Ascent of Carter Dome on 2012-12-16

Climber: François Lefebvre

Others in Party:Met 2 guys with their dogs. No one else on the trail. Completely alone.
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, December 16, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Carter Dome
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4832 ft / 1472 m

Ascent Trip Report

Park at the wildcat parking Difficult to cross the river accross the road 16. Was on the Wildcat Rdge tr, at 9:30. The climb to the first E peak was steep and dangerous at a place where there is a bug boulder with wooden stair steps nailed on it. I decided that if problem arose, not to come back this way, this boulder would be risky to do on the way down if condition are not right. However the sight was fantastic, could see the mountains across road 16. The sky was cloudy, temperature around -5 celsius. A snowstorm is expected late in the afternoon. Beautiful walk but a bit tired because of the big hike on the Carter range the day before. I expect to be back to Wildcat parking by 16:30 or 17:00 at sunset. The hike goes well. There is ice on most of the trail and one must be carefull, my spikes are on. After passing the ski center and Wildcat D, on the way to C Peak, I meet 2 guys with their dog. I will not see anyone else on the trail that day. There is nothing to see at the B Peak, it is in the forest. On the way down from B Peak the trail is hidden because some big pine trees fell and the trail is blocked. Take a 10-minute break at the Carter Lake and take a picture of the Carter Hut away in the forest before taking the Crater-Moriah Trail. I read somewhere the Carter hut is the only one open in the winter. When reaching the top of Carter Dome the snow begins, it is not heavy but does not stop. The climb to Carter Dome was very steep. On the way down from Carter Dome I reach the Carter lake and it begins to snow more intensively. This is a bit of a surprise because the weather forecast said it would begin at the end of the pm. On the way up to B peak the snow becomes heavy and the daylignt is dimishing rapidly. It must be because it is very cloudy because I don't expect darkness to fall until at least 16:30. Or could I be late on my schedule? It is also true I am not as fast as usual. I am still tired from the big hike of yesterday on the Carter Range. Shortly after reaching B Peak the darkess is complete and the snow is falling very hard. I conclude it is 16:30 and I still have at least 1.5 hour to walk. I put on my head lamp but don't see much because of the intensity of the snow fall and the reflection of the light on the snow flakes. There is ice everywhere. I fall hard once. I get my walking poles out, with the snow hiding the ice which is everywhere, the darkeness and my fatigue I take every precaution not to have an accident. It is slippery even with the spikes. I decide I will take take my emergency exit: the ski slopes of the Wildcat Ski Area. I feeling of panic suddenly creeps into me. But I am not hungry, I am not injured, I am not tired, I am not cold. I am not lost. I can rely on my Wilderness Emergency training to make the right decision. All I have to do is walk. Keep a clear head. But it takes an infinity to get to the wooden tower on top of the Wildcat D. Am I happy or what to see that tower? There is no noise or light from the ski slopes nearby however. I reach the top of the ski slopes but they are closed. There is not s soul around. I expected to take a break at the chalet on top but everything is shut down. I can barely see 5 feet away with the heavy snow falling in the dark. The head lamp reflects on the snow flakes and doesn't help much. I hike down, following a ski slope that is called "The Catapult". Soon there are snow cannons. Since I don't see far, all I do is hear them as they get close by. 3 or 4 times I get blasted with snow from the cannons. They spit out snow as well as water. I am covered with sticky snow and freezing water. Luckily I find foot steps, the only one I see, in the snow of someone who goes from cannon to cannoon. Probably someone in charge of seting them up or maitaining them. I follow this path, things are a little easier. I am walking on the snow above the knee if not up to the waist when I loose the foot steps which happens a few times. I reach the parking at the bottom of the ski slopes. There is no one. No car, nothing. I walk on the side of road 16 from the Wildcat ski area parking lot to the Wildcat parking. Passing by the Pinkham Notch I decide not to stop for a hot chocolate. The Wildcat parking is only 0.75 mi away. I finally reach the Wildcat parking and start my car. I get my gear in the car, take off my spikes. When I sit at the driver's seat, my whole body starts to shake as if in hypothermia. It is probably the effect of not hiking anymore with the body temperature drop off suddenly. I reach the Hotel at Gorham at 18:45. I will head back to Montreal tomorrow and take the day off, the snow storm makes driving in the night very difficult and anyway, I already am a bad driver as it is.
Summary Total Data
    Distance:14.5 mi / 23.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Breezy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:6.3 mi / 10.1 km
    Time Up:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Distance:8.2 mi / 13.2 km
    Time Down:4 Hours 
Ascent Part of Trip: Wildcat Dec 2012 (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Wildcat E2012-12-16
2Wildcat D2012-12-16
3Wildcat C2012-12-16
4Wildcat B2012-12-16
5Wildcat Mountain2012-12-16
6Carter Dome2012-12-16

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