The highest summit in the Northeast can be a beautiful hike on a warm, early spring day, or an unforgettable struggle against wind and blowing snow. A winter ascent of Agiocochook, as the local Abenaki called it, is a must do for any hiker or mountaineer and is a great first step for those thinking about climbing Mt. Ranier or even North America’s highest peak, Denali and others.
There are a few different routes up the mountain, the objectively safe Winter Lion’s Head Trail avoids avalanche terrain and is almost always a safe bet. In stable snow conditions Tuckerman Ravine’s Lobster Claw or Right Gully add a moderate snow climb to the ascent and more time above the trees.
Whichever route conditions allow, once above timber line and in the Alpine Garden and you enter another world. Crisp views as far as the eye can see, blue sky above and clouds below or blowing snow, fog and a struggle to follow the person in front of you. Any two days in a row could be different, any day’s change in weather can make it feel like two.
The summit cone often provides a surprising break from the weather and a chance to catch your breath. On some days when the prevailing wind blows 70mph out of the Northwest you could put your gloves down in the snow at the base of the cone and not worry about them blowing away. You won’t feel the full force of the gail until you poke your head above the 20′ pile of rocks that is the actual summit, and you won’t forget what you feel then.
At Cathedral Mountain Guides we have been climbing the Mount Washington for years, hundreds of times. We not only know the way but have a few tricks on the way to make your day unforgettable.