Man Vs. Wildcat

The trek was up Wildcat ski area to the ridge, then north to the Carters as far as we could manage.

Mutha's Trip Report (photos here):
The winds on the Bad Boy were ripping - roaring steady at 60-70 mph - and doing their part to keep us in the freezer all day with temps hovering around zero or just below. The plan worked well, although we made the wise decision not to continue beyond Zeta Pass (and exited via 19-mile brook). Highlights:
  • The ascent up the Wildcat trails was a great start to the day (over 2,000ft gained). We stayed to climber's left of the gondola line and worked our way up a combination of trails (Cougar, Lynx, eventually taking the leftmost, groomed Polecat to the summit). Trail map here. We were mostly on ungroomed trails and the snowshoes did their work. In spite of the sub-zero, windy start to the day we both did the entire ascent w/out any shell or windbreaker .
  • The summit of Wildcat was ROARING. We made a mad dash for the trail to get into the trees. At first I had some uncertainty about where the trail was (there appeared to be two routes into the woods) but made the quick decision when I heard tMail shout over the wind "GO! Take it!". Yeah, no point in hesitating in those conditions.
  • We had unbroken trail from Wildcat to Carter Notch. The trail was easy to follow (a few blowdowns and as much as 5 seconds of uncertainty a few times) nothing particularly dramatic. Just a lot of work.
  • The snow was pretty soft and the descent into the Notch a little crazed. In addition to having to snowshoe-ski down some impressive slopes, much of the descent is on switchbacks. Because of the side of the mountain being filled in with snow, following the trail means going downhill on the diagonal - very difficult footing since the soft, ultra-cold snow didn't pack but just sort of slid downhill.
  • The ascent up to Carter Dome is actually pretty quick - just a little steep work but the sun was beating on us and could've been done bare-handed.
  • The descent off Carter Dome into Zeta Pass was the best part of the day (for me). The snow was deep, deep, deep, and ultra soft powder. You could take huge strides, plunging deep and just letting gravity pull you down the mountain. It was soft, direct, easy, bouncy and lucious - like falling off a pile of goose down.
  • The Carter Dome Trail joins up with the 19 Mile Brook trail and winds through a narrow valley that had the weirdest weather of the day. It was completely protected from the wind and the strong sun baked the dark trees, making for very warm air in the sunny spots. The general ambient air was probably not more than 0-5°, but without wind it was like suddenly finding yourself on a nice March day in the woods.
  • Exiting onto rte 16 and trekking a mile north to where tMail's car was parked (at the Imp trailhead) was great training for Bataan. It was the Pinkham Notch Death March. We trudged along the plowed snow alongside the road, still in our snowshoes, over cigarette butts, beer cans and frozen gatorade bottles. It took about 30 minutes as the evening got darker, the air got colder and the headwind picked up, mixing with exhaust and salt dust.

A few gear notes:
  • The entire day was done with almost no insulation. I wore a facemask the entire time to keep my nose warm - and I kept my beanie over my earlobes. Eventually I switched to a balaclava with integrated face mask to also keep the back of my neck warmer (my soft-shell doesn't have a hood).
  • The cold was really harsh on the food. One of my Boost bottles was so sludged up it was difficult to get the nutrients out. I didn't eat my mackerel sandwich until I got back to the car, but it was like eating a fillet-o-fish right out of the freezer. tMail had his problems w/ food as well.
  • We got concerned about the ability of our headlamps to function and kept one in pants pocket to keep the batteries warm. Mixed in with other reasons for exiting at Zeta Pass (like the prospect of breaking trail for another 6 hours) was the possibility that our headlamps would fail in the cold - even with forehead heat - when worn on the outside of a hat.

tMail's Trip Report (report coming soon, photos here):
It was an interesting morning as temperatures ranged from -17 to -4 while driving. Going through my head I know that -17 is next to impossible to hike in as Mutha and I experienced -25 and that is basic human and gear failure.

We both got ready in the car and started our ascent up Wildcat. The ascent was great I was warm and had great management of moisture. I put on my shell jacket right before we went into the opening near the summit and it never came off the rest of the day. One thing I remembered was to keep the hood up to project the "snow down the back" as everything was covered and the snow was deep and soft.

Things that worked well:

1. Shell jacket with Patagona Capiliene 3 underneath

2. Blackdiamond gloves with liners kept them on all day, hands stayed perfect.

3. I could have put a facemask on but when my face did get cold I would tuck it into the the part of the jacket that was fulled zipped and I warmed up quickly.

Couple of hairy parts going down into Carter Notch no fall zones, managed them well got over my fears of falling, one thing I would have liked to have is my axe.

Carter Notch hut was awesome, nice and warm, we need to spend a night there.

Carter Dome beautiful the snow was beautiful, the views to the east and west were spectacular.

Ascent to Rt 16 was great, soft snow good trails.

Note to anyone going to shop for xc skies in Lydonville, Marcel knows nothing, Mutha and I made him shit his pants. He said they were very busy, there were 3 people in the store, Mutha and I were two of them. The most knowledgeable person in the store Chris was busy helping a lady pick out a sweater. Marcel is a tool - bag.

Danville Inn is awesome for Saturday morning breakfast I highly recommend going there when in Danville.

The xc ski class that MadDog and I took was top notch, you learned everything in 2 minutes and then led on an all out assault of Danville's beaver ponds and a category II bushwhack.

No comments:

Post a Comment