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Training to Hike Mount Washington

skiersleft

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I would like to hike Mount Washington this summer. I've hiked a couple of times in the past (Killington from Snowshed, Mount Beacon in NY, Belleayre from the mid mountain lodge), but I'm not a hiker. I assume that I have to train hiking smaller mountains and learn how to use a compass, etc.

I'm in good physical shape, so I don't think that's an issue. Any suggestions as to which mountains to hike to train to hike Mount Washington? I live close to NYC, so please don't send me to hike a mountain in Maine! I would like to progress from the less challenging mountains to mountains that are challenging before I move to Mount Washington. Any tips?
 

SkiDork

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I would like to hike Mount Washington this summer. I've hiked a couple of times in the past (Killington from Snowshed, Mount Beacon in NY, Belleayre from the mid mountain lodge), but I'm not a hiker. I assume that I have to train hiking smaller mountains and learn how to use a compass, etc.

I'm in good physical shape, so I don't think that's an issue. Any suggestions as to which mountains to hike to train to hike Mount Washington? I live close to NYC, so please don't send me to hike a mountain in Maine! I would like to progress from the less challenging mountains to mountains that are challenging before I move to Mount Washington. Any tips?

Can;t you drive to the top? If so, hike the road. If its good for cars, it must be OK for hikers.
 

skiersleft

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Can;t you drive to the top? If so, hike the road. If its good for cars, it must be OK for hikers.

I think you can, and I heard there's also a railroad. But I want to hike to the top taking natural hiking trails, not a road.
 

thetrailboss

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DON'T hike the Auto Road. Other than being the longest route up, it is dangerous because of the traffic.

The biggest thing that you need to prepare for is the weather and its sudden changes. MW has the worst weather in the world...no joke. Pick a day that has no precip even close, but be prepared for sudden changes and, most importantly, be prepared to call it quits and turn around. Pushing ahead in bad weather is the mistake a lot of folks make. The mountain will be there another day!

Plan on about a 5,000 vertical climb day or so. There are many routes of course, with the Tux route being the most popular. I did it via the Jewell Trail and Ammo Trail down and it made for a nice loop. It wasn't the hardest or the longest hike I've done, but it was the only one where I had to retreat from the treeline down in order to avoid a sudden thunderstorm (we waited 45 minutes for it to clear).

A hat and gloves/mitts, even in summer, are pretty much a must and having plenty of water and a headlamp are necessary as well.
 

skiersleft

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DON'T hike the Auto Road. Other than being the longest route up, it is dangerous because of the traffic.

The biggest thing that you need to prepare for is the weather and its sudden changes. MW has the worst weather in the world...no joke. Pick a day that has no precip even close, but be prepared for sudden changes and, most importantly, be prepared to call it quits and turn around. Pushing ahead in bad weather is the mistake a lot of folks make. The mountain will be there another day!

Plan on about a 5,000 vertical climb day or so. There are many routes of course, with the Tux route being the most popular. I did it via the Jewell Trail and Ammo Trail down and it made for a nice loop. It wasn't the hardest or the longest hike I've done, but it was the only one where I had to retreat from the treeline down in order to avoid a sudden thunderstorm (we waited 45 minutes for it to clear).

A hat and gloves/mitts, even in summer, are pretty much a must and having plenty of water and a headlamp are necessary as well.

Thanks! Any idea of mountains closer to home that make for a good hike and training towards hiking Mount Washington?
 

thetrailboss

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Thanks! Any idea of mountains closer to home that make for a good hike and training towards hiking Mount Washington?

The 'Dacks are very rugged and steep. They will get you into shape. I imagine that the Catskills might offer some good mountains to work your way up to as well. Plan on a hike of Washington to be anywhere from 9-12 miles (or more) in one day with, again, 4,500-5,000 or so vertical of climbing if you are daytripping.
 

Nick

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I did a 3-day hike there back in 2000-ish. We started in Pinkham and went up to towards Tuckermans. There is a camping area just below, forget what it's called. A bunch of shelters there. Overnight, next day we went up and over Mt Washington, I think we went to Mt Clay and then to Mt Adams, and ended up hiking down an emergency trail somewhere and camping below. Third day was back to the car. We were completely beat up, it's way more difficult than we thought it would be. The walking, particularly on the presidential range, isn't really hiking, it's more like hopping from rock to rock to rock. While its sounds easy, it really wears on your knees and quads after a while. Much more so than just walking on a dirt trail with some roots.

Some pics:


Yours truly, yeah taht was 12 years ago!!




This is that escape trail we ended up going down




 

skiersleft

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I did a 3-day hike there back in 2000-ish. We started in Pinkham and went up to towards Tuckermans. There is a camping area just below, forget what it's called. A bunch of shelters there. Overnight, next day we went up and over Mt Washington, I think we went to Mt Clay and then to Mt Adams, and ended up hiking down an emergency trail somewhere and camping below. Third day was back to the car. We were completely beat up, it's way more difficult than we thought it would be. The walking, particularly on the presidential range, isn't really hiking, it's more like hopping from rock to rock to rock. While its sounds easy, it really wears on your knees and quads after a while. Much more so than just walking on a dirt trail with some roots.

Some pics:


Yours truly, yeah taht was 12 years ago!!




This is that escape trail we ended up going down





Cool pics, Nick! Thanks!

What you say echoes what I've read elsewhere. It's a very strenuous hike and it's not really walking. That's why I want to train. I'm also concerned about the weather. So I want to hike safer pics in borderline weather (fog, for example) so that I get a sense of what I will encounter.

A lot of people do it every year, and if you take adequate precautions it seems to be pretty safe. But over 130 people have died in the last 150 years in Mount Washington, so it makes sense to be cautious, especially if it's your first time and you're not an experienced hiker like me. That's why I want to hike several other peaks before I attempt this.

I think the plan is to hike several peaks in the Catskills, then move up to the Adirondacks, a couple in VT and then go for Mount Washington later this summer.
 

thetrailboss

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Good plan. Although the only thing that comes somewhat close to White Mountain hiking in Vermont, and only in terms of vert and distance, is Mount Mansfield. Overall though the Greens are much tamer than the Whites IMHO.
 

skiersleft

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Good plan. Although the only thing that comes somewhat close to White Mountain hiking in Vermont, and only in terms of vert and distance, is Mount Mansfield. Overall though the Greens are much tamer than the Whites IMHO.

More useful info. Thanks! Perhaps I'll do several peaks in the Catskills, then move to Mansfield to get a sense of vert and distance I will have to cover, then several in the Dacks and finally Mount Washington.
 

riverc0il

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There are two major differences between hiking typical New England mountains and the northern presidentials. The first is the vertical. The more often overlooked fact is the rocky nature on that range.

I'd recommend some +2k vert mountains in the Dacks if you can. Probably tons of great options in the Cats too though I imagine there will be more rough and rocky options in the Dacks, as well as more vert. If you are in good shape, it shouldn't take you too many hikes to get into good enough shape that a summit of Washington won't be torture. Just don't forget the most important thing is getting down, not getting to the top, so turn back if you don't feel up for it or if the weather changes.
 

skiersleft

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There are two major differences between hiking typical New England mountains and the northern presidentials. The first is the vertical. The more often overlooked fact is the rocky nature on that range.

I'd recommend some +2k vert mountains in the Dacks if you can. Probably tons of great options in the Cats too though I imagine there will be more rough and rocky options in the Dacks, as well as more vert. If you are in good shape, it shouldn't take you too many hikes to get into good enough shape that a summit of Washington won't be torture. Just don't forget the most important thing is getting down, not getting to the top, so turn back if you don't feel up for it or if the weather changes.

Thanks, riverc0il. Very helpful as well. It looks like the Dacks is definitely the way to go in order for me to prep for Washington. Any peaks you recommend?

I'll start off with several in the Catskills just to get my hikers legs under me and then I'll move on to the Dacks.

Do you or anyone else here know what the best time to hike Washington would be? I was thinking August.
 

David Metsky

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Mt Washington can be a dangerous place in bad weather. Even in good weather it is a strenuous climb (especially the trip down) and you need to be in shape, carry the correct gear (plus food and water), and don't be afraid to turn around.

Having said that, on a nice summer day it's just a long dayhike. The sharp jagged rock of the northern Presidentials are unusual for New England, but not all trails will expose you to them. For first timers I would recommend parking on the West side, and taking the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail to Lakes of the Clouds, heading to the summit from there, and descending via the Jewel trail. It's a good long dayhike, but it's pretty much all just walking. The ladders in the photos posted here are on Six Husbands, a trail you won't need to go near.

Any hiking will be good training, just do a few long days to get the legs ready for it. Carry 2 liters of water (you can refill at the hut and at the summit), carry extra food, hat and gloves, extra layers, and wind/rain gear. Watch the forecast and pick a good day. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them; things can fog in quickly up there.

Frankly, Washington is a rather disappointing hike IMO. Adams or Jefferson offer the same challenge with a much more rewarding summit experience. The road (you cannot walk up the road) means crowds up there every day, the train means noise and smoke. There's a cafeteria, gift shop, museum, bathrooms - not much of a wilderness experience.
 

skiersleft

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Mt Washington can be a dangerous place in bad weather. Even in good weather it is a strenuous climb (especially the trip down) and you need to be in shape, carry the correct gear (plus food and water), and don't be afraid to turn around.

Having said that, on a nice summer day it's just a long dayhike. The sharp jagged rock of the northern Presidentials are unusual for New England, but not all trails will expose you to them. For first timers I would recommend parking on the West side, and taking the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail to Lakes of the Clouds, heading to the summit from there, and descending via the Jewel trail. It's a good long dayhike, but it's pretty much all just walking. The ladders in the photos posted here are on Six Husbands, a trail you won't need to go near.

Any hiking will be good training, just do a few long days to get the legs ready for it. Carry 2 liters of water (you can refill at the hut and at the summit), carry extra food, hat and gloves, extra layers, and wind/rain gear. Watch the forecast and pick a good day. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them; things can fog in quickly up there.

Frankly, Washington is a rather disappointing hike IMO. Adams or Jefferson offer the same challenge with a much more rewarding summit experience. The road (you cannot walk up the road) means crowds up there every day, the train means noise and smoke. There's a cafeteria, gift shop, museum, bathrooms - not much of a wilderness experience.

Very informative. Thanks!
 

riverc0il

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Frankly, Washington is a rather disappointing hike IMO. Adams or Jefferson offer the same challenge with a much more rewarding summit experience. The road (you cannot walk up the road) means crowds up there every day, the train means noise and smoke. There's a cafeteria, gift shop, museum, bathrooms - not much of a wilderness experience.
It all depends how you hike Mount Washington. You don't have to go to the summit (unless you are a peak bagger :roll: ). I love hiking on Mount Washington. I just don't bother with the summit if the auto road and cog are running. Lots of great loops you can do getting to the ridge without hiking the the summit cone.

So there is another option. Something like Lions Head to Boott Spur around Tuckerman or go up Tuckerman and down Glen Boulder. Etc. Endless options. Up Ammo, circumnavigate the bottom of the cone, then down Jewell, etc. The view of Great Gulf is amazing from below the summit cone in the Clay area. Up top, not as cool.
 
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