View Full Version : One foot on the ground - question

06-22-2010, 07:36 PM
All - I'm a new visitor to the site and the forums and am getting lots of helpful tips, thank you.

My son (17) and I will be hiking in NH the week of July 3rd. We have hit a dozen of Vermont's finest but this is our first time we've planned a visit to Mt Washington.

Anyway, I like to have one foot on the ground at all times - I'm a hiker, not a climber. And I love the views from secure vantagepoints and at the top, but don't want to walk along a narrow ledge to get there.

My question(s) - are there trails to the Mt Washington summit which require climbing - or ledge walking - and might try to avoid?

Or, is there a specific trail which at least minimizes exposure to these, um, phobias?

Thanks for any advice!

06-23-2010, 07:29 AM
Definitely stay away from the Huntington Ravine trail and the Great Gulf trail! :eek:The headwall section of Tuckerman Ravine could conceivably pose a problem for an acrophobe--there's one short stretch where the trail is narrow and you have a steep dropoff on one side.

Probably the most terror-free route is the Jewell trail. Boott Spur and Nelson Crag aren't that bad, either. On every single approach to Washington, you will find at least a few stretches where scrambling (use of hands as well as feet) is required, but only the ones mentioned at the top have a dropoff.

If among your Vermont summits you include Mansfield, you've probably encountered a few spots just as bad as any of the scrambly sections of Mt. Washington trails.

Good luck--I have a touch of acrophobia myself, but being a "counterphobic" personality, I have a weird tendency to seek these places out!

Snow Miser
06-23-2010, 07:37 AM
Welcome to the forums VTJ. From what I know is that one of the only trails that would require any sort of climbing is the Huntington Ravine trail. The top of the bowl of the Tuckerman Ravine trail is basically a ledge, but not too bad. Most of the other trails are just steep. Others on here know the mountain much better than I do, so I am sure they will chime in and help you out.

06-23-2010, 07:47 AM
Definitely the Jewell trail - this is probably the easiest trail to the summit, although not the shortest. It's the most gentle, consistent grade of all the trails to the summit.

06-23-2010, 09:34 AM
For first time folks I normally take then up the Ammo Trail - summit - then down the Jewell. There is a lot of above treeline exposed to the weather time on this route. So, watch the weather as it comes in from the west and get below treeline before things get bad or visibility drops.

06-23-2010, 11:25 AM
For first time folks I normally take then up the Ammo Trail - summit - then down the Jewell. There is a lot of above treeline exposed to the weather time on this route. So, watch the weather as it comes in from the west and get below treeline before things get bad or visibility drops.

you didn't do that for me ,you took me up a hard trail :D

06-23-2010, 12:27 PM
I love the Ammo/Jewell loop. But I think the Ammo is alot harder than Lions Head.

06-23-2010, 01:32 PM
you didn't do that for me ,you took me up a hard trail :D
Charlie, you wanted to go to HoJo's the first time. You would not get there if I took you up the Ammo. :cool:

06-23-2010, 01:59 PM
I bet Charlie could do the Jewell and like it. Great scenery.

06-23-2010, 03:28 PM
Yeah, we have done Mansfield via LT and did get to one spot which nearly turned me back - we got through it, but to avoid descending the same spot we made the dreadful decision to return to base via the ski slopes.

So - I count several nods for Jewell, and have noted several watchouts too. Appreciate your help, can't wait to give it a go!

06-23-2010, 03:55 PM
I bet Charlie could do the Jewell and like it. Great scenery.

i would like to do it some day

Snow Miser
06-23-2010, 04:23 PM
I did the Jewell last year for STP and it is a really nice trail. Definitely steep after Jem Pool though.

06-23-2010, 08:23 PM
The Gem pool is on the Ammo trail not the Jewell. The Jewell is a really nice trail with plenty of above tree line hiking. You even get to hike right along the cog for a bit kinda sorta and get a really good veiw in the great Gulf. Maybe we could see if Ed and Brad want to do the Jewell for STP.

Snow Miser
06-23-2010, 08:48 PM
Thanks Chris! I meant the Ammo, but had the Jewell on my mind since we may do that trail this year. If you guys did the Jewell trail, that would be cool. It would be nice to hike with you guys.

Bill O
06-23-2010, 09:37 PM
I wouldn't close the door on any trails. Not a single one of them requires "climbing" and you'll always have at least one foot on the ground.

06-24-2010, 08:37 AM
VJT---I bet I know what spot on the LT to Mansfield you're talking about. I got turned around there one November when it was glazed over with ice.

Bill---The question wasn't which trails require technical climbing (you'd be right about that, none do), it was which trails might pose a problem for someone a bit phobic with heights. I would indeed rule out Huntington and Great Gulf for an acrophobe. As far as the "one foot on the ground" expression is concerned, that's what we call a figure of speech.

06-24-2010, 08:58 AM
VTJ - You and I are kindred spirits with this acrophobia thing. I need both my feet firmly on the ground! I'll be up with my 17 year old son the following weekend.

Someone mentioned the Great Gulf trail as an "avoid" trail for acrophobes. Just how bad is this trail? I was going to use this as an escape route in case of trouble. Are there ones close by with less of a drop off that gets you below treeline (and into the gulf) quickly?

06-24-2010, 10:05 AM
In my opinion, the Great Gulf trail is not a good descent route. It's the headwall section that's the problem--the rest would be fine. According to the White Mountain Guide, it climbs 1500 feet in a half mile. That actually beats out another famous headwall, King Ravine, which climbs 1100 vertical in a half mile. You don't hear about Great Gulf so much because it's such a long approach to Washington that it's not heavily used.

As far as climbing up it is concerned, it is maybe not quite as "airy" as Huntington, but it involves very steep scrambling with use of hands.

Good escape routes into Great Gulf are hard to come by. Sphinx and Six Husbands are also extremely steep in the upper sections. I've never been on the Wamsutta trail, but the map shows that the contour lines are not nearly as close together, so maybe that would be an option.

rockin rex
06-24-2010, 01:59 PM
Have done this trail and it is your best escape into the great Gulf from Washington. You are VERY exposed until you cross from the Alpine Garden down onto the Wamsutta trail but it is by far the quickest way down and also the best way to get below tree the fastest when heading down into the gulf. As far as mellow trails up the rock pile without drops I would vote for boot spur. Bootspur is an awesome trail and the views into Tucks are amazing. Jewell does not have as much in the way of views until you get up to the ridge. The way to do Jewell is to tie it in with the Ammo loop.

07-09-2010, 02:02 PM

Thanks for your advice, both in this thread and the others we read in recent weeks. Our hike of Mount Washington was an instant favorite and I'm already scheming for a chance to return!

My son and I started up around 7:30AM on Monday July 5th - a gorgeous day, warm temps, refreshingly cool breeze above treeline and surprisingly clear at the top. As suggested in this thread, we took Ammo up, and Jewell down... the waterfalls at the gorge (80 yards off the trail) were a complete surprise; the lake at 5,000 feet positively took our breath away. From reading these forums, we knew there was a lake there, but still weren't ready for just how beautiful it was. Wow!

The entire hike above treeline was fantastic. We passed a small team near the summit which included a blind hiker and his dog - pretty inspiring stuff right there.

The summit itself was pretty busy and maybe a little anticlimactic after all we had seen and enjoyed on the way up; we did get a good feel for the massiveness of the mountain when looking down on the cog railcars and traffic coming up the mountain. Everything was just positively dwarfed by the mountain; more than I can describe in words.

The hike down along the rocks of Gulfside and the top of Jewell had my heels positively burning, but it was worth it - the views were incredible! And everyone on the cog RR waved to my son when they crossed paths... I expect more than one person on that train was envious of him.

The hike up took us 3 hours; the hike down 2.5 hours. We also spent about an hour at the top milling about and relaxing. Took hundreds of pictures and experienced no acrophobia whatsoever, thank you. Really great day for this father-son team... We'll be back!

07-09-2010, 02:11 PM
What a great day to pick. Glad you had such good weather and you did select a wonderful set of trails. It sounds like the mountain has you hooked - just like us all.

It sounds like you met up with Randy and his guide dog - http://www.facebook.com/#!/2020VQ

07-09-2010, 02:21 PM
I am glad your trip went well. I would love to see some of your pictures.I would have to say that the Ammo/Jewell trails have to be my favorite so far. Look forward to hearing more great adventure stories from you.

Snow Miser
07-09-2010, 03:25 PM
Great story of your hike! Glad it turned out so well. If you took any photos, I too would love to see them.

07-11-2010, 10:14 AM
I think Flickr requires me to link back to the original page -


Anyway - Thanks for asking! Can you imagine a more perfect day or more beautiful hike?











07-11-2010, 11:05 AM
Awesome pictures. Looks like it was a perfect day. Thanks for sharing with us. Lets all hope STP can be as nice a day as yours was.

Snow Miser
07-11-2010, 01:00 PM
Wow, what a great day you had! Very nice photos too. Thanks for bringing us along. Chris, I hope we do have such a nice day for STP. That would be awesome!:cool: