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Ascent of Mount Mansfield on 2012-03-10

Climber: Nick Goumas

Others in Party:Patrick Huegel
Date:Saturday, March 10, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Mansfield
    Location:USA-Vermont
    Elevation:4393 ft / 1338 m

Ascent Trip Report

Drove up from Boston Friday night. On our way up we went through some white-out flurries that definitely prolonged our travel time. Finally getting there around 1am Pat, Hardeep and myself "slept" in the car. Hardeep slept like a baby and Pat and I tried to sleep slash froze in the front seats. In the AM we did some map checking and evaluation of weather and snow accumulation. We had originally planned to go up the west side to the chin, however we decided it would be better to drive around to the other side and go up the long trail. We got to Stowe, parked and started up around 0730 or 0800. It was beautiful out, at some points the sky was cloudless and it was actually hot in direct sunlight.

The Long Trail is marked with white blazes which made it very difficult to follow, also we realized up around Taft lodge we were traveling on about 5 feet of snow in some places. The trail signs were just barely visible. Past Taft lodge we lost the trail, couldn't find blazes and too much snow to deduce where it led. We figured we were close enough though to follow the general path of the map and head up and to the north of the summit, hit the ridge and follow it to the Chin. This worked well until we found ourselves trying to climb up a steep slope well covered in ice. Right around this time heavy clouds blew in, almost instantly we had approximately 15' visibility on a steep slope off the trail. Not good. I was the only party member with crampons. At this point we discussed our options of pushing ahead or making our way down. We decided making our way down the slope with limited sight, to then go looking for the trail seemed worse then the alternative. I threw campons on and headed up ahead to recon how close we were to the ridge. We hadn't realized we were one 20' slope from the flat ridge. I went back down to Pat and Hardeep and ended up using my crampons to cut steps in the ice as came back up so they could quickly follow. Once on the ridge we made our way over to the true summit and met a great guy who was snowshoeing.

Snoeshoe guy commended us on making it up the Long Trail in these freak conditions, and told us to just follow his tracks down as he was going down an easier trail to RT108 due to the snow that blew in. We started following him down, and it was clear his route was very icy and not working well for our group. At this point a snowboarder was hiking up and told us we could easily hike down the "Bootpack" the skiers and boarders use to come up from the gondola. Possibly even hitting the gondola for a ride down afterwards.

We went down the bootpack to the top of the gondola. Using this as our frame of reference, we then set a north east course and bushwacked through the evergreens. This wasn't as bad as expected because of the backcountry trails from skiers and snowboarders. Soon we hit our tracks left on the way up and started making our decent. Not five minutes later snoeshoe guy come up behind us laughing. We explained our trajectory to him thus far and he told us he was happy to see us down under the alpine zone in one piece. We talked for a few more moments and he took off in front of us.

We made the rest of the way down the Long Trail to the car and of course the weather cleared up. By the time we were back at 3000' the sky was blue without a cloud in the sky. It was literally only white out when we were at the top. Just how it goes I guess.

I also forgot to mention, when we were making the last hump before the ridge Hardeep dropped his water bottle. This bottle was roughly shaped like a torpedo, and made out of brushed aluminum. Once it hit the snow and ice, it was already gone. We were on a plane of about 70 degrees. It must have reached 50mph as some point journey. It went into the white abyss and we never saw it again. I hope to God no backcountry rider was below us because that thing could have been lethal.

All in all, a great trip.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2853 ft / 869 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Windy, Low Clouds
White out at the top, clear before and after...
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2853 ft / 869 m
    Route:Long Trail
    Trailhead:1540 ft / 469 m
Descent Statistics



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