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Ascent of Mount Tom on 2016-01-16

Climber: Cynthia Chan

Others in Party:Rumana Choudhary
John Rose
Sanjay Chandra
Lisa E
Date:Saturday, January 16, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Tom
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4051 ft / 1234 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mount Willey, Mount Field, Mount Tom traverse (~8.4 miles)

Gear used: Hillsound micro spikes, snowshoe poles, headlamp
Garb: 1 base layer almost the entire hike!

Mount Willey (4,285 ft), Mount Field (4,331 ft) which is 1.4 miles from the summit of Mount Willey, and Mount Tom (4,052 ft) which is 1.5 miles from the summit of Mount Field.

Mount Willey is a 4,285 foot mountain in the Willey Range in Whitefield, New Hampshire, Grafton County in the White Mountains. The mountain is named after Samuel Willey, Jr. and his family, who in 1826, were all killed in a tragic accident due to a landslide. They had only been living there (Crawford Notch) for less than a year.

The shortest trail up to the summit of Mount Willey is the Willey Range Trail. This mountain is a great peak-bagger to do along with Mount Field and Mount Tom, (both 4,000 footers) as they are all roughly 1.5 miles apart. Mount Avalon is also a short distance (1 mile) away, but its elevation is 3,399 feet, so it is not included on the New Hampshire 4,000 footers list. Mount Willey is popular for hand-feeding the birds at the summit. Many people simply hold out their hand with a piece of food lodged in between their fingers, and wait for a bird to land for a snack.

Mount Field is a 4,331 foot mountain in the Willey Range of the White Mountains. It is the highest peak in the Willey Range. The mountain is named after Darby Field, who made the first known ascent up the tallest mountain in New England, Mount Washington, in 1642. This mountain is an easy/moderate hike and can be peak bagged along with Mount Tom and Mount Willey.

Mount Tom is a 4,052 foot mountain in the Willey Range in Whitefield, New Hampshire, Grafton County in the White Mountains. The mountain is named after Thomas Crawford, whose family ran the Crawford House.

The shortest trail up to the summit of Mount Tom is the Willey Range Trail. This mountain is a great peak-bagger to do along with Mount Field and Mount Willey, (both 4,000 footers) as they are all roughly 1.5 miles apart. Mount Avalon is also a short distance (1 mile) away, but its elevation is 3,399 feet, so it is not included on the New Hampshire 4,000 footers list.

Our group was known as MOB (Mountain & Outdoor Bound), organized by Rumana Choudhary, John Rose. I met Sanjay Chandra in Jersey City Friday after-work and we drove up to the GWB to pick up Lisa, the 5th person on our adventure.
Super-excited on Saturday morning. Though we did not get to the Notch Hostel, New Hampshire until 12:40am that morning, I woke up at 5:30-6am in eager anticipation of the hiking a new set of peaks! New Hampshire 4000-ers in the winter season, nonetheless.

Start Kedron Flume trailhead 10:30a
Mt. Willey 2pm
Mt. Field 3:30pm
Mt. Tom 4:45pm
Finish 7pm

We set up a car shuttle: Left car at AMC Highland Center at Crawford Notch and drove to start point at Kedron Flume trailhead.

It was a chilly (20-30’s F), not too gusty, but snowing and overcast day. We has snow showers on the hike until about 1-2pm, around the time we reached our first summit, Mount Willey. I had packed and brought snowshoes and my Hillsound microspikes; decided to go with just the microspikes for the day. My 1st real winter hike this year! Some carried their snowshoes in their packs as precaution – I risked it! Good decision – I wound up not having to carry that much my 1st hike in New Hampshire. According to the map, approach from Willey is moderate then a steep climb right before reaching the junction for the viewpoint, less than 1 mile from Willey summit. Since traverse, better to ascend steep and descend more moderately, or so we thought.

About 40 minutes into the hike, I had stripped down to 1 base layer about 40 minutes into the hike. Snow coming down all the way, overcast until the afternoon, after we hit Willey. I ran into 2-3 patches of steep ice, where I had to use the tree branches (which were deceptively strong though appeared very thin and fragile) to pull myself up – thank goodness for all that climbing experience. There was one point within the 1st few miles of Willey where I was upfront and had to figure out how to climb up very steep, slippery mountainsides. There was significant fear that I would slip in my measly micro spikes and slide, losing 100s of feet of elevation gained by climbing or worse yet, slide off the side of the mountain! Pressed body against the mountain (and snow), and grabbed at any stable ice holds or branches slimly sticking out of the ground.

Felt incredible when finally reached the junction at what I had hoped at the time to be the Willey summit – but alas, another 0.9 miles to the summit. Windy and exposed at the junction point. Ran into 1st set of hikers there, changing into crampons and snowshoes before continuing on. Was I remiss (stupid) in leaving my snowshoes behind? Upon their suggestion, I went left and viewed the views, took a few photos, then headed back to the signage and continued on to summit Field. It was mighty cold and windy at the higher elevation! Pulled my vest back on – too early for the jacket. Hauled ass to descend Willey and start ascending Field. Field was joyous – ecstatic that the mileage went so quickly after summiting Willey! Saw poles marking the ‘summit’ – arrived with a massive smile on my lips then noticed the grey finch flying about! Incredible!

Found the cairn, under deep snow. Took a few landmark photos! Then off to Tom!
Reached the signage pointing to turnoff for Tom. We all decided to leave our backpacks at the turnoff, take large gulps of water, took our headlamps & cameras and headed up! It was a wonderful rest to hike without a backpack – reached Tom’s summit very quickly. We took some photos, then started heading down. It was a good 10 minutes before it became dark enough to need our headlamps. Darkness fell quickly! Almost pitch black by the time we reached the junction for Tom. The rest of the hike to the trailhead parking area was in the dark, luckily very moderate trail hiking, other than that final butt slide off Tom. According to the map, there was a relatively steep descent off Tom, though not as steep as Willey. We had to butt slide, because it was all ice by that point. The slide off the mountain was narrower than I had wanted it to be, I was scared to death that I would lose control, speed up and slide right off the edge of the mountain, so I tried to stay right as best possible near the mountain and snow back. I used my right micro spikes to try to slow myself down (not a good person with heights and speed), and made it down the ~75-foot slide safely. Not something I would recommend, but unavoidable at that point in time.

After coming off Tom, there was a slight incline / hike up, then more or less flat to the trailhead parking area, but all the way with headlamps. It felt so wonderful to finally reach the trailhead at 7pm! Night hiking is a very unique experience – I don’t love it and I don’t hate it, but my preference is to get off the mountain with natural day light. However, I thank God that we were on relatively flat road by the time we lost the sunlight and it was a matter of following trail markers to reach home!

Time to get out of my wet socks and take a nice hot, hot shower! Food was 2nd-ary on my mind.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Part of Trip: Winter - Willey, Field, Tom (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Mount Willey2016-01-16 
2Mount Field2016-01-16 
3Mount Tom2016-01-16 



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