We all met in Pinkham Notch at the base of Mt. Washington’s northeast side. Members of the trip from all aver; DC, to Campton, NH and places in-between. Even after our quick introductions and gear review, I knew this was going to be a fun trip.
With warm temperatures we started up the Tuckermans Ravine Trail, towards our destination of the weather observatory on the summit of Mt. Washington. The wide groomed trail allowed for good conversation, pictures and movement techniques. At the start of the Tuckermans winter trail we dawned our crampons, retrieved our ice axes and stowed our trekking poles. Now prepared for the steep trail ahead we climbed together towards tree line.
On a trip like this one it’s always interesting when our large group passes other climbers on the mountain. Due to the fact that we are only going half way and staying at the top, we were climbing late in the day. Other climbers on the mountain approached us with concern, but when they learned of our intentions to stay overnight on the summit they passed us – jealous.
The team kept a casual pace from Lion’s Head to the summit. Wind gusts neared 50 mph, and light precipitation fell, while fog moved in. Even though this we a brief dose of what Mt. Washington has in store for climbers, it was nice for our guests to see how quickly the weather can turn. At sun set we were around 200 feet from the summit, finishing the climb in the low light of dusk. After a few photos on the summit we headed inside.
It was a long day on the mountain and when we walked inside the weather observatory (OBS for short) we were thankful for the homemade corn chowder that was waiting for us. Warm and dry we got settled and waited for dinner. The two very welcoming volunteers served dinner. The OBS weather staff and our group of climbers were thankful for the family style dinner. After dinner we were treated to a tour of the weather instrumentation of the OBS, a real treat! Cheesecake with strawberries and tea rounded off our evening and we retired to our warm bunks.
Due to the fog we couldn’t see the sunrise, but it allowed us to sleep in. Again the volunteers whipped up a great breakfast. We ate then geared up for a climb of the OBS tower, where the weather instrumentation is held. In order for a weather station to be considered legitimate the instrumentation must be held 30 feet off the ground. This is so the ground will not influence the readings.
We came down off the tower, dawned our crampons and headed down. We took a little detour to experience more of the mountain. Walking down the auto road for a bit before cutting over to Ball Crag. Named after an early survivor of misadventure on the mountain. From there we cut across the Alpine Garden; an area in the summer known for its rare plant life. Upon reaching this area the fog began to clear and we were treated with an undercast of clouds blanketing the valley. Many pictures were taken and high fives were passed around.
We continued down, passed Lions Head, and used a rope to aid our decent down the steep sections we cruised up the day before. With smiles from ear to ear we walked down the remainder of the Tuck’s trail proud of our accomplishment. After some goodbyes we went our separate ways.
Temps: Record warmth hovering around +40F. Winds: 25 – 35 with gusts to 50.
In reflection, I am always blow away at the people I meet. As a guide I go into the mountains with people from all over. There are many vacation options out there to choose from; however, few are as rewarding as a winter ascent of Mt. Washington.
Thank you to all who made this trip possible – Alex
Guides Jim Gagne, Alex Teixeira and Bob Blais.
The adventure started early – our 5am drive up the snow covered highway was slippery and slow. We arrived at the finest Dunkin Donuts in the area and adjusted our strategy. One car left behind as we piled into 4×4’s to continued onward to the Ammonusuc Trailhead. Franconia Notch was icy and covered with drifts of the light snow then the Base Road to Marshfield Station was unplowed. It was exciting to be the first on unplowed roads then untracked mountain trails to climb Mt Washington. The Ammo trail had a foot of new at the start then as we ascended we found about two feet of new snow. We were amazed at the difference a thousand feet can make – truly a winter wonderland.
At treeline the wonderland changed – we layered up and entered the arctic alpine zone. Wind, ice, driving snows kept us in line and focused. The team followed Alex and we all climbed for 500 feet to the Lake of the Clouds Hut. The hut is closed but is one of the main stopping points on the Ammo climb. We headed for the leeward side to gain a break from the driving winds.
It was time to make a decision!!!
The weather was extreme and the forecast was for much worse to come as the winds were on the increase, temperatures were dropping, and frequent whiteout conditions existed. It was best for our team of climbers to enjoy the Lakes area as our high point and come back another time to climb higher.
After fueling up with drinks, high energy foods, warm gatorade we adjusted face masks and goggles and headed down the Ammo Trail directly into the wind. Frequently we grouped into huddles to check for exposed skin areas. Slowly we descended and entered the tree line area which immediately felt comfortable – like an average winter day.
It was clear to us all that above treeline travel in these conditions was extreme. We descended to enjoy the winter wonderland once again.
Early morning light while breaking the first path up the road.
Adventure seeker Stu enjoying this winter climb.
MMG Guide Bob our Mammut gear specialist.
Learning and practicing Crampon Techniques – The French Step.
Nate and Doug – Southern friends loving this place!
Alex in lead getting his leg workout breaking the trail
Pillows of snow bending over the trees.
Nick, Kevin and Tony taking a break from the slopes to try out mountaineering.
Masked men – full coverage needed for sure.
Rime ice on the brows and face mask.
Thanks to all for this weekend of adventure, excitement and fun.
Steve organized the first ice climbing trip this season to NH with Mooney Mountain Guides. On board were Steve, Chris, Mark and Adel. Our goal was to climb new terrain on mountains, on snow and ice climbs and of course have a great adventure in New Hampshires White Mountains.
Mt Lafayette is a tough climb, very similar to Mt Washington in distance and elevation gain. Alex and I joined up with the group at the C Man Inn in Plymouth for a quick bite to eat then we quickly headed out to climb. The trail was in good shape despite the recent wash out so the push was on to the summit. Our start time was a bit late and this was the shortest day of the year but if we kept at a solid pace I figured we could summit and make it to the Woodstock Inn for a Happy Hour treat at the end of the day.
Mt Willard was the second peak. This Cleft route involved climbing on ice, snow, and a bit of bushwhacking to gain the summit view of Crawford Notch. The day was crisp and clear – really felt like winter for the first time of the season. The conditions of the snow and ice was good – the route was in shape for our ascent. Today Alex was climbing with Adel and Steve and I were the other team. We climbed the route in stages keeping some friendly chatter with each other on the ascent. The view from the summit was spectacular, looking down the notch towards Mt Willy and Mt Webster
Kinsman’s Ice was our third objective. It was day three and we were in cruised mode today. The team arrived at the base early – just ahead of the crowds. Alex and I roped up and led the two classic center climbs. The fun was on – steep ice, technical moves, a solid pumpy completion to our Triple Crown!!!
Lafayette approach – The Bridle Path.
Mark suffering on the way to the summit.
On top – cold and windy – time for face protection and goggles.
Morning approach to Mt Willard.
Snot Rocket ready to go.
Steve in the Cleft of Mt Willard.
Kinsman routes – Alex on lead up high (right) and Steve just over the crux (left).
Great weekend. Plenty of physical activities to get the holidays of to a proper start. Thanks to Steve, Chris, Adel, Mark and MMG Guide Alex for all the fun we had climbing on New Hampshires snowy peaks.
Steve and I have put together a training plan and it is to climb consistently on a variety of rock climbs and mountain adventures. We have set into action a program taking place in NH and Maine for the next three months. These regular mountain tours and rock routes will prepare Steve for his visit to the Alps this August where he will climb the Matterhorn with Miles and Liz of Smart Mountain Guides. The training plan is a cross fit type – designed to work the body in a variety of ways. One must endure the burn to make necessary gains for bigger adventures on the horizon. Steve has no problem with this he is a player, always ready for the action, never a complaint, he loves to bring it on.
Enjoy the photos of our two and half days of sunny climbing in NH last weekend.
Getting going – our first climb Whitehorse. We took it to the top in 8 pitches of calf burning climbing movements.
Next was the No Good Ritter showing us good style on Cathedrals classic climb called Funhouse.
Steve jamming the crux of Funhouse.
Its May 12 the temp is 30 and the wind chill 13 and the wind is howling at 80 plus MPH.
Steve is cruise mode on the Jewell Trail, we posted a better than book time of 3.5 hours to the top.
The unrelenting winds kept pushing us around all the way to Lake of the Clouds area.
Lenticulars – no surprise with the winds we encountered.
This could be the last ice and snow of the season for us.
At Rumney Rocks working sport moves.
Steve climbing the schist in mountain boots.
Terry joined us for a fun time at Rumney.
It was a great weekend of training, climbing and getting together.
Thanks to Steve, Matt, Teresa and Terry
Mammut is 150 years old. To celebrate Bill (Mammut USA CEO) selected a premier team of outdoor enthusiasts from all over the US to climb NH’s most beautiful mountain. To prepare for this climb of Mt Washington the team was equipped with the new Mammut Peaks Collection clothing and equipment. This Mammut team experienced challenge and excitement on a fun adventure climbing to the summit. We all worked together with Mammut’s essential values in mind – solidarity and teamwork.
Matt (MMG Guide) and Bill (Mammut USA CEO) enjoying a rest break at Gem Pool.
Dave joined us from Spokane. He is the general manager of Mountain Gear.
Art and Mike getting geared up for the steep section of the Ammo Trail.
Maureen – Paradox Ambassador from Vermont.
R D joined us from Colorado – Legal Council for the Access Fund .
MMG guide and our event photographer Jim Gagne. A side note – Jim is the first climber in NH to climb all of the big 8 summits.
Kristen – Backpacker Magazine Gear Editor.
Mike and Suzana – Paradox Sports
The NH 150 Peaks Team wearing the new Mammut Peaks Collection pro shell, pants and boots.
It was truly an unforgettable experience on the mountain.
Thanks to Mammut and the team.
It’s not often we get a day this clear and calm on Mt. Washington. More often sporting “the world’s worst weather,” it is very refreshing to be able to look around and see the surrounding peaks, ridges, and valleys. Not only was the weather perfect, the trail conditions were also stellar. Sara, Conor, and myself were able to make great time. Leaving the trail head at 7am, it was cold and still. The temperatures rose quickly and hiked to Gem Pool with few stops. We put our crampons on and headed up the steep Ammonusuc Trail, this is one of the steepest sections of trail in the White Mountains. But the trail was packed and held our crampons well. We were at Lakes of the Clouds before we knew it in perfect warm sunshine. As we approached the summit cone we encountered some hard snow and also some soft snow that we sunk into a little bit, this slowed us down at times but we were still moving steadily. We summitted at 12:30 in calm winds. We could see Lake Winnepesake, and into Vermont. On the way down the snow that made uphill travel tough, made downhill travel a pleasure as we plunge stepped down the hill. We returned to the trail head at 3pm and went to the Woodstock Station to eat, drink, and be merry. The Patriots we on the big screen earning their way to the Superbowl as we chatted about the day and made plans for the future.
Thanks to Sara and Conor for an awesome day on the mountain!
Matt Ritter MMG Guide