Mt. Avalon, Mt. Field, Mt. Willey, & Mt. Tom
Even with the "Polar Vortex" in full swing, it's always great to get outside. I kicked things off with my buddy Anthony, we checked off three 4,000 footers. Staying warm was a priority with the temperature for our hike starting at -18°F.
One of the magical aspects of hiking in the cold is finding yourself in a tunnels of snow. Ice covers every imaginable surface intil you are quite literally surounded.
The gray jays were out in full swing at the summit of Mt. Field. They flew over to share a snack with us.
Hitting four peaks took longer than expected. We had finished three and the sun was close to setting. There was no way to finish in time, so we paused to enjoy the frosty sunset on our way back from Mt. Willey.
The sun vanished over the horizon and we dawned our headlamps. As we summited our last peak of the day and 2017, the moon rose over Mt. Washington to the east.
Even though it was cold we stopped for just long enough to snap some photos and take in the view.
Give or take a week later we were back for more, but this time with a veritable expedition party. Every year I work with some great Boy Scouts to plan and run a winter High Adventure trip. This years trip started with a hike up Mt. Moosilauke.
As we climbed the weather took a turn south, not just the wind direction. We approached the 4,803' peak and the wind began to pick up. We split our party and a smaller group went for the summit. Emerging from the protection of the forest exposed us to the full force of the bitter cold and 60+ MPH winds. We raced torward to the summit being sure to cover up every inch of skin - frostbite was a real concern.
Despite being almost blown over several times we all reached the peak. To escape the wind we crawled behind a boulder. Our camera batteries were frozen, the only way to get them working was to warm them in our armpits before quickly popping them back into our camera gear. We posed just long enough to snap the picture and then we were off again, seeking the safety of the trees.
We relaxed for a day and explored town around our base camp. The rain from the prior day had broken up all of the ice on the river. It was astonishing to see just how this some of the ice was. The ice floated down river and formed a massive ice dam.
We had some fun back at the cabin with a small thermal camera. We measured the river water at exactly 32°F. Thankfully the wood stove more than compensated for the cold outside.
We were up early the next morning to drive north one last time.
We partnered with the team at IME to outfit and guide our climb. These guys are top notch. We geared up and headed out.
It sounds counterintuitive, but ice climbing for a day is a great break to relax and recover. At the beginner level, which we are, we would climb for five minutes and then rest for 30 while the rest of the group took a turn.