Ascent of South Howe Peak on 2011-10-09

Climber: Gabriel Couët

Others in Party:Myriam Chênevert
Brigitte Benoit
Date:Sunday, October 9, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:South Howe Peak
    Elevation:4740 ft / 1444 m

Ascent Trip Report

On Sunday, Luiza and I woke up around 7:30am. We had to wait for Myriam, Philippe, and Brigitte to reach Chimney Pond with their full packs so we milled about at a leisury pace. After having a quick breakfast and going to filter some water, we watched the sun rise above Pamola's north ridge and hit our lean-to. Temperature rose quickly to a cozy 17°C.

We had nothing to do but enjoy the scenery and relax so I assembled my Monarch chair. This is the best hiking chair I have ever used. I spent over an hour reclined in it just basking in the sun before finally our three partners arrived. Brigitte seemed to have struggled a bit as she was saying the two others had set an infernal pace up Chimney Pond trail. Still she looked in very good shape.

Luiza had decided on her hiking this day and would let the four others go ascend the mountain again while she took it easier. She was going to hike the North Basin trail to Blueberry Knob and back while we would ascend Cathedral trail then head for Hamlin Peak. It was now 10:20am and we checked in at the ranger station.

The first leg up the easy grade towards Cathedral Ridge was very easy. We went at a steady pace until we reached the talus leading to the ridge. There we saw people just leaving the talus and it boosted our egos to push harder. Going up the talus was tricky, as I was finding out is common on Katahdin! Leaving the talus we started on the ridge section itself. Very steep, quite technical in places, I set the pace in front. I had some fun making dynamic moves just for kicks as we were getting further up.

We were slowly closing in on the group ahead of us and we met them around the first cathedral. They took a short break there and we passed them. It was quite a conversation subject that the strong guy in the group was wearing sandals and a skirt. He had the 'Hardcore AT hiker' shirt on though so I didn't doubt he could have left us in the dust if he wanted. Indeed later on he would pull his group enough to gain on us again as we took our lunch break.

We met a few people going down Cathedral trail, around the second or third cathedrals, including a single hiker who told us the wind was crazy up on the plateau and he decided against going on the Knife Edge. Still we had seen many figures there on our way up the ridge. He had come up on Hamlin Ridge and when I proposed that it would be an easier way down than Cathedral, he told us it had its quirks. We kept that in mind for later.

Just before reaching Cathedral cutoff the through hiker joined us. As we were waiting for our respective partners, I opened up the conversation on his pack, a Gregory Z55. I had used the Z65 in the past and wanted to know how he liked it. He didn't like it much, just as I did. The conversation revolved around Gregory packs and which were worth the buy until both groups had caught up. We were only a few meters away from the cutoff and on reaching it, we decided to take the lunch break there. For a while we entertained the idea to push all the way to Baxter Peak again today but decided against it to make sure we'd be down before dark. We were going at a good pace and the hardest effort was already done so all we had to do was to avoid injury.

We resumed hiking around a half hour later along Cathedral cutoff. We soon joined with Saddle trail towards the north and saw one of the park rangers going in the same direction as us. We passed a few people at the Saddle/NW Basin trails junction and kept going now pretty much alone. The ascent on Hamlin's slopes was constant but easy. Brigitte and I set the pace in front waiting for the two others in a couple places.

Reaching Caribou Springs, we decided to push all the way to South Howe. The wind had picked up on the way and was now blasting harder than in any other place on the mountain. After putting on shells we took the cutoff just as we could see people coming down from Howe's summit. We joined with the Howe Peaks trail as they were passing us towards Hamlin. From there, it was a short stroll to the peak where we took a long break. The wind was furious here so the girls took shelter behind the cairn. Philippe and I rock hopped to the basin's edge where we had a spectacular view and almost no wind before coming back to the summit cairn.

It was now only a matter of getting back down on the Howe Peaks trail towards Hamlin Peak.

Lounging at camp while waiting for our group.

Cathedral Ridge seen from Chimney Pond.

Our spread group (me with the red backpack) going up past the third cathedral.

Cathedral Ridge (in front of the Knife Edge) as seen from Table Land.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2459 ft / 748 m
    Elevation Loss:713 ft / 216 m
    Distance:3.2 mi / 5.1 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2, 3
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
    Weather:Cool, Very Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2459 ft / 748 m
    Extra Loss:633 ft / 192 m
    Distance:2.9 mi / 4.7 km
    Route:Cathedral, Saddle, NW Basin, Howe trails
    Trailhead:Chimney Pond Lean-to's  2914 ft / 888 m
    Time Up:4 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:80 ft / 24 m
    Distance:0.2 mi / 0.4 km
    Route:Howe, Hamlin trails
    Trailhead:Chimney Pond Lean-to's  4660 ft / 1420 m
    Time Down:10 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Baxter State Park (October 2011) (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Pamola Peak2011-10-08 a
2Chimney Peak2011-10-08 b
3Katahdin-South Peak2011-10-08 c
4Katahdin2011-10-08 d
5South Howe Peak2011-10-09 a
6Hamlin Peak2011-10-09 b
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Gabriel Couët
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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