Climbing Washington in Fall and winter
Seems there are many threads in reference to finding out info on climbing Washington in Fall and Winter. Maybe if we can put all the info in one place it would be easier. What lodging is open in fall and winter. Harvard Cabin open?? Grey Knob the Perch? What is the best Fall / winter route. What equipment is needed? ( Crampons, ice ax, snow shoes, googles) What are the best clothes to wear? Maybe if we can get some imput of those who have hiked Washington in Fall and Winter it will help others. The one problem I had was above tree being able to know where I was in blowing snow. What is the best way to orient yourself above tree when all makers are covered?? Hopefully we can get some answers to those who are wondering about hiking in fall and winter. Thanks all, for your imput and enjoy your hike.
I would definetaly like to have some information on this winter hiking thing. Thanks to whoever posts any.
5 Days 2007-2008
Probably a good idea to start with the info that already exists...
Advice and stories can now safely proceed!
yeah, I'v already seen that info. It didn't really help much. All it says is that you should be prepared for everything, sudden weather changes, blaa, blaa, blaa.
5 Days 2007-2008
I'm not sure you are going to find any one source that is going to hold your hand all the way to the summit. Winter mountaineering skills aren't gained on a single webpage, they are accumulated over time.
My first suggestion is to read "Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills." This book is a bible for mountaineers. It is huge, but its a great read. Next, search all over the internet. Google works remarkably well. You can find the best routes, trip reports, photos, lodging information, weather conditions, etc.
Then you need to get out and go hiking. If climbing Mount Washington in the winter seems overwhelming than it probably is. Do a guided trip to the summit...you could even throw in an overnight at the Observatory. If you are lucky maybe an experienced friend could hike with you to the top. Another plan might be to hike to Tuckerman's on a nice day in the spring. If the weather is good you might be able to sneak to the summit and gain some valuable snow climbing experience.
Finally, start asking questions here.
Nevis seems like you are quite negetive. I really don't think asking questions about climbing Washington in winter is asking someone to hold your hand. We all started some where did we not?? I don't think anyone one day just decided to climb washington in the winter and head up the mountain. Sometimes first hand info from people that have climbed is worthwhile!! I am sorry if you think it is hand holding. Maybe some people aren't as skilled as you in hiking and skiing. I value the info that was given to me that helped me accomplish what I have.
mount washington in winter
David - I may be in a position to offer you some advice about climbing Mount Washington in the winter. I hiked there in the summer many times in my 20's and 30's and began enjoying winter climbing about 15 years ago. I've done many winter climbs on mt washington in the winter - some guided, some unguided. There are plenty of places on the web to get all the info you need regarding gear and clothing, so I won't go into that here. The best advice I can give you is to join a 1 day guided climb with one of the North Conway schools - the 1 day climb is no where near the 500.00 you mention in a previous post and it's well worth the money - they'll teach you all kinds of skills needed to make your climb both safe and enjoyable. Not just climbing skills per se, but personal maintence skills as well which you need in the winter. If you are more inclined to go it on your own, then I highly recommend you read the book "NOT WITHOUT PERIL". It's a great collection of true stories about mishaps on Mt. Washington, dealing with brutal weather, misjudgement, ignorance, and in some cases, just plain bad luck. The effects of severe cold in combination with hurricane force winds(which occur regularly on Mt Washington) cannot be appreciated until you experience them. Knowing how to cope with these conditions - which often come up unexpectedly - take time to master. Many people have the good fortune of climbing above treeline on a rare calm day and get a false sense of what this mountain can be like. I've been above treeline many a time when conditions and the way you are feeling go from comfortable to life threatening in a matter of minutes. The decisions you make during those critical minutes can mean the difference between life and death. A simple mistake like placing a glove down and having it blow away can render a hand useless in minutes. There are lots of little skills you need to be able to travel safely above treeline in the winter. I hope I haven't rambled on too long, but I love winter climbing, and I like to pass that on to others, but remember, fun can turn into tragedy very quickly if you are not prepared. Good luck in your endeavors - I would be happy to help you with any specific questions you may have.
Originally Posted by davidhowland14
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I think Tim offers excellent advice. People die of hypothermia in July on the Presidentials, to give an idea of what conditions can occur. Reading "Not Without Peril" can give a strong respect for the mountain. In my good weather climbs there I carry all the equipment and then some that Brad mentions earlier. I have spent years familiarizing myself with the different trails so that I knew where I was heading, where it would take me and what other trails it would cross or link up with and where they would take me. Reading the trail descriptions in the AMC guide over and over every trip. Learning things like "Huntington Ravine should not be used as a descent route in any weather". Studying the maps over and over, knowing alternative routes by heart and carrying the map with me anyway. I too have spent the time and money to find good equipment, but more importantly I have taken it into the mountains on easier climbs to familiarize myself with its use and to decide if something different wouldn't work better. For real winter beginners I suggest starting out much smaller and learning your equipment and endurance levels. Great beginners winter hikes can be had on such summits as Mount Major in Alton. Welch Dickey in Waterville Valley also offers the chance to get above treeline, but also lots of ice to try out those crampons. For those who wish to go over 4000' try Moosilauke Gorge Brook Trail or Mount Pierce by the Crawford Path. These both are pretty easy and offer excellent winter wind and trail conditions above treeline for beginners to try out new gear and skill levels.
Last edited by KD Talbot; 10-28-2006 at 11:56 AM.
One of the things that helped me the most when i was first starting out was training on the more forgiving mountains in the 'dacks. They allow you to practice almost all of your skills needed for Washington while having the security blanket of being able to get below treeline much faster. I recommend a few winter training expeditions to Mt Marcy. With about 300 feet above treeline you can practice placing snow anchors, self arrest, crampon/ax skills and others. Go all out and bring everything you plan to bring to washington with you. Practice rope skills a lot. My first time this was my biggest problem. The conditions in mid february are similar tho not as sever, but at least you'll get a good idea of what to expect. My style is more alpine (light and fast) but there are downsides to this approach. There are times when i've wished i had one more pair of socks but didn't and ended with cold feet for many hours ( a touch of frostbite ), but these are choices we make.
One additional note on water and fluids: Stay hydrated but dont drink too fast. Force yourself to take a sip or two of water every 10 min like clockwork. If you have a hydration pack this is easy at first but the longer you are out there, the more your tube will freeze. This is a problem i have yet to solve ( i've tried many things ) but i recommend blowing the water out of the hose once u finish drinking. It wont stop the water from freezing completely, but it'll last a few hours longer. Keep everything as close to your body and under as many layers as u can. Rarely will the water in the actual hydopack freeze ( tho i have had it happen on long, 17 hour, day trips ). And of course if you camp, put all your water in your sleeping bag with you. Waking in the morning to find your water completely frozen is terrible ( this happened to me on my very first mountaineering trip, i think i cried )
Other than that, have fun, keep a close eye on the weather and don't be afraid to turn around. We all have. We accept that as a real possiblity because we know that this sport is dangerous and often, it is other people's lives that depend on the decisions we make. No mountain is worth a life.
Hope that helps.