:31 am

Not encouraging it, but just as an option: I've done the Huntington summer trail with a competent winter skills partner in a December rain and with light snow cover. Lots of slushy and lightly iced sections and hence a short rope, axe, and crampons were essential. Winds on the Alpine Garden >100 MPH and so crawled on hands and knees back to Lion Head winter trail for descent. The Mt. Washington summit was neither our goal nor a possibility with the wind and rain conditions.

Another time bailed at the top of the Huntington summer trail first pitch slab because one in our party of three did not have crampons and I was in no mood to haul him up. The falling snow was getting pretty intense and I later was told that another party from Lion Head pressed on to the summit and had to request emergency shelter at the observatory (due to whiteout) to the tune of $200 each.

Also I've been caught in whiteout over on Mt. Adams while starting out on a Presi winter traverse, after starting from Lowe Path from Randolph. We had to short rope because visibility dropped to 10-20 feet. We went off the trail several times but eventually made it back to Crag Camp.

The Presidentials can be non-trivial in winter. Check Accidents In North American Mountaineering (AAC) or one of the several books written about Mt. Washington.
User Avatar
geeyore

 
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:32 pm
Location: Virginia, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 2 posts

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby triyoda » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:23 pm

Three days to do Washington is really excessive. It is 4.5 miles from Pinkham Notch to the summit via the Lion's Head. Yes it is 4650 feet, but it is 9 miles round trip. This can comfortably be done in 6 hours if you are fit, 8-10 hours is very reasonable. If you are camping for the experience that is cool, just want to point out is not necessary for this route.

As far as Huntington, the summer route is "Central Gully" in the winter. Although some may do it with just an ice axe and crampons, I would not do it without two ice tools under the conditions I have seen the two times I was there. There is usually one short pitch of ice (20-30" of WI1-2), very easy to solo, although I have seen parties rope up for this. In short this is not a hiking route.

Lion's head is a nice route. The bottom is actually quite steep and can be icy. Even with an ice axe and crampons it can be a little tricky and again, I have seen guided parties use a rope to lower people down some of the steep spots of this trail.

As others have mentioned, Tuckermans is an alternative. Would just need and ice axe and crampons for this and check of the daily Avy forecast.
User Avatar
triyoda

 
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2006 3:17 am
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
Thanked: 5 times in 5 posts

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby AlexeyD » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:20 pm

triyoda wrote:As far as Huntington, the summer route is "Central Gully" in the winter. Although some may do it with just an ice axe and crampons, I would not do it without two ice tools under the conditions I have seen the two times I was there. There is usually one short pitch of ice (20-30" of WI1-2), very easy to solo, although I have seen parties rope up for this. In short this is not a hiking route.


Actually, I'm pretty sure that the slab portion of the HRT exits the gully shortly below where the winter ice bulge usually forms, but I do not dispute your recommendation of bring ice tools, as other sections of the trail may require them for different reasons. Speaking of slab, I would not want to be on that in verglas conditions - it's quite long, with very few options for protection, so a rope would not do you much good...
User Avatar
AlexeyD

 
Posts: 2055
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2002 11:13 am
Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 56 times in 44 posts

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby Jow » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:42 pm

I did west side Ammonoosuc Ravine trail last february. It was quite challenging for me because I wasn't in as good of shape as i should have been but that being said it still took 9 hours. Crampons were a must but we didn't actually use ice axes trip report below

http://www.summitpost.org/president-s-d ... ton/704244
User Avatar
Jow

 
Posts: 133
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:53 pm
Location: New York, New York, United States
Thanked: 16 times in 14 posts

Re: Winter Hiking/Camping on Mt Washington

Postby geeyore » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:45 pm

triyoda wrote:As far as Huntington, the summer route is "Central Gully" in the winter. Although some may do it with just an ice axe and crampons, I would not do it without two ice tools under the conditions I have seen the two times I was there.


The Huntington summer route is just to the right of Central Gully, beginning at the obvious rock slab. It is NOT Central Gully.

Would most definitely *not* recommend Central Gully as a winter "hike" since (a) CG is a technical climbing route, not a hike, and (b) it's a snow gully that is prone to avalanche.
User Avatar
geeyore

 
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:32 pm
Location: Virginia, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 2 posts


Return to Eastern US (New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast)

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

© 2006-2013 SummitPost.org. All Rights Reserved.