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View Full Version : " A Certain Woods Instinct" Part 2, Mt W in Winter, 1936 Guidebook



Fisher Cat
02-18-2008, 10:49 PM
P 474-Routes and Trails- The Carriage Road “Skis and snowshoes are needed to the Halfway House, where they should be left; then light crampons to the summit. Before April, at least, it is only upon a very few quite exceptional days that skiing is possible all the way to the summit, and back…a row of cairns, recently placed to the R of the road near the 7 1/2mi. point, should be followed with extreme care if found during a storm. Do not count on being able to follow the road at these points by flashlight, or in a blinding storm.”

P 475-Nelson Crag Trail-“ Though attractive for its fine views of Huntington Ravine, in winter this is not an advisable short-cut from the Carriage Road for the novice. Snowshoes and crampons are necessary.”

P 475-Huntington Ravine-“Huntington Headwall can be ascended by a number of routes, none of which is at all easy, while some constitute the most difficult snow-and-ice climbs in the White Mountains. Persons unaccustomed to step snow-slopes or rock climbing should avoid the Ravine at this season, but to competent parties its walls and gullies afford a splendid chance for short exercises in truly Alpine climbing…The Odell Gully, to the L (E) of the Pinnacle, contains a long section, generally shaped in two abrupt rises, where steps must be cut in the ice. It is of considerable difficulty and was the scene of a well-nigh fatal accident on New Year’s Day, 1933. The very steep Pinnacle Gully, immediately to the R (W) of the Pinnacle, has been climbed, but it is extremely difficult and dangerous.” I believe the New Years 1933 incident involved Ernest McAdams, 22, of Stoneham MA and Joseph Chadwick, 22, of Woburn MA.

P 476-Ravine of Raymond Cataract-“ The descent by this route is not only the highly interesting but is the simplest, quickest, and safest way off the mountain in an emergency, for experienced and properly equipped parties.”

P 478-Lion Head Trail-“This makes for a steep and arduous snowshoe climb; on the descent, for which the route is especially suited, it offers a long, exhilarating slide (advisable only on soft snow).”

P 479-Tuckerman Ravine-“Sliding down the headwall should never be essayed except by those experienced in the method of the Alpine glissade and able to judge the suitableness of the snow at the particular moment. The ride is very fast and if control is lost there is danger of being thrown into the rocks at the bottom.”

P 480-Crawford Path-“ Because of its long stretches above timberline the Crawford Path affords, next to the Gulfside Trail, the finest winter walk on Mt Washington. For precisely the same reason, however, it is the second most dangerous route upon the mountain…Not only should the trip not be undertaken if there is any prospect of stormy weather, but it requires an exceptionally favorable day; the temperature at Crawford Notch, at the start, should not be much below freezing and there should be no perceptible wind. Parties must be prepared to turn back, even though they face a long walk out…If a storm arises when at Lake of the Clouds, go down the Ammonoosuc Trail. Under no circumstances strike for the summit, although the distance seems short. Exhaustion may be only a matter of minutes. Moreover, the way is hard to follow quickly, as it takes no natural line in its diagonal course up the slope. To make for Tuckerman Ravine via Tuckerman Cross-Over is also inadvisable, since the safe route down the bowl by the N gully is difficult to strike in a storm.”

P 481-Amonoosuc Ravine Trail-“ In its upper portion this is a steep and arduous snowshoe climb, generally through deep soft snow. It is far better suited to the descent, when it affords easy and pleasurable snowshoe-sliding, making possible a quick trip from the Lakes of the Clouds to the Base Station. ( 1 ½ to 2 hrs.)” By 1936, there seems to have been only one casualty on this trail in winter, Herbert Young on December 1, 1928.

P 481-Cog Railway-“Two lives have been lost upon it in winter. Its advantage of shortness is in large part counterbalanced by the disadvantage of a consistently steep gradient, so that the time and effort required to ascend by it are about the same as for several of the longer routes…Snowshoes or skis are needed to timberline, about halfway up the railway; then light crampons. Skis require sealskins, and should be fitted with a towing-line. Fast recorded times for the ascent, showing the relative distance of landmarks, are: Base Station, 2573 ft. 0 min; Waumbek Tank, 3800 ft., 50 min.; Halfway Shelter, 4600ft., 1 hr 20min.; Gulfside Tanks, 5770 ft., 2 hrs. 20min; summit, 2hrs. 40min.”

P 482-Gulfside Trail-“ This offers the finest winter walk in the White mountains, but also the one most subject to danger in case of bad weather, as the ways of escape from the ridge are very long and require first-rate trail-finding ability. Only the most experienced and vigorous winter climbers should attempt it. Crampons are necessary throughout, once the ridge has been gained. The ground is quite unsuited for skis, as it consists of hard, windblown snow with patches of ice, while rocks protrude everywhere. Snowshoes are needed on the various approaches of the trail at its N end.”

P 483-Great Gulf Trail-“Because of its length and of the heavy “breaking” in the Great Gulf, which accumulates snow form the surrounding ridges, this route requires an unusually strong party and ample time. For the same as well as for the scenic reasons-the opening up of vistas down the Gulf-it is better taken on the descent. It is doubtless the most beautiful way down off the mountain.”
In all, the Book devotes pages 469-483 just for winter climbing. I thought that was a good amount considering the times. I have also attached a map of the summit provided in the Book. It was plotted in 1922. It’s a bit fuzzy, I did the best I could, but you can really dig the old way contour/elevation lines were drawn. Enjoy! I’m headin’ North to NH for some skiin’!