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smithtim
08-31-2009, 12:59 PM
Ok, so it's that time of year for me to start dreaming of / planning my annual winter pilgrimage to your beautiful mountains ( Dec 10th is the day I'm counting down to this year). I've looked at a few on the topo maps and I'm down to two possibilities, just looking for any recommendations of how you all think the trail conditions would be of that time of year ( of course I understand that the weather will be the weather and no way to tell till I get there and that's why I always leave a 2-3 day window)


Option #1 start at pinkman and up tucks gaining 4250' in 4.2 miles, left "lawn cutoff" of about 1/2 mile left davuis path for about another 1/2 mile then down boot spur

Option #2 up Huntington gaining 2700' in 2.4 miles, right alpine garden about 1/2 mile, down nelso craig and then pack to pinkmanss on Jackson Craig trail
(??? or instead at top go left alpine garden and back down lion's head if need to shorten)


I thank you in advance for your time & advice


p.s. I am experienced with winter hikes / technical climbing, but probably will end up doing this solo so will be limited to things that one man can climb with a pair of crampons and a pair of leashless ice tools

mtruman
08-31-2009, 01:08 PM
Ok, so it's that time of year for me to start dreaming of / planning my annual winter pilgrimage to your beautiful mountains ( Dec 10th is the day I'm counting down to this year). I've looked at a few on the topo maps and I'm down to two possibilities, just looking for any recommendations of how you all think the trail conditions would be of that time of year ( of course I understand that the weather will be the weather and no way to tell till I get there and that's why I always leave a 2-3 day window)


Option #1 start at pinkman and up tucks gaining 4250' in 4.2 miles, left "lawn cutoff" of about 1/2 mile left davuis path for about another 1/2 mile then down boot spur

Option #2 up Huntington gaining 2700' in 2.4 miles, right alpine garden about 1/2 mile, down nelso craig and then pack to pinkmanss on Jackson Craig trail
(??? or instead at top go left alpine garden and back down lion's head if need to shorten)


I thank you in advance for your time & advice


p.s. I am experienced with winter hikes / technical climbing, but probably will end up doing this solo so will be limited to things that one man can climb with a pair of crampons and a pair of leashless ice tools

Based on the kind of climb (hike) you're planning you are probably looking at going up and down Lion Head (winter route). Tucks trail up the headwall is closed in winter (other than for skiers hiking up to ski the bowl) and Huntington Ravine is a technical ice climb in winter. There are options for the West side trails as well. Others here can provide much more thorough info than I...

krummholz
08-31-2009, 05:42 PM
December is often quite icy above treeline but without enough snow yet to either cover the ice or sink crampons into underneath the ice. What makes it tough is that the ice is so thin and intermittent. So you're either using something like microspikes (which might not be good enough for steep rocks) or crampons (which you might have to keep putting on and taking off). I don't think the technical ice climbing season in Huntington starts until later. Huntington is the very last trail I'd want to do in December even though it can be fun at other times. Nothing like smooth vertical ledge with just a very thin coating of ice on it.:(

Anything with stream crossings can also be bad in December. Trickier month than true winter months. Sorry, don't mean to pour cold water (I mean ice) on your plans. Jewell trail is probably the best way to go! (If not too windy...)

Bill O
08-31-2009, 09:13 PM
Tim did mention he was experienced with winter hiking and technical climbing so nothing is really off the table. Practically speaking though, early December is a difficult time to climb Mount Washington by any route. Huntington and Tucks will be covered in steep/vertical water ice with snow just beginning to fill in. I can't imagine what climbing the fan is like that time of year (not easy). If the mountain gets a lot of early snow things could fill in and you might have mid-winter type conditions. If not, expect difficult, mixed climbing.

On the other hand it could be dry/warm and you could hike a snow-free Lion Head trail.

climbabout
09-01-2009, 08:20 AM
Tim - I second all that Bill (and others)has said as well - December can present a wide variety of conditions that change day by day. Personally I find the best winter climbing from Jan-April. As Bill said - expect mixed climbing - thin ice cover - thats likely what you will encounter. Barring an extraordinary amount of early winter snowfall, it's likely that the lion head summer route will still be open. That would be my choice for ascending and descending in marginal conditions. You could always stop at Pinkham and get current trail conditions that morning and andjust your plans accordingly.
Tim
p.s.
Are you still heading to AK next year?

smithtim
09-01-2009, 09:49 AM
As always thanks all for your posts & info!

I had thought the ice conditions may be to thin to climb that early in season, so I guess it is best for me to look at other less challenging trails for my trip this December and maybe consider these trails later in the season, maybe spring brake time?

Also, I am assuming the Jewell trail come from the west side ( i.e. over by I-93/ crawford notch) as I did not see that one looking on my maps at the trails that leave from Pinkman? That sounds like a real interesting hike from what I just found searching online




p.s.
Are you still heading to AK next year?

I'm hoping to do an ascent of mount shuksan with Alpine Ascents Mountaineering School as a "technical ice climbing / training program" to help build my skills a little more. Then depending on that I may attempt Denail next year, or if I feel I need more build up I might first do a winter ascent of something like Raineer then do Denail the following year... but definitley Denail is on my list

climbabout
09-01-2009, 12:45 PM
The Jewel trail is indeed on the west side and the main trail head is at the Cog Railway base station off of route 302. I have never been on it in the winter, but it is generally the most gradual ascent up Mount Washington. I did it with my youngest son when he was 8 or 9. Keep in mind you will be exposed above treeline more so than when you are on say the lion head trail. Also, the wind in the winter comes from the west the majority of the time - whereas on the east side you are often protected a bit more.
Tim

Bill O
09-01-2009, 10:01 PM
Winter climb of Rainier as training for Denali? Shouldn't it be the other way around. I'd say both are equally challenging, in slightly different ways, but still, winter on Rainier is tough.

Knapper
09-02-2009, 03:44 AM
Another thing to consider for the Jewel Trail in winter: the road to where you start in the summer is not always cleared of snow especially since the cog no longer does winter trains. If this is the case, you are adding extra milage on hiking to where the trail normally starts.

rockin rex
09-02-2009, 09:46 AM
Sounds like the experience and strength is there so what about heading towards the gulf and Wamsutta trail. The Wamsutta trail is in tree most of the way to the Auto Road and then you have more choices of what to do when reaching the Auto Road / Alpine Garden. Just a thought.

smithtim
09-02-2009, 11:50 AM
Winter climb of Rainier as training for Denali? Shouldn't it be the other way around. I'd say both are equally challenging, in slightly different ways, but still, winter on Rainier is tough.

yeah I've heard they are about the same except Rainer is a two dayer while Denali is more like 20 days. So there obviously is a $$$ factor: from Jacksonville I can get a flight to Seattle for $179 and the logistic costs in Seattle are reasonable, but to get a flight to Alaska it is pushing $800 and the logistics of doing Denali are very very expensive. So while I'd love to jump into Denali the WA mountains are just so much more doable, not to mention my wife loves the Seattle + she has agrees (actually encouraged) to give me a couple of days to go climb while she hangs out in Seattle (there is a spa she wants to visit and some sculpture museum) ...

But Denali is on my list and I am going to get up there one of these years

smithtim
09-02-2009, 11:53 AM
Another thing to consider for the Jewel Trail in winter: the road to where you start in the summer is not always cleared of snow especially since the cog no longer does winter trains. If this is the case, you are adding extra milage on hiking to where the trail normally starts.

I noticed that on the topo map I have, but it seems to say all roads are "may be closed in winter"

Is there any way to check road condition prior to heading out, website?

Snow Miser
09-02-2009, 12:40 PM
I have always heard that this site is a good one.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain/conditions/roads_status.php

smithtim
09-02-2009, 03:24 PM
thanks that is perfect :)

tim