View Full Version : First time on Mt. Washington

08-12-2010, 11:15 AM
I am on a half business/half pleasure road trip that will take me around Mt. Washington.

I would like top stop by and hike it, but not sure if I have enough time. I will be arriving around 3:00-4:00PM. Would that allow me enough time to get up and down with daylight? I will bring a headlamp so its not that big of an issue, but I am just curious how long the hike takes so I can see if I have enough time.

Granted, it depends on how slow you walk, how your body handles elevation gain, how long you take to look at the scenery, etc... I am a young/in shape person (29yrs), walk a good pace, take minimum stops until i reach my goal, and have hiked a few 14,000 ft mountains so i would think my body can handle it well.

Any ideas on what kinda time I am looking at? 4-5 hours?

Also, anyone up for a hiking partner or would anyone like to join me for a drink afterwards?

Thanks in advance for any replies!!

08-14-2010, 11:29 PM
Hi there, don't know if you have already attempted this, but by starting around 3-4pm you absolutely will not make it all the way up and down in daylight and I think others on this site would agree that it is definitely not recommended (and very near foolish) to start that late. You may take 4-5 hours strictly going UP depending on your pace and the route. I suggest looking a bit more into what a hike of MW entails before going...i.e, the AMC White Mountain Guidebook and numerous other information on the Mount Washington Observatory website. Also check out the book "Not Without Peril" by Nicholas Howe...and you'll see what I mean.

08-15-2010, 09:16 AM
Book time for Mt Washington by the "usual routes" is between 6 and 7 hours round trip based on 8.5-9 miles distance and 4000+ ft elevation gain (book time rule of thumb is 20 minutes per mile and 30 minutes per 1000' elevation). That's just a very broad estimate though and times can vary greatly. I would agree with the previous opinion that starting at 3-4 in the afternoon is not a good idea - particularly alone.

Bill O
08-15-2010, 11:50 AM
A fast hiker should be able to do this in half book time. 50% of book time going up is actually fairly easy, but not as easy for the descent as there is a limit to how fast you can go down. So, if you leave at 3-4 its conceivable you will be back by dark. A headlamp would be mandatory since any deviation from this pace would leave you in the dark, literally.

In good weather people go on "sunset" hikes all the time. Obviously, for the average person nobody would recommend this, but if you are a capable climber I'm not sure what the problem is. Although, a capable climber probably wouldn't be asking questions on this forum.

Why is starting in the light and finishing in the dark any different than starting at night and finishing during the day? The latter being a very common climbing / hiking method.

08-15-2010, 12:48 PM
To me, doing the ascent in 4 to 5 hours is not possible - for me. I used to be able to do 5 hours - but that was pushing it. Then down (in good light and conditions) is a bit faster. I have always wanted to start by 7AM - with 8AM being my latest start time. This allowed me to get to the summit - get some food while the facilities are open - get warm and dry. Then head down and be down well before dark. Actually, be down for dinner.

Going up with a headlamp is fine because the trail in the beginning is a steady up - but not difficult. Going down a trail I do not know at night with a headlamp, to me is a different story. I would want to be down to HoJo's before dark sets in. Doing a headlamp from there down is no problem.

A better plan could be to start at 3 or 4 pm and go back to HoJo's for the night. Then get to the summit the next morning and pick up things on the way back down.

Snow Miser
08-15-2010, 02:05 PM
If you leave at 4pm and go by the book time Mark mentioned, the earliest you will probably get back would be 11pm. I do night hiking and I always find that unfamiliar trails take longer. And remember, since you don't know the trails, you're going to have to pay special attention to the signs and cairns. Good luck! Hiking in the dark is very cool.