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

Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

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

Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby elichten » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:36 am

A friend and I are planning a truncated winter traverse of the Presidentials, and I'm looking for some guidance on a few topics:
1. We only have two days so we're not sure if we'll be able to do the whole thing given the likely conditions. We would like to hit Mt. Washington for sure...any advice on routes?
2. We've only got one car and it doesn't look like the AMC shuttle runs in winter...any suggestions on other ways to get from our trail exit back to our car?

Thanks!
User Avatar
elichten

 
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:55 pm
Location: Exton, Pennsylvania, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 1 post

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby AlexeyD » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:42 am

elichten wrote:A friend and I are planning a truncated winter traverse of the Presidentials, and I'm looking for some guidance on a few topics:
1. We only have two days so we're not sure if we'll be able to do the whole thing given the likely conditions. We would like to hit Mt. Washington for sure...any advice on routes?
2. We've only got one car and it doesn't look like the AMC shuttle runs in winter...any suggestions on other ways to get from our trail exit back to our car?

Thanks!


In my opinion, the most logical option for a truncated Presidential traverse that includes Mt. Washington and can be done with a single car is to park at the Great Gulf Wilderness trailhead on Route 16 and hike the northern Presidential plus Mt. Washington via the Gulfside Trail plus any number of combination of trails (or the Mt. Washington Auto Road - actually not a bad option in the winter) to get up and down to the main ridge. The geography of the region lends itself to this option - the northern presidentials form a sort of semi-circle around the Great Gulf, especially if you include the Chandler Ridge of Mt. Washington, so a loop makes sense. Bear in mind that if you do this using the auto road, the total distance is not any less than the full presidential traverse, in fact it may be a couple miles longer, though the elevation gain is less and it is overall easier due to the fact that the auto road portion, while long, is very straightforward and goes quickly. I believe this distance is something on the order of 20 miles. In good conditions, and later in the season when the days are longer, this can be done as a day hike (in fact it's the only way I've done this particular route, though I've done the full traverse as a multi-day trip), but this time of year I certainly wouldn't recommend that. There is of course the issue of where to camp, since the middle portion of the hike - in other words, where you'd want to make your camp - generally lies well above treeline, but this issue is not really any different from the standard winter presidential traverse, and your camping options would be the same as for the standard traverse - either some distance down the Randolph Path or Israel Ridge Trail on the west side, between Mt. Adams and Mt. Jefferson, or a little ways down the Sphinx Trail, between Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Clay. If you can make it that far I'd recommend the latter for three reasons: 1) it is a shorter distance to treeline, 2) it tends to be more sheltered since it's on the east side of the range and prevailing winds are out of the northwest, and 3) you have less to go the next day. On the other hand, the Sphinx Trail tends to see less use in the winter than the Randolph Path, therefore it can be difficult to follow, especially after a major snowfall. If the weather is particularly bad, you can also follow option 1 to the Perch lean-to, but that involves a fairly significant detour, with an elevation loss and gain of something like 1000 feet. You could also conceivably camp on the ridge itself (in one of the cols or other flat areas), but I wouldn't do this unless you are certain that the winds will be light and that there's enough snow to build some sort of barrier.

A number of variations here, but hopefully this will give you some idea of the options for what you're looking for.
User Avatar
AlexeyD

 
Posts: 2058
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2002 11:13 am
Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 56 times in 44 posts

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby AlexeyD » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:44 am

One other thing I forgot to mention - if you descend via the auto road, you will have to walk a couple of miles along the highway back to the trailhead - not too bad, but could be a bit of a pain at the end of a long day.
User Avatar
AlexeyD

 
Posts: 2058
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2002 11:13 am
Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 56 times in 44 posts

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby adventurer » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:20 pm

A friend and I did the winter traverse in 2008 starting at the Valley Way trailhead on Rt 2 near Appalachia and ending at Crawford Notch. It took us two days, with one overnight camp, to complete the 22 miles.

We solved the one car problem by leaving our car at the AMC Lodge near Crawford Notch and paying one of the employees/volunteers $40 to drive us over to the start point.

You can find a lot of useful route info at http://www.chauvinguides.com/presitrave ... iguide.htm
"When you travel, if you avoid the people, reject the food, ignore the customs, and fear the religion..... you might as well stay home"
James A. Michener
User Avatar
adventurer

 
Posts: 190
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:24 am
Location: Virginia
Thanked: 109 times in 65 posts

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby bdynkin » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:09 pm

elichten wrote:A friend and I are planning a truncated winter traverse of the Presidentials, and I'm looking for some guidance on a few topics:
1. We only have two days so we're not sure if we'll be able to do the whole thing given the likely conditions. We would like to hit Mt. Washington for sure...any advice on routes??

Here is another idea:
Park on rt 2 near Lowe's Store, go light (just a small sleeping bag) and spend the first night at the Grey Knob hut. Get up real early and go all the way to Pinkham Notch via Washington.

elichten wrote:2. We've only got one car and it doesn't look like the AMC shuttle runs in winter...any suggestions on other ways to get from our trail exit back to our car?


Make friends with numerous Mt Washington hikers on the way down to Pinkham Notch or ask someone on the parking lot to give you a ride to your car. Many people drive that way from Pinkham Notch. Worst case: call for a cab, it's not that far (20 miles).

And don't listen to AlexeyD - Great Gulf is usually miles of untracked deep snow and people hardly ever go there. Yes, he has done it but he is a bit crazy and way too strong and fast. :D
bdynkin

 
Posts: 202
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2002 4:04 pm
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Thanked: 12 times in 12 posts

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby AlexeyD » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:19 pm

Contrary to what Bdynkin will have you believe, I'm not that crazy, nor am I suggesting using the Great Gulf Trail for this. When I did this loop I took the Osgood Trail to get up to Mt. Madison. In mid-winter that trail may indeed require snowshoes, but the section between the lower portion of the GGT (usually packet to that point), and the treeline, is not that long. Long story short: if you want to only use trails that are pretty much guaranteed to be packed, you'll need to start at Lowe's Store or Appalachia, but it's more of a hassle if you only have one car.
User Avatar
AlexeyD

 
Posts: 2058
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2002 11:13 am
Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 56 times in 44 posts

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby elichten » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:31 pm

Thanks so far for all the suggestions! I'm still piecing our route together; where to camp seems to be the major issue.

If I assume a 1MPH speed, would that be about accurate for mid January?
User Avatar
elichten

 
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:55 pm
Location: Exton, Pennsylvania, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 1 post

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby nartreb » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:27 pm

That's a decent default estimate for winter travel. You'll likely go faster than that on the flatter trail sections and moderate descents, but only you know your pace going uphill with a full pack, and snow depth is a wildcard, as are blowdowns and visibility (not knowing for sure where the trail is will slow you down, to say nothing of wrong turns). Carry a map with mileage pre-marked and calculate your pace (with breaks) as you go, and have some bail-out options in mind.
"Book time" is 1mph on a trail with 1000 ft of gain per mile, which is about what the most-used trails up the northern Presis have. That's a summer pace for a heavily-laden AT hiker or a slowpoke. I frequently go much faster than book time in summer, but in winter I carry more gear and usually have the above-mentioned obstacles, so it works out about right. (edited to add:) You want to be conservative in your planning.
User Avatar
nartreb

 
Posts: 1981
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 10:45 pm
Location: online or in boston, Massachusetts, United States
Thanked: 107 times in 88 posts

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby Pyroman9 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:19 am

turtle taxi will shuttle you. We parked in south and got a ride to the north. We did it in one day... one very LONG and FAST day.

cost about $80 for shuttle, but well worth it!

got any other questions feel free to ask, looks like a lot of people have posted already
User Avatar
Pyroman9

 
Posts: 272
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: rochester, New York, United States
Thanked: 8 times in 3 posts

Re: Winter Presidential Traverse Questions

Postby AlexeyD » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:34 pm

elichten wrote:Thanks so far for all the suggestions! I'm still piecing our route together; where to camp seems to be the major issue.

If I assume a 1MPH speed, would that be about accurate for mid January?


This depends a great deal on whether your trail is broken in on or. On a well-packed winter trail in good weather, it's not uncommon to have a similar average time as for a summer trail (faster descents due to snow compensating for slower ascents due to extra weight). On the other hand, if you're breaking trail in waist-deep drifts, you'll be lucky to make 5 or 6 miles in a whole day. On average, however, I agree with Natreb that 1 MPH is a reasonable winter estimate.
User Avatar
AlexeyD

 
Posts: 2058
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2002 11:13 am
Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States
Thanked: 56 times in 44 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.