DENALI CHALLENGE: Tripyramids Loop Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 08/11/2018 - 08/11/2018
Trip/Event Location: Waterville Valley, NH
Trip Leader(s): Gandalf
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous
This loop hike is one of the most exciting and challenging hikes in the Whites! This is 2 of 3 hikes we’ll be doing as part of the Denali Challenge.
We’ll start hiking up the...
The trailhead is at the large parking area for Livermore Road [Depot Camp], near junction of West Branch Road and Tripoli Road near Waterville Valley. From NH 49, 10.3 miles from Exit 28 off I-93, turn Left onto ski area access road and in 1.2 miles turn Right onto Tripoli Road. In another 0.6 mile turn Right onto West Branch Road, cross bridge, and bear Left into parking area. We’ll be driving a blue Toyota Tacoma truck.
The most challenging and spectacular route is via the North and South Slides from Livermore which we chose to do as part of the Denali Challenge! “Waterville Haystacks” was an early name for Mount Tripyramid, the big three-summit mountain that rests between Waterville Valley and south of the Kancamagus Highway in Albany.
The North and Middle summits are included in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 4,000 Footer list, ranked 33rd and 35th. Dave, Jon and I have not been up the North Slide and were happy to do it again! We left Livermore Road around 8AM, which is a multi-use trail for hikers, mountain bikers and during the winter months, cross-country skiers.
The road and the entire Mt. Tripyramid Loop was lined with different colors of mushrooms. Some mountain bikers passed us whom we later saw climbing up the North Slide. Otherwise, nobody passed on the way up except for a young couple near the start of the North Slide.
At 3.6 miles, we turned off Livermore Road, crossed the aptly named Avalanche Brook and began our climb up the North Slide. Steep and exposed and not for the faint of the heart is the route up the North Slide!
The climb is a difficult, continuous scramble even in the driest conditions. The lower section under the tree canopy was a little greasy. We made our way up carefully.
The exposed wide ledge slabs were dry and we did our best not to knock any loose rocks and cause them to go bouncing down the slide potentially hitting hikers below us. We were thankful the hikers above us were careful too! We were amazed as to the number of dogs going up the North Slide. I think we counted at least four. Impressive!
The best route was once yellow blazed but now there are too few worn blazes left to guide the way. People are climbing up both sides and even up the middle. Jon and I found a herd path in the scrub to the left away from the ledge slabs that provided decent footing.
The view up and down the slide is daunting. The open mountain vista of the surrounding mountains is delightfully grand! Just before the top we found some good ledge seats and took the time to enjoy the big view. The nearby peaks of Mt. Tecumseh and Osceola were front and center and interestingly we could see the rocky bump of The Captain near Carrigain and more.
We took the sharp left turn into the woods marked by a cairn. From here the trail continues to meet the Pine Bend Brook Trail just below Tripyramid’s North Peak summit. We got a group shot of us on the summit, went down and then back up again to reach Tripyramid’s Middle Peak. We poked around the trees to find some views. The ridge trail from North Peak to South Peak was a delight with a fantastic footbed and beautiful forest!
From Middle to South it is less than a half a mile. We had lunch on the South Peak and then started our climb down into the South Slide which is difficult and deeply eroded. The South Slide is steep but the rocks are blocky and filled with loose gravel. The views remain superb on the wide upper part of the slide, then we descended steeply through scrub with partial views and occasional down scrambles.
We were happy to get back on Livermore Road for an easy walk back to the truck. We only have two more peaks to do tomorrow to finish the Denali Challenge: Noon Peak and Jennings Peak! We loved sharing the event with Dave. Thanks for joining us!
~ Mike and Jon
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