Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce
Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce via Ammonoosuc from Marshfield Station, Crawford Path, and associated summit loops. ~10 miles, +3300, -4000. Bob McCue, Bruce (Brewster), Ben and Mike, 8 hours 30 minutes.
There were several groups of familiar faces heading out of the Crawford Notch area. Meeting at the Highland Center there was a group heading out to Carrigain. We left three cars at the Mount Clinton lot, and took two cars to Marshfield Station. Here we ran into more familiar faces and/or names, and a not-very-afraid-of-human-beings red fox. Shortly after 8am, we struck out up the very wide and well-packed-but-slightly-soft Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. It was snowing lightly and the ravine was clouded in, but the forecast predicted clearing summits by mid-morning. The warmth, rain and fog from Friday made it just soft enough that there were several spots where bare-booters had post holed. The trip to Gem Pool took about an hour, with occasional stops for photos. The pool itself was frozen pretty good although we could hear the sounds of water running below.
After Gem Pool, the elevation gain comes quickly and we shed layers, and raised televators before beginning the climb. It continued snowing to about 4000 feet or so, at which point we were above the clouds. To the west, the Pemi was under the clouds, and the ravine itself still held a few, but not for much longer. At the top of the falls, we got the direct sunlight, which added some warmth and caused us to don sunglasses. Mad River, who had been here last weekend, and who I ran into at the Highland Center, suggested continuing up the ravine from this point. The trail was broken out in both directions, but the snow bridge to the ravine side collapsed under my weight and so we opted for the trail. After all the recent discussion about following the Ammo in an emergency, it is really not very-well marked. Some members of the group suggested it was really a bushwhack route that we followed, but it would clearly be difficult to stay on the snowshoe track in low-visibility conditions.
For the most part, the wind was non-existent until the last quarter mile before the hut. Bruce and I continued at a comfortable pace to the hut before layering up, while the rest stopped and layered where the trees became scrub. In the lee of the hut there was a ton of snow and a dozen and a half hikers. After a 15-minute break for food, layers, removal-of-snowshoes-and-putting-on-of-crampons, and basking in the sun, we regrouped and proceeded to the first 4K objective du jour: Monroe. Climbing the north side of the mountain, we were fully-exposed to the wind. You had to watch your step here because the wind was strong enough to blow your poles and feet around. Luckily it was mostly at our backs, or on our right sides, and none of us traded sunglasses for goggles. Conditions were ideal for crampons - a lot of ice, very occasional drifts, and minimal bare rock.
I had read in some recent trip reports that in winter, most folks go back the way they came to hook up with the Crawford Path. Since most of us had never been over Little Monroe, we chose to go that way. Another first for at least some of us was Mount Franklin. It offered a dizzying view into Oakes Gulf to the east. Clearly the snow blows off the ridge and fills in the ravines on the east side. The edge held an interesting looking cornice.
One cool advantage of Little Monroe is this view from below Monroe, where the sharkfin profile gets lost. From left to right is Jefferson, Clay, Washington, and Monroe.
Next up was Eisenhower. From the summit of Monroe to the summit of Eisenhower was all new terrain to me. The ascent from this side appears to be a bit steeper, at least initially. It was the first time in a while we were in the shade and the warming power of the sun was definitely noticed, again. We spread out a bit on the way up, each climbing at a comfortable pace for himself, while making sure at least one or two were within sight either side. The wood pile that had been up there over the summer had turned into steps / water bars, which were visible through the snow and ice. The cairn is way smaller than it was in August 2007, and the metal sign is gone.
The final peak of the day was Pierce. Once in the scrub beneath Eisenhower, snowshoes would have been more appropriate than crampons, but the track mostly held our weight. The people coming northbound were all wearing snowshoes and this was the softest stretch of the entire day. After spending a few minutes looking back up the hills where we came from, we headed down the Crawford Path and into the trees. We left our crampons on, but this stretch could easily have been bare booted.
All photos here
Lovely, lovely photos, Tim. Looks like you had an excellent day up there -- very gald (for you) that you chose this route today. Did you see us waving from Wildcat D?
Great t/R and fantastic pics. Looks like you guys had a wonderful day for a hike. hanks for posting and sharing.
What, you can't see through mountains?
Really glad you had a nice time. Looked like an outstanding hike.
No, but I *CAN* move them. That's how I spotted Alex. You didn't see Boott Spur and the Gulf of Slides part right down the middle?
Originally Posted by TrishandAlex
Darn, that must have been the moment I was re-tying my bootlaces.
Veeeery nice. We were in the area last Saturday, and got absolutely crummy views:
Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce
Enjoyed reading your trip report and great pictures too. We were on Pierce last Thursday and had great views and a nice broken trail to hike on, compliments of a group from the Highland Center.
Great TR and spectacular photos Tim. What an amazing day you guys had for this!!! I love the shot of the sun over the trees highlighting the trail.