Moosilauke ice

A chance to finally try my crampons.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to hike Mount Moosilauke this winter. My schedule rarely gives me a window of opportunity… and this winter, those windows have often corresponded with heavy cloud cover or intense cold. So this weekend I was pleased to see that Sunday’s (today’s) summit weather appeared to be reasonable – midday temperatures around 10ºF, with winds 20-30mph – and even better, there was snow forecast for Saturday (yesterday). The icing on the cake was a hiking invitation from an old friend. Thus, we found ourselves at the Glencliff Trailhead at about 9:30am, suiting up in single-digit temperatures. Read on!

Moosilauke – view toward North Peak.

This cold weather followed a snowstorm yesterday – which only dusted the lower elevations but dropped 2-6″ higher up – and a rainstorm three days earlier. Yes, the summits endured pouring rain on Thursday, which no doubt meant the trails would be packed and icy today. So we brought our crampons.

Crampons were needed on the Moosilauke summit cone today – where portions of the trail were smooth, hard ice.

We made good time upward, stepping carefully on the thin layer of snow covering the icy trail. After about two miles it turned steeper and we paused to put on crampons. I was excited because I bought these crampons, used, from a neighbor about five years ago… but had yet to use them. Normally I find microspikes (from Hillsounds) to be suitable. Today, they would have been fine except for the final approach, on the summit cone. There, the rain had turned level sections of the trail into pools, which were now frozen solid and slick. Full crampons were clearly the footwear of choice.

The trail to Moosilauke summit is a sheet of ice.

The trip had been calm, nearly windless so far… until we reached the summit; there, the cold wind blasted at our backs as we enjoyed the downwind view toward the east and north – toward the Franconia Range and Presidential Range. The blue skies had given way to a gray overcast, but the views were still spectacular.

Tim Burdick on the summit, Mount Moosilauke.

See more in the gallery!

Hike stats:
Distance 11.3km
Gain 913m
Time 5h6m
all a slight underestimate because I started tracking about 10 minutes late.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

One thought on “Moosilauke ice”

  1. Thanks for the great hike, Dave! My watch reported 5h 17min time, 7.31 miles, 3,884′ elevation gain, slight understimate on distance and overestimate on elevation. Windchill of -20F is always… refreshing.

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