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View Full Version : Presi traverse March 15-17



dangergirl
03-09-2008, 10:13 AM
So, we are planning on doing the presi traverse March 15-17th. I feel better and we are ready to go! Hopefully we have decent weather! Is anyone else planning to be up there?

lordvoldemort
03-12-2008, 09:47 AM
We had made an unsuccessful attempt last week. Now I am trying to talk my buddy into trying it again this week, but it looks like we may just do a day climb to Mt. washington.

Let us know how it goes.

dangergirl
03-13-2008, 06:47 AM
sounds good. We are hoping to start hiking in early saturday morning, make it to sphinx col saturday night, and get as far as possible sunday and be out monday. Hopefully the weather is nice to us! :)

Bill O
03-13-2008, 07:57 AM
sounds good. We are hoping to start hiking in early saturday morning, make it to sphinx col saturday night, and get as far as possible sunday and be out monday. Hopefully the weather is nice to us! :)

If you get nice weather you could make it in two days. Especially with the long days of March.

dangergirl
03-13-2008, 07:45 PM
That would be really sweet if we finished in 2 days! Then we could get in a day of ice climbing too! I hope the mountains and the clouds are good to us! :D

Bill O
03-15-2008, 07:38 PM
I hope you guys powered through that snow this morning. Aside from the fog the weather has been quite benign on the summit all day. I saw a big spike in the wind to a whopping 30mph!

dangergirl
03-18-2008, 10:09 PM
Below is a link to our photos. Be sure to check them out, they are quite amazing. http://www.flickr.com/gp/12439911@N07/ns1r43
This past weekend Don and I made a successful winter traverse of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire! :D It was a very big accomplishment for both of us. We started out on Saturday March 15th at 10:45am from Valley Way. My pack weighed about 36 pounds and Dons was about 40 pounds before 6lbs in water weight. It was looking like it would be a great day! We made our way up to Madison Hut and by 1:00 the weather was packing in. It was perfect crampon conditions! Light snow on top of a packed base with a nice crust towards the top.There was virtually no wind on Saturday which was a treat but the visibility kept getting worse and worse. By the time we got to Jefferson we could not even see our feet, so forget about finding cairns. Our visibility was so low that we were becoming "sea sick" trying to move around.
We had just entered untracked territory and had to break trail, but we could not find the trail. We pulled out the GPS and the batteries were too cold to stay on so we kept warming the GPS in our jackets until we could get it to work. Before leaving for the trip Don had downloaded waypoints from Marc Chauvins site (a new hampshire guide) and after a couple of hours of being lost we got a break in the weather and could see the ridge line up ahead! We took advantage of the conditions and made a b-line to the trail. Once on the trail we took in the beautiful sky! If it weren't for the GPS we would have been in a very bad spot which could have ended fatally. At 6:30 we finally made it to sphinx col where we ran into another party camping there as well. It was a treat to take off our packs and set up our tent in virtually no wind!
We got into our tent and could not believe how warm it was! It was our new Hillberg tent and we could not be any happier! It is definately on the smaller side but what it lacks in size it makes up in warmth! When we began melting snow it actually got so warm that we were just hanging out in our baselayers! That night we slept better than we had in years. Even though the outside temperature was well below freezing we were more than comfortable in our tent! When we woke up the next morning and packed up camp it looked like the clouds might lift. We were wrong.
At 8:45am we left camp and set out to knock out the second part of our traverse. We expected an easier time than the first day. We had a big surprise in store for us. Sunday was windier and colder. It had also snowed overnight and the drifts were quite deep in some areas. As we crossed the cog railway on mount washington the winds picked up a bit and visisbility began to become less and less. Seeing two cairns ahead was a treat! As we tried to find Lake of the Clouds Hut we ended up in another nausiating white-out. We kept trying to find the trail and were struggling with the deteriorating conditions. Off to our lefts we heard a voice. I yelled out and heard "follow my voice!". We found the man and he told us that the hut was just down the hill. Well, it was about 200 feet down the hill and we could not see it until we were almost bumping into it! We went towards the hut and hung out a bit while we snacked and read our maps.
We headed out onto the trail again and the bitter cold and strong winds turned us back. We went back to the calm area outside of the hut and zipped up, pulled out the GPS and hoped for the best. Holy crap it was windy! As we headed to Monroe we managed to lose the trail again. We found ourselves on some scary side slopes but at least we were out of the wind for a while. When we found Eisenhower we could not see the crawford path trail. We did see some snow caves which were pretty cool. The wind was getting worse so we pushed up Eisenhower where winds were so strong I got knocked over!
Again, we got a short lived clearing and we saw Pierce as well as our decent off in the distance. We thought we were home free until we lost trail again and found ourselves chest deep in the snow! It was a disaster and we lost a ton of time. When we swam our way out of the trees a huge ugly black cloud came rolling in. The GPS was useless here because of the terrain so we had to just keep trying to get out of this nasty situation. We got one last peek at a cairn up ahead and that was it, we were in the storm. We kept finding and losing the trail. We were pushing so hard that sweat was literally running down my body and into my boots. We were soaking wet and the temperature was well below freezing with high winds (felt like over 50mph), not good if we were to stop. It was stressful and we were punching through snow drifts again. Then, all of a sudden Don got a glimpse of a sign. It was not well marked but we saw a couple of tracks in the snow so we followed them. Suddenly we were in the trees and sheltered from the horrible conditions that we were in. We saw a couple with snowshoes who were turning back because of conditions and we asked them if we were truly below treeline. When they ever responded yes we were the proudest two people at that moment! We just survived a true winter traverse of the Presidential Range. We finished our traverse at 3:45pm.
Our only concern was if Mike and Sue were able to shuttle our car to the end of Crawford Path. We accidentally came out a bit past the parking lot so we walked over and when we saw our truck we were so happy! We learned that a GPS is neccessary when intentionally putting yourself in a situation like we were in. We had dinner with them and went for a great climb up Elephants Head Gully on Monday. We were sore but happy! What a wild weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Go to http://www.flickr.com/gp/12439911@N07/ns1r43 to check out the trip pictures.

-Kristina :)

Bill O
03-19-2008, 06:03 AM
Thanks for the report. Nice job.

Did you make it in two days?

dangergirl
03-19-2008, 06:44 AM
Yes, we hiked from Valley Way to sphinx col in 8.5 hours and hiked from Sphinx to 302 (highland center) in 7 hours. We were trying to get out as fast as possible as the conditions were terrible and getting worse. We lost a lot of time getting lost each day, especially day 2 where we were breaking trail through chest deep snow. We were to the point of being dripping wet from head to toe with sweat and did not dare stop as we would have frozen very quickly in the cold weather and high winds. It was one heck of a push, but very fun and exciting. We never understood the value of a GPS until this trip. It is one of those things that I thought was useless and my boyfriend thought was cheating, but if we did not have it with us I don't want to think about what could have happened.

lordvoldemort
03-19-2008, 11:41 AM
So you actually did the traverse in 2 days which is awesome. Me and my buddy did a day hike to Mt. Washington on sat and i know how bad the visibility was. Also a great trip report. Great job.thanks

climbabout
03-19-2008, 12:43 PM
Excellent trip report - glad everything worked out ok.
Tim

njgail11
03-19-2008, 09:17 PM
WOW! Me and my husband really enjoyed reading about your trip. I'm glad you both got back safely. Your pictures were great too.

lordvoldemort
03-20-2008, 08:57 AM
Were there any parts of the trail where you had to use snowshoes ?

dangergirl
03-20-2008, 07:56 PM
We should have used them after decending Eisenhower but we were trying to beat the storm coming in. We were in chest deep snow at that point, but almost the whole trip was perfect for crampons.

Brad
03-20-2008, 09:05 PM
An amazing set of pictures!

KD Talbot
03-21-2008, 08:44 PM
I've been meaning to post that I enjoyed the pictures as well. Glad you guys had the right equipment and made it through safe, and also glad you had a gps along.

KDT

Steve M
03-21-2008, 08:57 PM
That looks like a great time. A little hairy at times but great memories. Thanks for sharing.

rockin rex
03-26-2008, 06:33 PM
Anyone looking to do a winter traverse from Madison to route 302 should be made to read this trip report before deciding to take it on. Perfect example of what can happen above tree and how nasty it can truly get!!. Even with the perfect gear and clothes things can get tricky. As I have stated in many of my past post one of the harder things in winter is trail finding. getting lost above tree with a storm closing in can be an extremely scarey experience. Glad you both made it across safely and I guess your G.P.S. will be the first thing in your pack on your next winter climb. Again congrats and now you both have a trip you will remember for ALWAYS.

forestgnome
03-29-2008, 07:04 AM
Thanks for sharing :)

Brad
03-29-2008, 07:47 AM
As I have been reading trip reports of winter hikes and looking at everyone's pictures, the big question for me even on a good day is - how do you find the trail? Many of the markers are under snow. This has to be hard.

dangergirl
03-29-2008, 09:03 AM
When we could not find the trail due to visibility or buried cairns and signs we used a combination of a tyvek map and the GPS. The map has contour lines that were very useful and the map also shows which direction the trail heads (left, right, etc.) The GPS gave us waypoints that were extremely helpful in giving us a general direction. Some of it is guessing but with a map, compass, and GPS you can make an educated guess. We are looking into a new GPS and they actually have the topo maps that you can download into the unit. The cool part about that is you can always have a way to know exactly how far from the trail you are.
Our disaster plan was to locate a somewhat sheltered area and set up camp there to wait out the storms. We had enough rations for 3 full days and extra snacks. We only used 1 full day of rations on our trip and were capable of spending more days out there if we needed to.
Before heading out to do any adventure it is important to do your research before you go. We read books, maps, trip reports, talk with guides or other people who have experience, come up with disaster plans, and write down exact quantities of food for each person for each day, clothing, and supplies. We pack well before the trip and weigh our packs, do a quick run-through of setting up the tent (with gloves is helpful), test the stove and fuel setup, and try to pick several potential camping areas. When you need to move quickly being prepared in advance makes your trip more enjoyable and a lot safer.:D

lordvoldemort
04-01-2008, 11:32 AM
I know the weather is quite unpredicatable in the high summits but i was wondering if any of you guys carry a portable radio while doing overnight trips and tune in to get the 24 hr forecast of high summits.

edog2007
04-01-2008, 02:08 PM
Wo ho looks like a blast!!!!!:)
Glad you made it back safe.:eek:

MeridenFF
04-01-2008, 02:09 PM
First and foremost.. Congrats on a great trip. I can say I am very jealous and hope in the next few years to be able to take a trip like that. The question I have is with the GPS did you find yourself relying too much on the electronics and not enough on basic compass orientation. I know that the GPS will keep you on track a lot easier but if you were having trouble with the GPS freezing would a compass have been better off. I just bought a GPS for use on the mountains but I am concerned that the basic map and orientation skills are left out when using a GPS. Also what was the site you used to get the way points for GPS. Again nice job. Glad to hear you made it safely.

dangergirl
04-01-2008, 05:47 PM
The GPS was our last resort. We did not intend to use it unless we were in an emergency situation. We were in a very urgent situation and without the GPS we would have been in a bit of trouble. We could not see our feet at one point, that is how bad the visibility was. We have an older GPS and just had waypoints plugged in from the following site: www.chauvinguides.com and they are the emergency escape/whiteout plan routes. They do not follow the trail but give you a waypoint that will bring you to a trail sign or intersection, this is what saved us. We learned a valuable lesson on this trip, carry a gps, know how to use it, bring extra batteries, and don't be ashamed to use it. We did use the map and compass while using the GPS. All three were needed on this traverse and I would not want to be without any of them.

mtruman
04-01-2008, 06:30 PM
The GPS was our last resort. We did not intend to use it unless we were in an emergency situation. We were in a very urgent situation and without the GPS we would have been in a bit of trouble. We could not see our feet at one point, that is how bad the visibility was. We have an older GPS and just had waypoints plugged in from the following site: www.chauvinguides.com (http://www.chauvinguides.com) and they are the emergency escape/whiteout plan routes. They do not follow the trail but give you a waypoint that will bring you to a trail sign or intersection, this is what saved us. We learned a valuable lesson on this trip, carry a gps, know how to use it, bring extra batteries, and don't be ashamed to use it. We did use the map and compass while using the GPS. All three were needed on this traverse and I would not want to be without any of them.
Do you know what the approximate temperature was during the time you were using the GPS? There's definitely a lower limit on the screen and even the overall operaion on these devices as well as battery issues (depending on the type). I love my GPS and yours obviously saved you in this case. I'd be really scared about having to trust it in those conditions... Glad it worked!