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kobaz


Dec 8, 2004, 8:24 PM
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Mount Washington in Winter
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I'm looking for people's experieces climbing Mount Washington (NH) in winter, specificaly around the end of december or beginning of january. What weather, temperature and wind conditions did you encounder, and on which route? What sort of gear did you bring? Would plastic boots be overkill? What was the length of time it took for an up and back one day ascent. And any other information would be helpful.


simzboardr


Dec 8, 2004, 8:49 PM
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hey man i didn't climb it but i know a bunch of guys that go up every year around xmas. They say gets to -20is, very strong winds (mt washington recorded 213 max windspeed i think or around there). Plastic boots are pretty common, lot of crampon work. Basic routes dont' need vertical ice axes but alpine axe is a good idea. I remember seeing pictures of them camping right under the tree line so two days i think.


girlclimb


Dec 8, 2004, 9:25 PM
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Mt washigton is known for the worst weather in the world, it is also ranked up there as one of north americas most deadly mountains. Plastic boats in winter arn't overkill they are almost necessity. Hiking up mount washigton in winter is an incredible experince, but you must be prepared and prepared for the worst. i tried hiking it last winter, we got above tree line but we had to turn around because of wind speeds sustained at around 100mph, not uncommon. Gettign to go above tree line was great but i am very happy we made the eductaed choice of not summiting. other then the wind the temps were actually great but that isn't always the case ;)
SO if you are serious about making this hike i would suggest talking to some guides, and doing alot of preplanning and making sure that you are ok with turning around... just read an article in a recent article of outdoor magazine or something like that all about mt washington if you hava chance to check it out.
be prepared
be safe
good luck
~K


rockclimber23


Dec 8, 2004, 9:35 PM
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Plastic boots a must, crampons a must, at least one ice axe depending on the route. Lions Head is the most popular, I'm going up that Jan. 8th with a buddy. Full Gore-tex suit isn't a bad idea either. If the weather is even marginal when you get to tree line TURN AROUND. If it's after 2pm TURN AROUND. There have been 134 deaths on Washington, the most in North America. We're going up and staying overnight, hoping for 2 summits, hoping being the key word. The hill might only be 6288 ft, but it's very deadly. Visiblilty can fall to zero very quickly, I've seen pictures of the observatory only 15ft away, looked like nothing was there. If you want to do one day, plan on 8 hours, we're starting at 7am to be safe, hoping to avoid the winds and the worst of the weather. Bringing a guide if you're not experienced is a very wise thing. Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Tim

"Climbing may be hard, but it's easier than growing up."


kobaz


Dec 8, 2004, 10:32 PM
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Thanks everyone for your info. Friend of mine invited me to do washington right after christmas and I was interested to know what to expect. The problem is I lack the gear that has been recommended, I do have crampons and ice axes but not plastic boots or a gore-tex suit (I only have a shell). I'm moving towards passing this one to start on some less intense mountains first.


changling


Dec 9, 2004, 12:55 AM
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You might be lucky and hit good weather too. I've only been there once so far and hiked the Lion's Head trail. The weather was incredibly nice and quite warm for February. You can see a photo from that day on my profile. I wore Sorel boots with strap on crampons. We were told that we must have a mountain axe but I only used trekking poles. As for clothing, long underwear, a fleece vest, and gore-tex jacket and pants. I only pulled out a parka once on the summit because it was pretty cold and windy there.

My bf with whom I climbed it with went the year before and he had to bail once he reached the tree line due to high winds and poor visibility.

If you are doing any ice routes, I can't help you there yet. Hoping to do my first ice route there this year.

Don't be scared off from climbing the mountain. Even if you end up having to bail, it'll be quite an experience. Just make sure you and your friend know where you are going. Since it'll be the holidays, there will probably be a lot of people around that can help you out. And dress warm! (Bring goggles or glasses too).

You can check out http://www.neice.com/ for conditions.

I forgot to add that the mountain can be climbed from the parking lot and back in a day. I did it from Harvard cabin (about 2 miles in I think) and it only took a few hours. Got back to the cabin at around dusk after a late start.


sim


Dec 9, 2004, 5:05 AM
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It doesnt sound like you're prepared for a technical route so I will assume you're going up Lions Head, which isn't a technical route. It is typically done in as a day trip, but the weather needs to be right. Have an alternative hike/climb planed if the weather isn't right. The visibility can be a major issue and getting disoriented up there can get you in serious trouble on a very cold mountain.

For plastic boots, crampons, and alpine axe you can rent in North Conway at EMS or IME. If youre not confident that your friend has the skills I believe both of these companies and possibly the AMC lead groups.

Here are some links to gear list that a couple of the guides that lead clients on the mountain have posted.

http://www.chauvinguides.com/eguip.htm
http://www.ime-usa.com/...ter/winter_gear.html


Partner jammer


Dec 9, 2004, 5:40 AM
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You can check the conditions here http://www.mountwashington.org/. Googleing Mount Washington, NH will give you more information the you will want. Winter survival skills training is highly recommended when encountering conditions that are life threatening.

Enjoy, but above all ... BE SAFE

Alan


thedesertnomad


Dec 9, 2004, 5:50 AM
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In reply to:
Thanks everyone for your info. Friend of mine invited me to do washington right after christmas and I was interested to know what to expect. The problem is I lack the gear that has been recommended, I do have crampons and ice axes but not plastic boots or a gore-tex suit (I only have a shell). I'm moving towards passing this one to start on some less intense mountains first.

I have taken some noobs with me up Wash (and other cold Mtns) and taken care of them quite well... provided your friend has tons of gear and you trust him with your life, you should be great. The gore-tex tuxedo is a nice plus and fleece... piles and piles of fleece!!!!! Just be prepared for sub-zero weather, extreme wind, and possible avalanche danger depending on route and weather. AWESOME AWESOME trip though !!!!!!


edge


Dec 9, 2004, 5:58 AM
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I have probably been up there over 50 times in the Winter, and have summitted each time I tried to, probably a dozen times. All of the info in this thread is pretty much right on, and if you are not properly equipped for anything, dont go.

On one trip I was above treeline looking for a missing climber in 100+ mph gusts and minus 25 degree temps. I frostbit my toes on that one.

Other times I have been up on the summit in February in full sun, no wind, just in a light polypro shirt. It really is hit or miss, but when it's good it is great, and when it is bad it is miserable X 10.

Avalanche conditions are always a concern, so use the link that handjammer48 gratiously provided.


urbansherpa


Dec 9, 2004, 6:10 AM
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I went up this past mid-January. We summitted Mt. Adams in a -90*F (you can confirm temp on Mt. Washington Obs site) Plastic boots were great but feet still got very cold at the Grey Knob hut. Caretaker didn't want to put any wood on ("saving for emergencies") We parked at Lowes, and found the trail up to be quick as there was no recent snowfall.
Took crampons, and snowshoes...used neither. Didn't need our axes, either. *This is not to say that you shouldn't bring them.
Also, above treeline we wore balaclavas and neoprene facemasks, along with goggles. Wear the thickest mitts you can find (and then a spare pair in case the wind steals one), and take those 'shakey-hand-warmer-things'. I remember taking my gloves off at the summit to take a photo. The condensation froze in my gloves, and my hands turned to wood in about 15 seconds. It took 45 mins to get my hands back to normal. We had the whole mountain to ourselves.

The day after we came back there was a death on the mountain. A fellow who was very competent in the mountains as a ranger died of hypothermia. see

http://www.cbsnews.com/...ter/main593823.shtml

*It was so cold that schools were closed due to near-record low temps!

The bottom line is that it will be very windy and very cold on the rockpile unless you hit a freak weather day. I've done several winter trips there, and the weather is always the same. You'll need a very warm sleeping bag, and clothing, and leave no skin uncovered. Nothing would be overkill as the weather is even more brutal than you imagine.

Hope this helps, not trying to scare you off.


sticky_fingers


Dec 9, 2004, 6:10 AM
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In reply to:
I'm looking for people's experieces climbing Mount Washington (NH) in winter, specificaly around the end of december or beginning of january. What weather, temperature and wind conditions did you encounder, and on which route? What sort of gear did you bring? Would plastic boots be overkill? What was the length of time it took for an up and back one day ascent. And any other information would be helpful.

Kobaz,
1. My friend and did it in early-mid February. If memory serves me it was around 0F at the base, and 60+mph gusts at the top. Complete white-out.
2. Definitely plastic boots.
3. Apart from lots of layers, Grivel 10pointers and an ice-axe were the only "gear" we brought. In thinking back, I wish I brought my whistle cuz my partner and i got separated and one point and yelling was useless.
4. We got to the base at around 7am, summitted around 11something, and were back sippin' on syrup around 2-3 i think (We took a different route going down)

check out my summit pic for more info

good luck


urbansherpa


Dec 9, 2004, 6:18 AM
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further to my post above....

Sorry, for clarity ...windchill was -90+F. Actual temp was 'only' -45F


Partner jammer


Dec 9, 2004, 6:24 AM
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Check out some of the winter pics at this site, but make sure the speakers are turned off, the music sucks ... http://www.mountwashington.com/pictures/index.html


Partner wideguy


Dec 9, 2004, 6:36 AM
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Here's another pic, borrowed from elsewhere on the site.
http://img.photobucket.com/...shingtoninwinter.jpg

And it can be much worse on an "average" day. Mt Washington is one of the "most Deadly" because ALOT of people look at it's 6,288 ft and think "Pfft, foothill." Those folks end up dead. (Not implying that the OP is one of them.)

Like Edge said, you may get a gorgeous day that will make you have a religious experience, or you may get 80 MPH winds, zero visibility and -40 temps. You may start with the former and have it quickly turn to the latter. Keep doing lots of research, pack for the worst, and hope for the best.

Enjoy!


rongoodman


Dec 9, 2004, 6:43 AM
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As others have mentioned, it's entirely weather dependent. Be aware that the current Lions Head winter trail is very steep in a couple of spots, and deserves some caution, especially if it's icy rather than snow-covered. If you're concerned about doing it on your own, talk to EMS in town about a guided trip. You'll be able to enjoy the day with an experienced person and probably learn quite a bit along the way.


rockclimber23


Dec 9, 2004, 9:58 AM
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Keep in mind as well that last year was unreal with the cold weather, it was un natural. I live in Concord, NH and we went DAYS without seeing the temps climb above +5. So lets hope this winter is tad more mild, eh?



Cheers,
Tim


tradmanclimbs


Dec 9, 2004, 10:50 AM
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Even in a normal winter it is a diferent world on the rockpile. the last time I was up in hunningtons we turnarround at the bottom of odels due to no visibility and high winds. gusts on the summit were hitting 157 mph. I felt pretty good about being able to climb odels ok but it was a thin snow year so I had a bad feeling about decending south gully. it may have been rocky/thin ice?? I know I did not want to go up on the alpine garden in that wind. Lions head may be easy snow, deadly avalanch hazard, steep icey rock?? all depends on the conditions. Plastic boots, decent crampons. have an ice ax and KNOW how to use it. have an efeciant layering system with extra mittens and heat packs. be in shape and have fun.


paulraphael


Dec 10, 2004, 9:02 AM
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In reply to:
Like Edge said, you may get a gorgeous day that will make you have a religious experience, or you may get 80 MPH winds, zero visibility and -40 temps.

So it sounds like, if the weather turns you might have a different KIND of religious experience ;)

I don't think anyone doubts the weather is crazy on Mt. Washington, but it's pure hyperbole to call it the worst weather in the world. It might be worst weather in an easily-accesible spot in a temperate climate, or maybe even the worst weather where there's a permanent weather station. But to think that it's worse than parts of Alaska, Siberia, or Antarctica is just silly. Denali has weather in the SUMMER that rivals the worst of Mt. Washington's winter weather. If we don't have accurate data on Denali's winter weather, it's because hardly anyone ever goes to witness it!


brad84


Dec 10, 2004, 9:17 AM
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i thrive on bad conditions.

that makes washington an excellent alpine playground for me.

doubles are not a bad idea, ive been using super alpinista's (singles) and theyve faired pretty well.

last weekend we did north gully which is quite a fine route w/ a nice first ice pitch then alot of snow/ice to be climbed above. oh yeah, watch for avalanches, check the board at harvard cabin on your way up. IME of north conway posts as well.

like everyone else has said, washington can be a big deal. dont underestimate it.

enjoy & be safe.


ambler


Dec 10, 2004, 9:18 AM
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Fitness is something that hasn't been mentioned yet, but it can matter a lot too. Gives you a better chance to top out and get down before dark, with reserves left to cope with the unexpected.


Partner jammer


Dec 10, 2004, 9:28 AM
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In reply to:
*snip*
I don't think anyone doubts the weather is crazy on Mt. Washington, but it's pure hyperbole to call it the worst weather in the world. *snip*

Check it out ...
Some Facts about Mount Washington

"Home of the World's Worst Weather"


Mount Washington presents the most severe combinations of wind, cold, icing and storminess available anywhere in the world where people are on hand to take measurements. The summit lies in the path of the principal storm tracks and air mass routes affecting the northeastern United States, and it is, because of its elevation, biologically and ecologically similar to the subarctic zone.

Elevation: 6,288 feet
Latitude: 44 16' N
Longitude: 71 18' W
Highest wind (world record, April 12, 1934): 231 MPH
Average wind velocity for the year: 35.3 MPH
Lowest temperature (state record, January 1934): -47F
Highest temperature (August 1975, June 2003): 72F
Average temperature for the year: 26.5F
Average annual snowfall: 256 inches
Maximum snowfall in a season (1968-69): 566.4 inches
Maximum snowfall in a calendar year (1969) 495.2 inches
Winds exceed hurricane force (75 MPH) on an average of 104 days a year
The summit is in the clouds about 60% of the time
Fog is reported (for at least part of the day) over 300 days a year
http://www.mountwashington.org


changling


Dec 10, 2004, 10:15 AM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
*snip*
I don't think anyone doubts the weather is crazy on Mt. Washington, but it's pure hyperbole to call it the worst weather in the world. *snip*

Check it out ...
Some Facts about Mount Washington

"Home of the World's Worst Weather"


Mount Washington presents the most severe combinations of wind, cold, icing and storminess available anywhere in the world where people are on hand to take measurements.

That's exactly what the critics are saying. The only reason they says it's the worst weather is because people are there to record it. I'm sure other places have seen worse weather, but people aren't there to put in on record.


paulraphael


Dec 10, 2004, 2:43 PM
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This could change ... it looks like there's now a weather station on denali at close to 19,000 feet. it's there for climate change research, so I don't know if they're publishing record information.

A previous attempt at a weather station recorded 188mph winds before the device was destroyed in january 2003, 6 months after installation ... presumeably by the wind.

Denali Park records (from 14,000 feet BELOW the summit):
low temperature: -54F
Snowfall: 173"


refugee


Dec 10, 2004, 3:21 PM
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I think Mt. Wash is a good first peak to do if only because of the access, the number of people who will also be on the mountain, and that it is so well monitored that should something go wrong, you'll likely see a well-organized rescue.

As far as "gear" goes, the weather is so different from day to day that you could be up there in January in nothing more than a light fleece.

You DON"T need plastic boots or a gore-tex shell. You DO need crampons, and one ice axe. If no axe, then ski poles. Because you've never done this sort of thing, don't wear GoreTex pants because you'll put three holes in your pants with crampons.

Basically, prepare, but don't over prepare. Too much shit will ensure that you won't make the summit.

Have fun!

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