View Full Version : Is this a good idea or a waste of time ?

04-09-2009, 05:25 PM
I am trying to get ready for a run at summitting MW this summer, probably in August. In planning my training/practice strategy, everything on my "what could go wrong list" boils down to the following 3 things:

Weather I'm not expecting/prepared for
Hiking Ability ( physical condition and knowledge )
Getting Lost/Trail Familiarity

I am working on the conditioning and hiking skills by jogging and will be doing some less demanding hikes as I get closer to August ( most likely Mts. Manadnock and Chocura )

I was originally thinking about going up one day and only going part way up. Give myself a 2 or 3 hour climb time, and then just turn around and come back down. Then I realized that while that would be beneficial I would still be a total neophyte on the hardest part of the trail. So...I started thinking about how to get some actual MW experience before my summit attempt....and I came up with getting a ride to the summit and desending. That way I'll have all day to get down before nightfall, I will know exactly what the weather is at the top...because I'm starting there, and I'll get to know the route for when I try a real ascent. This would allow me to get some knowledge of the trails, and conditions and skills required.

So.....does this seem silly, or a good warm up excercise ? Also, is there an easy and cheap way to get a ride to the top from the Visitor Center ?

Don't pull any punches...if this is stupid I'd rather you folks told me that, than to waste a day that I could have spent on another training hike.


04-09-2009, 05:37 PM
Just my two cents, but if I were to do this, I would start from the bottom for the first time, rather than the top. My thought on this when I was climbing for the first time in Feb. was that if anything started to get iffy, or I was second-guessing my abilities, I could just turn around and descend easily through familiar territory I had just hiked though. If you were to descend into an unfamiliar area, you might want to turn around for a number of reasons (weather, fatigue, etc.), and then you would have to hike back up for a safe ride down, which depending on how far you went down, might be difficult, especially since the weather could get worse the higher you go. If you are unsure of your ability to hike it, I just feel that starting from the top down could almost get you into a "trap." Starting from the bottom can always be a safe method with affording you the opportunity to easily descend whenever doubts may arise.

04-09-2009, 05:59 PM
I agree - I would recommend bottom up with a car waiting for you at the top. Take 5-mile walkie talkies with you to keep the driver informed if you can make it or not. Cell phones are not reliable up there.

Bill O
04-09-2009, 09:07 PM
I don't think you should waste your time over-complicating this.

Prepare for the hike, go to the mountain and climb it.

The biggest unknown is weather so give yourself an extra day if the weather doesn't cooperate. Use that day to hike up to Hermit Lake if going above tree line isn't safe (which is very rare in August).

I wouldn't worry about getting lost. That is hard to do in the summer...even in the fog. Trails are easy to follow and well marked.

04-10-2009, 11:06 AM
I suppose I am over complicating things a bit. That's the problem when you have too much prep time for an activity. The walkie talkie idea is a good one, but I will be alone. If I get to the top and want a ride down is there a way to do that ?

..and thanks for the feedback.

04-10-2009, 11:17 AM
Spots on the stage or cog railway for the ride down are not a guaranteed thing. A good hiker/climber needs to continually assess his/her energy level and never empty their tank on the way up, always remembering that reaching the summit is only the halfway point of the trip. If you get to treeline and feel that your are getting spent, turn around. If you get to the base of the summit cone reassess there as well. etc., etc....
Good luck.

04-10-2009, 05:30 PM
[URL=http://preview.tinyurl.com/d5n268 [/URL]

This is the FAQ from the Mt. Washington Auto Road that answers your questions about a ride down.
You will probably be amazed at the number of hikers heading up on any given day in August. You may be of the mindset that you'll be hiking solo, but you will certainly NOT be ALONE, nor the only person with that same mindset.

Remember that there are many routes to the summit of MW and whichever route YOU choose, you will not see others who have chosen differently until you are all on top. August is peak for through trippers on the AT and that adds to the crush. You will sooooo not be alone.

Hiker shuttles AND the Cog routinely sell out all available downbound seats in high summer. Plan to do it on your own two feet


04-10-2009, 11:07 PM
Might I recommend Seek the Peak, the Observatory's biggest annual event? This year, it's on July 25. 300 of your closest friends will be there to help with the hike. Plus, you can win lots of prizes, score a huge goodie bag, sport a sweet MWO/Seek the Peak long-sleeve t-shirt, enjoy a turkey feast, listen to live bluegrass music and meet many of the folks who frequent the forums.

I bet that more than a third of the Seek the Peak hikers are first-timers, so you'll be in good company.

To learn more, check out www.seekthepeak.org.

Just my two cents...

MWO Staff

04-11-2009, 07:50 AM
(which is very rare in August).

Unless there are thunder/lightning storms :D Experienced that first hand last year. WOW!

Ok, my 2 cents which will be very similiar to others. Yes, start from the bottom. If you want to test it out so to speak, just hike into tuckerman's ravine the first time. That's about 2 hours to the ranger station, and another .5 hours into the ravine itself. A great hike on it's own, especially when there is still snow.

Prepare for bad weather yes, and definately bring extra socks. It's SOOO nice to put on new socks at the summit for the hike down. :rolleyes: Yes people, I'm a man of comfort :p

Good luck,

04-11-2009, 08:39 AM
Scot took the words right out of my mouth. You'll always have plenty of company on Mt Washington in the summer but if you do STP you'll have lots of company and more importantly lots of support. Last year was the first STP for my wife and I and the first time to hike up Mt Washington as well. I had a few concerns like you have and tend to always overthink everything. We had no trouble with it at all. The main thing is to not be afraid to trun around if you think you've had enough and are pushing too hard. So go out and hike and get ready like you said you're planning to do and then go for it!

04-11-2009, 09:07 AM
I suppose I am over complicating things a bit. That's the problem when you have too much prep time for an activity. The walkie talkie idea is a good one, but I will be alone. If I get to the top and want a ride down is there a way to do that ?

..and thanks for the feedback.

A direct answer to your question is yes, it is possible to get a ride down from the top. Possible, but not guaranteed.

My family did an overnight at Lakes of the Clouds last August. My oldest daughter and I hiked up, my husband and other daughter took a hiker's shuttle up.

Call the Auto Road and ask about the details of the shuttle.

Next day, our family went to the summit, and my husband and youngest took the hiker shuttle back down from the top.

We planned it this way.....we called ahead and spoke to the folks at the Auto Road, who gave us good chances at getting the shuttle for the particular days we would need it.

We also prepared to have everyone hike down together if it came to that....though it would have been very difficult with my youngest, we had the gear with us to pull it off.

So yes, it's possible to get a ride down. HOWEVER, don't count on it, be prepared to get down on your own two feet.

04-11-2009, 08:42 PM
And Trish did the walkie talkie thing.

04-12-2009, 05:27 AM
Ah yes, thanks Brad -- the radios were a great tool for us. I could check on my husband while he was coming down the cone with our youngest, while I hiked up with our oldest.

I know you'll be alone, but if you have the money and potential to use the radios another time, I highly recommend getting them. If you have an accident, and for some reason you don't run into anyone else (though that's unlikely in August), then you can try calling for help over the airwaves.