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David
01-29-2010, 10:14 AM
Any one here actually climb Mount Washington in the winter time (as for me, way past my abilities!!)?

If so, what is the coldest windiest day you have ever hiked up to the summit? And for you die hards.. at one point do you bag it and say it's just not worth it, I'll wait for another day?


David

TrishandAlex
01-29-2010, 02:05 PM
David, I haven't yet climbed Washington in the winter, though I have done 15 other "4Ks" in the winter.

I attempted it last year with a group. We went up the Ammonoosuc Trail, and I knew even before we got to Lakes of the Clouds hut that I was going to have to bail (no matter what the rest of the group decided).

THere was 20 feet visibility above treeline, and the temps were -11. The forecast was for it to be like that all day. Some people in the group were strong enough and experienced enough to continue onward. I wasn't, so I turned around.

Sometime this year or next (probably next), I will take my daughter up there, as she's now on a quest for the winter 48. When I do, it will be on a day that is forecast to be relative warm (in the teens or higher on the summit) and windless (20mph or less). Visibility will have to be damn near perfect. Early March will hopefully give us those kinds of conditions. They do happen.

climbabout
01-29-2010, 02:31 PM
David - I have done a fair amount of winter climbing - on Mount Washington, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska - and it's not the cold alone that makes you turn around, It's usually a combination of cold, wind and poor visibility.

I'll take a -10 day with calm, clear conditions anytime and keep climbing.

But a 5 degree day with 50+ winds (and higher gusts) and blowing snow, and I'll pack it in. I've turned back many times in those conditions.

Goggles easily fog up and freeze if you are not carefull and you can't see anything.

Most people tend to WAY overestimate wind speed. A true 40 mph steady wind is very difficult to climb in especially with higher gusts. Over 50-60mph is near impossible to stand upright with gusts, much less make foward progress uphill. I've been in winds that were accurately measured at 25-30mph and most people will guess its blowing 40-50+

Tim

KD Talbot
01-29-2010, 03:30 PM
Good info, Tim. It's hard for me to make people comprehend that they weren't in 60mph winds while hiking or they'd be blown on their keestas, (well, maybe not everyone, but most I know).

Those that have been blown down all claim it was a 100mph wind.

KDT

mtruman
01-29-2010, 07:58 PM
David, I haven't yet climbed Washington in the winter, though I have done 15 other "4Ks" in the winter.

I attempted it last year with a group. We went up the Ammonoosuc Trail, and I knew even before we got to Lakes of the Clouds hut that I was going to have to bail (no matter what the rest of the group decided).

THere was 20 feet visibility above treeline, and the temps were -11. The forecast was for it to be like that all day. Some people in the group were strong enough and experienced enough to continue onward. I wasn't, so I turned around.

Sometime this year or next (probably next), I will take my daughter up there, as she's now on a quest for the winter 48. When I do, it will be on a day that is forecast to be relative warm (in the teens or higher on the summit) and windless (20mph or less). Visibility will have to be damn near perfect. Early March will hopefully give us those kinds of conditions. They do happen.
Good decision Trish. With the conditions you described sounds like July is a better bet than March. Hope you're right though since we're hoping to get the southern Presis in March. :)

Bill O
01-29-2010, 08:09 PM
If there is no wind (and you have the right gear) there is no limit.

I agree, -10F on a clear windless day isn't all that bad, especially when you are physically active.

People climb Denali and Vinson Massif with temps colder than -40F. Practically speaking, mountains don't get much colder than that. Cold air is dense and sinks into the valleys.

With that said, I'm not sure what the proper balance is with the wind.

TrishandAlex
01-29-2010, 08:46 PM
Good decision Trish. With the conditions you described sounds like July is a better bet than March. Hope you're right though since we're hoping to get the southern Presis in March. :)

Mark, you can get the southern Presi's on a cold day without too much trouble. I (not Alex) did Eisenhower and Pierce last year in -10 weather with a fair bit of wind...if you have the goggles, faskmask, etc., it's doable. That col between Pierce and Ike is a wonderful thing, there are places where you can get briefly out of the wind.

There are definitely nice winter days like the one I described above. Just have to wait for them, then grab it when the chance is there.

Brad
01-30-2010, 06:40 AM
I like hiking in the winter - but it is not Mt Washington summit stuff. I always have a wind gauge and thermometer in a pouch of my pack. In Tuckerman Ravine several times I have seen -35 F wind chills. Those are not days to be above treeline. Lots of folks hike to the summit in the winter, but they typically start off with a guide and then off they go back again and again.

Last Sunday there was a steady stream of folks heading to the summit as the conditions were not too bad and it cleared nicely as we got up to HoJo's in the morning. (Hermit Shelter = HoJo's).

NEpilot
01-30-2010, 08:58 PM
I've done it in the winter; around zero but with big wind (MWOBS said gusts close to 100mph that day). It was a full crampon, no exposed skin kind of day. The worse part was there was lots of ICE on the rocks but when you stood on them it broke free. So basically it was hell on your feet IMHO.

The winds took their toll; everyone in the party got blown over a few times. I took a good tumble face first into the iced boulders. We got to the top ate some warm soup and hurried for tree line.

In hindsight it perhaps wasn't the smartest idea to keep pushing in the wind. Live and learn I guess!

parnelli
03-15-2010, 09:50 PM
[QUOTE=David;39286]Any one here actually climb Mount Washington in the winter time (as for me, way past my abilities!!)?

If so, what is the coldest windiest day you have ever hiked up to the summit? And for you die hards.. at one point do you bag it and say it's just not worth it, I'll wait for another day?

Feb 26 1994
Camped on the Jewel the night before.Had a nice hike about 5 degrees. wind was blowing at the summit. It was the speed where you must lean into it or get pushed. I forget the actual. On the way down(back to camp) was where I got the worst icecream headache of my life. The goggles fogged and I had a little skin exposure. My best friend and I made it back to our tent. The wind really picked up on the summit that night and a pair of climbers didnt make it down.:(http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs075.snc3/14255_1271081292288_1087531119_840420_4853068_n.jp gmy buddy jeff at our camp

Addicted
03-16-2010, 12:50 PM
If you lose visibility, it's all over in a hurry. I hiked Jefferson in the late summer, and got lost in a blizzard. We couldn't see the cairns leading to the summit, and instead headed over toward Clay. Got about 1/2 mile out of the way before giving into my instinct that something wasn't right. It's very easy to be stubborn, just one more section...Had we been able to see the cairns and headed up the summit cone (all rock) and then lost visibility, we never would have found our way off of it in the right direction. Much harder with no visual trail to follow.

Brad
03-17-2010, 03:37 PM
Many years ago I had that happen in a snowstorm in the beginning of August. It can happen any month of the year. The best bet is to bail. The summit will still be there later.

smithtim
03-24-2010, 12:47 PM
Last winter early dec 10th or so. It was about 10-15 degrees in the valley with 30+mph sustained... I don't want to even know what the details were at the summit... Went up Lion's head to just about the rock and there came a point were you realized that you all of a sudden felling the real wind coming up over the bowl! Didn't try to summit as I got a late start and was concerned with time

Beautiful day though and those beers in the hot shower tasted very nice after

Uncas
03-31-2010, 10:08 AM
I gave up after post holing for over an hour from Lions head to the ridge to the summit. Winds were about 70 and it had snowed a lot the day before which made visability sketchy. Plus when I took my goggles off to clean them my eye froze shut.
I wasnt in the best shape but I saw people turn around that were obviously dedicated climbers so I didnt feel too bad- SNOW SHOES A MUST for me.

kaseri
03-31-2010, 12:12 PM
I climb Mt. Washington at least once every winter. My worst weather day was in early March of 2007. Visibility was only 150 feet and the winds were picking up big time. Rounding the top of Lions Head on our descent I was picked up by a gust and thrown toward Tuckerman Ravine. I was able to self arrest and climb back up to my party. I took note of the time. At home that evening I checked the peak wind gust for the day and it was in excess of 120 mph at the exact time I was thrown.

Since I'm able to hike on very short notice, I always pick picture perfect days now. Theres nothing like a clear, sunny winter day atop good o'le George.