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I know it's not backpacking but....
“OK, the travel plans are set, rooms booked, now what exactly have I gotten myself into?
My friend and I are going to climb Mt Washington at the end of the month. we have 2 full days in NH.
Any advice from you folks here who have done this?
Also, any ideas for other hikes in the area in case of bad weather above treeline, or if we summit the first day and still feel like hiking the next day?
“How much hiking experience do you have above timberline?
The time to bail on the trip is before you get above timberline, not when you have to beat feet to get down into it. People die on Mt. Washington.”
“The presidential range has some excellent trails and are well worth exploring even if Mt Washington summit gets snowed out. Yeah it has happened in August.”
I don't have any exp. hiking above treeline,
but I have plenty of exp. hiking PA rocks!
That's got to help some I think. I've been getting out every weekend doing elevation and distance too.
I don't struggle on the ups anymore, I kind of look forward to them!”
“It ain't the rocks that are the problem above timberline. It's the exposure and there is no experience that can prepare you for that except hiking above timberline.
My advice... for what it's worth... stick to the lower Mts in the Presidential's that have smaller above timberline summits. Get your feet wet before you dive in all told. It's not the elevation, it's not the rocks. It's not the ups. It's being able to read the weather, gauge the trends and knowing when to say "It ain't worth it."
I have been forced to scrap two assaults on Mt. Washington. Fortunately I was with experienced people who knew when to say when. I didn't think it was so bad. But I was very very wrong I found out later.”
“Thanks for the advice Rev, I know the weather is a big factor up there, It can be the worst weather in the world. I'm not too dumb to turn back if it starts getting bad. It only gets worse the further up you go. That's one of the reasons for allowing an extra day up there. There's a summit forecast each day at the AMC center. I also don't have a problem taking the Cog back down if it gets bad. I know you're supposed to take fleece, hat, gloves etc up with you. Which trails did you use on your attempts?”
“Even though it has snowed on Mt Washington in August before, it's not likely to. That said though, it does get very breezy above tree line -- being that there's really nothing to block the wind. Bring your hooded rain jacket and rain pants with you, where they will act as excellent windbreakers if you start to feel chilly in the wind. Also, the lack of trees up there makes for lots of sun; you may wan to bring sunglasses and sunscreen, depending on how well your skin tolerates sun exposure.
Also this time of the year, especially with the hot and humid weather down in the valleys below, you really need to look out for random pop-up thunderstorms. Tuning into the weather forecast for the day before heading out in the morning helps with this -- and if there's any threat of thunderstorms that day, you really need to keep an eye on the clouds that gather around the mountain while you're up above tree line. If any of them seem big enough to carry a thunderstorm, you might want to consider coming off the mountain and seeking shelter in the forest to avoid getting struck by lightning.
That being said, enjoy the trip. The Presidential Traverse has possibly the best views on the entire east coast. Good Luck.”
“I don't remember exactly what the situation was for me. It was a good thirty years ago or so. But I do remember the forecast was favorable when we started. It turned very bad very quickly. It was a fabulous trip. I loved coming down into the Flume from the back entrance. Very big tourist trap. Quite pricey if you entered from the parking lot. Totally free if you came off the mountain. Six days out, smelling like six years out watching the gray haired set totter to get out of our way was a hoot. The comments were worth all the effort.”
“I'd like to do Mount Washington in the winter. Anyone else interested?”
“For my own information... Does Mt. Washington in the winter require special permits and some kind of evidence of ability? I know that is true to an extent at Katahdin. Once the Baxter State Park closes you need special dispensation from the staff to even approach Katahdin. Does the same situation exist for Mt. Washington?”
“ Does the same situation exist for Mt. Washington?”
Not that I know of, but I know some of the routes, such as Tuckermans Raven, up the mountain get closed do to avalanche danger.”
“I really enjoyed that trip to the Whites. I enjoyed the views above timberline and the whole time I spent up there. We hiked the majority of the Presidential range that trip. I learned some serious respect for the unpredictable nature of that environment. I was young and went with an ADK group. Learn a lot? You betcha. I'd love to get back up there again, if I ever get back into a condition where my health would not be a limiting factor. Winter...? Ummmm... no thanks. But if you get to do it have a good time.”
“Don't stress over this. It's not really that big a deal.
I first climbed washington 35 years ago (age 7) and I have climbed it more than a dozen times since (probably close to two dozen).
First. Everything Ramblin says is true. The weather can be bad. Exposure and disorientation above treeline are every bit as dangerous today as they were 35 years ago.
What is different is the number of people on the mountain, who climbs and how they climb.
35 years ago you approached Washington with a healthy doze of fear and with a siege mentality (full pack w/everything in it . . .I had a friend who was determined to bring a sleeping bag(!!!) (and it was kind of/sort of recommended!)
the last time i was up there . . .people were trail running it as part of an exercise regime. Wearing trail runners and a hydration pack.
Don't over think this. It is a long day, but entirely doable.
Whether you go from the Cog RR side . . .up the Amonnusssususuuc and down the Jewel trail
Or up th eTuckerman side . .its a nice hike.
Follow your gut. If it is lightening . . .back off. Otherwise . .if you are comfortable in wind and fog . .anything is doable.
A note about summer thunderstorms. GET ON THE TRAIL EARLY. They tend to crop up around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. You will want to be well ahead of them. If you get underway by 7:30 or so .. .you should be fine.
“If I remember correctly we were going to continue on from the summit and not return to shelter we had stayed in, so we would have had everything with us anyway. There was talk of daypacking it but that would have changed our plans after summiting.
I really did not want to be a fear monger. I would follow my own advice and spend some time getting reacquainted with the world above timberline, but that's partly because of my own limitations. As well as my lack of experience above timberline.
You are right, a day trip up and back is a different beast than what we did. That said, I've seen too many incidents of people, including myself, taking various risks too lightly. By all means, if you are comfortable with the risks, have a good time.
We got rained out making the assaults. If memory serves it was one of those midsummer days where we found out later snow and ice had covered the surface. We had no ice gear at all. Yaktraks hadn't even been invented yet. I do remember being cold in the shelter. as we dried out. All we got on the approach was torrential rain. I think we found out what was above because others had bailed and come down with a report.
One of the things I learned from the ADK group, and I needed to learn this, the summit is not the determination of a successful trip. The fudge candy we made while drying off from being drenched was absolutely fabulous. hehehe.”
“Thanks for all the input.
I'm treating this as a serious extended dayhike. We'll be bringing fleece, wind/rain gear etc. Starting early is good advice. I don't want to get caught above treeline in a thunderstorm. Both of us are in good shape, so if the weather cooperates, we should have a good trip. Rev, I get your point about the summit not being the determination of a succesful trip. Think I'll save the Presidential Traverse for next year!”
“are you hut-hopping, chocohead? I do believe camping above 3500 feet is illegal, which means if you are carrying full pack and expecting to camp out, you're gonna have to descend quite a ways to find legal camping. Yup - it's a long way back down to treeline if you get caught in a storm.
And be prepared for the freaks on the Cog Railway - they will be looking out the windows at you as if you are a wild animal. Charge them for any photos they take of you or just moon them... your choice!”
“Charge them for any photos they take of you or just moon them... your choice!”
Mooning in a kilt is so much easier and more efficient. one of the side benefits, Think about it.”
“We're day hiking and staying in Bretton Woods
So everything is an up and back. If I end up on the west side I'll moon those on the cog. I plan on mingling my sweaty self amongst the tourists on the observation deck too. Plus I won't shave for a few days ....
I'm thinkin if it goes well, I'll do the traverse and stay at the huts next year.”
“If I end up on the west side I'll moon those on the cog
Umm, the engineers might throw hot coals at your "moon", another tradition seldom mentioned.
Just keep that in mind ;P”
Awesome White Mtns Trip
“Thanks for all your advice, just got back from NH.
The Lions head trail was great! The Washington summit was 38deg, winds gusting to 60MPH! Stayed warm, had the right gear. Went back down thru Tuckerman Ravine
Also hiked Zealand notch (great backpacking area) the next day, and did Franconia Ridge, Little Haystack, Mt Lincoln, & Mt Layafette on our last day! The views from the ridge walk were incredible. Saw a thru hiker playing the banjo up on Layafette! Hikers Heaven up there.”
“I'd like to give Mt Washington a try in the Winter.”
“is the weather station/post office open year round?”
Washington in Winter
“I'm thinkin the same thing... back up in the winter nothing open up top in the winter....less crowded. Weather station is open, but you need to be a member and schedule your overnight stay.
You go up the winter route to the lion's head then up to the summit or up one of the trails on the west side.
need crampons/ice axe and proper winter gear.
Might take IMCS 3 day school and tent overnight on Washington or Monroe since I haven't used any of that gear yet.”
“May be heading up to Mt. Washington end of February. EMS climbing school offers free shiz to employees so why not take advantage? Me and some coworkers may attempt it. She went earlier this month but was unable to complete due to 80mph near the summit.”
“Mt. Washington is no longer the record holder for highest wind gust on Earth.
“Many think the Rockies get bigger winds but don't have weather stations on top of the mountains.”
“I saw this, too. The big surprise is that something wasn't verified sooner - it can't be the windiest place on earth by any stretch. But it was the windiest place with reliable equipment to measure wind for a long time - so it was only a matter of time the record was broken.
There was a case somewhere in the Phillipines where a new record wind speed was met, but the recording device broke off during the record gust, so no one could be sure the speed of the fall wasn't being added to the gust in the measurement or that damage to the device didn't mess up the measurement.”
“It was pretty bad when I was up there...couldn't see more than 10feet, cold, and a ton of wind and this was in the middle of the day in late June when it was hot and sunny at the bottom.”
“I don't know what everyone is talking about. The day I summitted Mount Washington, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and a 5mph breeze that gusted up to 10mph from time to time.”
“New wind record!
“Hey, that's just measuring hurricane winds.”
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