Winter hike in White Mountains
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Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/06/2007 13:46:32 MST Print View

I am planning a winter hike in the White Mountains. We are in for a challenging hike with possible a overnighter, and ofcourse it has to be light. Time will be around end of December so daylight will be short.

I was thinking of going up Mt Jefferson via the Caps Ridge Trail (relatively short but technical) and then continue to the summit of Mt Washington, descend to the Lakes of the Clouds hut and then down the Amnoosuc trail.

Does anybody has experience with this trail in winter, it looks exciting but is it doable. Will snowshoes be usable on this trail?

I am tinkering with my gearlist especially if there is bivy equipment involved.

Any suggestions?

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/06/2007 19:31:48 MST Print View

Caps Ridge and Amnoosuc are very strenuous trails in summer. I'm not sure I would use the term "hiking" on these trails in winter. It may be more like "mountaineering/climbing". The entire trip would be totally exposed to possible extreme weather in December.

If you are not an experienced winter mountaineer, I would strongly suggest you approach this as an educational experience and go with a guided group.

In the town of North Conway, in the Mt. Washington Valley, there are options for this. I would contact:

International Mountain Equipment
http://www.ime-usa.com/

or

Eastern Mountain Sports School
See the manager, Mike, at the N. Conway store in the Eastern Slopes Inn
http://www.emsclimb.com/locations_north_conway.htm

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
Re: Re: Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/07/2007 01:06:16 MST Print View

Hi Michael,

your right, the term hiking here is not well chosen, we intend it to be a winter mountaineering/hiking trip. I have done previous winter climbs/hikes in the whites as all over Europe (my background is alpine climbing) so i think i can call myself an "experienced winter mountaineer".

We are not looking for an easy route, we are looking for a technical route and i was just wondering how this route would be in winter as it is a tough trail. Ofcourse the weather and conditions will determine if it will be possible at all.

thanks for your suggestions.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/07/2007 06:03:57 MST Print View

That route is pretty technical but if you are comfortable self arresting, very doable. If you are planning on doing this as an overnighter you may have trouble finding a wind free campsite so you need a tent that can take some serious wind. Another option would be to do more of an alpine style assualt where you take a super warm sleep system and bivy and find and area where you can dig out either a snow pit or cave. But at the time of the year where you are going and the area you are doing it in there may not be enough snow unless you retreat below treeline. Safest option would be to get up well before the crack of dawn and do the whole thing in a day.

Looks like some of the huts already have some deep snow
http://www.outdoors.org/recreation/tripplanner/go/backcountry-weather.cfm

I would keep your eye on this site before you leave so you know what to expect.
http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/

I myself am headed up to Ol' George to do a winter breakin hike up Jewell Trail next weekend. Good Luck

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/07/2007 11:55:01 MST Print View

>>I was thinking of going up Mt Jefferson via the Caps Ridge Trail (relatively short but technical) and then continue to the summit of Mt Washington, descend to the Lakes of the Clouds hut and then down the Amnoosuc trail.


As you may know, Caps Ridge Trail is accessed via Jefferson Notch Road which may be open only to snowmobiles and foot traffic at that time, or at best accessible only via 4WD. Parking instead at the Cog Base Station and hiking/snowshoeing to the trailhead would add ~2 miles and 500' elevation gain to the itinerary.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Presidentials on 12/07/2007 15:30:32 MST Print View

Hi,
Was just up in the Mt Adams area this past weekend, not a whole lot of snow yet, extremely cold last Saturday night with Washington summit temp. low on Saturday night of -61 below zero with wind chill factored in, used crampons starting around 3100".
Would also check NOAA and Hike the Whites for current trail conditions, route you mentioned would have it's challenges, be realistic about goals of where you plan to stay, above tree line can get pretty hairy now.
Good luck, enjoy and be safe.
Jim

Frank Deland
(rambler) - M

Locale: On the AT in VA
winter in the Whites on 12/10/2007 20:12:27 MST Print View

Your basically hiking over exposed rock that most likely will be some combination of snow and ice. Surely you will need crampons maybe snowshoes. There is an open shelter at the Perch and a enclosed winterized cabin at Gray Knob maintained by the Randolph Mountain Club of Gorham, NH.

http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/71798915lGFkmz

http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/71798915lGFkmz

Hopefully you will hit a December day like this one: (note the trail condition)

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1228170139045831896bPVaRS

or this one!

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2528895690045831896oeiqZD

Edited by rambler on 12/10/2007 20:23:25 MST.

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
Re: Re: Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/12/2007 02:03:34 MST Print View

Hi Brett,

thanks for the beta, last year we had no significant trouble driving there in a 4wd but that was a low snow period. There is already more snow now than when we were there last year. We will check it out.

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
Re: Presidentials on 12/12/2007 02:12:53 MST Print View

Hi James,

thanks for the update. We are very flexible in our plans and i have seen enough bad mountain weather to know what it can do!

Only doing Mt jefferson via the Caps Ridge Trail and then going down instead of continueing to the summit of Mt Washington would be a super trip but going to Mt Washington would be great.
It all depends how fast we will be on the Caps Ridge Trail, if we are to slow than we will turn back.

I will try to make it a one (albeit very long) day trip and skip the overnight strategy. I think we will benefit more from a light pack weight and use headlamps on the way down the Amnoosuc Trail (if necessary).

Eventally the weather and the conditions will determine what we will do.

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
Re: Re: Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/12/2007 02:18:16 MST Print View

Hi Jonathan,

thanks for your comments. I already figured out that an overnighter on this trip is not the best strategy. It will be a very long day hike/climb. I think light packs will do more benefit than bivy somewhere.

We need to get up Mt.Jefferson in a good time otherwise the trip will not be realistic. If we could reach the Lakes of the Clouds hut before dark we will be safe as we both know the Amnoosuc trail reasonably well.

Let me know how your trip was.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/12/2007 07:48:48 MST Print View

Hey Jeroen,
not a problem. I will def give feedback on my trip but my plans may change this weekend. I was planning on heading up north on Thursday night and climb Washington on Friday but a pretty sizeable Noreaster is coming our way which might change up my plans. If this is the case I was thinking of trying a 1 day Bondcliff hike (18-20 miles) which would easily be the longest 1 day winter hike in my books. I got alittle crazy with my lightweight winter setup this Fall so I thought I would give it a try while the snow levels are still reasonable on the approach.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Winter hike in White Mountains on 12/18/2007 09:20:22 MST Print View

Alrighty so Mother Nature def did not want some of us to go north last weekend. I took Friday off to head up on Thursday night but a crazy snow storm made my 25 minute commute into a 2 hour affair. So that nixes going anywhere else safely. Then we had a Nor’easter on Sat night well into Sunday which dropped a foot of icy messiness on us. So right in between the storms I made it up to Monadnock for my first quick jaunt out this winter, and it was wonderful :)

Sun in the clouds

me

Edited by Jkrew81 on 12/18/2007 09:21:25 MST.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Mt Monadnock on 12/18/2007 18:32:06 MST Print View

Hi Jonathan,
After following this post was wondering if you made it to the Whites. Have not heard any recent reports on conditions in N.H. but can imagine they have a fair amount of snow by now making the route you were suggesting a long trek. Monadnock pictures looks like it was a great day, one of my preferred day hikes during winters up here.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Mt Monadnock on 12/19/2007 06:00:43 MST Print View

Hey James,
with the amounts of snow last weekend I did not make it all the way to the Whites. With the second storm that moved in on Sat night into Sunday I was afraid the drive home would have been pretty dangerous. I am headed up again this weekend for another shot. I agree though, with the amount of snow they have up there now the 1 day Bondcliff trip is shot unless I decided to do the approach on ski's. This weekend my fiance and I are planning to possibly snowshoe Whiteface and Passaconaway or maybe the Kinsmans. When I get back I will post a snow report :)

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Current conditions in N.H. on 12/19/2007 09:21:23 MST Print View

Hi Jonathan,
Sounds great, would be interested to hear how conditions are. Views from the Top website is for some reason only listing trip reports dating back to late November? Been thinking about trying to get over to Kinsman pond also, new shelter looks like it would be a great place to stay in the winter, AMC did an excellent job constructing that. Have a great trip where ever you guys end up going.
Jim

John Schafer
(jdshiker) - F
VFTT Trail Conditions on 12/20/2007 08:38:37 MST Print View

James,

VFTT changed the location for the trail conditions. They are now listed as seperate forums. Here's the link for the NH:

http://www.viewsfromthetop.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=13

Hope this helps,
John

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Thanks John on 12/20/2007 09:19:46 MST Print View

Just found the link after posting last message,
thanks for putting that link up John!