While a summer’s hike in these mountains is generally a civilized mountain outing, winter transforms terrain. Rocky gullies become avalanche paths, a pleasant wind becomes a howling gale, and temperatures can drop to arctic levels. These little mountains take on a distinctly big mountain feel.
Climbers have long been alpine climbing in the Presidentials, either as a trial of its own or as a preparation for bigger objectives in the greater ranges of the world. The conditions experienced here have prepared many for the challenges of Alaska, the Himalaya, and the Karakoram.
The Presidental Range Traverse is the premiere objective for the aspiring mountaineer in the northeast. It consists of over twenty miles of mountain terrain, much of it above timberline. Conditions can involve deep snow, high winds, whiteout for hours to days at a time, and very cold temperatures. Camping above treeline is a necessity. Many find the traverse to be a very challenging endeavor. Sometimes a traverse can include summiting most of the peaks in the range: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Munroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, and Pierce. More often than not the goal is to get from one end of the range to the other, grabbing what summits you can on the way. Weather conditions, snowpack, experience, and fitness levels all affect the outcome of the trip.
The guides at Cathedral Mountain Guides have been living and working in the Presidentials for many years, and know how to make your range traverse ready for success. Logistics such as food packing, gear selection, campsites, and route planning are carefully considered. For those in decent physical condition and having some winter mountain travel experience, the traverse can be an excellent goal.