Peak(s):  Mt. Washington - 6,288 feet
Date Posted:  03/07/2013
Date Climbed:   02/16/2013
Author:  jtrenary1
 Don't let the size of this peak fool you  

Here is as short of trip report as I can give on my recent Presidential range trip in New Hampshire. I just wanted to share with the 14er community another amazing mountain range in the US that I think is underestimated and under acknowledged. We were going to do the full thing from start to finnish which is about 25 miles and would take Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Over the Presidential traverse you summit roughly 7 or 8 peaks including Mt. Washington. We did a final weather check Saturday morning around 4 am before we left and they had changed drastically from the previous day. Both NOAA and the Mt. Washington weather observatory were predicting winds to come in on Sunday increasing to sustained 100 mph winds by noon gusting up to 145 mph with temperatures dropping over night to -20 F and continuing through Monday (wind chills of -65 to -80). Sooooo, we realized that staying up there on Sunday and Monday absolutely was not an option, lol. We decided to take the standard winter mountaineering route of Mt. Washington, which worked out fine because the route was more extreme and we got a decent view as the clouds broke in the afternoon (Sunday and Monday were going to be socked in). Image Image Our route had about 2000 feet of front pointing in two sections: the first being 1200 ft over 1200 ft out of the trees Image Image Imageand the second section being about 800 ft over 1000 ft. Image Image Image We had planned to cross over the other side of Mt. Washington and skirt down to the tree line to set camp for the night so we could get out early Sunday morning. However, as we descended we entered into some thick clouds and it started snowing. About dusk we lost sight of the cairns going forward. We stopped and spent about 30 minutes back tracking and looking around for the right route to no avail. The cairns were every 20 feet and then we non existant (avalanche maybe?). Then it dawned on me: we should not be screwing around looking for this route with minimal visibility while it's almost dark with snow falling that could obscure our tracks especially with the nasty weather that was coming on Sunday. Best case senario if we stayed up there we would have bailed into the trees and spent days waiting to get out or worst case senario we would have not made it off the mountain. So there was no argument that we needed to re-summit Mt. Washington before our tracks disappeared and head back to the car that night. Needless to say it made for a rather exhausting day considering we had carried 45 lb packs with over night gear up and down the mountain. As we went back over Mt. Washington we came out of the clouds and ended up getting full views of the Presidential range under the moon light. We also turned around to see the dense snowy clouds we were trying to navigate in.Image
Looked down into the snowy sea of clouds as we re-summit Mt. Washington.
14 miles 5,200 ft of elevation gain over 12 hours of hiking/climbing. Next day we did about a half day of snowshoeing. The White Mountains of New Hampshire really impressed me and I will be going back. All the decisions and changes in plans were definitely for the better, smartly made and I was very satisfied with out trip (first successful winter ascent on a serious mountain!). Image If you're unfamiliar with Mt. Washington and think I'm bsing ... look it up.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great report and pics!
03/07/2013 21:03
Looks like you guys had a great day. And you're damn straight about not underestimating that place--my worst epic ever was on that mountain!


Home sweet home...
03/07/2013 21:26
I love me some fourteeners but the Presidential Range can rival the Colorado mountains for beauty, meanness, and epic adventures any day! Thanks for the great report-every once in a while I like to revisit New England!

Steve Climber

No joke!
05/09/2014 12:26
This is one I look forward to climbing one day. Was reading on wind gust speeds on top...


The winds are no joke, nice work
03/07/2013 22:30
231 mph back in 1934. Good decision to get out of dodge when you did. Sounds like a fun adventure in not so ideal conditions. 5200 feet with no switchbacks is a beast day. I remember doing this as an overnighter back in college and had no clue there was a train to the summit. With that being said, White Mountains, despite being so close to the congestion of the eastern seaboard, never seemed as infested with the riff raff of the Rockies.

Thanks for the report from the Northeast.


03/07/2013 23:34
Mt. Washington is serious business, that's for sure. In spite of my handful of winter 14ers, I'm still a bit freaked out by the thought of doing Mt. Washington as a winter climb! Even my first time up Franconia Ridge in winter almost could've been my last...the air up there is thicker, but it's otherwise every bit as dangerous as the Rockies. Nice work getting her in not-ideal conditions (who am I kidding--that describes every day up there this time of year!) ;)

If you haven't done the Presi Traverse, save it for summer and wait for a good weather window. It's not as badass that way, but it's a fantastic trip nonetheless, and is most definitely a challenge. 9000'+ of gain in a day over jagged rocks is exhausting, no matter the altitude!


Fun Ridge!
03/08/2013 15:59
The Presidential Ridge is a fun ridge, but in winter it would certainly take on much different, more severe conditions. Yes, they are not to be taken for granted! They used to have a video at the station showing the sustained, windy conditions at the Wash summit. It showed two people, one sitting out at a terrace cafe table and another ”server” who would bring out cereal, milk, etc and it would all just blow away right past them. It was a riot to watch! But it demonstrated the severe conditions that frequently occurs there, summer or winter.

One thing about the Whites, they either go up or down. Rarely are there gradual switchbacks easing the slope. Great place to hike! Thanks for sharing your experience and great job in getting it done!


Great report
03/08/2013 17:16
I've done that climb twice in winter and your photos jogged some great memories. I agree with the post above, your abort decision was a wise one, no place to be in awful weather. Congrats!


Thank you
03/09/2013 05:28
I knew about the winds and ice climbs on Washington but I guess I never pieced together how cool of a mountain it really was.

Great job to you guys in some pretty raunchy looking conditions.

Cool Hand Luke

Not Without Peril
03/14/2013 01:33
Just got the book ”Not Without Peril” in the mail, looking forward to reading more about Mt. Washington. Nice TR on a peak that does not get mentioned much in CO.

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