Wildcat (Sunday) & Washington (Monday)

Fred Knight (2 days), Steve Bussolari, James Streitman

2012 Feb 19-20

I tried for a little more than I achieved on this two-day outing with hikes on Wildcat Ridge (purple track on map) and Lion's Head (red track on map) and a night in between in the car at the nearby campground. I did not make Wildcat (the peak) but got Wildcat D on Sunday. Then Steve Bussolari and James Streitman joined me on Monday, and we made it to Lion's Head, about 1000' below the Mt Washington summit---turned back due to winds. The weather was bright and clear both mornings and, except for Sunday afternoon when some snow squalls came through, stayed clear. I saw only a few people on Sunday, but the hikers going up Lion's Head were numerous, including a few large groups.map

Sunday started bright and cool with little wind. After a 3-hour drive, I set out on the Lost Pond Trail and then up the steep Wildcat Ridge Trail. Along the ridge, after 2.5 hrs, I came to the top of the ski lift for Wildcat Mt. The views across to Mt. Washington were gorgeous; see panorama below.

On Sunday night, I got the last campsite at Barnes Fields Campground, 6.5 miles north of Pinkham. Everybody else had tents, but I couldn't be bothered to set mine on the thin snow covering. I just moved the rear seats forward in the van and make a very comfortable nest for the night---the maiden voyage for my parka-sleeping bag combo. Well, I had three nested bags and inside the car reached only freezing, but it was a cozy test. The parka hood makes a fine head covering, that moves when I do and keeps my neck warm. The only difficulty is my hands are outside the parka, but they did fine. I opened the rear windows to get a good air flow. Yes, quite a pleasant night. I awoke at sunrise and drove to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center parking lot where things were bustling for another fine day---but windy!

Monday's hike was my second attempt at going up Lion's Head. Last year, I aborted due to being scared---and not having an ice ax. This year I made it up the steepest parts but wanted to stop 1000' from the summit due to strong winds. We three agreed to turn back. James' head cover was insufficient. I was glad to abort at that point. Many others were continuing up in spite of the wind. We got back below tree line around 12:30 and descended back down the steep sections. James made it up without crampons! Ah youth. See Steve's report with GPS-tagged photos and the route.


Sunday Summary: ~10 miles up (Steep!) and over Wildcat Ridge, 7.0 hours, 2300' elevation gain.
Sunday night Summary: triple sleeping bag in the car, windows open, Barnes' Field Campground.
Monday Summary: ~7 miles up to Lion's Head, 5.5 hrs, 3300' elevation rise

--Fred (aka tarpman)



Panoramic view from Wildcat Ridge and Wildcat
Click once to get full field; click again to get higher resolution and pan across image.
wash skiers
Note: Photoshop worked on both panoramas with Steve Smith's method: Photoshop>File>Automate>PhotoMerge... Auto, Blend, Vignette Removal, Geometric Distortion Correction.
previous next Fred's Home 11 images
At the Ski Lift
At the Ski Lift
The sign shows where I've been.
Lunch with hot tea
Lunch with hot tea
Near Wildcat B, I stopped, ate, and turned back.
Microspikes all day
Microspikes all day
Trail was packed; a foot of snow on the ridge.
Lunch smile
Lunch smile
Up and down along ridge brought me to WIldcat B.
Gathering clouds surrounding Mt Washington
Gathering clouds surrounding Mt Washington
Twice-chewed birch
Twice-chewed birch
Beavers tried twice---and felled the tree from above, indicating typical snow depth.
James and Steve at Pinkham Trailhead
James and Steve at Pinkham Trailhead
Monday, 8:45am, brisk, Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Toward Wildcat Ridge
Toward Wildcat Ridge
Looking across the valley to where I was yesterday
One reason to smile
One reason to smile
Sign commissioned and suitably displayed, indicating 330 high-intensity minutes
Ridge attire
Ridge attire
Lion's Head was windy; goggles worked well
Midway throught the steep part of Lion's Head, Winter Route
Midway throught the steep part of Lion's Head, Winter Route
By this time, we had reversed direction and were back into the trees out of the wind