Last Summer a privately owned section of my favorite hill was pretty much clear cut with a few hardwoods left behind. This was an area of the hill that I really hadn’t accessed much before. The spring snow pack was in peel-away corn mode today, with an inch of fresh snow on it that dropped this morning from a squall. The squall came through at the border between a cold front and a warm front, and although it was pretty windy still, this afternoon was on the warm side of the border. It was in the mid 40s as I skinned up. I didn’t have much time so I only planned on one run.
For the run I only skinned up to the top of the timber cut, peeled off my climbing skins and dropped in for some really fun turns
Although most of it was pretty plush there were a few spots where I had to ski through a menagerie of snow snakes
At the bottom I wanted more, so I skinned back up my same tracks. But this time I skinned all the way up to the northern ridge of the mountain.
At the ridge there is some natural little meadows that were fun. Ive hiked through this area several time before but never skied here
There’s also a few Glacial Eratic Boulders that are neat too.
After skipping through the meadows on my skis I bushwhacked my way through some brush to the area of the timber cut. It once again did not disappoint.
Its that time of the year again for early bird specials. I have had a Pats Peak Pass for several seasons now and am shopping for next season now. I have always preferred Pats Peak. However I am leaning toward Crotched right now because like many loyal locals I am frustrated by the Pat’s Peak Capital Improvement Plan’s lack of a faster lift to the summit and the fact that their operating schedule is set in stone no matter how stellar conditions are. Last year they closed on Easter with 100% coverage and beautiful conditions, and this year they didn’t start night skiing until after Christmas despite some of the best early season snow storms, and powder skiing in years.
Crotched Mountain Resorts Early offers:
Pats Peak Early offers:
Pats Peak is 26 minutes from my house and Crotched is 33 minutes from my house so distance isn’t a deal breaker considering Crotched has a faster lift.
This blog has promoted and reviewed several companies in the past in exchange for gear, Columbia being the largest company I’ve done gear testing for. It would make my decision easier if one of the Resorts would sponsor my 2014-15 seasons pass.
A couple of weeks ago I summited Uncanoonuc for the 499th time in my personal quest for 1000. I wanted to do something special for #500 so I decided to forego climbing Uncanoonuc until I had a mild day. Today it was sunny and in the 40’s and I had not yet taken my 6 month old son on a proper hike yet. I loaded him into the Kelty Carrier and headed up the Mountain for #500. Every time I looked back at him on the way up he had this look on his face like “Daddy, what are we doing?” And at no time did he fuss, in fact he was comfortable and warm enough that he fell asleep on the way down. I had to balance speed with not jostling him around too much and it took me 42 minutes round trip which was apparently fast enough to pass several people on the way up and down. This was the kind of experience that was as amazing as I imagined it might be and I look forward to many more hikes with my son.
Loading my pack:
Going up the Red Dot Trail
At the Summit
I climbed the local hill 4 times this week bringing my grand total of Mt U summits to 499. My next trip will be a major milestone in my quest to climb it 1000 times. Monday I met Andrew at 8am and made 2 runs. Temps were in the teens. There was a spotty 4 inches of blower on a breakable crust over 2 feet of unconsolidated powder. Conditions were tricky, we were both on Icelantic Nomad skis which are pretty wide so we were able to float and get a few good turns here and there but most of the bluebird day was spent making survival turns in the crust. The first run was down the TP trail which takes you far away from your car. The climb back up became frustrating very quickly when one of my climbing skins slipped off and got covered with the cold sugar snow and refused to stick again no matter how much I scraped them off on my ski edge. Finally after tensioning my tail clips so tight I thought the straps might break I got them to stay on for the climb. The second run was down the G which had a harder crust on it and was rutted and postholed up by snowshoers, It wasn’t the best run but it was low angle and it took us back to our cars.
Nomads Convention on the Summit:
10 fresh inches of fluff fell on tuesday and it was snowing again Wednesday. The crust was dead and buried! I left work a little early and drove home in a squall that dropped another 3 inches. I grabbed my AT skis (with freshly re-glued skins) and my split board this time. In the parking lot I met Jonathan who was snow shoeing up with his board. We chatted a bit and then met again at the summit, and then descended different trails.
Skinning up in the squall:
The G was virgin pow for my run alone on skis:
After my first run and back at the lot I converted to my Splitboard and ascended with Jon for another run. This time we rode together for the descent. On both days in the same spot there was a heard of 5 Deer. Jon was super close to one of the Deer at one point while riding
Jonathan Dropping in on SOG: Jon had a Gopro and shot some vid and edited it. It shows how awesome conditions were. Enjoy. The Deer run across at 3:10
Tim, Paul and I actually all got together for once on Saturday and climbed some ice in Mason NH. The weather was pretty much perfect for climbing, right around the freezing mark. I only had my phone with me so the pictures and video didn’t come out that great.
The Ice Fall
Paul: Transitioning from the over hanging rock to the ice on a mixed route
Not being a celebrator of Christmas I have traditionally used the day off on 12/25 as a day to go for my first winter season hike, and I have found great conditions up high several times before on Christmas Day. Mt Washington Hike 12/25/09 was one of my favorite hikes ever. Yesterday was bitterly cold but the winds dropped off for a little window of time affording Tim and I the opportunity to catch some amazing views as we ascended the west side of Mt Washington.
I was surprised at how little snow there was but there was a lot of ice. We both had mountaineering boots on so crampons were the preferred method of traction and we ended up needing them most of the trip. After 8 hours of walking on rock and ice with crampons my blisters looked like I had maraschino cherries growing out of the outside of my big toes. Personally I have a policy of not going above tree line in the Presidentials in the winter without double boots but with warm enough boots you probably could have got away with microspikes for most of this trip except for on the upper half of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The trail had a lot of water ice on it some of which required front pointing.
When we got to Lake of the Clouds Hut the sun started to shine real bright offsetting the -0 temps and the wind was down in the 10 mph range
At LOC I put on a warmer pair of gloves, chugged some water, scarfed down a PB&J and showed Tim the Dungeon. We then headed up to the summit climbing mostly on snow covered rocks. The Summit weather was fantastic Clear, Low winds, and -10 degrees.
They had Christmas lights on the summit sign which I accidentally got tangled up in with my crampons but I didn’t get electrocuted.
I thought about taking Jewell Trail Down and probably would have wanted to if there was snow to walk on, but decided against spending all that extra time on the rocky the ridge. So we returned the way we came, meeting up with several ascending parties on the way down. One man seemed very unprepared and very behind schedule. I hope he made it out ok.
We got back to our car around 3pm and went down to Fabyans for Beer and a burger. We had caught a window of perfect winter hiking weather. Looking at the observatory’s web page later showed the Winds were in the 60MPH range up until about an hour before we came above tree line and returned to the 60MPH range shortly after we descended.
After I found the Pumpelly Cave the natural next point of interest was The Eagles Nest. Although the Pumpelly Cave is a place that’s location should be kept secret I don’t think the Eagles Nest is in the same Blog Free Zone category due to the fact that there is a ATV trail that goes all the way to the shelter, and that the shelter has a lock on the door to keep the public out. If whoever maintains this shelter didn’t want people finding it they should not have put a roof on it that is very easy to spot on Google Earth. Although the Eagles Nest is a much nicer shelter than the Pumpelly , its low elevation, weather tightness, lock on the door and amenities make it much less of a wild and adventurous place to visit, it is more like a Doomsday Prepper’s Bunker than a Bothy Shelter.
We accessed the shelter by bushwhacking west from the Dublin Trail. The Dublin trail was ice covered and we needed to use our Micro Spikes to stay on the tread way. We could have walked on the side of the trail without traction, but we didn’t want to tear up the sides of the trail.
When we had climbed to about 2200 feet we left the trail and traversed up hill to the west. We bushwhacked around for a little bit and missed the shelter by about 100 feet high to the east (according to my GPS track I looked at later) In our wandering we climbed too high and ended up looping back to the trail around 2300 feet. I started to wonder if we were going to find it after missing it on the first try. We took another crack at it, and went a little further West this time and dropped down in elevation to about 2200’ at this point we started to see saw cut trees on the side of a small crag, we scrambled up the crag and found ourselves in the front yard of the shelter. There was a fire pit, a picnic table and a bunch of firewood.
The Eagle’s Nest
Jeremy Looking in the Frosty Window:
Both of us had to be back home by noon so we didn’t have time to go bag the summit. So we started to descend the ATV trail from the shelter to see where it went. At first it seemed to be taking us in the right direction but then it started to go a little further west than we wanted to be going to get back to our car, so we bushwhacked back through the woods to the east until we rejoined the Dublin Trail. There were lots of hunters parked on Old Troy Rd so it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to be off the hiking trail if we had needed to bushwhack any lower in elevation.
I was glad the trip was a success and that another item on my Monadnock bucket list is checked off.
Jeremy and Judson and Me and Kodie went for a hike today in Marjory Swope Park in Concord NH
Our 2 miles of GPS Tracks:
Judson was tired out at first.
But Kodie had plenty of energy.
Some of Kodies energy must have worn off on Judson, cause Judson caught a second wind and we made it up to the top of the hill pretty quick. There was a nice view of Penacook Lake and a nice Bench. We found a bunch of wintergreen and Tea Berry near the lookout. The berries were delicious.
We then followed the trail to the summit.
On the summit there was an old foundation for a fire tower
We then followed the trail back to the car. It was a 2 mile hike on a chilly 30 degree fall day and we all had fun.