Weekend Update and a Look Ahead March 3

Inlook Trail Near Dome Rock
Warm days and plentiful snow with variable conditions is a summation for the past week and I think a good prognostication for the week ahead.  The heavy dense snow that fell earlier this past week was a delight while it was falling but quickly proved to be challenging at the ski areas.  I managed to ski at Wildcat during the height of the storm as well as the next day and there was a very clear difference in how my legs felt after a few hours pushing through the heavy snow on day two. In the woods and up higher it stayed more on the fluffy side (note: not fluffy but on the fluffy side) and the snow was very good on the upper section of the Sherburne and elsewhere. 

Snowshoeing was equally good early but with the warmer days following the snowfall and the moisture in the snow, many reported snow sticking to the bottom of their snowshoes.  This will continue to occur as we move through the days ahead.  I've found that the F4 glide wax towelettes work very well in preventing this.  Certainly, keep a pack or two handy if you're cross country skiing and if you have a wax less base you can apply this across the scales as well as the tip and tails to prevent problems without compromising your grip.  Some folks use food grade silicone spray and that should work as well.  Spray a cloth and keep in a zip lock for repeated applications.

As you may have already heard, we have seen incidents in both Tuckerman's and Huntington's Ravines this past weekend.  A slide in Lobster Claw sent some skiers for a ride, fortunately without injury while in Pinnacle Gully, an unfortunate climber lost his life due to an avalanche there.  Please remember to consult the avalanche boards and staff before heading into avalanche terrain.  Our little mountains can provide a big mountain experience and a big mountain punch, as well.

"Yes, we have no bananas" or Front Desk and the gentle art of dissuasion.

When many folks visit us here in Pinkham Notch, the first thing they do before heading out is to check in with the staff of the front desk in the visitor center to get the latest trail information, avalanche conditions or weather forecast.  All of us here at the front desk have experience in the mountains with some specializing in ice climbing or skiing or trail running or having hiked the AT.  Doubtless, our specialties occupy a good bit of our time but don't prevent us from having varied experiences in our favorite mountains.

The Ravine of Raymond's Cataract
I'm but one of five (I apologize for any apparent pretense with the job title) "Backcountry Information Specialists" at Pinkham.  My own time in the White Mountains has been served at the Mount Washington Observatory, as a Winter/Spring Caretaker at Gray Knob Cabin for the RMC, as a mountain bike instructor and guide and as owner of a gear store, specializing in hiking, skiing and cycling.  I've skied the Sherburne very close to 800 times (!!) and dropped over the lip in Tucks for the first time when I was 14.  I've also been involved with search and rescue for over 20 years and have a good sense for what can make the difference between a good trip and a mess.

Having knowledge, skills and experience gained from years in these hills, we are charged with the intricate task of feeding a visitors enthusiasm while providing them with information that might preclude a positive experience.  Therefore, it's often a matter of greeting a hiker coming it at 2 o'clock in the afternoon on a sunny December afternoon who is asking "which way to the top", with a smile and a visit to the current summit conditions screen, a brief discussion on headlamps and various types of traction and then pointing them to Square Ledge.   The, "yes, we have no bananas" answer followed by the dissuasion,  "Yes, you can go to the summit of Washington but, you might consider square ledge because..."

We all view our role here as educators and advocates -- a role we take very seriously since the information we provide might make the difference between a fabulous experience and a frightening adventure. Please stop in and pay us a visit.  Ask about someplace new or get a different take on a  favorite -- pick our brains and make the most of your visit to the White Mountains.

Happy Trails!
Mike Micucci
Pinkham Notch


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