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View Full Version : Attempting a Presidential Traverse soon



MechAeroE
05-04-2009, 02:38 PM
I get out from college in a few days and I have about a 1-2 week window to get some hiking in. I am planning on doing the traverse during this time. I plan on starting from the north.

My largest problem is gauging the timing for the hike. I am considering doing this in one day, but if this is going to be possible, I need to figure out what times I need to be at different locations to make sure I'll finish in time. I plan on starting well before the break of dawn (3-4AM), and hiking as long as it takes. How long should it take to get from Madison to the peak of Washington if I am making decent time? My family will be in the area and I thought it would be cool if they drove up or took the Cog up if it is open to meet me at the top as I'm hiking through.

The second issue relates the bailout plans. Of course I will be bringing all of my survival gear with what I need to survive the night if everything turns for the worst, but I am trying to find the different bailout routes I can take as I move along the ridge if I need to leave get back down before I make it to the southern end.

Lastly, where do you recommend I go to read more about this? I will most likely buy a good map at Pinkham Notch, but I am trying to learn as much as I can before I attempt this.

Thanks in advance!

Bill O
05-04-2009, 07:11 PM
Any guesses on how fast you can hike? Times on other climbs you have done? We need something to base an estimate on.

3am is probably too early to start, but 4 to 5am would not. Either way, you might not finish until after dark.

I made an attempt at a one day traverse and had a partner waiting for me on Mount Washington with a car as a backup. It is a good idea, but I don't know what is going to be open in the next few weeks.

MechAeroE
05-04-2009, 07:29 PM
Unfortunately I am bad with logging my times from previous hikes. It wouldn't be too reliable either as I usually take my time. For me though, I know that I am capable of going a pretty solid pace if I know that I need to get to a certain spot by a given time. I got plenty of cardio during last rugby season, and have tried to keep up with it recently.

I suppose that what I am looking for is a booktime that is based on taking few stops, because if I can setup checkpoints along the way, and try to make it to each point by that time, I think I will be successful.

Brad
05-04-2009, 09:07 PM
I think the AMC guide books used to be timed for 1 MPH plus 30 minutes per 1,000 feet of elevation gain. We regularly beat the book times.

Bill O
05-04-2009, 10:00 PM
What is the book time on the traverse?

I generally agree with a slow and steady hiking pace, but if you want to finish in less than a day you might have to push hard....no taking your time.

Brad
05-05-2009, 05:35 AM
What trails are you planning on doing?

krummholz
05-05-2009, 07:55 AM
I would definitely check the trail conditions on Views From the Top if you are going anytime soon. The remaining pockets of snow are going fast, but for instance someone described doing some major postholing from Eisenhower to the Edmands Path junction on a hike yesterday. Starting from the north, if you are going up Valley Way, right now it still has packed snow alternating with mushy snow.

mtruman
05-05-2009, 09:25 AM
The "standard" n-S route hitting the major summits (Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower) and skipping the "close ones" (Madison, Pierce) is 18.5 miles and 8200 feet of elevation gain with a book time of 15-1/2 hours based on the route plan from the WMG Online. AMC book time is 30 minutes per mile plus 30 minutes per 1000 feet of elevation gain. This is the most direct route - Valley Way, Gulfside, Crawford Path. You can save a bit of distance and elevation gain by skipping the summits. If you PM me with your email I can send you a PDF with the full route description.

averagejoe
05-05-2009, 01:01 PM
Hey,

I've only completed the Traverse twice, both times in the winter & as two day trips. I did take a stab at a single day trip in mid August. Turned back decending Adams, 30-40ft visibility. When I met up with two groups while I was doing it this winter, they both said they started at about midnight I'm told it's a 12-15 hour slog as a day push, winter or summer.

This is my opinion.

I would say start two hours before daylight, If you are swift you can get on top of Madison for sunrise, if that's your thing, and the weather is with you. If you start at about 3AM and it takes 15 hours you will still finish during the day. I don't like to start too early because I like to be in the daylight on the ridge.
As far as where to camp if you decide to.. ..well, I'll leave you to research that one. For as sure as I am that most would not know I had been there even if I just left. I'm gonna stop there.
The first time I did the traverse I had never been backpacking, summer or winter. My brother (whom I trust with my life) and me thought it would be a good idea to knock off a testpiece as an introduction to winter camping. Here's the thing, we both could navigate. both had map & compass, food & fuel, for a few days. Day one we left Valley Way at about 9AM, hit Madison, got on our way, the visiblity was crap and the wind was going hard so we skipped the peaks in order to make camp around the Sphinx Col while it was still light. Day Two visibility was good but the wind was going even harder (MWO info said max gusts of 98 on top) so we continued to skirt the peaks. We followed Crawford Path right down to the AMC HC. At some point, I don't remember if it was while packing up camp or during a break, my bro put a crampon through his sleep pad. Which was what made the decision to head for the car, instead of continuing on, easy.
This year I made a go of it solo. Left about an hour earlier (bout 8AM), and my bro hiked with me to Adams summit. I move a bit slower. I had a 50lb pack. Four days worth of winter gear. I got to my campsite near the Sphinx Col about 3PM. Day two (out of camp by 8:30AM) was a Bluebird till the last hour, when a squall started moving in. I left Mizpah (Bout 3PM) got to the car (Bout 4:30PM) and went to the Moat Mt. Pub.
If you do this solo, have a friend drop you at the north end and leave your car at the south end. You will be fully commited as soon as your friend leaves you. My bro hiked with me for a few hours, in case things looked bad, and I needed to bail.
It was an incredible trip. The solitude I expirienced out there was mind boggling. I saw no one till the next morning when I was packing up camp. I can't wait to do it again.
I wish I could talk to you about escape routes, but all I can say is Spring melt will make river crossings difficult.
You can get AMC or Nat Geo maps at any reputable outdoors shop.

Good Luck,
Joe.

MechAeroE
05-05-2009, 01:04 PM
What trails are you planning on doing?

Pretty much the only thing set in stone for me is starting on Valley Way. I plan on hitting all of the major summits, with possibly skipping Madison and saving it for another day.

MechAeroE
05-05-2009, 01:21 PM
Hey,

I've only completed the Traverse twice, both times in the winter & as two day trips. I did take a stab at a single day trip in mid August. Turned back decending Adams, 30-40ft visibility. When I met up with two groups while I was doing it this winter, they both said they started at about midnight I'm told it's a 12-15 hour slog as a day push, winter or summer.

This is my opinion.

I would say start two hours before daylight, If you are swift you can get on top of Madison for sunrise, if that's your thing, and the weather is with you. If you start at about 3AM and it takes 15 hours you will still finish during the day. I don't like to start too early because I like to be in the daylight on the ridge.
As far as where to camp if you decide to.. ..well, I'll leave you to research that one. For as sure as I am that most would not know I had been there even if I just left. I'm gonna stop there.
The first time I did the traverse I had never been backpacking, summer or winter. My brother (whom I trust with my life) and me thought it would be a good idea to knock off a testpiece as an introduction to winter camping. Here's the thing, we both could navigate. both had map & compass, food & fuel, for a few days. Day one we left Valley Way at about 9AM, hit Madison, got on our way, the visiblity was crap and the wind was going hard so we skipped the peaks in order to make camp around the Sphinx Col while it was still light. Day Two visibility was good but the wind was going even harder (MWO info said max gusts of 98 on top) so we continued to skirt the peaks. We followed Crawford Path right down to the AMC HC. At some point, I don't remember if it was while packing up camp or during a break, my bro put a crampon through his sleep pad. Which was what made the decision to head for the car, instead of continuing on, easy.
This year I made a go of it solo. Left about an hour earlier (bout 8AM), and my bro hiked with me to Adams summit. I move a bit slower. I had a 50lb pack. Four days worth of winter gear. I got to my campsite near the Sphinx Col about 3PM. Day two (out of camp by 8:30AM) was a Bluebird till the last hour, when a squall started moving in. I left Mizpah (Bout 3PM) got to the car (Bout 4:30PM) and went to the Moat Mt. Pub.
If you do this solo, have a friend drop you at the north end and leave your car at the south end. You will be fully commited as soon as your friend leaves you. My bro hiked with me for a few hours, in case things looked bad, and I needed to bail.
It was an incredible trip. The solitude I expirienced out there was mind boggling. I saw no one till the next morning when I was packing up camp. I can't wait to do it again.
I wish I could talk to you about escape routes, but all I can say is Spring melt will make river crossings difficult.
You can get AMC or Nat Geo maps at any reputable outdoors shop.

Good Luck,
Joe.

Thanks for the post.

smithtim
05-05-2009, 03:56 PM
Lastly, where do you recommend I go to read more about this? I will most likely buy a good map at Pinkham Notch, but I am trying to learn as much as I can before I attempt this.

Thanks in advance!


This sounds like an awsome trip you are planning and a great way to celebrate the end of a stressfull college year ( I teach college so I know where you are at )

I've never done that route so can't speake much to the details but I will say this: Make sure you absolutley over prepare... if you are thinking you'll need so much water/food to make it through the day double it as on a trip like that you just never know. And, I know it is rudimentary but worth saying it: flashlight extra batteries & keep them warm + safe. You can hike at night but it is not a good idea and is really not fun if you are trying to use your cell phone as a flashlight ( I mean not that I've ever done that before)

Pinkham is a great place to check in etc.,. the people there are very helpfull. For maps I found this one very usefull in the past

http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/product/681/4859/246.html

Good luck, stay safe and post up some pics

Bill O
05-05-2009, 05:04 PM
Don't plan on camping up there.

Winter rules no longer apply and everybody on this forum pretty much frowns upon it.

15.5 hour book time isn't bad. At 18 miles that is a fairly reasonable pace.

averagejoe
05-05-2009, 05:29 PM
I do not want to start a pissing war with anyone who's been doing this for years & years. My experience goes back to January 2007, my first hike, ever.

What I do have are a little better than basic outdoor skills. I have common sense and an ability to not panic when things don't seem right. When we did the Traverse last year the trail Dissapeared, I should say the carins dissapeared under the snow and we looked for them for about 15 mins with no success. Instead of panicing I said "the trail goes around the mountain on both sides and over the top. All we have to do is walk around this thing and we will run into one of those trails" and you know what, we did, go figure. No luck, no years of expirience. I do it driving. I do it mountain biking.

I don't want to discount the advice to be careful, because you can get into trouble up there. But if you listen too closely you will psych yourself out.
For me my priorities are 1. Stick to the plan (ie, don't get hurt, don't be late, do the trails you tell people you're going to, and be realistic) 2. Have fun (there are cheaper ways to be in pain that you don't have to drive to) 3. Learn somthing (be more useful the next time you go out, to both yourself and your partners). Everything else is cake. Teach someone somthing, pick up a piece of litter, whatever.
If you don't come back intact, you may not get to go back out.

Don't wait till you get up there to get your map. Get the AMC White Mtn guide (includes maps), plan your hike, study the map and trail desciptions. Know what to expect so you don't get too suprised.

Your gonna be fine, plan well and have fun.
Joe

P.S. there is nothing wrong with hiking at night, with a headlamp.

mtruman
05-06-2009, 07:25 AM
Here's the route in Google Earth. Sure looks easy from here... :rolleyes:

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_KuEV5mt1_ak/SgFzAtK1woI/AAAAAAAAL0Q/CGY1GUqPe8g/s912/Presidential%20Traverse%20Route.jpg

smithtim
05-06-2009, 10:32 AM
What I do have are a little better than basic outdoor skills. I have common sense and an ability to not panic when things don't seem right..... .



Absolutley absolutley absolutley :cool:

To me that challenge is half the fun! A test of will and ability to keep myself calm under pressure knowing that I will prevail. It is somethign that I feel goes all arcross life!


But of course it is essential to plan very carefully and carry adequate supplies