View Full Version : TR: Circumnavigation of Mount Washington, NH 4.16.09

04-18-2009, 08:58 AM
This is a crosspost of something I put up on a skiing message board, but figured there might be some interest here as well. Sorry for the crosspost, but I hope some enjoy it who haven't seen it elsewhere.


Samthaman called me a few days ago and said he was getting pretty bored with the lack of new snow on the EC, and was therefore trying to figure out ways to hurt himself without being called suicidal. The original plan included a tour over the Presidential Range skiing all the highlights over the course of two days. Neither of us liked the idea of overnight stuff though, so Sam went back to work and came up with a new and more extra masochistic plan to ski all 6 major drainages of Mount Washington in a single day. These drainages include the Great Gulf, Huntington Ravine, Tuckerman Ravine, the Gulf of Slides, Oakes Gulf and the Ammonusuc River/Munroe Brook Basin.

Allenataylor got wind of this idea and had to sign up for the pain train. Suddenly, the next thing I knew we had a stretch of nice weather and the three of us were going for it.

The numbers scared me: 8200 vertical feet, over 13 miles. This would be one of the biggest days I'd ever attempted.

The party started in Burlington at 3am when several drunk dudes in Allen's frat informed him that it was "still yestereday" as he made his sandwiches etc in the kitchen. Sam was picked up shortly thereafter, and I had the pleasure of enjoying a leisurely 415am pickup in Montpeculiar. There may have been a few red lights run between the capital of VT and cog base, but nothing slowed us down nearly as much as "the jump"

This sucker was a perfectly placed 2-car-length indent in the road... the entrance got you up in the air, then you landed fully bottomed out in the gut of the sucker only to hit the next kicker... she did wonders on allen's undercarraige... or did allen's undercarraige do wonders on her?! (check the paint scuffs on the pavement near the front--note:we backed the taylor-mobile back into "the jump" for a photo-op)

we were skinning by 615 and near the top of the great gulf by 730.

Allen still thinking about "the jump"...

AT dropping the plane

Sam had a pretty spirited experience in the plane when the snow conditions went from "variable" to all ice, but he pulled it back together with his patented over the head turn off a rock... After a few scary shaken up moments, we changed over, and ascended.

Sam coming up the plane

One down, five to go.... after topping out of the Plane, we cruised on up to the summit at about 830 for a few phonecalls. i taped a few hotspots on my heels, and thus managed to avoid blisters.

Allen loved the conditions up high (TGR special photo!!)

We had a nice descent of the east snowfields staying high and left towards Huntington Ravine. It could definitely have been softer, but i'm not complaining... easily some of the most beautiful skiing in new england

Central looked pretty burly with the sun still low and the "northish" exposure at the top, so we poked our heads over into Diagonal (the site of a previous adventure of ours http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150933 ). It looked pretty good, but we decided to give it a minute to cook

After some water and snacks, low and behold perfect corn snow! not too firm... not too slushy. Just right

Sam skipping his way down a steep asthetic perfect corn snow gully hanging over a 40 foot ice bulge

Allen skipping to his own beat

Sam letting it all hang out at the last bit... exposure visible bottom left

Me enjoying letting it rip after my first tentative descent back in Feb. Felt good to open 'em up in there above the exposure!

We changed over above the bulge, and cruized up to the Alpine Garden. Two down, four to Go!

We took a high tack, and had no problem zooming over to Sluice which was just getting prime as the crowds made their way up into the Bowl.

Allen dreaming of bigger skis for the big white Tuckerman

Three down, three to go! We went down the cutler river, and took a high right over the snowfields. manky entrance, but worthwile to avoid the open water. We got some water at hojos, some food, and then quickly started moving up Hillmans. I started to bonk a little bit at this point since Hillmans is 1K+ of pure mind numbing bootpacking bliss baking in the noonday sun, but nonetheless made it up and over to Gulf of Slides. Not sure on names over there, but we hit the main one that most people do.

Sam enjoying the mellower & tame terrain of GOS after our day of trials and tribulations

Four down, two to go!

We went up and over the S shoulder of Boott Spur, and made our way to our penultimate drainage, Oakes Gulf. The going was suprisingly rough due to postholes, rocks, and krumholzwells, but we finally found a snowfield substantial enough to ski on, and traversed to a nice open bowl far skier's left in the Gulf (which in reality was just the first thing we came to that looked skiable :rolleyes2 ). The southern exposure made for some creamy snow

Allen giving it on the penultimate cruiser leg of our journey

Sam can feel the finish line

Salida going black and white

Five down just one more to go! At this point, we split up. I decided to boot straight up Oakes, while Sam and Allen gave up some vert in a traverse in favor of a route which allowed them to skin up the skier's right side of Oakes under Mt Munroe. We planned a rendezvous at the always beautiful Lake of the Clouds hut. I ended up doing more vert because of an unexpected height of land above Lakes, but did get to schuss over the Big Lake, something I've always wanted to do.

The snowdrift at Lakes went all the way to the roof, which made for some fun views

Finally, we traversed over to Munroe Brook, and found some sweet ripping conditions on the sunny side of the bed.

Sam getting ready to rock the finale

At this point we were all pretty tired. I was finding it tough to ski hard, and also to even think clearly about getting a good photo. I just took one for posterity:

Sam dropping in among the krumholz

After a tired-leg-descent we zoomed along the Ammo Brook back to the car, and to our great relief pulled off our boots and enjoyed relishing in our route... It was 3:25, and we had done 8200 vertical... 13 miles... Six down... none to go. 9hours 10minutes

Allen's foot

thanks for looking!

04-18-2009, 03:01 PM
Very nice! Quite the day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

04-18-2009, 07:21 PM
Wonderful report and pictures - at least up until the foot.

04-19-2009, 12:07 AM
Awesome. I'm exhausted just reading that.

04-19-2009, 09:23 AM
Wonderful pictures.....by the gods, I miss the Whites