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Thread: Climbing Washington in Fall and winter

  1. #11
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    I spent a month in wyoming rockies, summited washington 6 times in summer, skiid 3 times in april.

    THIS is the worst time of year and it doesnt get better until theres a snow base to WALK on, period

    I don't think he was negative at all, this is serious stuff.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevis_highwire
    I am very confident that anyone who is in good condition with the proper equipment and training can climb Mount Washington in the winter. They may get turned around by the weather a few times, but you will eventually make it.

    If you are completely in the dark about winter climbing and you wouldn't know your crampons from your ice axe I'd suggest a guided climb. It is relatively safe and you will get expert instruction from a patient teacher.
    And they'll empty your wallet of about $500.
    5 Days 2007-2008

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidhowland14
    And they'll empty your wallet of about $500.
    Nobody said this sport was cheap. A small price to pay considering all the equipment you are going to be buying.

    Do you have any other suggestions?

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevis_highwire
    Nobody said this sport was cheap. A small price to pay considering all the equipment you are going to be buying.

    Do you have any other suggestions?
    A few years ago I went into the REI store in Durham, NC in the winter and said, "I will be doing some hiking in a few weeks and I need layers". They took me to see inner shell, mid-layer, outer layer stuff. When I asked about how cold it could go and still be comfortable with these clothes, they asked how cold would it be when hiking. I said, "about 35 degrees below zero wind chill". They put the stuff back and said, "lets go to this other aisle".

    There they had the Patagonia items and I was all set. I have not been cold using this selection. But, my pocketbook was hit a bit harder. Good quality equipment is critical - and I only go into Tuckermans in the winter. It is a long walk out if you are cold.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
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    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

  5. #15
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    Brad is 100% correct. I worked at both eastern mountain and campmor in Paramus. You need to buy the exact gear for what you will be doing. I equiped many people and first question I asked was always what would they be using the gear or clothing for. In the summer gortex or other water proof fabric might not be real important but in the winter it could be the difference between life and death. When buying equipment or clothing deal with a good outdoor store and speak up. Let them know what you are going to be up to.
    They will steer you where you need to go. Nothing worse than being 10 miles from the nearest road and realizing your gear or clothing is not up to snuff. Getting properly equiped does not have to cost alot. Buying the name brands is what cost and they are not always the best anyway. Buy for what works not the name tag.

  6. #16
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    Default mount washington in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by davidhowland14
    I would definetaly like to have some information on this winter hiking thing. Thanks to whoever posts any.
    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.
    Tim Jones
    Climbabout p.s. you may email me privately at tim@masterelectricsupply.com if you wish

  7. #17
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    Default Winter Climbing

    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.

  8. #18
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    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.

  9. #19
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    I remember way back when.....1982. Made three attempts and had to turn around each time due to weather. 1983, I made four attempts....again-defeated due to weather coniditions. 1984.....finally made it to the summit, but couldn't stay long...weather comes rushing in and makes the day pretty bad, pretty quickly.

    Those trips, as failed attempts, were lessons. There was no internet back then(remember, we had to go outside and do something), and imformation wasn't easy to get. It had to be earned the hard way.....by the experience of doing. Today, there is a LOT of info out there for all that need it. I look things up all the time......

    Get the equipment and go for it! Do you know what temperature 35mm film freezes? I'm not completely sure, but my camera was frozen inside my backpack in 1983(it's in my journal)............


    Scott (memories, good thing I wrote them down) B
    Hunting, hiking, archery, and just being outside.

  10. #20
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    I've climbed Mt.Wash a bunch of times during the winter, all during the month of January. The conditions have varied. Some climbs it was around 10 degrees, sunny with winds gusting to only 10-20. Other times, I've been stuck climbing up the summit cone with temps -30 and winds gusting to 80 mph. Although I've summited most of the time, I've also been wise enough to know when to turn back, regardless how close I've been. Two O'clock is usally the cut off time if you havn't reached the summit yet.

    Go prepared and hit the trailhead early, around 6 or 7 am. Wear all the appropriate layers, shells, etc. Make sure you have extra gloves and/or mittens as well as extra socks. Goggles are a must.

    Crampons and double plastic boots are of course needed as well as a treking pole, mid sized pack (@3k cu), snow axe and plenty of snacks, trailmix, energy bars and gels and hot tea. Don't overheat while treking up the trails, so unzip when conditions permit and zip up when you stop for a break.

    Don't glissade down with crampons on and take special care on the descent especially right below treeline going down the ice shoot.

    Here is the best advice...

    Haul your gear up in a plastic sled. Ditch the sled as you ascend the ice shoot. When you return and hit the main trail, use the sled to sled down to the bottom quicker. This will save your back and legs after a long days climb.

    Most of all research the weather beforehand and keep an eye on the sky. Things change quickly in the Whites.

    Cheers and safe climbing,
    Plumbutt
    Last edited by Plumbutt; 12-26-2006 at 01:10 PM.

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