View Full Version : Tripyramids - April 24, 2004

04-26-2004, 06:04 AM
It was a cold, wet, grey morning as Poison Ivy and I cruised up I-93 towards Waterville Valley. After the obligatory stop at Dunkin Donuts, we were concerned as the rain was coming down fairly hard. But as often happens in the White Mountains, when we pulled into the Livermore parking lot to gear up, the clouds broke and the sun came out.

We started on Livermore Road, an old woods road now closed to traffic but still well-graded and nearly flat. The route is crisscrossed by many of the Waterville Valley XC ski trails, and uses bridges or culverts for all the water crossings. In other words, it's a pretty easy way to get several miles into the woods.

After about an hour, we reached the southern turnoff of the Mt. Tripyramid loop trail. Immediately we had a water crossing; however, in spite of the previous day's rain, it was easy to traverse without getting our toes wet. From there we entered the Sandwich Range Wilderness, and continued on yet another old logging road. There was a tricky water crossing (longer legs helped me here), and then we started to approach the slope.

It was apparent by the erratically scattered boulders and telltale vegetation that we were near the foot of the South Slide, and in moments we came out of the woods onto the scree. Unlike the bare ledges and slabs of the North Slide, the South Slide is a mix of loose stones and gravel, and while it required care, was not difficult at all to ascend. In fact, it was rather fun and we enjoyed the climb. The slide was dry and the sun was out, but we were now exposed to the wind, gusting in the 20s and 30s and sounding like a jet engine overhead.

The views opened up behind us as we rose ever higher. We passed the Kate Sleeper Trail, and experienced the oddity of being out in the sun with snow flurries sprinkling down on us. The tops of the trees ahead of us were shining with a coat of ice, and as we came off the top of slide into those trees, we encountered close to a foot of snow still covering the ground. Trail finding was difficult, since the only way to tell was to look for the slightly raised pattern of packed snow winding its way around.

The summit of South Peak was innocuous and uninteresting. I declared a single stone lying on the ground to be the "summit cairn" and we both posed with it, then moved on northward towards Middle Peak. The ridge looked amazing - only the trees on the western side were white with ice, ending in an almost-perfect line across the ridgetop.

On Middle Peak we had fantastic views of Passaconaway and Chocorua, but stayed only briefly before starting down towards the col before North Peak. Passing the top of the Sabbaday Brook Trailhead, we started climbing again. The snow in this area was still as much as several feet deep in spots, but the trail was well-packed enough that careful footsteps kept us on top.

Sheltered from the wind, the summit of North Peak was good for a snack stop, then it was all downhill on the Pine Bend Brook Trail and the Scaur Ridge Trail. Miserable, icy, postholing downhill. We both had our share of nasty postholes, banging up our legs in the process; my right knee is still swollen where it slammed into an undersnow branch. I went in another spot down to a seated position, and there was still empty space below my dangling foot. The steep sections of the trail were rough, solid ice, requiring iron buttocks to glissade on without injury or pain. Crampons would have been useful, but we were stubborn and didn't take them out of our packs.

The snow petered out around 3000', and from there it was an easy descent back down to the Old Skidder Road and the Livermore Trail. Of course, every map I had looked at showed this junction differently, but Ivy knew the way and we were quickly quickly on our way back to the car. We took the short diversion to Norway Rapids, an attractive flume, then we were done. 12 miles, 3500' of climbing, a casual pace of 8-1/2 hours ... it was a terrific day and a great hike.

4K's 26 and 27 for me, and 21 & 22 for Ivy. Photo albums are online: mine (http://hiking.saletnik.org/album/index.cgi?mode=album&album=./Tripyramids_April_2004) and hers (http://community.webshots.com/album/137287103DIOkjt).

poison ivy
04-26-2004, 07:29 AM
Just wanted to add to Michael's excellent report, my thanks to all those who suggested this route in response to my earlier questions. It was a great hike with good company and a beautiful day.

- Ivy

04-26-2004, 08:06 AM
Nice report and pictures. I've only been on that route in winter so it's fun to see the slide without snow.

I hope it's going to be nice this weekend. I need to head north!!

Rob S
04-26-2004, 01:47 PM
Wow, beautiful pictures!!
I've been wanting to climb this moutain for awhile now, maybe this summer.
Thanks for sharing. :)

04-26-2004, 04:03 PM
You descended Pine Bend brook / Scaur ridge trail? Did you choose that route for a reason or did you miss the continuation of the Mt Tripyramid trail down to Livermore? Just curious if that route was accessible or not.


poison ivy
04-26-2004, 04:36 PM
We descended via Scaur Ridge. The Tri trail heads down the North Slide from North Tri. The North Slide, looks at least, extremely steep and would be dangerous to descend.

- Ivy

Jim lombard
04-26-2004, 04:40 PM
As I remember it from this hike in December of 2002 the Scaur ridge to Pine Bend was the only way to avoid the North Slide trail to get back to Livermore from the summit. The only time to climb North Slide is when it's been dry for a few days and only uphill then. I did it in September and it was perfect then. You guys showed good sense taking the route you did.

04-26-2004, 06:41 PM
I was unaware of the perils of the north slide! Must be like trying to descend the Flume Slide trail!

04-26-2004, 07:41 PM
Jasonst - it's worse. The trail on the North Slide of Tripyramid goes right up the exposed slabs and ledges of the slide itself. Looking up at the slide from the lower stretches of the Scaur Ridge trail, all we could do was wonder how the heck anyone could possibly climb it.

The usual route is up the North Slide and down the looser scree of the South Slide. Since we weren't going to touch the North Slide, we went up South and down the extra mile of Scaur Ridge. It was a fine loop, IMO.

Dave Metsky has some great photos up on the slide itself on his White Mountains Server (http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/whites) but I can't give you a direct link at the moment. Go to "mountains" then "Tripyramid".

04-26-2004, 09:05 PM
Nice report and pictures. What a difference 2 weeks can make at this time of the year!

04-26-2004, 10:53 PM
Thanks for the report & pics. Although I'm still jealous that I was working that day, I think I'll wait until the bottomless postholes disappear before I head up the Tris!

Glad to see that you had such a fine day out and that the dismal rainy grey skies gave way to such a fine view!