Mountaineering Mt Adams and Mt Madison in February

Must Read

Hiking Mt Adams and Mt Madison in February

February is the peak of winter in New Hampshire’s Presidential Vary and it may be troublesome to discover a climate window the place the temperatures and wind pace are secure to climb the upper peaks. I’d handed up a number of alternatives the week prior when the wind speeds had been too excessive for my liking and I used to be resigned to ready till subsequent 12 months as a way to climb Mt Adams (5793′) and Mt Madison (5367′), the second and fifth highest peaks on the White Mountains 4000 footer listing.

So once I wakened on Monday morning (Washington’s Birthday) and noticed that the wind pace on Mt Adams was forecast to be 11 mph the following day, which may be very low, and that it will be within the 20’s (F) and sunny, I made a decision that I’d climb the Adams and Madison, that are adjoining, then. I texted my good friend Lynn to see if she wished to come back and she or he responded by inviting me to hitch her, our good friend Rick, and his good friend Al, since they had been planning to climb the peaks too.

Lynn, like me, is engaged on the White Mountains 4000 Footer Grid, a peak listing the place you climb all 48 of the White Mountain 4000 footers as soon as in every calendar month (48 x 12) for a complete of 576 summits. Rick and Al, have already accomplished one spherical of The Grid and are engaged on their second spherical. I’ve recognized Rick and Lynn for nicely over 10 years and regarded ahead to assembly Al as nicely. You couldn’t ask for a greater and extra skilled crew to climb Adams and Madison in winter.

Lynn, Rick, and Al at the start of our hike
Lynn, Rick, and Al at the beginning of our hike

We met the following morning on the Appalachia Trailhead at 7:30 AM which is a really civilized time to begin a winter hike (which frequently begin at 5:00 or 6:00 AM when the times are brief). We determined to climb the Valley Method Path to treeline as a result of we’d learn studies on that the path was damaged out with a floor of packed snow and ice. That meant we may depart our snowshoes within the vehicles and climb with Hillsound Path Crampons, with full crampons in reserve, in case they had been wanted within the alpine zone to summit the peaks.

Adams and Madison Through Valley Method Tr

The forecast referred to as for deteriorating circumstances within the early night with elevated winds and snowfall, however we had a nice-sized time window to complete the hike and get beneath treeline once more earlier than the climate blew in. The plan was to climb to the ridge and Madison Hut, ascend Adams,  backtrack to the Hut, then climb Madison, after which descend again to the Appalachia Trailhead. The full distance of our route was 10.4 miles with 5050′ of elevation acquire, however we anticipated to get again down beneath treeline by mid-afternoon. We’d nonetheless have a multi-hour hike downhill however we’d be protected by mountain vegetation and be out of the wind as soon as we dropped off the highest of the ridge.

Al passes the above-treeline warning sign just before we break into the open.
Al passes the above-treeline warning signal simply earlier than we break into the open.

The path circumstances had been ultimate as we began our climb, sporting Hillsound Path Crampons for traction all the way in which to treeline, and the Madison Hut shortly thereafter. The hut is closed in winter, however it’s a very good landmark within the col between Adams and Madison and could be an necessary windbreak relying on the wind course. It took us slightly below 3 hours to make the ascent.

Climbing Adams with Crew. Photo Lynn K.
Climbing Adams with Crew. Photograph Lynn Ok.

After consuming some meals and water, we set off the climb Adams first as a result of it’s the hardest of the 2 peaks and would take essentially the most time to climb. If for some purpose, we would have liked to bail early, we’d get Adams, however may depart Madison for one more day. Madison is way simpler to summit than Adams and fewer depending on climate circumstances.

The Summit Cone of Mt Adams. Photo Lynn K.
The Summit Cone of Mt Adams. Photograph Lynn Ok.

From Madison Hut we climbed the Gulfside Path which was a mix of ice and frozen snow to the Airline Path which we adopted as much as the Adams summit. The ultimate part of that path is a large, steep boulder area.  However winter makes it loads simpler to climb as a result of the gaps between the rocks are stuffed by ice and snow. You continue to should be cautious when climbing it to keep away from an uncontrolled slide, however you’ll be able to enterprise to the left and proper of the cairns marking the “path” to search out the best terrain and slope angle to climb.

The Summit of Adams. Photo Lynn K.
The Summit of Adams. Photograph Lynn Ok.

As soon as on the summit, we paused for images and took within the grandeur of close by Mt Washington and Mt Jefferson.  Rick, Lynn, and I turned into full crampons for the descent, however Al opted to remain in his Hillsounds.

We headed down Adams, back toward Mt Madison
We headed down Adams, again towards Mt Madison

We reversed course and hiked again right down to the Madison Hut, the place the Osgood Path begins and climbs Mt Madison. Whereas the ascent from the hut to the summit of Mt Madison is just about 500′, the route was a lot icier and I used to be glad I used to be sporting my Grivel G1 Crampons as a result of they penetrated the steep ice and supplied nice traction. We climbed slowly although as a result of we had been feeling the pressure of climbing some 5000′ with full winter gear, meals, and all of the water we would have liked to get by way of the day.

It was sunny and heat on the summit however a financial institution of clouds was blowing in from the northeast, as predicted. We nonetheless had time earlier than it arrived, however it was time to get going. We began our descent, first to the hut, after which down the Valley Method Path which we’d climbed earlier within the day.

Washington and Adams from the summit of Madison
Washington and Adams from the summit of Madison

After we handed the Valley Method Campsite, which is a brief distance beneath treeline, we modified out of full crampons and again into our Path Crampons, that are extra comfy to put on. It’s also possible to zone out when sporting path crampons, that are simply aggressive microspikes. When climbing in full crampons, you might want to consciously elevate your toes every time you’re taking a step so the spikes don’t catch on the snow or ice and journey you up. With path crampons, you’ll be able to simply shuffle alongside and ignore your footwork as a result of the spikes are a lot shorter and fewer penetrating.

Descending Mt Madison
Descending Mt Madison

By the point we go right down to 3000 toes, we may begin to hear the wind blowing more durable above treeline. We’d timed our hike completely. This was additionally a particular hike for Al and I as a result of we each completed climbing all 48 of the White Mountain 4000-footers within the month of February (over a number of years) for our Grids. Adams could be a very troublesome peak to climb in February, however we’d lucked out and had pristine climate.

Beneficial Guidebooks and Maps:

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We independently analysis, check, and price one of the best merchandise. We solely make cash if you are going to buy a product by way of our affiliate hyperlinks. Assist us proceed to check and write unsponsored and impartial gear evaluations, newbie FAQs, and free climbing guides.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

High experiences within the metropolis of Quito for 2024

I'm truly on the airport on my approach again “dwelling”! Sure, Quito is my dwelling city. I'm taking...

More Articles Like This