The Bad Boy, 2008

It's on its way. The Bad Boy. As far as I know, we'll all be there. MD and I won't be coming up until late morning/early afternoon on Friday.

Conditions on the mountain are raising the spirit of the same idea that we float every year: Hillman's. Even though there is fresh snow up there, it's feather light and is blowing around and settling rapidly. Underneath is absolutely bomb-proof crust all the way to rock. We have a warm-trend this week, including rain, sleet and sun and it's possible that we could have very low avi risk on Saturday. Even though I'll be the first to jump ship at the smallest sign of unstable slab, I'll be the first to consider Hillman's or (gasp!) Dodge's again.

Just puttin' the idea out there.

[Update 1/31/08 11:55am]
If you've been paying attention, we've got a winter storm watch (not yet warning) in place for all New England. 6+ inches of snow (by definition of a 'winter storm') followed by sleet and freezing rain. The last of the precip is to end Saturday morning. Our Saturday trek will be in a huge dumpload of fresh snow. If there are winds aloft, it'll all be in motion, meaning close to zero visibility until it settles.

The MWO guys aren't calling it yet, but I wouldn't want to be lost on the summit Friday night. Saturday is going to be damned interesting. Personally, I'm already 'calling' it: no unstable terrain for me. I'll probably be in snowshoes, no crampons, and I'm not going near the ravines.


Barebooting Franconia Ridge

Today's winner of the "2008 Franconia Ridge Bareboot Competition" is ... me. Of course I was the only competitor. I repeated our trip from last week, but w/ no snowshoes and no crampons. What was it like?
Click here for to find out (1:11).


And For My Next Trick ...

Next weekend we had labeled "Vermont Day", in honor of the winter offerings of the glorious kingdom of Vermont. There were some ideas tossed about, including x-c skiing, skate ski lessons, Bamforth Ridge, etc.

But the real question is: who can make a Vermont-based adventure next weekend, other than MD and myself, and MadDog seems pretty darn busy lately?

Alternatively, tMail had been talking trash about The Bonds and Isolation. tMail, what's your idea of a fun time? MadDog? Treadmill? Bueller?

[Update 1/24]: Booooring.... I'm going to attend the Vermont 3.0 tech conference on Saturday instead of playing in the snow. Sunday is looking like the day to play.


Spungie Day Was A Great Success!!

Group Photo At Greenleaf Hut

More details will follow, but here's the gist: Bob, Spungie, g-$$$, The PM, tMail and I spanked that ridge. tMail broke trail between Liberty and Haystack like a snowmachine in low gear. Temps were between 6°F and 12°F (based on the MWO summit readings today, +5°F for the 1,500 elevation difference). Winds were suprisingly light - probably rarely gusting above 20mph, although that was hard to judge. It would be great if any hikers post trip reports in the comments. We probably won't hear from Bob, who is heading up to camp in Maine for a few days. Also, either email me your pics and I'll post them in a gallery. Or if you post them online (like tMail does with Picasa) I'll post links to your photo gallery.

Click on the photo at right in the meantime for Spungie Day Joy!

[Update 1/20, 1:15pm]
Due to a mixup at the trailhead (the PM's North-Finder was off by 180°), Bob and I had the chance to chat all the way to the ridge, which was much better than the usual drinking and fighting at the Bad Boy. For a guy that downplays his interest in doing what we were doing, he's got the stamina worthy of bragging rights.

tMail got the chance to lose finger and body heat to the point of dismay (according to those who were there) and g-$$$ got seperated and stuck in a spruce trap. Bob and Spungie and I came upon him after his escape, but that couldn't have been fun.

If I'd known the PM was wearing his bear-suit (see tMail's pic of the hairy-beast) I would've hiked naked. The PM and I also took advantage of superb boot skiing conditions and dropped down from Greenfield Hut in record time.

And Spungie? Well, it was SPUNGIE DAY!

Heard it on the mountain:

  • Spungie: "Mutha, I'm not car-cuts-you-off-on-the-highway mad, but I am mad!"
  • Spungie: "Oh yeh, oh yeh, ohhh, that feels good..."
  • g-$$$: "The one time I fall in a spruce-trap, I'm all alone!"
  • tMail: "On the way up Liberty Springs, I kept my heart rate over 160 for two hours. That's good training for Boston."
  • Spungie, while postholing: "Whoops! Hyperextension ..."
[Update 1/20, 9:33pm] tMail posted a video on YouTube. See it now. [Link]


Last Minute Spungie Day Logistics, Notes, Changes of Plan

See the previous post for route plans. I'm starting this new post for weather/gear/logistics updates and last-minute ideas/comments.

  • Start time has been moved to 8-8:30 (see previous post, last note)
  • (MWO Higher Summits Forecast). (also, see previous post, last note)
  • Snowshoes on ridge may not be needed (see previous post, last note). High winds may remove all the snow and load it into drifts, cols and classic lee snow traps.


Spungie Day Trip Logistics

Bob W. may be joining us on Saturday. Here's the main plan. Start time is tentative based on feedback from tMail, Spungie and other southern belles:

Meeting Time: 8am (more likely 8:30, but we'll firm this up later in the week)
Location: Lafayette Place parking area on east side of 93, the next parking area north of The Basin. This is the parking area opposite the Lafayette Campground, and is the trailhead for The Bridal Path and Falling Waters trails.

Route in Stages: Route Map (Click To Zoom)

  1. South along Rec Path to Liberty Spring Trailhead (about 2.2 mi, -250')
  2. Liberty Spring Trail (the AT) to Franconia Ridge (2.9 mi, +2850')
  3. Franconia Ridge Trail to Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette (3.5 mi, +1000')
  4. Old Bridal Path down to parking lot (4.0 mi, -3,600')
Total Miles: 12.6
Elevation Gained: 3850' (not including ups-and-downs of Franconia Ridge)

Good/Bad Conditions Time Estimate:
  1. Rec Path: 0.5/0.75 hrs
  2. Ascent: 2.0/3.0 hrs
  3. Ridge: 1.7/3.0 hrs
  4. Descent: 1.5/2.25 hrs
Total Good/Bad Time: 6/9 hrs

Likelihood of reaching cars without headlamps: 75%
-- given a 9am start, sunset at 4:40pm & descent on west side of Lafayette

My bet: 7hrs, back at cars by 4pm, no headlamps, two pairs of goggles, 2L of water.

[Note 1, added on 1/16, 10am]
The surface around here is frozen, water-saturated snow at all elevations, that is: great solid base for crampons - no wallowing around in deep powder drifts. We didn't get a ton of snow on Monday and we don't have a forecast yet for Friday, but if we don't get dumped on we'll have really firm conditions under a soft top coat. tMail and I did this hike last spring in deep snow conditions and it was pretty slow because the ridge between Liberty and Haystack is below treeline and gets filled in with deep snow.

[Note 2, added on 1/16, 10pm]
Everything exposed on Mt. Washington that wasn't covered in snow was covered in ice on Sunday (the rocks, shrubs, etc.) This was true all the way down to tree-line on the Lion's Head trail. I wore crampons the entire time. Because I didn't bring poles, I couldn't use my hands to grip when working my way over rocks - too slippery. However, the ice was a thin coating and in general the crampons banged through to rock, dulling them. As you all recall, Franconia Ridge has many places that are iced in pools, as well as spots where an uncontrolled slide would be painful (the descent into the wooded col before the Lafayette ascent). I believe barebooting without an axe would be risky if the ridge is completely windblown down to ice/crust.

[Weather Update: 1/18, 7:15am]
Take a look at the weather for tomorrow (MWO Higher Summits Forecast). It is starting to look like we could be in the shit. I'll post a last minute summary tonight. Still unsure of footwear. Mixed precip tonight is unlikely up high and there is probably about 8" of snow that has been blowing around for filling in drifts - and it'll be blowing really hard tonight and into the early morning. I'm thinking of going w/out snowshoes and bringing my old, busted, crampons for banging on rocks.

Also, in a comment below, the PM has declared a possible arrival time at the parking lot of 8-8:30. Sounds like a great hustle.


Spungie Day Is Approaching

Well, it looks like we've got a classic weather pattern coming up: The Spungie Sandwich. This is some substiantial snow on Friday, followed by bitter cold on Sunday - leaving us Saturday for our excursion - right smack in between two weather systems. It could be seriously horrific on Franconia Ridge, or it could be downright nasty. We won't know the details until we're back safely in our cars.

Breathe deep and exhale slowly. This could be sphincterpuckeringly weatheriffic!


Oh Where, Oh Where Was Mutha Today??

So, I went on a little trip today. I'll give you a series of hints. Where Was This Photo Taken From?
The first hints will be rather useless, but if you can guess you'll win lots of prizes. As the hints progress, the value of the prizes will drop.

  1. (100 points) I had a pack, crampons, no poles and no alpine axe.
  2. (80 points) I headed into New Hampshire
  3. (60 points) The entire round trip took 6.5 hours
  4. (40 points) I ascended a summit south of Mt. Adams
  5. (20 points) See THIS LINK for a big hint (I'm on the left)
For those of you wishing to earn a special extra big prize-a-rama type prize of the kind that you only see on TV, identify where I'm standing in the picture posted on the right (it will be posted at 7:30pm tonight).

Click on the photo to zoom. Pretty mysterious, huh? No, it's not taken from the Boott Spur trail. Really? Really. Okay, a few more hints: Dodge's Drop - AGAIN! (Taken from Lion's Head)

  1. I said I didn't have an alpine axe ... but I didn't say that I DID have two ice axes.... and I REALLY needed them.
Click on the photo to zoom. The entire snowpack was crust - all the way down. It was saturated snow, refrozen. It was so hard you couldn't jam your fingers into it. Kicking my feet in only shoved my toe-points in. It took over an hour to climb the 1,400ft to the top and my calves were on FIRE. It got really steep for the last 1/2 hr. So much so that my posture went from axes in front (kind of face-level) to arms extended over my head, swinging the axes in like we learned in ice climbing. The axe blades went in pretty deep - that wasn't a problem. What was freaky was having no rope, no ice screws, no belay and nothing but a really supersonic descent waiting for me if I lost my contact. I have to say, the only difference between being scared and what I actually felt was that at no time did I lose control, lose my attention to detail, lose balance or technique, and never stopped (except to relax my calves) and never rushed.

I've done Dodge's with an alpine axe, and the PM and Doug Strott did too.... only this time it was hard snow and a relentless pitch with no breaks... and ice falls on the sides blending in with the frozen snow.

What triggered the feeling that things were different was having my arms extended above my head and feeling that in order to see my feet I had to pull far enough away from the surface that my weight was uncomfortably out in space. Luckily I was accustomed to the idea. Very lucky. It was also fucked up that at no time did daylight enter the gully. It was in shadows the whole day. That place is more fun than I can shake a stick at.

[Update 1/15] I forgot to mention - tMail wins the Where's Waldo prize! It's a pot-holder I made in 5th grade that Mrs. Nielsen said looked like I was mad at someone when I made it. It was burned in half in the famous "Mom, the pot roast is on fire" incident when I was 12.


Next Sunday, 1/13: Isolation

Here's how things are shaking out: based on feedback so far, this Sunday we're talking Isolation for tMail's list, and a big Franconia Ridge thing (Liberty to Lafayette) for Spungie Day on the 19th. Right now, it's raining everywhere, including on the higher summits where it's mixed with ice and sleet and snow... but mostly rain.

If cold temperatures between tonight and Sunday morning are adequate, we'll be on hard, frozen snow and the challenge will be enormous, especially brook crossings where most of the snow bridges will have washed out.

Isolation is becoming for me what Owl's Head is for the PM. After my first time there, I decided that was enough. Sunday, if that's where we go, it'll be my third visit in two years.

[Update 1/12, 3:45pm] Spanky and I went for a trail run for about an hour, in part to judge the snow cover. We're at about 1,400ft which is about 500ft lower than most of the lower trailheads in the Whites. Here's how it sugared out:

  • Well packed trails: plenty of snow - at least a foot of firm surface
  • Fresh snow off the trail: snowshoes needed, soft, grainy, deep postholes
  • Open, sunny, south-facing knolls: bare from rain & sun
  • Streams, low drainage points, etc.: wet
  • Low snow cover spots in the woods: bare from rain.
So my guess, for anyone venturing into the high country tomorow, is that the packed trails will be in good shape with hard, icy surfaces from tonight's freeze; the summits will be bare and possibly frosty/icy, and poorly used trails or bushwacks would be slow and wet.

I realize this isn't a profound discovery.... just thought I'd share, you ungrateful bastard.


The Next Three Weeks

We have some challenges ahead for the remainder of January as we get ready for The Bad Boy and the Mad River Glen Uphill Snowshoe Challenge (on Feb 2 & 9). With record high temperatures and rain this week, next weekend may not chill up enough to harden the slush. With any luck, the mountains will be coated with hard, frozen snow by Sunday (1/13), but time will tell.

In addition, our good friend Spungie has marked January 19th on his calendar, and is happy to do anything we can come up with, as long as it takes more than five hours. tMail, this may be a good Carrigain date.

In the meantime, let's watch the weather on Mt. Washington. They may hit a record high tomorrow and leave us with nothing but rocks and ice - worse than we saw on Mt. Adams.

[Update 1/8] Note that the Mt. Adams video on YouTube has just been made available.

[Update 1/10] Everything has re-frozen on the summits. But the weather is looking like this: tonight and tomorrow is snow, sleet and freezing rain and rain everywhere around here - from the valley floor to the summits. Then we have Friday night and Saturday night to freeze things up. Sunday is looking like the better day in terms of giving the surfaces a chance to freeze (Saturday night's temps should be bitter cold and helpful). It won't simplify stream crossings, but should give us a nice crust. Will the rocks be coated? Will the mud freeze up? What would be a great route? No clue. Maddog was talking about Bamforth - but I think I'd rather save that for later in the winter - like for our Vermont Weekend adventure.

Here's a radical idea that will require a little investigating: Hillman's Highway if it doesn't wash away. It's a LONG drive, but if we restrict ourselves to that route (crampons and axes - NO snowshoes) it won't take all day. Bear in mind that right now, everything is covered in frozen ice/snow and a fall would be a really fast ride.

Stay tuned...


New Section of Blog

We'll see how easy this is to maintain, but on the left margin is a new "Event Calendar". The idea is that we can post upcoming events that affect regular readers of this blog. Some will require explanation, like "Spungie Day" (this is the day where we plan on doing what Spungie wants to do most of all). I guess I'm hoping that the blog posts themselves will explain the events as they come close - note that they are not links. If I can figure out a way to make them links that pop up an informational window, that would be cool. Not likely in the near future.


Adams: 7 Remaining for tMail, 15 for MadDog

The Bad Boy (and The Great Gulf) From Adams
Today was a great day, in spite of the absence of the Puppet Master and g-$$. A full trip report will follow (tomorrow or the next day) once I get contributions from tMail and MadDog. In the meantime, check out the picture on the right. Click on it to zoom. Unbelievable.

(Our route was up-and-down Airway from Appalachia.)

Mutha Trip Report: Airway was well packed out (tMail barebooted and MD and I wore crampons). We all bareboted from treeline to summit and then for the entire return trip. The trail was soft and fast below treeline, but lots of exposed rock, ice and hard/soft mixed snow. It was a bit of a challenge to pick across, and my vow to never return to Adams was once again (for the third time) renewed. Highlight for me: standing on the knife-like Durand Ridge looking down into Kings Ravine, facing into a strong, gusty wind.

Piss Colors: Mutha, tMail, MadDog

Pics are now posted: [mutha's pics] [tMail's pics]

tMail Trip Report: Great Day in the White Mountains with MadDog and Mutha. The original plan was Carrigain but we went to an audible and decided to do Adams due to the prime weather conditions, see pictures for evidence.

Some of the I heard it on the Mountain:
Squirrel Crushed by Snow Machine

Huckabee Blows
Metoric Collisions
Monica Lewinsky
MadDog = "This trail sucks"
Tmail = "This trail sucks"
Mutha = "This trail sucks"
We heard the singing of America the Beautiful
That kid is a real prick, followed by I hope he slides off the mountain
"What race" "The one in Morocco"
MadDog = "Yeah you race across Morocco for seven days and fully support yourself" Tmail "Sounds good count me in"
MadDog = "I am doing Jay I have a 24 day plan to get ready non of it involves running"
Tmail = "Your a genetic mutant"
Mutha = "I was abducted by Aliens on Owls head"
MadDog Trip Report: Yes, another fine outing. What else would you expect, when the initial rendezvous point is a men's room at a Quiznos.

The company is always great, the temps were mild, and we had decent visibility for much of the day. I was sandwiched in between Tmail and MZ on the way up. I'm thinking they didn't wanting me tumbling away without taking pictures (I mean notice). Well, so I'm seeing Tmail's boot heals most of the way up, and watching him slug it out with the trail. Yup bareboot, and every time he'd toekick, plant, and step up, my right knee was saying oh no, not me, NFW. Somehow I managed to keep the pace. Below treeline, the packed snow did provide a real nice cushion for the knee. Once we popped out though, wind coming out of the ravine was strong and in our face for quite some time and for me the exposed rock and often partially disguised ice made for challenging footing. It was all good though - and I'm glad that the AH that tried to beat us to the summit, didn't. Wanker!

Coming down was particularly dicey in just boots...uh, can you crampON. Should have, but we didn't - and poor Tmail got put to the mat a couple of times. But he was up off the mat within a 3 count, and back on his way. Once below treeline on the return, MZ and Tmail bounded their way, it was a beautiful thing to see, while bringing up the rear. Thank goodness for Advil. The ravine is now on my list of must-visit places to explore.


Carrigain is not Carrigain at All. It's really Adams. WTF?

 The PM on Jefferson, Adams in Background

tMail has turned the tables on us and as a result of the PM's rubbing his eyes on a Georgia peach and coming down with peach-fuzz-eye, we're now hitting Adams ... and maybe Monroe if we have time, heading up from Appalachia.

We'll rendezvous at the Quiznos at the Rte 3/302 intersection at 8:30 at the latest.... no Irving bathroom man/man sessions for us. Boo hoo. I'll have to take the cork out and leave it at home tomorrow. Good cork.

The pic at right of the PM was taken on Jefferson on 12/29/06 - almost a year ago exactly. Two days later I hit Tecumseh for my final of the 48 for 2006. Adams is in the background.


Carrigain Again?

xc Skiing in Danville with Spanky

It's tMail's call. Carrigain again tMail? Both the PM and I are on for saturday - not sure about anyone else. The weather looks easy (tonight's cold snap will fade by Friday) although the snow will be deep. With this last storm and Carrigain's isolation in winter we could be in for a big workout.

By the way, click on the image to the right (taken today). Spanky leads, but always checks to make sure I'm coming along.

[Update 1/3 7:30am] The plan is afoot: tMail and the mPM will meet at "the usual place" and rendezvous w/ mutha in the men's room at the Irving station at 8:30am. We may be joined by MadDog, who will bring abrasive soap.

Bring headlamps.

[Update 1/3 1pm] The comment 'Bring headlamps' was no joke. Here's my estimate of the time. The lower number is if the trail is packed out. The large is if we're breaking trail. Because I don't know if the Sawyer River Rd is used by snowmachines or skiers, it's hard to say what the pace would be on that. The road climbs about 650ft in 2mi, so it's not very steep.

Road In (2mi, 650ft)......0.75....1.25
Ascent (5mi, 3250ft)......3.5.....5.0
Descent (5mi, 3250ft).....2.0.....2.5
Road Out (2mi, 650ft).....0.75....1.0
Total (14mi)..............7.0....11.0


Happy New Year From The Winter Wonderland

Happy New Year Everybody. I look back on 2007 and the amount of hiking (in both elevation and distance) is extraordinary. Such good companionship and cameraderie, such great adventure, such good friends. The Mountain Spirit smiles favorably upon our exploits. 2008 is going to get off to a roaring start in the north country:

  Ansel Adams' "Clearing Winter Storm"


See you in the mountains.

[Update 1/1/08]: Added video to YouTube of LVRT. [Link]