Boott Spur/Tuckerman Ravine Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 11/08/2014 - 11/08/2014
Trip/Event Location: Pinkham Notch, NH
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
A hike along the top rim of Tuckerman's Ravine with unsurpassed views of Tuckerman Ravine and the Mt. Washington Valley. We will hike up one of Mt. Washington's sub-peaks: Boot Spur [5,...
From North Conway, follow NH 16 through the towns of Glen and Jackson. Park at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, 11.7 miles north of the junction of US 302 and NH 16 in Glen. We'll meet you at the porch of the Visitor Center wearing GO hats.
This was my first time hiking above treeline in winter conditions this season. Standing among the cairns covered with rime ice, dwarfed by immense piles of rock and snow, there are few things that I find more exhilarating than a glorious climb up a big hill.
Jon, Alex, Nate, Richard and myself yesterday went up Mt. Washington’s subsidiary peak, Boott Spur (5492′) and then descended down Tuckerman’s Ravine. Starting at Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center, we climbed the Boott Spur Trail which ascends ~3500 feet in 2.5 miles and forms the southern wall of Tuckerman Ravine. From there, we headed north on the Davis Path, took the Lawn Crossover and descended via the Tuckerman’s Ravine Trail which leads back to the Pinkham Notch lot. Total distance 7.8 miles/3700 feet/9 hours.
The weather forecast called for clearing skies, breezy and a high temperature of around 20 degrees on the ridge. As we drove to Pinkham Notch, we encountered snow in both Franconia and Crawford Notches. We picked up Alex at the Rocky Branch Trailhead who was going to leave us once we reached the summit of Boott Spur and tag Mt. Isolation, finishing back at the Rocky Branch trailhead. When reached Pinkham Notch to meet Richard and we found ourselves under bright sunny skies! We spent a good portion of the day in the sun with the only exception being late morning with a high layer of clouds partially blocking the sun. My research indicated that around noon the temperature was 19 degrees, a wind of 31mph providing a wind chill of 5 degrees of below zero!
The first 1.5 miles, we negotiated a rugged and rocky journey through snow covered woods, rising steeply over a succession of ridges. We took a spur trail on the right, to a bird’s eye view of Tuckerman Ravine, Mt. Washington, Lion Head on the ravine’s north wall and far below, Hermit Lake Shelter. The trail broke above treeline beyond the Tuckerman overview providing magnificent views of Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines, the Wildcats and Carter Moriah Range. Because we were in the alpine zone in mid-November, the peaks were snow covered and rime ice covered the trail. The trail became a combination of snow and rock.
We reached Split Rock, 2.5 miles from the start, and we ascended sharply up a knob. At the top of this knob, we still had 900 vertical, heart-pounding feet to reach the top of Boott Spur! The summit of Boott Spur is not much to look at – just a small chunk of rock right before where the Boott Spur Trail intersects with The Davis Path. After posing for our summit shots, we bid farewell to Alex who headed south on the Davis Path to tag Mt. Isolation. We headed north on the Davis Path heavily marked with cairns toward Bigelow Lawn on the plateau above Tuckerman Ravine. Nate has never been up to Mt. Washington so it was a real tease to be so close. This section was a remarkable highlight after hours of difficult climbing. Cairns guided our way over a snow covered plateau in a black and white world. This is an imaginary answer to winter trekking in Nepal! We encountered some drifts as deep as 2 ½ feet.
We then took the Lawn Crossover Trail to connect us with the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The views were great: we could see all of the southern Presidentials from their southern aspect, a view that a lot of people never get to see. The sun was shining.
We then reached the Tuckerman Junction, to hook up with Tuckerman Ravine Trail that would take us down the headwall all the way back to our cars. A few of us did our first butt slides of the season! When we reached the top of the vertical face below the rim of the ridge, Nate and I switched to MicroSpikes.
The descent was unrelenting and dangerous when it was close to a steep drop to our right. Descending into the ravine, we gained wonderful perspectives of the icy waterfalls, Boott Spur and Lion Head that grandly top the rim of the cirque. We took a break at the Hermit Lake Shelter before our final trek of 2.4 miles back to our cars.
Nate and I should have kept our MicroSpikes on as the trail was icy in spots and I think all of us probably slipped at least once on the descent. The trail is quite popular and the eye candy of hot dudes either going up or down kept us well entertained!
After the hike, we bid farewell to Richard who was spending the weekend with meals at the Joe Dodge Lodge. Nate, Jon and I changed clothing and drove to Red Fox Grill in Jackson, NH for a well-deserved dinner. The Boot Spur Trail continues to be one of our favorites in the Whites! To give you an idea, Jon took a record 350 pictures of our trek and it took some work to trim it down to around 140.
It’s winter! Sun came out and a great day to be up on the ridge with winds seemingly much slower than forecast. It was Nate’s first time above treeline in winter and Richard had limited experience. Everyone had a great day!
~ Mike Boisvert
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What Members Are Saying About This Trip/Event
- Rime ice - an opaque coating of tiny white granular ice particles, caused by rapid freezing of super cooled water droplets on impact w/an object. AKA - frost feathers. * A spectacular hike with a great group! - JDNnh
- Mike and Jon - Thank you for an experience of a lifetime. Great hike and company! - Richardg