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Thread: question of you winter hikers

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    Default question of you winter hikers

    Any one here actually climb Mount Washington in the winter time (as for me, way past my abilities!!)?

    If so, what is the coldest windiest day you have ever hiked up to the summit? And for you die hards.. at one point do you bag it and say it's just not worth it, I'll wait for another day?


    David

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    David, I haven't yet climbed Washington in the winter, though I have done 15 other "4Ks" in the winter.

    I attempted it last year with a group. We went up the Ammonoosuc Trail, and I knew even before we got to Lakes of the Clouds hut that I was going to have to bail (no matter what the rest of the group decided).

    THere was 20 feet visibility above treeline, and the temps were -11. The forecast was for it to be like that all day. Some people in the group were strong enough and experienced enough to continue onward. I wasn't, so I turned around.

    Sometime this year or next (probably next), I will take my daughter up there, as she's now on a quest for the winter 48. When I do, it will be on a day that is forecast to be relative warm (in the teens or higher on the summit) and windless (20mph or less). Visibility will have to be damn near perfect. Early March will hopefully give us those kinds of conditions. They do happen.

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    Default winter climbing

    David - I have done a fair amount of winter climbing - on Mount Washington, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska - and it's not the cold alone that makes you turn around, It's usually a combination of cold, wind and poor visibility.

    I'll take a -10 day with calm, clear conditions anytime and keep climbing.

    But a 5 degree day with 50+ winds (and higher gusts) and blowing snow, and I'll pack it in. I've turned back many times in those conditions.

    Goggles easily fog up and freeze if you are not carefull and you can't see anything.

    Most people tend to WAY overestimate wind speed. A true 40 mph steady wind is very difficult to climb in especially with higher gusts. Over 50-60mph is near impossible to stand upright with gusts, much less make foward progress uphill. I've been in winds that were accurately measured at 25-30mph and most people will guess its blowing 40-50+

    Tim
    Last edited by climbabout; 01-29-2010 at 02:35 PM.

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    Default Good info

    Good info, Tim. It's hard for me to make people comprehend that they weren't in 60mph winds while hiking or they'd be blown on their keestas, (well, maybe not everyone, but most I know).

    Those that have been blown down all claim it was a 100mph wind.

    KDT

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrishandAlex View Post
    David, I haven't yet climbed Washington in the winter, though I have done 15 other "4Ks" in the winter.

    I attempted it last year with a group. We went up the Ammonoosuc Trail, and I knew even before we got to Lakes of the Clouds hut that I was going to have to bail (no matter what the rest of the group decided).

    THere was 20 feet visibility above treeline, and the temps were -11. The forecast was for it to be like that all day. Some people in the group were strong enough and experienced enough to continue onward. I wasn't, so I turned around.

    Sometime this year or next (probably next), I will take my daughter up there, as she's now on a quest for the winter 48. When I do, it will be on a day that is forecast to be relative warm (in the teens or higher on the summit) and windless (20mph or less). Visibility will have to be damn near perfect. Early March will hopefully give us those kinds of conditions. They do happen.
    Good decision Trish. With the conditions you described sounds like July is a better bet than March. Hope you're right though since we're hoping to get the southern Presis in March.

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    If there is no wind (and you have the right gear) there is no limit.

    I agree, -10F on a clear windless day isn't all that bad, especially when you are physically active.

    People climb Denali and Vinson Massif with temps colder than -40F. Practically speaking, mountains don't get much colder than that. Cold air is dense and sinks into the valleys.

    With that said, I'm not sure what the proper balance is with the wind.
    Bill
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtruman View Post
    Good decision Trish. With the conditions you described sounds like July is a better bet than March. Hope you're right though since we're hoping to get the southern Presis in March.
    Mark, you can get the southern Presi's on a cold day without too much trouble. I (not Alex) did Eisenhower and Pierce last year in -10 weather with a fair bit of wind...if you have the goggles, faskmask, etc., it's doable. That col between Pierce and Ike is a wonderful thing, there are places where you can get briefly out of the wind.

    There are definitely nice winter days like the one I described above. Just have to wait for them, then grab it when the chance is there.

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    I like hiking in the winter - but it is not Mt Washington summit stuff. I always have a wind gauge and thermometer in a pouch of my pack. In Tuckerman Ravine several times I have seen -35 F wind chills. Those are not days to be above treeline. Lots of folks hike to the summit in the winter, but they typically start off with a guide and then off they go back again and again.

    Last Sunday there was a steady stream of folks heading to the summit as the conditions were not too bad and it cleared nicely as we got up to HoJo's in the morning. (Hermit Shelter = HoJo's).
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
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    I've done it in the winter; around zero but with big wind (MWOBS said gusts close to 100mph that day). It was a full crampon, no exposed skin kind of day. The worse part was there was lots of ICE on the rocks but when you stood on them it broke free. So basically it was hell on your feet IMHO.

    The winds took their toll; everyone in the party got blown over a few times. I took a good tumble face first into the iced boulders. We got to the top ate some warm soup and hurried for tree line.

    In hindsight it perhaps wasn't the smartest idea to keep pushing in the wind. Live and learn I guess!
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    Default Did it once

    [QUOTE=David;39286]Any one here actually climb Mount Washington in the winter time (as for me, way past my abilities!!)?

    If so, what is the coldest windiest day you have ever hiked up to the summit? And for you die hards.. at one point do you bag it and say it's just not worth it, I'll wait for another day?

    Feb 26 1994
    Camped on the Jewel the night before.Had a nice hike about 5 degrees. wind was blowing at the summit. It was the speed where you must lean into it or get pushed. I forget the actual. On the way down(back to camp) was where I got the worst icecream headache of my life. The goggles fogged and I had a little skin exposure. My best friend and I made it back to our tent. The wind really picked up on the summit that night and a pair of climbers didnt make it down.my buddy jeff at our camp
    eric j

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