Trail Conditions: Hard pack snow, drifted powder, boiler-plate ice.
Special Equipment Required: Microspikes, snowshoes, crampons.
A tough mix of conditions for my seventh Presidential Traverse in the last seven months. Winds were calm, and temperatures hovered in the high teens and low 20’s all day.
Valley Way was hard packed snow all the way to the Madison Springs Hut and required only microspikes for traction. Beyond the hut, the snow gave way to long stretches of boiler-plate ice, and I made the decision to switch over to full crampons.
This was a consistent pattern across the northern summits, and I found myself constantly stopping to change my choice of traction for safe travel.
After crossing over Washington and Monroe, the snow pack reduced considerably, and was again replaced with boiler-place ice. These conditions resulted in slow miles across most of the Southern Presidentials.
Leaving the summit of Mount Pierce, I was back on snowshoes, as it was obvious no one had traveled the stretch of trail down to the Mizpah Hut. Fortunately, beyond the hut there was a single frozen-over snowshoe track, and I was able to hike with only microspikes to the summit of Mount Jackson, and then down to Crawford Notch.
Please take into consideration that I completed this traverse nearly 10 days ago, and trail conditions across the White Mountains have changed with the fresh 12+ inches of snow that fell on Tuesday evening.