Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wildcat D (4,070')

Set out with the intention of climbing Wildcat D (4070’) and Wildcat A (4422’) with snowshoes/spikes and then skiing down. The route was a 2.8 mile up the ski trails to the resort summit, a short climb from the resort summit to the true summit of Wildcat D. From the first peak it was another 2.8 miles to Wildcat A followed by a backtrack to the resort summit. The planned trip would have been 8.4 miles hiking and 2.8 skiing (longest downhill ski trail in NH).

I used my big pack which provides for some added structure/support. I used a sail tie to secure the skis to the pack and carried the boots inside the main compartment of the bag. The whole thing was surprisingly heavy when loaded up, especially when I added additional winter clothing and water.

The Wildcats are on the northern part of the White Mountains near Pinkham Notch, a 3.5 hour drive from Boston. In order to use the ski trails, you have to pay $10 regardless of whether you plan to ski. I didn’t get started until about 10AM on account of the long drive. This was the first time I got to use the “Televator” feature of my MSR snowshoes, and it definitely makes a big difference. It basically locks the heel at an elevated position to reduce effort on steady climbs. Despite the 20 degree temperatures, I did the whole climb in a long sleeve shirt and was still a sweaty mess by the end. I made the resort summit in just under two hours, but was pretty beat. Upon arrival at the top, a skier coming off the lift saw the skis on my pack and asked how many times I’d climbed up so far. Infuriating.

I ditched my skis and boots at the top and locked them to a tree to continue the rest of the way to Wildcat A. The hiking trail had been walked on, but the snow on the ridge was very light and powdery, and had drifted over much of the cleared trail. The biggest challenge was that there was very little ice underneath the powder snow, and therefore, nothing for my spikes to dig into. As a result, I was taking steps on light fluffy snow, and the metal spikes on my snowshoes would make contact with dry rock underneath, and slide out. There was still too much snow to go without snowshoes. I only made it about a mile down the hiking trail before slipping a few times and deciding it wasn’t worth the risk to continue. I was mildly disappointed, but I’ll go back and get the other summit in the spring/summer.

If you’ve ever been skiing, you know that the best part of the day is taking the boots off. Much is the same with hiking; however, transitioning from frozen hiking boots to frozen skiing boots is not a fate I’d wish upon my worst enemy. After an epic battle with my boots at the resort summit, I skied down the same way I climbed up. The entire trip down took about 8 minutes. It was interesting to see how the perspective of distance and steepness changes when going down on skis. The whole thing seemed so short. It was a great way to get one more 4000 footer in the winter.

 A couple pictures here: Pictures