White Mountains New Years 2002
Hampshire's White Mountains are among the most rugged, wild places a person
can get to
a day's drive from New York City. Especially so in the winter.
Here just a sample
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.
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
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
...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
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
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
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
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
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.