Presidential Traverse Worries

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Presidential Traverse Worries

by GuadalupePeak » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:24 am

Hey so my wife and I were going to attempt a winter hike of the presidential traverse..... However, now it seems that winter is not going to make it till April 25/26... so now we are worried where we are going to camp.. we originally wanted to just pitch a tent by the lake of the clouds ,but I don’t know if there will be enough snow to satisfy the “2 foot” rule. I hate red tape... If we have to camp at the tree line, I feel like that could wayyyyy out of the way. Also, our plan was to hike from valley way trailhead, summit mt washington, and then camp at lake of the clouds.

I will be honest and say we haven’t been to the white mountains before. We really wanted to do it because we’ve done a lot of winter climbs on other mountains. Then it’s apparently the “rainier” so I can’t not do it while I live on the east coast!

Any advice or help would be great!

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Re: Presidential Traverse Worries

by ZeeJay » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:28 pm

April 25/26 is not winter.

Here is a link to modeled snow depth for the presidential range, centered on Mount Washington. If you click ++ it will step forward a day, but it only forecasts a few days at a time. ... &js=1&uc=0

Regardless, have you given much thought to how windy it might be above treeline and how unpleasant camping there might be?

For instance, today's forecast says "Very windy, with a west wind 40 to 45 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph."

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Re: Presidential Traverse Worries

by nartreb » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:41 pm

There's a 1/4 mile exlusion zone around the huts including Lake of the Clouds, even in winter.

I wouldn't rely too much on snow forecasts. The ridge is windy, and the wind tends to blow the snow off. That's why you can still find the cairns and trail signs up there, when they're buried lower on the mountain. You may be able to find drifts beside big enough windbreaks, but that's not a fun activity when you're tired and it's getting dark. I strongly recommend you do some scouting hikes before you attempt your traverse.

A two-day traverse is a royal pain any time of year, and it's extra tough with winter gear. Consider a three-day traverse. From the north, first night inside one of the unheated RMC cabins on Mt Adams (or tenting at The Perch - bring a shovel!), then push on to Nauman tentsite by the Mizpah Hut for the second night.

Usual caveats about near-winter in the Whites apply. Late April brings its own worries, even if the winds are not usually as dangerous as in winter. Rain is generally a bigger hypothermia risk than snow, so watch the forecast. Melting snow makes travel difficult, steep terrain treacherous, and stream crossings impossible, so be smart about which trails you attempt. If you go into the Great Gulf, for example, don't expect to get out.

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