Dead Man's Ridge: The Fool Killer (Franconia Ridge)

As promised, I headed up to Dead Man's Ridge yesterday in the bright sun and blue sky. It was surprisingly cold out but the winds were light and the ridge was manageable with base layers and my light yellow windbreaker. I had to put my face-mask on frequently in the windy sections but no goggles were needed. I don't know what the conditions were - probably about 15°F or higher with 20mph winds in the windy spots. There wasn't a single person on Falling Waters or on the Ridge while I was up there. The drifts from the previous night were all fresh. The first person I met was on the Lafayette summit, doing the Loop in reverse. Of course there were many people on the OBP, including the hockey players (heading down).

In a major reversal of my normal cordiality, I gave one-word answers to all questions from the n00bs:

"How was it up there?" "Fine."... "Is it windy at the Summit?" "No." ... "Can you bareboot the ridge?" "Yes."... "This is steep. Is it far to the ridge?" "No."

As long as you look at things from my point of view, those answers were correct - although when they encountered the cold, gusty winds, the thick ice and the steep ascents they may have thought otherwise.

The hike was crampons-only until the Hut, then barebooting down to the parking lot. As the PM saw yesterday, trail conditions were well-packed. The worst part was that all the thawed ice/snow on the trails was now frozen solid and covered with a light layer of snow. This meant that all past post-holes were like cement pits. To slow my speed on the steeps it was easier to head into the soft shoulder, which was firm enough so that I never really dropped deeper than 6-12 inches even though the snow was up to the trail blazes on the trees. The descent was pretty fast and a no-brainer to bare-boot/butt-slide/boot-ski.

The air was very clear, in spite of a low-level haze. Pics are posted here. Regrettably, without any clouds at all, the scenery was kind of boring - visibilty over a 100 miles and just bright snow, well-packed trails and no annoying conversations until the descent - and those were brief. No wonder people die up there.


  1. new format = mass hysteria....change for sake of change???

  2. Change for the sake of change keeps the blood circulating and the mind fresh. All things change, for all things are impermanent by their nature. Even the greatest rock crumbles, the air moves and the oceans circulate unceasingly. Nothing is fixed in the heavens and even we, from dust arisen, to dust return. Statis is a fiction that we impose on the endless unfolding of the universe, but the universe unfolds nonetheless.