Hiking Trails on Mt. Monadnock--A Winter's Tale
Jim Johnson maintains the Marlboro Trail on Mt. Monadnock. He sent me this description of an early December hike up the mountain. While the peak is climbed fairly frequently in winter, it pays to know what you are getting into on any of the higher mountains in New England. (Mt. Washington, NH, 105 miles--168 km--away, has reported the highest surface wind measurement in the world, 231 MPH--372 km/hour. Its weather conditions rival the polar regions or peaks three to four times its 6288 feet--1905 meters--and it is responsible for many winter deaths. ) Jim is a fast climber, getting to the summit in well less than an hour in snowless conditions. Here's what Jim had to say about his trip up the Marlboro Trail that day.
When I climbed Monadnock on Wed. the 8th [of December], Mt. Washington was reporting gusts up to 133 mph. I spent 2 hours going up, clearing the lower section of the trail of all the small tree branches toppled by the freezing rain the day before and the high winds that day. Although you could hear it, the wind wasn't a problem until I reached the treeline.
I stopped just below the treeline to add more clothing layers, since it's colder and the wind is usually much stronger just 100 yards further up. Getting from that last flat, gravelly area, just below the top, to the summit was a real challenge. From there up it was icy in places; rime ice, shaped by the wind. The wind was coming from almost due west. Although there were numerous places with no ice and good footing, I had to be careful and wait for the wind to subside to proceed safely. The wind had to be gusting between 80-100 mph frequently, so the icy spots were a real concern. It would literally move me about at times, so I spent only a few seconds at the top, just long enough to get shelter from the wind, to read my watch and secure my hood before descending.
Once I got a few hundred feet in elevation below the summit, it wasn't too bad. I hurried down, taking an hour, to be at the bottom before dark. It was quite an adventure to say the least. If it had been colder, I wouldn't have attempted to make it to the top. It would have been too dangerous. The temp. was in the mid 40's in Keene that day. I had brought my crampons, but didn't need them.
Last update and copyright © 16 November 2009, by Wayne Brink, email: