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 Trip suggestions for first winter summit 
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Peak Bagger
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
Grindboy wrote:
Since we're sort of on it -- Stony Brook Trail up Moriah in Winter? I'm not likely headed there anytime soon, but if/when I get to it, is there anything to know about or avoid here?


Nothing too tricky. There's a somewhat confusing trail jct as you gain the ridge near the camping area, but never had any trouble on the ascent, but pay attention on the way down - this will make more sense when you do it. There are one or two spots on the ridge as you're heading north where it's open ledge, and not well-marked for winter travel as the paint marks are covered. You might get lucky and they'll be a boot track, but since it's exposed the track can fill in quickly. So, just pay attention and pick your way thru these spots and back.

Personally I like the other approach from the cul-du-sac in Gorham. It's a little more elevation gain and a bit longer, but the views are terrific. Again - a couple of spots where the trail isn't intuitive but there aren't any jct's until the top. Make sure there's good snow cover, and it's had time to bond to the ice when you do it. Did it about two months with little snow cover, and it took quite a big longer due to the ice.


Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:13 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
Grindboy wrote:
Since we're sort of on it -- Stony Brook Trail up Moriah in Winter? I'm not likely headed there anytime soon, but if/when I get to it, is there anything to know about or avoid here?


Mainly just the stream crossing 1 mile in. Generally not an issue, but if water levels are running high-ish, it could be tricky. Of course, it will snowbridge given enough cold weather, then it's a non-issue. The cul-de-sac avoids it (connects just on the other side from it), though I've never taken it in my 4(?) times up the Stoney Brook Trail. Love them ledges!

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Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:16 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
Thanks fellas.


Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:35 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
And remember Grindboy, it is named Stony BROOK trail for a reason. Just sayin'. Was tricky in spots during the low-snow-season when I hiked it. Still highly recommend it though. Don't think I'd try to do that for a first 4K though.

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Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:03 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
I'm kinda surprised by all the endorsements for Tecumseh. I hiked Tecumseh in September as my first all-season 4K, and it almost ruined the entire pursuit for me. It was just three hours of stairs! And the top is tiny, mostly obscured, and not particularly impressive. There is a little spur trail about 1/3 of the way up that pops you out on one of the ski routes and offers some good views, and I'd say it's about 85% as good as the summit view, making the last 2/3 of the trek up, plus the descent, a mostly moot exercise. Unless you REALLY REALLY like stairs.

My advice would be to choose a supremely awesome hike, or don't go at all. Being your first winter hike, make it good. You can grind out the crappy stuff anytime. But if you want to stay motivated, then do yourself a favor on your first trek and go big!!!

I'm pretty much in the same boat as the OP. I've got 8 all-season 4k's under my belt, with my first official winter ascent looming this weekend. Eyeballing Kinsamans or Liberty/Flume also. But not if it's bad weather. Unless I'm going to have an absolute blast, I'm not going. I think that's an important skill for a solo-hiker.....have a second hobby. I like hiking, and I had a blast on my last winter-ish hike to Pierce and Eisenhower last month. It was gorgeous weather, incredible views, and easy trekking. I absolutely can't wait to have another experience like that. But if it's not sunny this saturday, fk it, I'm going to foxwoods. Even if it's just a short term problem, I don't want my ONLY winter hiking memories to suck.

So my first suggestion would be Pierce WITH Eisenhower. The connecting trail isn't too tough, it's TONS of fun, and offers excellent views almost the entire way. The final ascent and the summit of eisenhower are pretty amazing. When I did it, I ascended the Crawford Path and descended Edmunds. Clinton road was open at the time and the edmunds parking lot had people in it so I was able to bum a ride back to my car. I'm sure the road is closed now which means a 2 mile road walk to complete the loop. Or you could just backtrack the way you came from Eisenhower and re-hike the awesome connecting ridge back to Pierce, returning the way you came via the crawford path.

From what I've read, the Kinsmans and Franconia ridge are magnificent hikes, and I plan to complete one of them myself this weekend, so obviously I strongly recommend those options.

Finally, I would recommend Cannon Mountain. I went from the tram parking lot to the summit via the Kinsman Ridge Trail last November and friggen hated it. The trail is eroded badly, icy mix all over the place, and unforgivingly steep. I still made it up and back in under 4 hours with a stop for lunch. Plus, I'll bet it's way easier in winter time. And the last 1/4 of the ascent is really easy anyway. It's my understanding there are buildings at the summit of the ski area where you can lounge and get a hot drink or a meal. Franconia Ridge should be looking fabulous, so the observation tower on Cannon should make a very nice reward for completing a difficult hike.

There are 48 peaks on "the list". It's a long grind to reach the goal. Don't piss away your motivation by starting out with something mediocre.


Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:18 am
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
For someone looking to get their feet wet in winter hiking. Tecumseh is a solid option. Given the OPs location. The big T is close. It's a relatively easy bop up a 4k. This has the added benefit of adjusting to heavier pack weights. Little to no exposure. and the stairs are covered if therebis enough snow. You may need to pull out the snow shoes or spikes. You get a view at the top. If it's something he enjoys he can always drive up the road and add on something small to make a day of it.


Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:53 am
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
You won't hear me saying Tecumseh is a good choice in winter, or any season for that matter. If someone took a stick of dynamite and removed 4 feet from the top everyone who has to do the AMC list should send them a thank you note! :D Either that or close down the trail from the ski side. I hear the other is much nicer and will find out myself eventually.

Personally winter is the only time hiking most of the eastern mountains can actually feel like climbing a mountain and not just walking up a hill. Needing to use some/all the gear I have collected is part of what makes winter hiking exciting and different for me. If I come home from a hike and say I could have done it in bare boots I probably didn't enjoy it very much. Picking a trail that could let you start to get a feel for all that gear, be it snowshoes, spikes, crampons whatever would be a good idea IMO. Not necessarily head up Lions Head right away, but not the easiest trail possible either, and then get more aggressive as your skills progress.

But just about any trail in winter is quiet and scenic and can be tons of fun. Just bring a sled. Even the most boring trails can be tons of fun that way.


Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:13 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
Meh, I'm not really buying this "get your feet wet", "get used to your gear" stuff. I'm not convinced that snowshoeing up to Cannon, Pierce, or Jackson is so tricky that it's necessary to "practice" on a more disappointing peak first. And I'm not seeing why Tecumseh qualifies as "practice" trail anyway. Seems to be as steep and rugged as most anything else out there. If you're going to make the effort, why not reap a satisfying payoff?


Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:00 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
BrianL wrote:
I'm kinda surprised by all the endorsements for Tecumseh. I hiked Tecumseh in September as my first all-season 4K, and it almost ruined the entire pursuit for me. It was just three hours of stairs! And the top is tiny, mostly obscured, and not particularly impressive.


I guess you should be glad you didn't hike Tecumseh 4+ years ago. The first time I hiked it, ca 2004, the view was truly obscured. As in there was a hole through a few trees, you could see part of the Tripyramids and that was about it. While I don't condone the massive cutting some individual has done, it has made for a decent view tbh. Still one of the more unexciting summits on "the list"? Yes. Overall a boring stairmaster hike up? Yes (but less stairs-y in winter). But a good warm-up with a usually-well-packed trail, and plenty of people for a "safety net" if you will, and I would agree it is a good choice for a first winter peak.

Of course, my first winter 4K was Hale. I don't recommend that. 2.5 mile road walk, the less-than-inspiring Hale Brook Trail for another 2.2 miles, all to a completely viewless (unless you are >8 feet tall and stand on the summit cairn) summit? Yea, don't do that. Go to Pierce, Tecumseh, or pretty much any other peak. To this day I'm not sure what I was thinking. I did Jackson the next day which was way nicer, but that upper ledge can be tricky. Otherwise Jackson is a decent option too.

The Kinsman Ridge Trail to Cannon from the tram lot isn't really better in winter. It's still steep, awfully eroded, and stays icy (so I hear - once in winter was enough for me thanks). Plus you have to dodge skiers. That trail is terrible and needs a lot of TLC. There is no "easy" way to Cannon except via the tram ;) I would not recommend it as a first winter hike.

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Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:12 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
Geez Waterville Valley must be paying all you guys a commission!!! I must have missed the shill volunteer sign up booth when I hiked Mt Tecumseh.

OP - Seems folks here have forgotten what it's like to be a noob. When you're a jaded, grizzly, seasoned mountaineer, it's easy to point the least experienced to the safest spots and feel like you're doing the right thing. But your FIRST, should be something fun, fulfilling, satisfying, and motivating you to continue and do more. Just my two cents, and my own approach to the lists. And that's a lesson I learned the hard way by making Tecumseh my first 4K overall. The only memorable thing about that hike is how unsatisfied I was..

I'm doing my first official winter 4k this weekend too. But have been hiking pretty regularly in various conditions for the last five months. I don't feel like I need any "practice" or acclimation. I've lived in New England for 35 years, winter happens at sea level too. Unless you just moved here last week from Orlando, keeping yourself warm shouldn't be something you need to learn at this juncture of your life.

I have all the right stuff. I'm fit enough to carry it. And I'm smart enough to not challenge the weather. If you feel like any of those are in question for you, then by all means, bore yourself to tears by hiking Tecumseh. But out of the 47 other options, at least 35 of them would be preferable.


Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:42 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
BrianL wrote:
Meh, I'm not really buying this "get your feet wet", "get used to your gear" stuff. I'm not convinced that snowshoeing up to Cannon, Pierce, or Jackson is so tricky that it's necessary to "practice" on a more disappointing peak first. And I'm not seeing why Tecumseh qualifies as "practice" trail anyway. Seems to be as steep and rugged as most anything else out there. If you're going to make the effort, why not reap a satisfying payoff?


Says the guy who hasn't hiked in winter, or apparently on many other trails if you think Tecumseh is as steep and rugged as pretty much anything else out there. You have said you have all the gear but didn't use it on your one "wintery" hike last fall and thought you wouldn't go again until the spring unless you could cherry pick your days. Well, if you have the gear and one trail is as good as the next grab your stuff, head for Lions Head or Howker Ridge or the Falling Waters/OBP loop and get back to us with a report. Don't worry if you know how your gear will work, or clothing in dangerously cold conditions, or how you will do when you hit significant ice floes or icy scrambles and ledges, or boilerplate from the freezing and thawing we may get with these warm temps... Just do it!

You also said you were concerned which of the Uncanoonucs mighty be too tough for little inexperienced legs in nice weather, but no concern for which hikes might be best to get into winter hiking in more extreme conditions? Seems, oh I don't know, reckless. :wink: But really, why be concerned with inexperience and what is best for the kids or anyone else, just take em straight to the west ridge trail on Cardigan and scramble them up the 500 feet of exposed ridge to start things off.

I don't disagree that a bigger payoff if it requires no more experience or skill is the way to go, but walking in snowshoes is different than bare boots. Even getting up the last ledges of Jackson when they are covered in ice can be tough and much easier with experience. Using or even walking in crampons and using an ice axe properly if it comes to that is a learned skill. All trails are not created equal and maybe more importantly conditions are always changing, and asking for advice isn't a bad thing for new winter hikers, other than trial and error it's the best way to learn and plan. You don't always set out to challenge winter, but getting up is easier than getting down. Sometimes winter and conditions sneak up on the best among us. If all you are prepared for and comfortable in is a dog packed snow trail in 40 degree temps winter hiking is definitely not for you.


Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:50 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
Not sure why you always wanna start a beef with me man, but here we go....

Granite Guy wrote:
Says the guy who hasn't hiked in winter, or apparently on many other trails if you think Tecumseh is as steep and rugged as pretty much anything else out there. You have said you have all the gear but didn't use it on your one "wintery" hike last fall and thought you wouldn't go again until the spring unless you could cherry pick your days.


Yeah, it's recreation, which means it's supposed to be fun. If you like looking at fog and getting rained on, have a blast, but it's not my thing. You'll see earlier in this thread that I suggested to the OP that he have a non-hiking back up plan and not force himself into a crappy time just in the name of "list-completion".

Granite Guy wrote:
Well, if you have the gear and one trail is as good as the next grab your stuff, head for Lions Head or Howker Ridge or the Falling Waters/OBP loop and get back to us with a report


Challenge accepted. But only if its sunny.

Granite Guy wrote:
Don't worry if you know how your gear will work, or clothing in dangerously cold conditions, or how you will do when you hit significant ice floes or icy scrambles and ledges, or boilerplate from the freezing and thawing we may get with these warm temps... Just do it!


I repeat, challenge accepted. Why would I worry if I know how my gear works? I've been cold before. I know how a jacket works bro. If my socks get wet, I'll change into a dry pair. Honestly man, this isn't Everest. And significant ice is something I've seen on hikes for months now, so I'm not sure what I would be worried about. Ice is slippery at sea level too you know.

Granite Guy wrote:
You also said you were concerned which of the Uncanoonucs mighty be too tough for little inexperienced legs in nice weather, but no concern for which hikes might be best to get into winter hiking in more extreme conditions? Seems, oh I don't know, reckless. :wink:


Your talking about a question I posted in regards to challenging the hiking abilities of a four year old girl. And you're comparing that to advice I'm giving a fully grown man who is confident enough to winter hike on his own. Seems, oh I don't know, troll-y

Also, digging through the archives to discredit me with a post that you KNOW is irrelevant.....double troll-y, and with a hint of creepy stalker-ness.

Granite Guy wrote:
But really, why be concerned with inexperience and what is best for the kids or anyone else, just take em straight to the west ridge trail on Cardigan and scramble them up the 500 feet of exposed ridge to start things off.


Why not? My 6 year old ascended the White Cross Trail on Monadnock as her second hike ever. 1000ft/mile is no joke in my book. She conquered it without hiking Tecumseh first.

Granite Guy wrote:
I don't disagree that a bigger payoff if it requires no more experience or skill is the way to go,


So we're agreed right? Tecumseh is the worst idea ever.

Granite Guy wrote:
but walking in snowshoes is different than bare boots.


Eh, kinda. I admit I don't have many miles on my shoes yet, but I've been dabbling, and it seems like the net effect of snowshoes is LESS difficulty. Sure you're stance and stride are different, and that challenges different muscle groups, but that soreness won't be apparent until the following day. In the meantime, the OP would just be saving tons of time and energy by not post-holing all the way up the hill. And like I said, winter happens at sea level too. The OP could easily find a field near his home and practice walking in snow shoes. He doesn't need to dedicate a day to Tecumseh to learn that his ankles need to be two inches further apart.

Granite Guy wrote:
Even getting up the last ledges of Jackson when they are covered in ice can be tough and much easier with experience. Using or even walking in crampons and using an ice axe properly if it comes to that is a learned skill.


When you say "crampons", I assume you're talking about either Kathtoola Microspikes, Hillsound Trail Crampons, or some off brand equivalent, since that seems to be what 99.999% of folks hiking the whites use on a regular basis. Again, it's not that big of a deal. The spikes sink in the snow, and your foot doesn't slip. Voila! I really don't see tons of difference between wearing hillsounds in snow, and wearing cleats when I was playing little league at age 9.

Granite Guy wrote:
All trails are not created equal and maybe more importantly conditions are always changing, and asking for advice isn't a bad thing for new winter hikers, other than trial and error it's the best way to learn and plan. You don't always set out to challenge winter, but getting up is easier than getting down. Sometimes winter and conditions sneak up on the best among us. If all you are prepared for and comfortable in is a dog packed snow trail in 40 degree temps winter hiking is definitely not for you.


Agreed, the OP asked for advice, and I gave mine. But this whole paragraph seems irrelevant and generic. Unless you mean that winter conditions WON'T sneak up on you on Tecumseh, but might be a problem other places. Is that what you mean? I really doubt that's what you mean.

And I dont know what "dog-packed" means, but I do admit that I prefer fair weather, and non-horrendous trail conditions. That doesn't mean I don't prepare for worse. Still don't know how any of this relates to the OP though.


Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:39 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
To BrianL

For someone who admittedly has less 4ks under their belt than the OP. (Nevermind winter (0 so far for you)) I'm not sure why you are giving advice here. Free advice is worth what you pay, yours maybe less in this context.

Lets take a look at the stats

Mt. Tecumseh Trail is

2.32m
2228 feet of gain

Huntington ravine trail between The Harvard Cabin Cutoff and the Alpine Garden trail:

1.43m
1968 feet of gain

It's pretty obvious where people should be hiking in winter. Much better views along the Huntington Ravine trail! :roll:

The OP is going solo. (as of now) So people offering advice to head up a safe route is the correct course in my opinion. If he were going with someone else who was willing to show them the ropes so to speak, a harder route could be more appropriate. If not more entertaining. It makes sense that more "experienced" folk wold err on the side of caution here. Heaven forbid they may do things differently after experiencing the conditions themselves. Having experienced what I have. I would for sure send someone up a route that without a doubt gets them a day in the woods and back to their car. You have to walk before you can run and crawl before you can walk.

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Tue Jan 26, 2016 4:38 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
On the contrary Gibba, I believe my advice is extra-relevant since I'm in virtually the exact same place as the OP in terms of hiking experience. I feel like as a comparable hiker, I'm uniquely qualified to comment on what would be an epic boring waste of time, and what would be an entertaining challenge. You and GG have been there, done that, and seen it all, so how could your opinion ever be relevant?

You and GG have a distorted view from being so "experienced". You guys have probably done this so much that it probably FEELS like you learned alot over that time. But I suspect that you're just like anyone else and learned 96% of your hiking skills when you were 1 years old and put one foot in front of the of the other for the first time.

The rest of the blanks can be filled in with a simple google search on "winter hiking". It's 2016 and information is everywhere. The jaded wisdom that comes from years of experience just isn't as valuable any more.

And I'm not just picking on you guys. I'll bet if you gave me an hour I could scour the web and find a dozen posts or trip reports from some wanna be mountaineer who thinks he's a hero cause he hiked up washington, but then posts a resentful rant about all the droolers on top wearing flip flops who drove there in their cars. GET OVER YOURSELF!

I mean, what is that "tale of the tape" supposed to even prove Gibba? I see the trickeration you're trying to illustrate, but I got news for you. Most third graders today can do division. Elementary math easily shows which trail is steeper. And even infantile common sense tells you that steeper = harder. This is what I'm talking about. You THINK you have these hyper-developed skills that can only be gained through years of experience. But you don't. You walk uphill. Sometimes its a long trip, so bring a sandwich. Sheesh, easy game.

As long as you are fit enough, and you dress warmly, hydrate, and stay dry, then pretty much anyone should be able to handle ten miles, anywhere in NH.


Tue Jan 26, 2016 4:58 pm
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 Re: Trip suggestions for first winter summit
BrianL wrote:
As long as you are fit enough, and you dress warmly, hydrate, and stay dry, then pretty much anyone should be able to handle ten miles, anywhere in NH.


With all due respect Brian, it seems that the OP appreciated our advice and comments. And, as much as I hike and am active, your blanket statement quoted above is way off base even for me, not to mention subjective. "Fit enough" & "Dress Warmly" are ambiguous.

Perhaps you should relax just a teeny tiny bit.

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Tue Jan 26, 2016 7:22 pm
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