Click for Mount Washington, New Hampshire Forecast

Mt. Washington Temp.
Click pic for forecast.

...More Topics...

 

 

Get Firefox!

Backcountry ski and snowboard gear, camping

Donate towards my web hosting bill!

Made with CSS

Validated by W3C

       
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Oct 20, 2018 6:57 am



Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] 
 Katahdin 3/8/2016 
Author Message
Sovereign Woodsman
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:40 pm
Posts: 1943
Reply with quote
 Katahdin 3/8/2016
On Saturday, we all drove up to Millinocket and ate dinner and spent the night at Ruthie's. Decent food, decent prices, clean, if dated, accomodations. I can recommend the fried smelt dinner. Between our arrival and dinner, we had some time to kill, so we drove the pothole highway a/k/a The Golden Road to Abol Bridge to preview the parking situation and judge conditions for skiing. We were treated to some blue sky views followed by some alpine glow while there. The long-range forecast suggested that Tuesday would be the better of the two summit days we had baked into our schedule.

Image
Preview of Katahdin from Abol Bridge over West Branch Penobscot River

After breakfast on Sunday, we drove the pothole highway again, parking in the standard place, and carrying our sleds and skis over the pavement and ice until we found snow on the trail. It took us 5.5 hours or so to traverse the Abol Trail, Tote Road, and Roaring Brook Road, arriving at the Roaring Brook Bunkhouse around 3PM. There were two ice climbers on the way as well, and we shared the space and dinner time conversations with them. As he did every day, Ranger Greg showed up late afternoon to see what plans people had, check the paperwork, and give us the weather forecast. At this point, it seemed like Tuesday was still the summit day as Monday was forecast to snow an inch with higher winds.

Image
Bottom of Katahdin visible over Helon Taylor Pond

When we got up Monday, it was still clear out and rather than remain cooped up in the bunkhouse, we explored the Sandy Stream Pond area and headed up South Turner. Part way up, the snow started falling and at treeline, it was blowing fairly hard and snowing harder so we took like 1 picture and booked it back down to the trees. There was close to three feet of snow in places (like on the bridges over the streams), and it looked like nobody had been there in a while as we sunk 12-18" in places even in snowshoes.

Image
View from Fisherman's Rock on Sandy Stream Pond

Shortly after our return, three new bunkmates appeared. I had been contacted by one of them in advance. They planned to spend one night at Roaring Brook and then go on to lean-tos at Chimney Pond. On schedule, Ranger Greg appeared, with the forecast - confirming Tuesday was the only likely summit day of the next three. He also informed us that the 4 inches (not 1) at Roaring Brook was more like 6-8" at Chimney Pond. Given the likelyhood of avalanches, the recommended route was out-and-back via Hamlin Ridge. After some discussion, the new bunkmates decided to accept the offer of a lean-to at Roaring Brook so they could make a summit push with or behind us on Tuesday, allowing one of them to complete the NEHH in winter. Jason would also be finishing a single-season winter 67 and George his Winter 115.

Image
Pamola, Chimney, Knife Edge, South Peak and Baxter Peak materializing from the clouds

Tuesday AM the 9 of us set out for the 13-mile, 6600-foot trip by headlamp at 05:00. By the time we reached the Northwest Basin Trail, we found that the predicted inch from Monday had indeed turned into a trail breaking affair, albeit not a very long one to treeline on Hamlin Ridge. Along the ridge itself, Baxter Peak appeared and disappeared as the clouds slowly made their way out. Once well above the trees, the snowshoes and poles were stowed and replaced by crampons and ice axes.

Image
Me on Hamlin Peak

Hamlin was largely in the clouds for our early crossing, providing limited views of the surrounding landscapes, complete with cornices, ice, and steep snowfields leading into the north basin. Bundled up and goggled up, we turned into the wind and descended into the Saddle Col.

Image
Approaching The Saddle

On the way down, the clouds moved high enough to give us dramatic views of Baxter Peak, the ponds below the basins, and North and South Turner. Everything to the west (Brothers, Fort, Coe) was completely covered up. I probably took 1/3 of the photos for today between the two peaks, with the remaining ones from the summit of Baxter.

Image
Looking back to Hamlin

We did peer down the Saddle Trail and agreed it was a good idea to skip it, and a good idea to not use it even in a bail-out scenario. With the weather conditions we had, as long as nobody got hurt, a bail-out seemed very unlikely. We did see the other party of three summit Hamlin Peak and being their descent while we were approaching Baxter. We also spotted the two ice climbers from the first night - they bailed out on Cilley-Barber, opting instead to simul-climb the Cathedral Trail and cross the Knife Edge and descend the Dudley Trail. They waved :)

Image
Me on Baxter Peak

Ranger Greg told us that about 1/3 of the people who plan to climb Katahdin actually make it. We were privileged enough to enjoy a dramatic sky combined with temps and wind speeds in the upper 20s. This allowed us to enjoy the summit by ourselves for almost 30 minutes. Some ventured part way to South Peak, others enjoyed the views, and Jason and George celebrated their winter accomplishments. Jason was kind enough to make a NEHH Winter sign for the other party on the back of his SSW 67 sign, and gave it to them in passing on our way down.

Image
South Peak

As we returned to Hamlin, we congratulated our bunkhouse mates on their winter accomplishments and then spent another 30 minutes sunbathing, eating, hydrating and talking in the Saddle Col, before re-climbing the now-sunny Hamlin Peak. Good buttsliding got us back down to the Chimney Pond trail where we decided to pay Ranger Greg a visit and enjoy the view from the bottom, so-to-speak.

Image
Knife Edge

All in all, this was the best winter hiking/mountaineering experience of my life. I will say that the Zealand Road road walk pales in comparison to Roaring Brook Road and Tote Road walks, at least in terms of distance. These two have a bit better views of ponds and a higher likelyhood of wildlife (we saw loads of deer and fresh moose tracks, but no actual moose).

All Pictures

Tim

_________________
Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep, Eat, Fish, Repeat


Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:57 pm
Profile
Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:40 pm
Posts: 1663
Reply with quote
 Re: Katahdin 3/8/2016
:beer: You are a very blessed and lucky man! :beer:

That blue ice in the middle of that one photo toward the end is beautiful. Congrats to Jason and Greg.


Thu Mar 10, 2016 3:29 pm
Profile
Master Mountaineer
User avatar

Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:04 am
Posts: 914
Location: Worcester, MA
Reply with quote
 Re: Katahdin 3/8/2016
You get to be my hero for the day, Tim.
What a spectacular trip... one that's not easy even in summer.

Did I read your report right that some dudes were going over the knife edge?
Nuts!

Thanks for taking pictures and sharing - looks like an amazing trip.

_________________
Nothin' on the top but a bucket and a mop,
and an illustrated book about birds.
You see alot up there, but don't be scared:
Who needs actions when you got words?


Thu Mar 10, 2016 3:35 pm
Profile
Hiking Forums Are My Crack
User avatar

Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
Posts: 7137
Location: Exeter, NH
Reply with quote
 Re: Katahdin 3/8/2016
Wow. Doesn't get much better than that. I thought Bob's undercast on Pierce would be the best one I'd see from this winter but that one of the Knife Edge poking out takes the cake! I can only hope when I finally make it there in winter the day is half as spectacular. And 6600 feet? Is that right? I don't recall the dip between the peaks being that big.


Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:56 pm
Profile
Sovereign Woodsman
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:40 pm
Posts: 1943
Reply with quote
 Re: Katahdin 3/8/2016
Granite Guy wrote:
And 6600 feet? Is that right? I don't recall the dip between the peaks being that big.


It's what my GPS said. Strava says about 5K when I upload the track. Given the passing front, it's possible that there is extra elevation change from the barometric altimeter.

Tim

_________________
Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep, Eat, Fish, Repeat


Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:31 pm
Profile
I Spend All My Time on This Forum
I Spend All My Time on This Forum

Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:04 pm
Posts: 3734
Location: Newmarket, NH
Reply with quote
 Re: Katahdin 3/8/2016
I've only been on Katahdin once (up Hamlin ridge, over to Baxter peak, and down the Saddle trail), so maybe my memory is off...but what was it about the Saddle trail that made you avoid it? I would have thought that descending Hamlin ridge was tougher....

_________________
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes" -Steven Winterburn


Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:06 am
Profile
Sovereign Woodsman
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:40 pm
Posts: 1943
Reply with quote
 Re: Katahdin 3/8/2016
BobC wrote:
I've only been on Katahdin once (up Hamlin ridge, over to Baxter peak, and down the Saddle trail), so maybe my memory is off...but what was it about the Saddle trail that made you avoid it? I would have thought that descending Hamlin ridge was tougher....


It was "not recommended due to avalanche danger" -- Ranger Greg.

Image

Tim

_________________
Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep, Eat, Fish, Repeat


Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:55 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 7 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by Hike-NH.com based on STSoftware.