Kristin Rokos:
Pure powder doesn't make for good mountain climbing. Had planned on doing the whole ridge and descending via Greenleaf Trail to the Old Bridle Path. Started from Rt. 93 hiker parking across from Lafayette Campground at 06:45. Up Little Haystack via Falling Waters Trail. About 4 to 6 inches of fresh powder below treeline was broken by two hikers in front of me wearing boots and crampons. I was wearing snowshoes. 2/3rds of the way up Haystack, the two that were in front of me turned around due to really cold feet. From that point up there was 4 to over a foot of fresh unbroken powder on steep slopes. This made for really slow going, epically with a large backpack. Pure powder meant that there was nothing for the teeth of snowshoes or crampons to bite into. Made it to the summit of Little Haystack at about 12:30. Folks coming up after me made it in a lot less time. The ridge was must more difficult then I had expected. Again, nothing but powder up there. This meant that I was continuously going from bare rock to sometimes well over my hips in powder. Trail was unbroken and I couldn't tell were I was on the ridge due to the visibility. Couldn't wear snowshoes because of all of the bare rock sections and rock scrambling however the deep pockets of powder and spruce traps became a real safety issue. Between that and not being sure of where I was along the ridge or if I'd be able to see Greenleaf Trail once I got to Lafayette or if I'd even get to that point before dark meant I had to turn around. In addition, I was solo. In the past, while hiking above treeline in the winter, I've experienced completely different conditions. Both Adams and Mt. Washington were covered in rime ice which is perfect for crampons. This bare rock and deep powder were new experiences for me above treeline and very difficult to travel in. If I could have seen were others had traveled, I probably would have continued on. I believe that I was working my way up Lincoln when I turned around however I am not completely sure. Descent via Falling Waters: Trail had seen about six additional hikers wearing snowshoes before I started down. It was well broken, however, was still (of course) nothing but powder which made descending on snowshoes more like skiing. I saw that someone had bare booted after the trail had been broken in and some had worn crampons. More had worn snowshoes however. A good mountaineering snowshoe prior to treeline and Microspikes or crampons above treeline would be my suggestion.