View Full Version : Hiking the peak in Sept/Oct

08-17-2010, 09:37 AM

My friends and I are very interested in hiking Mt. Washington this year. Unfortunately, it looks like the first weekend we are all able to do it is either the last weekend in September or first weekend in October. I realize from trail reports and other resources that this is a very real mountain that should be treated as such, and that hiking out of the summer months can be difficult.

I am wondering if anyone can provide information for me as to how difficult/dangerous it could be around the times I listed. Obviously, weather can only be forecasted a few days before (and we will be sure to pay close attention to the forecast) , but based on weather averages, do you think we will have a problem? We are all in good shape, two of us with substantial mountaineering experience (but the other two with none). Would an ice axe, climbing rope, and crampons be recommended for this time of the year (two of us don't have any of those supplies)? Is there anything else besides the standard equipment you would recommend? We were hoping to do the Tuckerman Ravine Route.

I sincerely thank you for any help you can provide.

08-18-2010, 08:17 AM
Nighttime temp on Sept 25th at LOC hut was 20 degrees with a stiff breeze. Rime ice was forming and remained on the rocks in the early evening on Mt. Monroe and was reasonably thick and melting on the summit cone of MW. The weather was crystal clear, just cold and windy. Near the summit I wore Microspikes on the rime ice. Did not need snowshoes or ice ax (didn't have them anyway). At the Observatory they (Mike Fitzgerald and an intern) were smashing the rime ice off the doorway with sledgehammers. The summit had zero wind and warmed up to the 40's with views out to Camels Hump in Vermont.

In November (12th and 13th) the weather was 50 degrees in Huntington Ravine with no snow and very little ice. Did not need Microspikes. The ascent of the summit cone was 30's with wind gusts to 35mph (recorded at the Observatory when I got there). For that trip I left the snowshoes and ax in the car, but had the spikes ready. Again conditions were near perfect with 120 mile visibility. The descent down Tucks was an easy walk.

Now for the disclaimer part. MW got some good snow in October of last year (Moosilaukee had a couple of feet on the summit on Oct 15th and zero at the base) and it melted before Nov., so I got lucky. I had my foulest weather gear and only left my snowshoes in the car because it seemed overkill with no base of snow. I only decided on my final route after a "regrouping" and night at Hermit Lakes. I could have done the hike in jeans and sweatshirt, but didn't (OK so maybe I would have been a little cold at the top). Your mileage will vary.

08-18-2010, 04:19 PM
The important thing to remember is that the weather is the key. I hiked Jefferson in Sept and it was 70 and drizzly at the trailhead. We encountered a blizzard above treeline and I was in shorts. It was cold and hard to see where we were going. Anything can happen up there and once you're above treeline you can't do anything about it except for try to be prepared. It could be a beautiful, georgeous, warm and sunny day, or it could snow. Or it could do both. Good luck!

Bill O
08-18-2010, 08:54 PM
Statistically you will be fine with no technical gear needed. If you have it and know how to use it I'd at least bring it in the car. In the days before your hike keep track of what has been going on above treeline. Has it been riming for a few days or maybe there was a light snowfall? Both of those would not require any technical gear, maybe just careful steps.

08-19-2010, 10:41 AM
Just a quick note to add that Lakes Hut closes Sept 12 ( last night of service 9/11).


08-28-2010, 09:16 PM
Thanks for the info, my daughter and I are going to hike the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail Sept 12th and taking the Cog down