Ascent to Mount Lafayette-Dome north of Lafayette on 2010-10-30

Climber: Gary McMeekin

Date:Saturday, October 30, 2010
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Mount Lafayette - Dome north of Lafayette
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:5150 ft / 1569 m
    Remaining Elevation:90 ft / 28 m (3% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Coming from the South it was clear and sunny to about exit 24 where an ominous line of unbroken clouds lay ahead. About 20 miles further it started with light snow. When I got the to parking area on route 3 it was still light snow. I decided to go up Skookumchuck. Although the snow was steady, about 3000' level it was sticking enough that I could barely make out footprints of at least 2 hikers ahead of me. Near the junction of Garfield Ridge they passed by me on the way down. I reached the spot where they turned back. It was a boulder that was covered in ice. As the conditions were still good at this point, my guess is they took the ice as a sign of what lay ahead. I decided to explore a litter further and in fact there was no ice for the rest of the hike. However there was plenty of almost everything else that one would classify as 'inclement'.

Once I was out of the trees the wind was blowing about 40/50 mph, light snow and temps had to be in the 20s or lower. Visibility was about 100 feet. As it wasn't so unbearable -- though I wanted for a face mask -- I did push on. I reached a dome with 3 cairns on top and when I checked the map saw I was short of Lafayette by about 1/2 mile. The visibility was really bad here and I could not really see the trail ahead to get off the dome. I felt a moment of panic, as the idea of the going back didn't appeal, and going on seemed impossible. Having learned to recognize this as a situation when bad decisions get made, I got control of the panic and decided to back. Getting down to tree line was not at all difficult.

With hindsight, once I saw the conditions above the tree line it should have been enough for me to turn back, so I do admit that going on was a mistake and something I will put down to experience.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3450 ft / 1051 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Snowing, Frigid, Extremely Windy, White-out
Grey and damp below treeline. Sound and fury above it.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3450 ft / 1051 m
    Route:Skookumchuck, Garfield Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Route 3 parking  1700 ft / 518 m
Descent Statistics

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