View Full Version : Winter Hike Question...

03-03-2008, 02:46 PM
Hey all, Some friends and I were thinking of hiking up Lions Head March 15th-16ish. This is considered a winter hike. we've only gone up to the summit once, any suggestions, ideas, comments, concerns? Any feedback would be appreciated.

03-03-2008, 03:31 PM
Lion's Head in March is very much a winter hike or climb. It's steep and could be very icy depending on the snow depth. The snow could be firm and deep enough to kick steps in without crampons, or it could be bare and covered with bulletproof ice. Or it could be anywhere in between. As a minimum, you need proficiency climbing with crampons,as well as the ability to use an ice ax for self arrest, should you fall, especially on the descent when you are tired. It's quite likely you may encounter full winter conditions above treeline - which means facemask, goggles and no exposed flesh. The ability to function in those conditions is paramount. So the best advice is to plan and be prepared for the worst possible conditions and you should be fine. If you have no experience in steep icy climbing or full on winter conditions, then it's best to go the first time whit someone experienced or hire a guide. Good luck.

Bill O
03-03-2008, 04:38 PM
Due to the depth of the snowpack, Lion Head winter route now has some exposure to avalanches.

Keep that in mind.

03-03-2008, 06:18 PM
Bill makes an excellent point. It's a good idea to check in at the Joe Dodge AMC facility in Pinkham Notch for the latest weather and snow conditions, immediately prior to climbing.

03-04-2008, 11:57 AM
Will do... I'm thinking maybe tuckerman's ravine instead of lion's head now... how do you think that is? I dont want to have to ice pick and all that, im not experienced with it.

03-04-2008, 12:50 PM
I have never climbed in Tuck's during the winter, however I believe most of the gullies are steep enough to require an ice ax for self arrest. You're likely to have a greater chance of high avalanche risk as well. Most likely the gullies will have a layer of hard ice under the snowpack as well, which may or may not be exposed. Conditions can vary greatly there depending on the recent weather. I would not venture past the floor of the ravine without the same set of self arrest and cramponing skills that you need for Lion Head. Always check here before venturing out;
This bulletin gives you some idea of what is possible.
Perhaps someone with more experience with tucks in mid winter can chime in.

Bill O
03-04-2008, 01:14 PM
Will do... I'm thinking maybe tuckerman's ravine instead of lion's head now... how do you think that is? I dont want to have to ice pick and all that, im not experienced with it.

Doesn't sound like you are experienced enough to attempt this. Not sure how else to phrase that.

You need an ice axe and crampons, you need to know how to use them.
And you also need avalanche rescue gear and forecasting skills.

Other than that it is a great winter route when conditions are right.

03-04-2008, 01:23 PM
Tucks is not a good idea for novice winter climbers. Going through the ravine requires the ability to assess snowpack and make proper route selection decisions. Unless you have solid avalanche training and know what you are doing I wouldn't go through the ravine. Ice axes, crampons, proper technique and solid self arrest skills are a must on every route to the summit during winter. Lions Head winter route is less prone to avalanches. Remember, LESS does not mean NO danger. Precipitation can & will change the snowpack very quickly but it depends on what form the precipitation comes in. Keep a keen eye on the weather prior to your ascent and heed the days avalanche bulletin. Then make your own decisions as to what route your going to take.

All of that being said, if I were you I would hire a local guide service. You will learn valuable ice axe and crampon techniques as well as have the security of someone who really knows the mountain and route.

Be safe.

03-07-2008, 01:29 AM
dude look into the guiding services there are plenty up there, the one i was looking at offers a mount washington summit attempt and a training day for
$130 a day.

now before you dismiss it cause of price (like i did) look at it this way, they will supply you with all the technical gear ice axe, crampons, boots, helmet, snowshoes, etc just renting these on your own would cost around or above $100 look at the ime website

not to mention the fact that the guide will know every trail, hut, ridge, and cairns on the mountain, they will also know what to do in an emergency (like a white out)

03-07-2008, 01:35 AM
found it, i found this video on youtube a few months back its a great example of what it can be like above tree line or just how much potential there is for chaos to begin

03-11-2008, 01:58 PM
Heyyy, thank you all for your feed back. My friends and I have only summited Washington once, and that was in June. we've decided to hold off on a winter climb for now because of the level of skill needed to safely reach the summit. We'll probably get a few more summer climbs in first, and then seek out winter training. Thanks again everyone, and that video is pretty nuts.