View Full Version : When does Mt W become a "hike" instead of a "climb" ?

03-16-2009, 03:45 PM
I am athletic and in good shape and am looking to hike up to the summit of Mt Washington. How early can I plan a hike without having to bring ice axes, snow shoes, and crampons ? I will of course be prepared for cold weather and the possibility of snow, as I have read that it can snow at the summit any time of year, but I am looking for a vigorous hike rather than a climb, since I have no experience in that arena. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Bill O
03-16-2009, 05:19 PM
Unless there is unusual late snowfall (May 1996) early June is usually safe. As soon as the Lion Head summer route opens that is a sure sign.

If you go to the west side of the mountain it may be earlier. I know the Lion Head summer route opened in early May one year I was there.

03-16-2009, 11:34 PM
May is usually when we start to melt out but by the sounds of it, you are aiming for more June type weather. But then again, it all depends on your intended trails. August is usually when the summit has the warmest temperatures, least likely month to get snow (but we can and you still have to worry about Thunderstorms), month with the lowest 10 year average winds and the black flies are not as abundant. But even in the winter, people just hike this mountain. Climbing is more confined to Hunington's and a few other locations. But, I guess that comes down to what you consider "climbing" vs "hiking".

03-17-2009, 12:48 AM
Thanks for the feedback Knapper. Since my original post, a few other questions have occured to me that I'd like to hear people's thoughts on. Do any authorities monitor a channel on the GMRS radio's. For example on a marine radio the Coast Guard always monitors Channel 16 for emergencies.

Also, does anyone here have any experience with the trails marked on Garmin's topographical software ? I figure if there were any errors the folks on this site would be aware of them.


03-17-2009, 01:59 AM

I am the same way as you. I am a hiker and not a climber. If I need special equipment and skills to get up there, I would consider it a climb. So, I stick to hiking back into Tuckerman Ravine in the winter. I start to consider going to the summit mid-June but normally it is end of June or July before I do it.

The big question is - when do they switch from the Lion Head winter trail to the summer trail? That should be a good indication the rangers think we can hike up.

I have not done Ammo-Jewell early in the summer and do not know when the snow and ice on the rocks is normally gone. I would expect that answer to be different from the east side conditions.

03-17-2009, 09:10 AM
I did Ammo-Jewell last late May, and we def hit quite a bit of snow (must post pictures) Still, I would consider it a "hike" as opposed to a "climb," we didnt need any specual equipment (but I really wished I had microspikes)

Still, I rather like that my bumper sticker says "I climbed Mt Washington" as opposed to "I hiked...," though my bandanna says "I hiked it and I liked it."

For me, a climb would involve ropes, locking carabiners, and mad skills

03-17-2009, 10:06 PM
Also, does anyone here have any experience with the trails marked on Garmin's topographical software ? I figure if there were any errors the folks on this site would be aware of them.


Not sure how accurate the Garmin routes are. Trails are pretty well marked for summer (unless you get into fog or other low visibility when the GPS could definitely be useful). I have the track logs from the AMC guide mapped routes. If you know which trails you're planning to use I can send you the .gpx files.

03-17-2009, 10:21 PM
Thanks for the offer, but I am not sure my GPS is sophisticated enough to import a route that way ( or at least I am not sophisticated enough to do it ) but it does have a "breadcrumb" feature that shows you where you've been. If the visibility or weather get bad, that feature will get me back on the route I took. I'll have the Garmin trails stored in the unit and I should be able to see how accurate they are in the first few miles or so. I just figured someone else might have already compared their actual routes to the Garmin routes and I'd try to get the benefit of their experience. Thanks again.

03-28-2009, 09:36 AM

We go up Ammo trail every June - mostly to see the flowers on the side of Monroe, but a couple years ago we did the loop over Washington and down the Jewell trail. We saw very little snow. This was June 15, which may be later than you were hoping for.

Trip Report (http://www.barkeater.ws/NH48/images/MtMonroe/20070615/TravelLogJune152007.pdf)

Have fun!