White Mountains New Years 2002

New Hampshire's White Mountains are among the most rugged, wild places a person can get to
in a day's drive from New York City.  Especially so in the winter.  Here just a sample
of the adventures one can have in little more than a long weekend.

The following twenty or so images show a few of my adventures along with Matt Powell
during a six day trip to New Hampshire's White Mountains between Christmas and New Years.
 [Not shown are 2 lb lobster dinners, Bluegrass jam secession and the view at 5:30 am when you go outside to pee...]

When we arrived in New Hampshire there was two feet of 
fresh snow on the ground.  This canceled our plans to climb a long ice gully due to high avalanche danger.  We looked at a nearby ice climbing crag instead, but it was covered with other climbers.  There is little as nasty as climbing below another ice climber, with all the debris raining down, so we went cross country skiing instead.   The second day we decided to hike two miles into the forest to a frozen waterfall.  Surely we would have space there to climb... 
...when we arrived we counted 20 climbers along this wall.

The good thing about our situation was that everyone shared their ropes--we all took turns climbing each other's routes. Here is a typical moderate route.  There was some snow,  but mostly ice of wildly differing textures, from brittle blue to soft (melting) grey.   This climber, like all of us wore  a helmet and climbed with two technical ice axes and 12 point crampons on his boots.  In vertical climbing only the 2 (or 4) front-most points on the boots  come into play.  The ropes on all these routes were anchored to one or more trees above the cliff.

Now this fellow is climbing something "challenging'. 
Notice that the ice stops below an overhang (we call
them a 'roof').   The climber has managed to get one 
ax in above the roof and will next try to place the
other ax up as well.  Ultimately he will have to 
get his feet up there too (hard!).

We set up our rope on the left side of this column. 
It was fantastic, all sort of delicate icicles and holes.
When we climbed on it, we could clearly see water flowing 
inside!  The fellow climbing in this picture is braver 
than us-- his side of the column was clearly melting, 
as chunks would occasionally come loose!

This is me thinking about climbing...

...and once I get going my form is ok!

After a day of ice, we head up into the northern Presidential Range to try to reach a 5000 foot peak

Hauling 45 lb loads through a winter wonderland,
up 3000 feet.  Hard work, but I am still smiling.

Arrive at Grey Nob hut, 4200 ft. elevation an hour and
half before sunset.  The cabin is insulated, but not heated, except for a wood stove which the caretaker runs for about two hours (6-8 pm).  It brings the temperature up to about 45 degrees for a while.   It is cozier than the outdoors.

4:15 pm.  To take this I have just ducked out of the trees into the open.  The cold is numbing and am managing to operate the camera with my mittens on.  This is looking west to Ridge of the Castles on Mount Jefferson,
only two miles away.

The caretaker gave us the weather report radioed from 
the summit of Mount Washington.  Temperature zero, 
winds 50-70 mph, diminishing later in the day. Sounded
cold, but the unlimited visibility was a rare opportunity.
We decide to go for the summit of Mt. Adams and if conditions allowed go on to Mt. Jefferson some two miles further.  This is the last sheltered spot below tree line.

Finally we break out above the trees.  This is what I especially love--  the long views.  Aside from occasional blowing snow, the visibility is nearly unlimited.   We later hear climbers say they can see the Adirondak Mountains 120 miles away today,

Now we are far above the trees out on an open ridge. 
We are following occasional rock cairns that mark the route.  Weather isn't too bad, with sunny sky, 20-30 mph wind and
only little blowing snow.  We are increasingly optimistic. 

We reached the col [small notch] between the ridge and the
main summit of Mount Adams.  Here was a nice surprise-- 
in the col there was almost no wind, we stop to eat and drink.

Near the summit of  Mount Adams.  Forgive the poor quality-- wind was gusting over fifty mph and we merely tagged 
the summit and headed down.

North view as we descended off the summit ridge of Mount Adams.  The ridge we came up is behind the flat rocky outcrop  in the center left of the image.

Given the conditions, we felt safe in attempting 
Mount Jefferson, about two miles away.   
Matt is in the foreground, Jefferson is directly above him.

Here I am on the Great Gulf trail, heading for Mt. Jefferson which is above me and a little left.  The route is slightly downhill to a notch in the ridge called "Edmund's Col."  Then we diagonal up and left across the snow fields (seen just over my head).  Above this the route goes up the summit cone.

Summit of Mount Jefferson, around 12:30.  Cold and catching high winds.  I, for one, was running a bit low on energy.  The climb up had been really exciting, the steeper snow fields reminded me of other mountains out west.   From here our route was more or less downhill (around two miles) back to the cabin.