Ascent of Mount Surprise on 2011-11-05

Climber: Gabriel Couët

Others in Party:Stéphanie Beauregard
Éric Deschênes
Date:Saturday, November 5, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Surprise
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:2194 ft / 668 m

Ascent Trip Report

Stéphanie had proposed, when our work schedules for that period were released, that we go hiking as we had 3 matching consecutive days off. I was much interested and we decided we'd visit the White Mountains. I asked Luiza if she would like to join but her work schedule was heavy. Éric, Stéphanie's partner, joined the group, despite his recently operated shoulder.

I checked what could be done as a traverse and the Carter-Moriah range looked promising. There wasn't much info on such a hike and I think it's because of the awkward camping spots. In either direction, you have a long day followed by a very short day. We could have roughed it and camped in the wild, but we settled on a southbound traverse with one night spent at Carter Notch hut. I reserved our spots a few days in advance.

Friday the 4th, I packed my stuff and Éric picked me up at home around 1:30pm. We went to get Stéphanie at her workplace before heading off towards Gorham, NH. The road was uneventful and getting across customs was a breeze. We took the shortcuts on smaller roads instead of the usual HWY 91/HWY 93 route and reached Gorham around 7:15pm. We drove all the way to the trailhead on Bangor St. and checked it out. At the same time we tried to see if we could rough it there for the night. It didn't look promising so we hopped back in the car. As we were driving around town, we noticed motels were running awfully cheap and after checking a first one that ultimately was closed, we stopped at The Hiker's Paradise and found that USD 48.00 was well within what we were willing to pay to get a good night's sleep.

After dumping our gear in the room we decided to hit the town as it was only about 8:00pm. We drove to Berlin and parked on Main St. We walked around the block but everything was dead so we stopped at the Irving on Green St. to ask where to go for drinks. The clerk directed us towards a place on the eastern bank of the river called Millyard, on Mason St. It was pretty packed and I had to stay standing. The waitress was very friendly and we ordered a local beer from Tuckerman Brewing Co. which proved to be very worthwhile. After two pints (one for Steph, who was driving), around 9:45pm, we left and drove back to our motel. We got to bed and set our alarms for 7:00am.

The next morning we rose and got ready. By 7:45am we were leaving and saw another car with Quebec plates just ahead of us. We decided to stop and get quick breakfast at McDonalds and met the Quebeckers in the line. They were going to climb Mt. Washington that day. After eating we drove to the trailhead. There were two cars there, one empty and the other one surrounded by a group of four. We chatted with them for a bit and we started on the trail together.

As we were going up the first, gentle part of the Moriah-Carter trail, we bunny-hopped with the other group several times. When we set our pace though we took the lead for good. There was one set of footprints in the thickening snow as we gained elevation. Soon, the trail reached a more steady grade and rocky slabs started appearing. Much of the rock was covered in black ice and it was very slippery in places. Nonetheless, about an hour and a half after leaving the trailhead, we reached Mt. Surprise. I guess its name comes from the surprise view you get of the Presidential Range from its slabs.

We paused there and took pictures before resuming our ascent towards Mt. Moriah.

The first part of the trail is very gentle (photo by Éric Deschênes).

The view from Mt. Surprise is neat (photo by Stéphanie Beauregard).
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1433 ft / 436 m
    Elevation Loss:73 ft / 21 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1, 2
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Cold, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1433 ft / 436 m
    Extra Loss:39 ft / 11 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:Carter-Moriah trail
    Trailhead:Carter-Moriah TH  800 ft / 243 m
    Time Up:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:34 ft / 10 m
    Distance:0.1 mi / 0.1 km
    Route:Carter-Moriah trail
    Trailhead:Key col along trail  2160 ft / 658 m
    Time Down:5 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: White Mountains (November 2011) (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Surprise2011-11-05 a
2Mount Moriah2011-11-05 b
3North Carter Mountain2011-11-05 c
4Mount Lethe2011-11-05 d
5Middle Carter Mountain2011-11-05 e
6South Carter Mountain2011-11-05 f
7Carter Dome2011-11-05 g
7Wildcat Mountain2011-11-06 a
8Wildcat B2011-11-06 b
9Wildcat C2011-11-06 c
10Wildcat D2011-11-06 d
11Wildcat E2011-11-06 e
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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