Ascent of Mount Cardigan on 2015-08-01

Climber: Spencer Corcoran

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, August 1, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Cardigan
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:3123 ft / 951 m

Ascent Trip Report

After work on 8/1, I decided to hit up Cardigan's Holt Trail to experience the supposedly difficult scrambling for myself.

After a camelback fill-up, I set out from Cardigan Lodge at 4 PM. The lower part of Holt Trail, to Grand Junction, mostly followed old woods roads to a bridge over Bailey Brook (low flow), then followed a standard path to GJ. After reading the caution sign and evaluating the trail conditions, weather, and my energy level, I continued on the Holt Trail.

From Grand Junction, the Holt Trail made a relatively easy approach climb, staying close to Bailey Brook for most of the way. Eventually, the woods transitioned to a more alpine style, and I came to the first scramble, which was a chute-style scramble. The best way was right up the crack in the middle. After I got to the top of it, the trail made a steep and rough climb to "treeline", where I was faced with more scrambles. The first views would pop up here, too.

The scrambling here wasn't a walk in the park, but was not stupidly difficult like the guide made it out to be. On the flip side, the sun popped out from the clouds, so it was shining right in my face, which made climbing some of the scrambles annoying. As I climbed, the scenery got better, and the views more expansive, but I was wondering where the hell the tough stuff was. Well, about 200 vertical feet below the top, I got it...

After a short wooded stretch, the trail made a dogleg left turn, and next thing I know, I'm staring at a steep (45 degree) and smooth ledge. I looked for a moment for blazes, and sure enough, they went straight up the ledge. Knowing that there was no turning back, I started up what was by far the toughest scramble of the hike. Apparently, it was a Class III scramble, which according to the Yosemite Decimal System requires use of hands. Oh yeah, and it said, "Falls can easily be fatal." Yup, that scramble was definitely a No-Fall area.

At first, I climbed straight up the scramble, but there were almost no handholds, and after I felt myself slip slightly, I carefully moved to the left and climbed up via a crack in the ledge. Still not much for handholds. After a rest break mid-way up, I inched my way to the top, but not without slipping slightly again.

To top it all off, this was a solo hike.

Once at the top, the going got MUCH easier. Within minutes, the fire tower came into view, and at 5:05 PM, I stood on the 3,155 ft. summit, complete with excellent views and a nice refreshing breeze to cool me down. Spent a good 15-20 min. here taking in the view, relaxing, and taking in the fact that I just solo hiked that trail. Shortly before 5:30 PM, I headed down via the Clark and Cathedral Forest Trails, and then rounded out the hike by walking the flat part of Holt Trail back to the car. Arrival time: 6:15 PM.

I'll definitely be back again to explore more of this neat mountain massif that is Mt. Cardigan.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1800 ft / 548 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1800 ft / 548 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.8 mi / 7.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1750 ft / 533 m
    Distance:2.2 mi / 3.5 km
    Route:Holt Trail
    Start Trailhead:Cardigan Lodge  1373 ft / 418 m
    Time:1 Hours 5 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1800 ft / 548 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1750 ft / 533 m; Extra: 50 ft / 15m
    Gain on way out:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:2.6 mi / 4.2 km
    Route:Clark Trail, Cathedral Forest Trail, Holt Trail
    End Trailhead:Cardigan Lodge  1373 ft / 418 m
    Time:55 Minutes

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