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Thread: Want to climb Mt. Washington, info needed

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    Default Want to climb Mt. Washington, info needed

    First post here. As the title states, I want to try Mt. Washington, preferably in the next week or so. I've got most of my equipment together, as far as warm clothing and boots. I bought an ice axe and will be renting crampons when I get up to the area. I'll bring some military rations so I have food, but I don't know what to do about water. Is there anything I can put it in where it's not likely to freeze up while I climb?

    Also, what about cameras? I'll want to have a few pictures, but I'm not sure what camera will stand up to the conditions. I have an older Canon digital camera, but if that would be likely to be ruined by the cold, would some kind of disposable film camera work? I'm clueless when it comes to photography.

    Finally, what about cheap places to stay nearby? I'll be driving up from Trenton, probably about 8 hours in a truck with no heat, and I'll need to get there the day before to rent the crampons so I can get an early start at around 4 or 5 am on climbing. I'll also probably be tired after a full day of climbing, so I'm not sure if I'll want to drive another 8 hours after climbing without sleeping a bit first. I can sleep in my truck if I have to but I'd rather have someplace with heat that won't run me a fortune.

    Thanks for any info you can provide.

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    What are you putting the crampons on? Do you know how to use an ice axe?

    Military rations are great for the army, but don't sound ideal for a winter hike. I'd consider doing more research on what hikers carry for food in the winter.

    Water should be kept in lexan or equivalent water bottles purchased from a mountaineering/outdoor store. If freezing is an issue carry the bottle in your jacket or bring heated water in an insulated container. Stay away from cheap "canteens" from Wal-Mart or the military surplus store. Even the top end bottles aren't that expensive. But its important to buy a good brand. You can't afford to have your water bottle leak.
    Last edited by Bill O; 01-15-2009 at 08:09 AM.
    Bill
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    Default Mount washington

    There are several good threads here covering all you need to know regarding climbing Mount Washington in the winter - here's a good one to start with:

    http://www.mountwashington.org/forum...read.php?t=228

    Also, if you sort this category by thread rating - five stars first - you can find many other threads as well in the first few pages alone. Regarding something Bill pointed out - make sure you know how to use an ice ax - your life could depend on it depending on the snow or ice conditions you encounter. Carrying one without knowing how to use it can me more dangerous than not carrying one - those sharp points can injure easily.

    Regarding some of your specific questions - cameras are difficult to predict whether or not they will work in extreme cold. I usually carry one in my pocket, but then you need to worry about condensation on the lens when you take it out. Keep it in an outside pocket where it will stay a little warm, but where your body sweat won't affect it - pretty much a trial and error thing. You could also try a zip lock bag to keep it in as a vapor barrier.

    There's plenty of lodging to be had in the Mount Washington Valley - try here:
    http://www.mountwashingtonvalley.com/lodging.lasso

    You can also try the AMC lodge at the base of the trail you'll be taking here:
    http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodges/pnvc/index.cfm

    You can get last minute supplies here, a hot breakfast(very important) as well as current weather conditions at the summit and above treeline and a host of other great advice. You'll also want to sign in there and out when you descend.

    Regarding your water - get yourself a wide mouth nalgene or similar - make sure it's a wide mouth as the smaller necks will freeze in a heartbeat - if you can't drink regularly, then that's a recipe for disaster - hypothermia will accelerate if you are even slightly dehydrated. Make sure the cap is screwed on tight and then put it in a sock and put it upside down in your pack - that way any ice that forms will be on the bottom of the bottle.

    For food - bring things that are easily accessible and won't become hard as a rock in the cold - peanut butter on bagels is a favorite of mine - take a break every hour or so and have a bit to eat and drink at regular intervals.

    Hope this helps - keep the questions coming.
    Tim
    Last edited by climbabout; 01-15-2009 at 08:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O View Post
    What are you putting the crampons on? Do you know how to use an ice axe?
    I'm putting the crampons on my boots, obviously. I bought new ones just for this, military issue cold weather. I've seen videos on using an ice axe, so I should be alright.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O View Post
    Military rations are great for the army, but don't sound ideal for a winter hike. I'd consider doing more research on what hikers carry for food in the winter.
    Well, they're convenient because they have a flameless heater and I can have a hot meal while I climb without having to worry about bringing a stove. I don't really see a downside to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O View Post
    Water should be kept in lexan or equivalent water bottles purchased from a mountaineering/outdoor store. If freezing is an issue carry the bottle in your jacket or bring heated water in an insulated container. Stay away from cheap "canteens" from Wal-Mart or the military surplus store. Even the top end bottles aren't that expensive. But its important to buy a good brand. You can't afford to have your water bottle leak.
    Would a steel Thermos be alright? I'll need to find one big enough (or just bring two), I'm assuming at a bare minimum I'll need 1/2 gallon, preferably more.

    Quote Originally Posted by climbabout View Post
    There are several good threads here covering all you need to know regarding climbing Mount Washington in the winter - here's a good one to start with:

    http://www.mountwashington.org/forum...read.php?t=228

    Also, if you sort this category by thread rating - five stars first - you can find many other threads as well in the first few pages alone. Regarding something Bill pointed out - make sure you know how to use an ice ax - your life could depend on it depending on the snow or ice conditions you encounter. Carrying one without knowing how to use it can me more dangerous than not carrying one - those sharp points can injure easily.
    I'll check out those threads shortly, thanks. I have the basic idea of how to use it and will figure out the rest as I go along.

    Quote Originally Posted by climbabout View Post
    Regarding some of your specific questions - cameras are difficult to predict whether or not they will work in extreme cold. I usually carry one in my pocket, but then you need to worry about condensation on the lens when you take it out. Keep it in an outside pocket where it will stay a little warm, but where your body sweat won't affect it - pretty much a trial and error thing. You could also try a zip lock bag to keep it in as a vapor barrier.
    Disposable waterproof camera, then? Will they take acceptable pictures?

    Quote Originally Posted by climbabout View Post
    There's plenty of lodging to be had in the Mount Washington Valley - try here:
    http://www.mountwashingtonvalley.com/lodging.lasso

    You can also try the AMC lodge at the base of the trail you'll be taking here:
    http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodges/pnvc/index.cfm

    You can get last minute supplies here, a hot breakfast(very important) as well as current weather conditions at the summit and above treeline and a host of other great advice. You'll also want to sign in there and out when you descend.
    AMC is way too expensive...$67 a night for bunkhouse lodging? I don't know if that's normal for New Hampshire, but around here you get a night in a cheap motel for $40 a night. I browsed through those links but it looks like they're all significantly more expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by climbabout View Post
    Regarding your water - get yourself a wide mouth nalgene or similar - make sure it's a wide mouth as the smaller necks will freeze in a heartbeat - if you can't drink regularly, then that's a recipe for disaster - hypothermia will accelerate if you are even slightly dehydrated. Make sure the cap is screwed on tight and then put it in a sock and put it upside down in your pack - that way any ice that forms will be on the bottom of the bottle.
    Will they work better than a Thermos? They don't seem to offer much protection, but I don't know too much about this as I've never encountered this problem before.

    Quote Originally Posted by climbabout View Post
    For food - bring things that are easily accessible and won't become hard as a rock in the cold - peanut butter on bagels is a favorite of mine - take a break every hour or so and have a bit to eat and drink at regular intervals.

    Hope this helps - keep the questions coming.
    Tim
    That's why I think the rations are great, although I couldn't find any MCW ration packs, the standard MREs will not only easily survive the cold but can be heated, so I can have a hot meal and even a cup of coffee up there, which is normally difficult to do without a camp stove.

    Thanks for the info, if anyone has any more it'd help.

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    I think he meant what kind of boots, most climbers use the plastic boots this time of year I believe. But then hikers 30 years ago were using the normal leather hiking boots most of the time.

    I know most of the mickey mouse boots are factored for -20 degrees below zero- Today its -15 and -53 with wind chill. Something to keep in mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncas View Post
    I think he meant what kind of boots, most climbers use the plastic boots this time of year I believe. But then hikers 30 years ago were using the normal leather hiking boots most of the time.

    I know most of the mickey mouse boots are factored for -20 degrees below zero- Today its -15 and -53 with wind chill. Something to keep in mind.
    Yeah, they're the mickey boots. They should arrive today by UPS, so I'll practice walking around in them to make sure they fit right. I'm not used to having to wear so much cold weather gear, so I had to mostly buy new stuff. I managed to keep the costs less than $200 so far, but still need to buy some rations, a water bottle or thermos, and maybe a disposable camera, and rent the crampons. There's a place called IME around there that told me that they have plenty of them and have no problems with bigger ones to fit a size 14. I've never been in wind chills below -40?F, and was pretty cold in that wearing a T-shirt, but with warm clothing I should be fine.

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    I'm gonna be honest, your scaring me just a bit. It sounds like you have most of the gear in order, but haven't put in the time testing your skills. Under ideal conditions, you might be fine, but if something goes wrong, you simply don't have the winter route finding skills, alpine skills and general knowledge of mountain environment to pull this off...

    There are specific alpine techiques for walking in crampons on steep pitches, and a mis-step can easily mean sliding down the upper slopes at 35mph. Without working extensively with an axe, that video will not make the technique to stop yourself very ready in your mind.

    My rec to you is to hire a guide. There are many good ones int he valley, and the money is short compared to the price of the rescue and recovery that you may face. IME, EMS and Chauvin in North Conway are great choices. They will teach you how to use your gear, will help you nav, and provide ropes if necessary.

    As for lodging, both Conway and Gorham have hostels for under 25 a night. The one in Gorham is called Hikers Paradise, Conway is just the conway hostel.

    Hope that helps...
    "I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but that all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimS View Post
    I'm gonna be honest, your scaring me just a bit. It sounds like you have most of the gear in order, but haven't put in the time testing your skills. Under ideal conditions, you might be fine, but if something goes wrong, you simply don't have the winter route finding skills, alpine skills and general knowledge of mountain environment to pull this off...

    There are specific alpine techiques for walking in crampons on steep pitches, and a mis-step can easily mean sliding down the upper slopes at 35mph. Without working extensively with an axe, that video will not make the technique to stop yourself very ready in your mind.

    My rec to you is to hire a guide. There are many good ones int he valley, and the money is short compared to the price of the rescue and recovery that you may face. IME, EMS and Chauvin in North Conway are great choices. They will teach you how to use your gear, will help you nav, and provide ropes if necessary.
    I've thought about this but I'm confident in my ability to acquire skills while doing a task, as there's really no better way to learn most things. Truth be told, the price is part of the reason, but more importantly I'd want to be in charge of myself rather than have to place my complete trust in someone I don't know. It's unfortunate that I don't have any friends who've done this type of thing, but after I manage to do this, I'll be in a position of being able to introduce the sport to them and perhaps be able to tackle something a bit more difficult like Mt. Rainer. But, that's getting too far ahead for now. I realize that this trip isn't without danger.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimS View Post
    As for lodging, both Conway and Gorham have hostels for under 25 a night. The one in Gorham is called Hikers Paradise, Conway is just the conway hostel.

    Hope that helps...
    That'd work well, thanks. Hope they don't mind me setting an alarm for 3:00 am or so. Since you seem to be familiar with the area, are there places to eat 24 hours up there? As another poster mentioned, a hot breakfast would be a good idea.

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    Default mount washington

    Regarding follow up some things in my post that you replied to:

    There's nothing wrong with a thermos, but a nalgene bottle is much lighter in weight - wrapped in a sock and put upside down in your pack - freezing should not become a problem. And again - whatever you buy, make sure it has a wide mouth. I find for a day trip up and down 2-3 liters is just right.

    Regarding the AMC lodging - remember, that 67.00 includes dinner and breakfast - you'd be hard pressed to find a much cheaper option when you factor in the cost of 2 meals on top of lodging, not to mention it's convenience to the trailhead, and availability of expertise and weather info. - no need to rise at 3am.

    Regarding snacks - if the weather is severe and the wind is blowing - the less fuss you encounter eating the better - most experienced winter alpinists will tell you to bring food you enjoy and can eat and digest easily - this is no place for experimentation.

    Lastly - do as much research as you can regarding this mountain and the perils of climbing it alone. I'm not one to preach, but this is NOT a good mountain, nor time of year to experiment and learn on your own. Simple mistakes here often result in death. And it's rarely a big mistake, but a string of small ones that lead to disaster. None of us here point these things out to scare people, we just like to see people safely enjoy Mt Washington.

    A guide, while not cheap, can be the best investment you can make in your own life.

    All that said, the best advice I can give you, is don't be afraid to turn back if things aren't going well - the mountain will be here long after we're all gone.
    Good Luck,
    Tim

    p.s. - let us know your name - it makes communicating more pleasant

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