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Thread: Climbing Washington in Fall and winter

  1. #31
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    Default winter boots for rock pile climb

    Quote Originally Posted by HikerBob
    Have to disagree on the need for plastic boots. A *good* pair of boots is required but plastics are not absolutely necessary.

    I hiked three winter seasons in the Whites in Salomon SM Lites and if they still made them I'd have bought another pair. For this season I was convinced I'd need to go the plastics route but every pair I tried were horrible (for my feet at least) and I ended up with a pair of La Sportiva Nepal Evo boots. These cost as much as or more than some plastics but they do the job and in my opinion are a darn sight more comfortable.

    So no, plastics are not necessary but good boots are.

    Bob
    I guess I should be more clear in what I said in reference to boots. Make sure when you climb the rock pile in the winter the boots you wear keep your feet dry and also keeps them warm. Plastic boots are the norm but there are other boots that will do the job. Leather expedition boots and leather double boots ( Sorel's) are two other boots that work. Just make sure the boot is crampon compatible.

  2. #32
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    Default

    When I mean double leather boot this is what I am talking about:

    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

  3. #33
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O
    When I mean double leather boot this is what I am talking about:

    i'm drulin'!!! jus' for an example; i've never hiked washy in winter wif a double boot. been up there when it was -35 an' 75 m.p.h. winds. still got the old weather sheet from pinkham for that day! when the conditions were really bad they used to use pink highlightin' markers on the temp and wind speed.
    fabiano mountain masters is the boot is was wearin' still got 'em. tough as nails!!
    p.s. we were the only two on the summit that day,there was warnin's everywhere not to go up! when we came back down the dude at hermit lake told us we were off our rockers!!! alberta clipper moved in at 1:30 pm and hit like a freight train. we(me and mickey finn) know that mountain like the back of our hands.
    talk about whiteout. we literally couldn't tell the ground from the sky,everything was "milk"white!!
    GA -> ME "05"
    hi chickety!!

  4. #34
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    You can get away with a lot in even the most extreme conditions as long as nothing goes wrong. Pretty much every Mount Everest summit is like that. But if you are under equipped and it is -35F there is no room for error. Sure, you can hike and stay relatively warm in leather boots, but if you are forced to stop walking that's when things get bad.
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

  5. #35
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    I'm preparing for a February hike and getting my gear together. I'm a novice winter hiker, so I am purchasing most of the winter gear right now. My question is what sort of coat is best for the climb? I will have long underwear, two layers of fleece, and a very light waterproof pull-over. I don't know if a large down parka will be too bulky but I know it's got to be better insulated than fleece lining. Suggestions?

  6. #36
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    Default gear for winter hike

    What coat should you wear is the million dollar question. The main thing to remember is to dress in layers so if you get to warm you can shead some clothes. You do not want to sweat! Most people wear a thermal top next to the body then a fleece then a wind shell. The temp you will be in determines what weight of layering you go with. I always go with an extra layer in my pack just in case. Bottom line is layer and be comfortable.

  7. #37
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    Default Novice Winter Hikers on Mount Washington

    This is going to sound harsh and maybe insulting but Mount Wash is no place for novice winter hikers in February. It is also no place to try to familiarize yourself with new equipment. Have you ever climbed Washington before? On a perfect, windless summer day it can tax even the most athletic. Are you familiar with the trails and different escape routes? A simple wrong decision like "I think I'll descend Huntington Ravine Trail to see what it's like" could get you killed. There are nearly 140 names of people who underestimated this mountain on the wall at the summit, many with years of experience and numerous winter ascensions. You don't want to be next. You don't say whether you are going with an experienced party or not, solo climbs are out of the question. There are many spectacular winter climbs in the Whites that won't involve risking your life. Are you experienced with crampons? How about putting them on or taking them off in 60 mph winds? It's easy to trip yourself up in them, especially if your legs are wobbly from the climb up, this could send you sliding down towards rocks or worse, over a precipice. Are you familiar with self arrest techniques with your ice ax? Were you going to bring one? Getting to the summit is only halfway, most people get in trouble on the way back down where exhaustion, fading daylight and dropping temps can come into play. It is possible that one could climb up and down in perfect sunshine and temps in mid winter, but the odds are definitely against this, and mishaps can come in the most idyllic conditions. I am not trying to snob you off the mountain but I want you to realize that it is a life threatening undertaking you propose. My advice would be get some experience with your new equipment. Then get some experience above treeline in winter. A loop over Pierce and Eisenhower is good for this. When you are comfortable with this then you can think about going for it. Any experienced winter hikers will back what I say, those that don't are living on the edge and will fall over some day.

  8. #38
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    I second KD Talbot with Washington in February being no place for a novice winter hiker to venture without experienced company and solid trip planning.

    Conditions encountered on any Washington climb can range from spring like to arctic merely from elevation change and can deteriorate rapidly... and I'm talking about a summer climb!

    While apparently (I stress apparently) balmy at Lakes of the Clouds...


    Things can be very different near the summit...


    To that last image you need to add a highest temp of 21* (it was a very warm day!) and an average wind speed of 76mph (MWO stats)

    Visibility can also be an issue. Those big buildings... (July 1st)


    ...can disapear easily! (Jan 28th)


    On the right day a winter climb of Washington is probably easier than that of several other peaks, but it has far greater potential danger.

    If you have some winter experience, the proper equipment, experienced company and favorable weather a winter ascent can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. It will doubtless be one not forgotten - just be sure you too are around to remember it.

    Bob

  9. #39
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    Thanks for the advice guys. The thing is, I have climbed Mount Washington in the summer and I am a testament to the severe weather. I literally turned purple last August! Anyway, I know it is risky making my first winter ascension on Mount Washington, but I have hired an experienced guide and I'm training pretty intensely for it. I feel prepared for the risks (I just finished the extremely precautionary Not Without Peril) and this mountain has great memories for me so there's no place I'd rather start alpine climbing. I wouldn't be opposed to breaking in the gear on a less challenging route before the climb but I have an intense schedule and can find only one weekend to climb this winter. Go big or go home I guess.
    Last edited by rebtad; 01-17-2007 at 05:38 PM.

  10. #40
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    Default Feeling better about your climb

    With this added info I am much more at ease about your climb. Go for it! I am glad to see you have read "Not Without Peril". I was going to suggest it in my last post. If anyone is following this thread and considering a winter climb on Washington I highly recommend it. It will instill a respect for the mountain you may lack. I guess the only other thing I would ask is what route has been chosen. The obvious choice is over Lions Head to Tucks but with the relatively new tradition of plowing the Base Road in to the Cog, approach from the west is now possible. I find the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail easier (well, certainly no harder) than Lions Head. You come out above treeline a few hundred yards from the Lakes of the Clouds Hut so you are relatively protected from the west winds until there. If things prove too nasty at this point you can get below treeline again much quicker than Lions Head and if you doubt your ability to go on to the summit of Washington at this point, you can always settle for Mount Monroe, 15 minutes from the hut in good conditions. Of course the hut will be closed but it makes a great wind block and in the worst scenario can be gotten into to survive. At any rate I personally feel the climb up the Crawford from Lakes is easier than the climb from Lions Head, though it is more exposed to weather from the west. Good Luck and let us know how you do! And don't forget to send pictures!
    KDT
    Oh by the way, I would go with a mid weight parka, you can never be too warm when you stop. What you don't want to do is sweat when you're climbing!
    Last edited by KD Talbot; 01-17-2007 at 05:59 PM.

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