View Full Version : Winter hiking. When and where.
It was kindly brought to my attention by a winter ADK veteran that Dec. 22 may not be the best date for a full Dix range traverse. (I chose the date based on last year's conditions hoping we'd get a bit of a steal). Issues such as snow consolidation, freeze-thaw cycles, day length and total snow accumulation all come into play and over the years certain patterns have emerged. I'd like to know what the experts have to say about choosing one's objectives according to the date and the current conditions. Feel free to include off trail hiking in your comments.
11-27-2005, 04:30 PM
Our matter of thinking for Winter Hiking was, as long as we didn't get a great snowfall before December 21st, we always went for a big one, on day one of the season.
The freeze/thaw cycle was always a great time to go as well. As soon as the trails were frozen, it made it much easier to go where ever you wanted to go, keeping you atop of the snow. It minimizes the postholing and also the spruce traps. I agree with Rik about going right into the Sewards while the road is still passable for vehicular traffic. Having to add the extra seven miles on the road and the hike too, makes for a very long day.
Even though the days are shorter this time of year, as long as the snowfall, is down, is the best time to get the longer peaks. We have done many hikes, with headlamps at the start and end of the climb.
11-28-2005, 10:57 PM
Neil there's no reason, all of these, can't be done as day hikes, either. Early risers, very long days/nights, on the trail. I did no camping, only one unexpected bivuoack.
The longest day was seventeen hours to Allen and back, in three feet of snow! The feeling of accomplishment after days like these, are undescribable. Those are the most memorable. You will get more satisfaction if your not always following someone else's tracks. (no offense anyone) ( It's just an example statement)
What attracted me to Winter Climbing the most, was the beauty, challenge, more adventures to be had. Also the "so-called" trailless, can be just that in Winter, having to literally find your way to the top.
I really like your advice PB, I would add one other thing - When I used to do winter trips, I would always look for the full moon weekends which would offer (as long as no clouds) even more opportunities tolengthen the day.
This seasons best Lunar times are:
Dec 10-20, Jan 10-20, Feb 8-19 and Mar 9-20.
I like the winter thaw, except if you plan a little early (which you need to do for organized Group trips), you can get stuck on LWJ in a rainstorm in 38d weather and then not be able to cross the small stream before JBL after you cross Johns Brook due to massive flooding from the melt!!! :oops:
I do also recall a few of the more local folks that didn;t have long distances to drive wouldn't hesitate to wait until Sunday after the trails to summits were broken out, to do their winter hiking (in fact we ran into folks on our way out one year that mentioned they saw our ADK trip on the calendar and decided that doing the trip the day after we were there would be best becuase the broken trail would make an easier day on the Dixes for them)
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