help dissuade my brother from a winter climb idea


Original Post
Nathaniel Dray · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 20

My younger brother (22), who is very fit but NOT a climber or mountaineer, has decided to hike Mount Washington with one friend (apparently who is experienced) on New Years Day. My brother has never put on crampons, used an ice axe, has no orienteering skills or done anything remotely resembling winter mountaineering. His knees are also not 100% after an injury this summer that occurred while hiking.

The forecast as of now predicts 10 degree temps, 60mph winds and 65% chance of precipitation on the mountain. Having hiked Washington myself many times (our family is from MA), and having lived in the Rockies in Colorado for the last four years, I have a healthy respect for scary winter conditions and Mt. Washington itself.

If any experienced mountaineers, ice climbers or general hearty New Englanders want to chime in with their thoughts on this idea I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

Kurt G. · · Reading, PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 85

show him this....

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/12/27/massachusetts-hiker-found-dead-after-christmas-eve-hike-white-mountains/GpSjIDMoAP09hVOMlcbWlO/story.html

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

AVI danger is going to be stupid high up there after this storm!

Tradster · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

I did Mt Washington in winter: 12 degrees with 70 mph winds that day. My partner got severe frostbite on his face because he didn't put his balaclava down all the way even when I told him his red face wasn't from a sunburn. He really doesn't have the skill set to do it safely. White outs and hypothermia and frostbite could be a trifecta of death. Just because his partner is competent doesn't count. It is a very dangerous place in the winter.

Dan L. · · Saratoga Springs, New York · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 0

Hey,

I thought I'd chime in. Mount Washington is an intense mountain and certainly should not be the first on a list of objectives for a new mountaineer. Many people die each year (some are experienced hikers) due to objective hazards such as avalanches ( outsideonline.com/2081256/w...). Mountains on the west tend to be thought of as harder, as the elevation is much higher, but the prominences are similar to some in the east. With the most recent snow fall in the whites, I would be seriously worried of an avalanche on the route. If you don't know how to avoid avalanche terrain and are just focused on getting to the top, this is surely a way to seriously injured.

My 2 cents: Don't do it. do another peak or something smaller. It will be far more enjoyable and you'll have a much much higher chance of surviving.

Also, if you do get in trouble and require a rescue, you'll be the laughing stock of the outdoor community. You'll be the person who tried to do the toughest mountain in the east, with no experience, and required others to put THEIR lives on the line to save yours.

Thanks,

Dan

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40

I'm not sure I'm qualified to tell anyone when to go but I like when high pressure is parked over the MWV for a few days. That forecast sounds like an epic in the making,

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
Nathaniel Dray wrote:My younger brother (22), who is very fit but NOT a climber or mountaineer, has decided to hike Mount Washington with one friend (apparently who is experienced) on New Years Day. My brother has never put on crampons, used an ice axe, has no orienteering skills or done anything remotely resembling winter mountaineering. His knees are also not 100% after an injury this summer that occurred while hiking. The forecast as of now predicts 9 degree temps, 60mph winds and 90% chance of precipitation on the mountain. Having hiked Washington myself many times (our family is from MA), and having lived in the Rockies in Colorado for the last four years, I have a healthy respect for scary winter conditions and Mt. Washington itself. If any experienced mountaineers, ice climbers or general hearty New Englanders want to chime in on why my brother should not undertake this fantasy of his I'd appreciate it. Thanks!
Clearly, the "friend" is not experienced, or they would at least have talked through all this with your bro.

22 isn't much inclined to listen to anyone, so don't even try to be right, even if you are. It might be the time to just shock the hell out of him, tell him how much you love him, and beg him not to do this.

Best wishes, and good luck. I'm the mom, and had to keep my worries to myself since he was 17-18ish. Fortunately, my guy has really good judgement and is pretty careful, so it's been okay.

OLH
pjr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

Mount Washington is under an avalanche watch.
http://www.wmur.com/article/areas-of-mount-washington-under-avalanche-watch-before-storm/8544332

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,361

Are your brother and their friend good people? You know... thin the herd...

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,361
Old lady H wrote: Clearly, the "friend" is not experienced, or they would at least have talked through all this with your bro.
Agree 100%, there seems to be a lot of self-proclaimed experts in the hiking community nowadays. The fact is - knowing when to stay home is as much a skill as walking uphill when conditions are at their worse.

Someone died up there last winter (Pres range, not sure exactly which peak), went out solo in similar conditions. It happens. I'm sure they thought they were 'experienced' too.
C Miller · · CA · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 52,420

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/02/us/death-on-mount-washington-price-of-a-rescue-is-debated.html

Luc-514 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 8,438

Been there during a complete white-out and an ice-storm trying to do the northern traverse.
We stopped after Washington, heading to Clay we decided not to risk ourselves walking off a cliff we couldn't see.
Hunkered down near the cog railway we found a bowl of snow deep enough to cut out blocks for a wall, planted the ledge tent in the hole to wait out the weather.
Morning came with blue skies, a severely damaged Mountain Hardwear prototype expedition tent.
We had an inch of solid ice coating everything, both sleeping bags damp, on the way back we checked the summit log, 90mph winds, gusts to 110+mph. Being stuck outside without proper knowledge and equipment would have been deadly.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,407

I know nothing about avalanche prediction. I'd heed the forecasts, watching them closely as the day of the climb approached.

Outside of that, how experienced is his partner? Is "Let's turn around" in his vocabulary?

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

YGD. No, really...

wivanoff · · Northeast, USA · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 392

I've climbed most of New Hampshire's 4000 footers - all in winter. It took 5 attempts before I finally got on top of Mt. Washington.

I would not recommend that as his first winter hike.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

Will your brother even see, or read, these responses?

Kurt G. · · Reading, PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 85

also is there any chance of dissuading his "experienced" friend? obviously your brother won't go if his friend doesn't

Dirt Squirrel · · Golden , co · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Well, experience comes from living through mistakes... I say encourage him. He'll go either way. I would a the very minimum guide him towards a few gps map apps, make sure he has warm clothes and encourage him to develop a travel plan. FYI, Lions head is a little hard to get lost on.

Tradster · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0
Dirt Squirrel wrote:Well, experience comes from living through mistakes... I say encourage him. He'll go either way. I would a the very minimum guide him towards a few gps map apps, make sure he has warm clothes and encourage him to develop a travel plan. FYI, Lions head is a little hard to get lost on.
Lions Head could be invisible in storm conditions like a white out. GPS won't do much if avalanche conditions exist, which the locals are currently saying is the case. With your advice, here's hoping he can dig a snow cave and survive in it until rescue folks find him.

Let him waste his 'good luck chits' on this endeavor and this could be his last adventure.
KevinCO · · Loveland, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 55
C Miller wrote:http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/02/us/death-on-mount-washington-price-of-a-rescue-is-debated.html
Hugh Herr lost his feet trying to climb Washington. Although he engineered prosthetics (and helped other amputees) and went on to climb at a high level, he always felt guilty that he was responsible for the death of one of his rescuer.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0

What if his "experienced friend" gets injured or becomes hypothermic? It is now up to your totally unqualified, clueless brother to get the team out of trouble.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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