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 Mt. Jefferson in winter 
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Flatfoot
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Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:18 am
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 Mt. Jefferson in winter
Having climbed all of the other bigger peaks in NH in the winter, we will be making our 3rd attempt on Mt. Jefferson in February. Any advice on what is the best trail to take to the top in the winter? We tried two different options but were turned away both times without summitting. Both previous routes started at Lowe's store. The first attempt put us on a seldom used trail. Because we didn't bring snowshoes we were sinking in up to our waists in snow and obviously were not moving very fast. The second time was a better trail that took us up near Gray Knob and then traversed to the right. The temps were below zero with strong winds and poor visibility. Every now and then we would see the summit but were pinned down by the wind and ended up bailing (and eventually almost descending into King's Ravine near Mt. Adams). I suspect our main problem was poor conditions as opposed to a bad route but wanted to get people's suggestions on the best route to take. Thanks. For fun videos of the prior trips, check out my website: www.roykranz.com


Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:13 pm
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via the Jewell Trail & Gulfside is how we did it last year. Jewell Trail is a pretty moderate climb, but there is a long time above treeline that you will be at the whim of Mother Nature. We have been lucky to be there on clear days, but I have also heard from VERY seasoned hikers that the trail is tough to find getting back down below treeline on a socked-in day. Moral of the story - shoot for a good weather day :)

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:27 pm
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And bring snowshoes! :wink:

If you don't own any, you can rent them from EMS for the weekend.

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:50 pm
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For the past several years (since Mount Washington went to valley-supplied power), the Cog / Base Station Road is plowed all winter, and thus the popular route to Jefferson is via Jewell / Gulfside. There are snowfields below Clay and as you come to Sphynx Col which can be dangerous. As mentioned by Kelly, the Jewell can be difficult to find on the way back, even in good weather, if you're not paying attention. Wind scour can erase your outbound tracks. Be cautious of short-cutting the Gulfside-Jewell because the area can be a field of spruce traps. A "very long time" above treeline is 2.5 miles each way. Jefferson has the reputation for the most difficult peak in winter.

Image

Jefferson is to the left, as is the Jewell Trail.


Tim

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:57 pm
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I've done it to just above the castles on the Castle Trail. Unbroken and a rough road. Pretty bummed out when the winds forced us back too.

Only other route I've used in winter is on a traverse. From Adams to Jefferson is a great stroll but the snowfields can be tricky and a little white knuckling if they're hard/icy at the time, and of course you'd have to get up to T-Storm Junction first to go that way and I know nothing about the trails up to there in the winter but it sounds like you already do.


Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:21 pm
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Flatfoot
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 Prior routes
Our 2 prior attempts were:

1) Lowe's Path to The Link Trail to the Emerald Trail where we turned around.

2) Lowe's Path to Gray's Knob Trail to Isreal Ridge to the Gulfside Trail where we turned around.


Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:58 am
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 Re: Prior routes
glowingrock wrote:
Our 2 prior attempts were:

1) Lowe's Path to The Link Trail to the Emerald Trail where we turned around.

2) Lowe's Path to Gray's Knob Trail to Isreal Ridge to the Gulfside Trail where we turned around.


Were either trips using snow shoes? If not, I think that's your biggest problem, not so much the route.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:41 am
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 Re: Prior routes
BobC wrote:
glowingrock wrote:
Our 2 prior attempts were:

1) Lowe's Path to The Link Trail to the Emerald Trail where we turned around.

2) Lowe's Path to Gray's Knob Trail to Isreal Ridge to the Gulfside Trail where we turned around.


Were either trips using snow shoes? If not, I think that's your biggest problem, not so much the route.


I've taken the Link and Emerald Trail before (if my memory serves me correct) and they seemed very lightly traveled even in summer, so not a surprise that they weren't broken in at all. But as Bob said, snowshoes will greatly increase your chances of making these....and you won't incur the wrath of future hikers who are tripping in your post holes ;)

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:46 am
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Remember, every time you post hole God kills a kitten! Bring snowshoes!


Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:35 pm
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P/B wrote:
Remember, every time you post hole God kills a kitten! Bring snowshoes!


Related: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYivAQbYfoQ



I suspect that most dayhike traffic to Jefferson now is via Jewell since the cog lot is plowed. I could see the Link and Emerald being unbroken all winter. Gray Knob gets used in winter pretty heavily so your second trip going better makes sense. Probably a fine route in good weather. But as Tim said, Jefferson requires the most above-treeline time of any of the 4000-footers.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:59 pm
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I would agree Jefferson can be the most challenging winter 4'000 footer.

I have gone up Lowe's to Adams and then over to Jefferson through Edmand's Col but turned back a couple hundred feet below the summit after getting out of my comfort zone on a steep and slick snowfield. Opted to live to climb another day. The route can be tough from that side. Be careful that way. The Lowes Path/Randolph/IRT option or the Lowes/Gray Knob/IRT to the col are as good options as any up from that side and are sometimes broken out.

I haven't ascended in Winter from the Jewell approach. I would think it is a little better option with a clear day as already emphasized by others.

Either way, this mountain obviously commands respect, especially in winter. Not to be underestimated. I think I made 3 winter attempts too before summiting


Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:41 pm
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Flatfoot
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Roy Kranz made the initial post but I (Eric Carlson) hiked with him on this past attempt so I'm back to report our failure and ultimate success! We arrived on the 16th after driving overnight from Michigan and the weather was gorgeous but the next couple of days were predicted to have 100+ mph winds so even though it was late (11:30am) for a start we decided to go for it. Heaven knows why but we decided to take the Castle Ridge Trail, broke it the whole way with snow shoes, made it past the castles but had to turn back as the weather was degrading and we were losing light. So we did Tom, Field, and Willey on Sunday to stay below tree line, Jackson on Monday (with some awesome butt sledding on the way down! See the video!), and then tried the Jewel Trail route and summitted Jefferson, traversed over Clay and up to Washington on Tuesday. We had a great time and can't wait to get back next year! Check out the video Roy put together here: http://youtu.be/6MVVcBqp-a4

Photos available at https://plus.google.com/photos/112008421264241726315/albums/5851095957875277009


Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:29 pm
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Wow - that's quite a trip to NH! Congratulations!

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Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:39 pm
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Flatfoot
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Hi Eric, can you elaborate a bit on how difficult you found it to get over the castles in winter? I haven't found much information so far on doing this route in the winter. With an early start and decent weather, would this be a reasonable choice? How much difficulty did you have finding the trail, while you were breaking it out?


Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:29 pm
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Flatfoot
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Finding the trail was no problem. Most of the trail is just a steady climb until you intersect The Link trail and then it becomes a very steep climb. The trail was drifted over with several feet of snow at this point but it was too steep for some of the guys show shoes that did not have an aggressive cleat so we switched to crampons. After a few hundred feet of elevation gain you get to the castles. From the pictures I had seen I thought the castles were just a couple of rock formations that you would have to get around but instead it turned into what seemed like several hundred yards of pretty tricky scrambling with a few exposed spots. It was made a little more difficult because there was a light layer of snow over everything and we often would put our foot down expecting rock and instead fall through a few feet, usually catching a crampon spike in the process. Of course being very tired made this even less fun and coming back down was even more of a challenge.

To answer your question though, I do think with plenty of time and excellent weather it is a viable route in the winter. We would have summitted had we not started so late in the day (11:30ish). And the scenery is simply breathtaking. Wouldn't have missed it for the world!


Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:22 am
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