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Mount Washington winter advise

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Dalton Beardsley · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Anyone have any helpful trip planning info or general information for climbing or hiking up mount washington in the winter?

Alissa Doherty · · Boston, MA · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 105

Hiking Mt. Washington and climbing Mt. Washington in the winter are pretty different objectives. 

If you are hiking it in the winter, you should understand the necessary gear and choose your hiking day based off of the weather forecast from the Mt. Washington observatory. This is inconvenient because you won't have a reliable forecast until about 24 hours beforehand but it is the best way to stay out of trouble and have a good experience. Hikers who are committed to going a certain day or weekend are bound to run into problems--there have been far too many tragic incidents in the winter due to going out in poor weather conditions. Though it is low elevation and accessible, Mt. Washington can be one of the most inhospitable and dangerous environments in the lower 48. It's not a good first winter hike so do trial runs to dial in your gear on less committing objectives (Mt. Monadnock would be great for a new winter hiker). A winter hiking program like this might be wise if you're into that sort of thing.

If you are climbing Mt. Washington in the winter, you should have a few seasons of ice climbing under your belt or a partner with the experience and desire to lead you. If you do not already ice climb, the best bet is to go with a guided service like IME or REI based out of North Conway. If you do ice climb, check the avalanche forecast and understand all the risks that Mt. Washington poses. There have been many injuries and fatalities climbing Mt. Washington's gullies by experienced and inexperienced climbers alike.

Ice4life · · US · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 330

The hiking route and climbing route are two separate routes. If you go up the lions head winter trail you follow the main trail and head through the woods, basic mountaineering stuff like crampons and axe. If it's not a whiteout, you can follow the Carins. If it is a whiteout, I'd just turn back or wait it out in the treeline.

If you're going up Huntington ravine, you go right and then follow it to the base of all the climbs with Pinnacle gully staring at yah dead ahead. It's definitely easy to get in over your head with weather if you didn't plan well. 

I always carry standard warm clothing for a day out ice climbing plus an extra set of baselayers to change into at the base right before the climb, but then again, I sweat a ton and have to, otherwise I freeze at belays...

I'd say bring what you would for mountaineering, and if you haven't had much experience with that, there's other places to get experience. Mt Washington can turn bad fast if you're not on your game. The low elevation compared to out west shouldn't be taken lightly.

Mark NH · · 03053 · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

The best advice I can give you - if you’re inexperienced and whether you want to hike or climb Mt Washington - hire a guide. Mt Washington will kill you if you make one poor decision. There’s plenty of guiding services in the area.

Joe Garibay · · Ventura, Ca · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 96

Thought you were going to advise us of the situation up there. Instead you seek to take advice. 

Mike Palasek · · Columbus, OH · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 0

8th mountain highest in fatalities, Everest is 7th. Agree with all the wisdom above. I was guided on my 1st 2 attempts. Have summited 4x, out of 7 times on the mountain. My friend was in a party of climbers caught in an avalanche. 3 of his party fell 900'. One of those who fell had summited Everest twice! Very dangerous. Go with a guide or an experienced partner.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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