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Thread: Franconia Ridge Loop - 11/5/05

  1. #1
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Franconia Ridge Loop - 11/5/05

    The purpose of this trip was to scout out backcountry ski routes down the slides on either side of Franconia Ridge, and we were successful in that effort. But it was just a fantastic day to be out in the mountains. We met up in Lincoln (Jas, Nick, and myself) and got to the trailhead around 8:15 and were on the trail by 8:30. We elected to go without snowshoes, but we already had our crampons in the packs so we carried them. Not enough snow for snowshoes, everything was too warm for ice.

    We went up Falling Waters, which had quite a bit of water flowing due to the snow melt from recent days. No real problems with any of the stream crossings, just our boots getting wet. We stopped at Shining Rock then climbed up to Little Haystack, reaching the ridge before noon, a slow but steady pace. Once on the ridge it was clear sailing. Lots of people up there, very little wind, very warm temps, what a November day!

    Nick was scouting slides, looking for entrances and places with a good angle that would hold snow and not be a big slide danger. They exist, we may try some this winter if the snow holds. We stopped on Lincoln for lunch and had the place completely to ourselves for 20 minutes. It pays to hike slower than the crowd.

    Between Lincoln and Lafayette a group caught up to us and as they were passing we recognized each other. It was Stinkyfeet, Artex, Frodo, and Sir Edmand (and one other, didn't catch her name) who had come up Flume Slide and were headed to Garfield. God bless them. As we chatted a C-130 flew down the notch, banked over Lincoln and cruised up the Pemi. We'd been hearing and seeing F-15s all day, but this was different.

    They took off, we followed and met up with them taking a rest on the summit of Lafayette. They headed north, we headed down. Pretty uneventful descent, we got to the cars at 4:30, did a quick pack up and change of clothes, then headed to Lexington to the Pat and Audrey Potluck, arriving fashionably late and not too stinky.

    Great day to be up there, especially with two folks who'd never hiked the ridge before. Hope to get back there this winter on skis.

    Photos are here.

    -dave-

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    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Dave - after reading your TR and viewing your pictures, all I can say is WOW! Regards, Marty
    So when you reach the bottom line
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    Senior Member grouseking's Avatar
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    It looks like it was a great day, despite a little bit of haze. What were the temperatures on the ridge? Looked like no one was wearing jackets, which seems amazing to me this time of year.

    grouseking

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    I was wearing light polypro top and windpants most of the day. Plenty of folks were in shorts and t-shirts on the ridge. It was unusual for Nov, especially after skiing just 7 days earlier right across the notch. Temps were probably in the 50's but the direct sun and no wind made it feel like a late summer day most of the time.

    -dave-

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    Senior Member yam's Avatar
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    very nice report, and great pics. the weather really has been crazy warm, but i'm not complaining, either.
    Fly too high, my son, and the heat will melt your wings. ~~
    Daedalus

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    Fabulous pictures, Dave, as usual. My favorite is top13, with good detail of thie ridge and hikers in the foreground and Flume and Liberty framing the background. That's one I'd like to have blown up on my wall!

    And a question...pretty good shot of the two prongs of Lincoln Slide (top19). Did you figure out any new insights about how best to access that north prong without having to slog through too much vegetation? I can't wait to hear your trip report and see some good action shots when you ski this later this season!
    David

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    So, if you ski the Lincoln slide, would you continue out to Lincoln Woods on the Kanc with tele gear, or would climb back up to Franconia Ridge and just ski laps, a la Pipeline gully in the Great Gulf? Also, what do you think of the Franconia Ridge - Lincoln slide approach to Owls Head (old summer route pre-Kanc) for a winter variation?

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    Senior Member el-bagr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dasypodidae
    So, if you ski the Lincoln slide, would you continue out to Lincoln Woods on the Kanc with tele gear, or would climb back up to Franconia Ridge and just ski laps, a la Pipeline gully in the Great Gulf? Also, what do you think of the Franconia Ridge - Lincoln slide approach to Owls Head (old summer route pre-Kanc) for a winter variation?
    I once did this in spring a convoluted way -- tour up Franconia Ridge on xc gear with my alpine gear on my back; swap skis at the top of the slide and descend on alpine gear; swap back into xc gear in the swampy area at the base of the slide and tour out. A long day even in spring. Conditions allowing, I will come back and do it on lightweight tele gear without spare skis on my back -- hopefully my "Yankee AT" days are over.

    Note that it might make more sense to ski laps as in the GG -- the bottom half is less steep and more aldery, and the bushwhack out from the slide to the trail is not trivial.

    Also note that this is remote and dangerous terrain, with traditional injury risks as well as avalanche hazards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by el-bagr
    I once did this in spring a convoluted way -- tour up Franconia Ridge on xc gear with my alpine gear on my back; swap skis at the top of the slide and descend on alpine gear; swap back into xc gear in the swampy area at the base of the slide and tour out. A long day even in spring. Conditions allowing, I will come back and do it on lightweight tele gear without spare skis on my back -- hopefully my "Yankee AT" days are over.

    Note that it might make more sense to ski laps as in the GG -- the bottom half is less steep and more aldery, and the bushwhack out from the slide to the trail is not trivial.

    Also note that this is remote and dangerous terrain, with traditional injury risks as well as avalanche hazards.
    Thanks, el-bagr. I might have suspected that you had skied the Lincoln slide! I have hiked this route to Owls Heads in the fall, and agree with you entirely about the alder-laced gully near the bottom. I was thinking that perahps with a deep snowpack (partly from avalanche?), the bottom might not be so annoying in the winter?

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    We talked about it a lot on the hike. There was some thought of a base camp along Lincoln Brook with a full day to skin/hike up the slide and then ski down perhaps a few times. I'd need to get some avy training to feel fully comfortable doing that in winter. The slide looked quite open for the majority of the descent, but that also leads to more avy danger and a longer runout.

    -dave-

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky
    We talked about it a lot on the hike. There was some thought of a base camp along Lincoln Brook with a full day to skin/hike up the slide and then ski down perhaps a few times. I'd need to get some avy training to feel fully comfortable doing that in winter. The slide looked quite open for the majority of the descent, but that also leads to more avy danger and a longer runout.

    -dave-
    I've done it as a day, from the Pemi trailhead, on light tele gear. It was a neat day, although long. Just make sure that the snow conditions down low are all right as well as the ones high. Otherwise it could be a really long ski in to the base of the slide. When I went in it was thawing down low and I did a fair amount of falling through weak snow.

    Regarding avvy danger, yeah, of course, something to think about, it's certainly open enough to slide but I doubt it does it very often; certainly I saw no accumulated avvy debris when I went in, so it hadn't slid that winter. So watch the weather and avoid times of high avalanche danger. Like within 48 hours of a big dump. Give it time to settle and bond. My western sensibilities make me fairly relaxed about this danger in a place like the LIncoln slide. The snowpack is just not that deep, and conditions are rarely good for slides. Wind transport over the ridge, forming cohesive slabs in the upper part, on a good bed surface, that's probably the danger.

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