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View Full Version : Tuckerman Ravine vs Lions Head



Bill O
04-16-2007, 05:55 PM
Another member asked me what trail is harder, Tuckerman Ravine or Lions Head.

Frankly, I don't know. I think they are pretty comparable. Both have similar cruxes.

What does everybody else think, and why?

freehill
04-16-2007, 11:19 PM
I have climbed Mt. Washington 4 times in my life, though I have hiked around it many times not reaching the top.
I have only climbed via Tux trail then hang a right up Lions Head.
I have always enjoyed this route. This July during the STP climb I would like to try straight up tuckermans.
Sorry I could not compare, it would be nice to see what others think.
(give me a idea what I am in for)
Bill or anyone else have you ever stayed at Lake on the Clouds?
This is something I would like to do this summer also.
Cool?
Freehill

Brad
04-17-2007, 05:10 AM
The trail from Pinkham takes you on a steady uphill climb to just before HoJos. Then Lions Head trail heads off to the right. This is well marked and there is a small section of wooden fence at the junction.

From there Lions Head quickly gets steep and goes up providing views out and over to Wildcat from a couple of small lookouts. After a wood ladder and a bit more hiking you pop out in the open above tree line. There is still an uphill rock trail climb to the top of Lions Head. but you are in the open - the wind will probably pick up but not be too bad. There are a couple of fantastic lookout spots up to the top of Lions head to view Tuckermans Ravine on the left. Then the trail flattens quite a bit with a small rise to join the other trail. As you get closer to the junction the wind will pick up and typically blows out of the west or northwest. So, the wind will be in your face.

If you go up Tuckermans, after the junction there is a small, short rise and you are at HoJos. No ice cream stand, but there is a nice porch to hang out and look at the ravine and all its glory. Here you are looking up. On Lions Head very quickly you are looking down and out across the range. After HoJos the trail is quick easy, flat in places, short up but not too steep. This gets you to the floor of the ravine. This is where I like to get in the winter to take pictures as the sun does not get to the floor at that time of year. Continue ahead and to the north then up a small broken stone traiil that traces the far right face of the headwall. The trail drops right off on your left as you are going up. I was passing someone one day and she slipped as I went by on the outside. I had to fall into her to stop us both from going over the edge. Most people go this trail as it is a lot easier climb.

Once you get to the top of the headwall you are in a col between Lakes of the Clouds hut and the summit cone. As you rise to the actual ridge you get the full force of the wind in your face (typically). Hang a right towards the summit and you will get to the junction of the Lions head trail. From there the trail is large rocks and up, up, up.

I like to go up Lions Head and down Tuckermans. You get to see the full view quickly going up. Then the expanse of the ravine is laid out in front of you as you come down. Doing Tuckermans Ravine I feel is an easier climb than Lions Head.

My son has run up the Tuckermans trail to the summit from Pinkham in about 2 hours. Lions Head would be tougher to "run".

View of HoJos and headwall. Tuckermans Ravine trail goes up the right side of the headwall.
http://images23.fotki.com/v766/photos/8/8235/2412490/CRW_809596-vi.jpg

In the col between Lakes of the Clouds and the summit. The upper junction of Tuckermans Ravine and Lions Head trails is off on the right.
http://images24.fotki.com/v768/photos/8/8235/2552913/CRW_8927-vi.jpg

Lions Head trail going up after split from Tuckermans Ravine trail.
http://images21.fotki.com/v758/photos/8/8235/1111737/IMG_3461-vi.jpg

On Tuckermans Ravine trail you would get at the floor of the headwall. On Lions Head in the same amount of time you have this view out to the east.
http://images23.fotki.com/v766/photos/8/8235/1111737/IMG_3468-vi.jpg

Sitting on top of Lions Head looking out at Tuckermans Ravine trail going up the right side of the headwall. You can see the trail right over her head.
http://images23.fotki.com/v765/photos/8/8235/1111737/IMG_3489-vi.jpg

Lions Head trail as it crosses the Alpine garden. Tuckermans Ravine is down to the left.
http://images23.fotki.com/v766/photos/8/8235/1111737/IMG_3498-vi.jpg

climbabout
04-17-2007, 08:51 AM
I can't improve much on Brad's post - excellent description. I concur with Brad that tucks may be slightly easier - although I consider them very close in terms of effort required. Both offer magnificent views although different in perspective. My personal preference between the 2 would be lions head because it tends to be less crowded in the summer.
Tim

PatriciaS
04-17-2007, 09:06 AM
I have only been to the summit one time (the only time I have hiked the Mountain) and this was on Dec. 16, 2006. Even though this was in the "winter" the conditions were not really "winter like" until we were above treeline. We took the Lions Head Trail (summer route as the winter route was not open) to the summit. I would love to talk about the beautiful views and the complexity of the trail however, I could not see (due to the fog and light snow) much farther than a few feet in front of me. By the time I got to the top (several hours after I started) I was covered in ice and frozen solid. Luckily, I was on an overnight trip to the Observatory and could warm up and get a good night sleep before I had to start back down. The other piece of luck on my side was that some time during dinner, the skies clear and I was treated to amazing views of the nights sky. Then, in the morning. I saw the most beautiful sunrise ever!
Lions Head was a great trail even for a "novice" like myself. I did find it difficult and VERY windy and exposed once above treeline. In my opinion it should not matter what trial you take to get there....enjoy the journey, stop often to enjoy the views (if possible), and the reward will speak for itself. The summit is so beautiful and amazing that you can not go wrong!

I can not wait to come back and do it all over again!!!!

PS

rockin rex
04-17-2007, 09:27 AM
The one thing I do know is in high winds Tucks is much better. I have had some rough times in high winds coming up over Lions Head. The wind just seems like it wants to rip you off the mountain. The section between Lions Head and the Alpine Garden can get VERY windy. In nice weather it really is a toss up. As stated in the previous post it really depends what you are looking for, in what trail you take. The main trail is Tucks and can become very crowded between the floor of the Ravine and the Alpine Garden as people pick their way up the headwall. Lions head has less people take it and you don't see near the amount of people. Overall I would have to say Lions head is more difficult due to the steepness but not by much. My choice in GOOD weather Lions Head. In high winds Tuckermans.

Bill O
04-17-2007, 09:38 AM
Bill or anyone else have you ever stayed at Lake on the Clouds?
This is something I would like to do this summer also.
Cool?

I've stayed at Lakes. Its fun up there. Lakes is the highest hut in the chain.

Assuming the weather is nice I think it would be fun to stay at Lakes for two nights. Hike up the first day, then the second day just explore the area. Take the crossover to the Alpine Garden, head up Mount Washington, come back down and explore the lakes then watch the sunset from Monroe. Basically just make the second day very leisurely. Then an easy hike down on the third day.

climbabout
04-17-2007, 01:13 PM
Rockin Rex makes a great point regarding wind above lion head. The wind often blows ferociously usually from west to east across the section that crosses the alpine garden - I have been blown off my feet there many times in the winter. Usually there's nothing on the ground that is not very heavy or frozen down on this section. Regarding Lakes of the Clouds - I've stayed there many times and it's a great experience - the only thing to keep in mind is that being the largest and most accessible hut to the summit of Mt. Washington, it is often filled to capacity - I believe it sleeps about 90. Oftentimes you get a lot of overnighters who ride to the summit and then just make the short hike down and stay for the night. Nothing wrong with this - to each his/her own - however - these folks are often not as tired and eager to turn in early like those who hiked all the way up and consequently Lakes can be noisy with conversation after lights out. The other huts in the chain give you a more remote experience.
Tim

Bill O
04-17-2007, 01:18 PM
Ear plugs go a long way in the huts, don't leave home without them.

I agree with the wind assessment. If its windy that's something to consider, but in July winds generally aren't an everyday problem.

KD Talbot
04-17-2007, 05:23 PM
I have to concur with Tim and Rex on the wind, Tux in bad weather, Lion's Head in better weather. Keep in mind that there aren't to many days in a year where there is not some significant wind to deal with on these trails, although I've had some absolutely calm beautiful days up there, but I've hiked it many times. I have to also lean towards Tux being a somewhat easier trail to hike, although, when you get to the base of the headwall it's a continual uphill from there, whereas on Lion's head you more or less level off for about a half a mile above the Lion's Head, giving you somewhat of a breather before you have to make the scramble up to the junction with Tux Trail. This, though is the area where the wind can be a problem, so again, it depends on the weather. I have to agree with Brad about going up Lion's Head and down Tux, as this gets you up high faster, where you can enjoy the views. Coming down you can take a more leisurely pace and spend time enjoying the flowers and waterfalls on the headwall, and, for the most part, you're out of the wind. As far as the huts go, I don't think I will ever stay in one as noisy, smelly crowds are not why I go to the mountains. Give me a bivvy anyday, although I would point out that this is against the rules above treeline. I would also point out that there are many places where one can bivvy in the krumholtz and go unnoticed, if you know the Presidentials.
KDT
PS To Patti: I'm sure this will sound very picky, but technically 12/16 is not winter, though you reached the summit half froze! I am just saying this because the AMC 4000 Footer club is specific about winter hikes being after the hour and minute of the winter solstice and before the hour and minute of the spring equinox. I have peak bagged in several feet of snow that weren't in this time period, and therefore I could not count them as winter summits. I don't know if this matters to you, as I'm sure you felt like it was winter when you climbed, but I wanted to point it out for technical reasons, not to be a jerk. I hope on your return trips you get to climb on a good clear day, the views are astounding!

PatriciaS
04-17-2007, 09:24 PM
I do not really care that I technically did not do a "WINTER" summit. I am just proud of myself that I made it to the top and back down in one piece....on the first try.

Thanks!

PS

KD Talbot
04-17-2007, 09:44 PM
Yes, that is a very excellent accomplishment and I hope you get to do it many more times. I hope you didn't take my comment as a snub. It wasn't meant to be. Just that you were calling it a winter hike in your post and I wanted you to understand that technically it wouldn' be considered one. Splitting hairs, I guess. I hope your first trip starts a long streak of successful climbs on Washington.
KDT

Brad
04-18-2007, 05:15 AM
I was not aware of a "real" definition of "winter hike". If there is snow on the ground I think it is winter. But, I am now aware of the proper terminology.

I would love to get to the summit in winter. I am sure it will happen one way or another. The opportunity to take pictures up there would be fantastic. Patrica, the fact you have made it is awesome! I know lots of folks who could not do it in good weather in the summer. That was an amazing "feet" (pun intended).

Bill O
04-18-2007, 07:25 AM
I was not aware of a "real" definition of "winter hike". If there is snow on the ground I think it is winter. But, I am now aware of the proper terminology.

I would love to get to the summit in winter. I am sure it will happen one way or another. The opportunity to take pictures up there would be fantastic. Patrica, the fact you have made it is awesome! I know lots of folks who could not do it in good weather in the summer. That was an amazing "feet" (pun intended).

Kevin is right, its not technically a winter summit unless its within the winter season. Its kind of a loophole because on 12/25 sometimes there is no snow and its like fall, while in April it can be full winter conditions and not count as a winter summit.

climbabout
04-18-2007, 07:28 AM
Patti - "Winter" on Mt Washington can occur any day of the year. Congratulations on your summit.
Tim

rockin rex
04-18-2007, 12:51 PM
I must chime in. I know huts are a hot issue with some but when you have a family they are wonderful. I have stayed overnight in many of the huts with my family.When I climb on my own I tend to stay clear of the huts because I myself like a tent or bivy better. For families though the hut system is great and the more kids we get into the outdoors the better. I know some people say kids don't belong in the huts and I have been told that more than once but I disagree. My kids love the huts. Lake of the clouds hut is one I have not stayed at just due to its size. It is just to many people for me. Best Hut for kids, hands down is Zealand. Easy hike in, great waterfalls and a special program just for the kids. As mentioned in previous post ear plugs are a MUST!

TigerSEO
09-27-2009, 04:06 PM
Thanks for such detailed advice. A couple friends and I are thinking of going up Lions Head and down Tuckerman next weekend, so this level of detail is really useful...especially to prepare for the wind.

Thanks again.