NH adventure weekend part 2

Day 2 of the NH adventure weekend was to magnificent Mt. Washington.  Mt. Washington is the highest mountain in New Hampshire and its snow-capped peak is visible from all over the state.  I have hiked to the summit on numerous occasions but have never had the opportunity to snowboard its slopes and trails. We decided bright and early that it was a perfect day to hike up the mountain and scope out conditions on Tuckerman's Ravine, an infamous backcountry destination.

P1030718Setting out early in the morning from the Pinkham Notch center, the trail was easy work even while lugging up our gear.

P1030721With such a perfect day for hiking we came across a few other groups making their way up or down.  Carrying my board horizontal seemed like a good idea when we set off but in practice it ended up annoying everyone we passed along the way.  "Pardon me, board coming through."

We made it up to the caretaker's cabin below Tuckerman's Ravine and chilled for a while and chatted with other hikers.

Hmm, something is missing here.

P1030724P1030723The avalanche board did not explicitly tell us not to proceed but a park ranger and some other climbers did not think it would be a good idea to ski Tuck's that day.  Lots of variable weather and snowfall had left sections unstable and we were not experienced enough to navigate the terrain safely.

So we took in the scenery, marveled at the grandeur of the mountain, and strapped on boards and skis for the return trip.  The Sherburne Trail was our ticket home.

P1030734We dropped in to the trail and sped away.  Conditions were OK, a bit crusty and skied-off but nothing too terrible.  After hiking all morning with heavy packs we definitely earned our turns.

A sweet shot looking back up the Sherburne Trail.

The trail was wide, open, sunny, and empty.

Looking down and across the street to Wildcat ski area.

All in all a great way to spend a NH weekend.

Need advice on hiking/skiing/snowboarding in NH?  Hit me up any time.

617-855-WAKE (9253)




NH adventure weekend part 1

Last weekend I embarked on a little New Hampshire adventure.  Part 1: Ice Climbing.  Part 2: Hike/snowboard down Mt. Washington. Part 1

Ice climbing is something that I have always wanted to try out.  Growing up in NH I had ample opportunities to go rock climbing and have enjoyed it over the years.  As a camp director at a large summer camp I spent many hours perfecting my belaying skills helping campers learn how to climb.  Ice climbing, though, never really presented itself to me and it was not until a friend invited me on a trip that I was finally able to try it out!

The day started early up in North Conway, NH.  We met our guide, a young, yet seasoned climber, who geared us up for the day.

20140222_080301Their little gear room had everything you would ever need for a day out in the notch.  Specialized crampons, ice axes, ropes, harnesses, ice screws, helmets, and alpine hiking boots.  We quickly found our appropriate sizes and packed all of our borrowed gear for the day.

Our climbing location was only about 20 minutes from North Conway, just before Wildcat Mountain on route 16.  The parking lot was an easily missed turn off and was devoid of any other cars besides ours.  It was a gorgeous day as we set off from the lot.

Blue skies for days.

This really cool walking bridge crossed a little river adjacent to the road.

P1030669After the bridge it was a nice hike along the banks of the river and then up for about half a mile to a spot called "The Amphitheater".  This was a massive cliff face entirely covered in light blue ice.

P1030696The guide then gave us a brief lesson.  He refreshed our belay skills and knot skills and then demonstrated how all of the ice climbing gear worked.

P1030698We watched as he scaled the ice cliff, inserting ice screws along the way for safety.  Every step of the way he was teaching us the best tactics to safely and efficiently climb utilizing the massive crampons on our feet and the curved ice axes in our hands.  He made it look way too easy...we found out quickly - and then again and again for the next eight hours - that ice climbing was not easy at all!

P1030699This is how it worked for the day.  The four of us rotated through different faces of the ice while belaying or climbing.  While on belay, we were safe to climb and, sometimes, fall, without getting hurt.

I have to admit that one embarrassing event happened to me during the day.  A veteran ice climber will use his/her legs far more than his/her arms.  I was relying almost entirely on swinging the axes and pulling myself up, barely using my legs to push.  Nearly at the peak of the most difficult ice face of the day, I felt my arms getting weak.  Barely able to swing the ice axes, I eventually lost my grip on the one in my left hand.  I hung for a few seconds by my right arm, frantically trying to land my crampons in a secure space and recover before totally losing my grip.  Alas, it was not to be.  I felt my right hand slip from the ax and I fell, putting all of my weight onto the rope and hanging there like a puppet on a string.  My belayer lowered me to the ground but before I could take myself off the rope someone managed to capture a picture of me at the bottom, ice axes still securely affixed to the ice above.




Ice climbing was fun.  I cannot wait to try it again.

Part 2 coming soon; hiking and boarding on Mt. Washington.



Winter Hiking in NH

I took advantage yesterday of a break in the subzero weather to do some winter hiking in New Hampshire.  It was a gorgeous, cloudless, crisp day and a great way to welcome in the new year. Views for days.

Mount Monadnock is located in the SW corner of the state and is pretty convenient to get to from our winter office in Hooksett.  Monadnock is one of the most popular hikes in the country and, even in the winter, there were plenty of people in various stages of the hike.

False summit.

Although the mountain is not massive - its peak is only 3,166 feet - it is a fun and exerting hike with 360 degree views that stretch north into NH and VT and south to Boston.  The hike starts with a long walk from the parking lot to the trailhead and then gets steep, climbing up until you get to a point where you think you are done.  A few steps more and you realize that you are not even close!  The last third of the hike is exposed on the rocks and brings you to a craggy peak.

Snowy peak.

All in all a fun Sunday with perfect hiking conditions.  Interested in tackling this peak?  Info here: Monadnock State Park



Winter at Merrymeeting Lake

Living at the lake year round is something I have enjoyed for the past five or so years.  Each season is fun in its own way and winter happens to be a great time to be up here.  As the weather gets cooler each year I put away all the summer gear and board shorts and dust off my snowboard, crampons, snowshoes, and heavy clothing.  This winter we have not had the huge amounts of snow that we received in previous years but there have been ample opportunities for fun in/on the frozen water (snow/ice). The smooth, solid ice on a crisp, clear, winter day.

The above picture was the ice a week and a half ago before a series of large snow storms.  As you walk along the lake the ice is constantly "talking".  Sometimes it sounds like a whale call as the water under the thick ice circulates and the ice mass shifts.  Other times you hear explosions and shattering ice which, I am told, is the sound of the ice expanding and getting stronger, not the other, intuitive explanation that the entire surface you are walking on is about to implode and send you in to the freezing water.

Intricate patterns within the frozen water.

Looks like outer space.

As I continued to explore the ice that day I found countless areas with cool and complex designs frozen under the surface of the ice. I stopped at many of them to get down and inspect closely.  The picture to the left shows thousands of mini air bubbles frozen in time until the ice thaws in a couple of months.  Below, I found one large frozen anomaly in the ice with thousands of little offshoots.  It could almost be a picture from outer space with the dark background the blackness of space and the little bubbles the passing stars.

Soon after my day on the ice we got some much needed snow.  It blanketed every road, tree, house, and frozen lake in NH and I was all too willing to toss my snowboard in the car and hit the slopes.

My happy place; perched above Merrymeeting Lake

As the fresh snow got packed down and skiied off at the mountain ski resorts in New England I searched for fresh, untracked snow in less trafficked spots.  Luckily behind my house on the lake is Mt. Molly, a small peak with a number of trails over a few hundred acres.  I trekked up to the peak where, at my favorite rock outcropping, I took the above picture of the snow and the mountains in the distance.  Panning to the left reveals Merrymeeting Lake, still frozen but covered now in some deep, fluffy snow.

Looking out at Merrymeeting Lake

The winter is far from over and I am looking forward to lots more snowy fun.  We at Water Monkey hope that everyone is out enjoying their winter months as much as we are.