Ascent of Mount Hancock on 2013-02-02

Climber: Matthew Nelson

Others in Party:John Zuercher
Matt Schweitzer
Jim Gollahon
Date:Saturday, February 2, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Hancock
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4400 ft / 1341 m

Ascent Trip Report

We arrived just before 9AM and the Hancock lot was nearly full. By the time we started hiking, it was full and people were parking along the road.

Birds on the wire in Concord on the way up.

The trail was very compacted and nearly ice the entire way. No new snow had fallen in a while. Micro-spikes would have been ideal, but we didn't have any, we brought full crampons. We ended up basically bare-booting the entire way which was fine. We used crampons on one of the stream crossings since there was enough ice there to walk across. The stream crossing weren't too bad, and there was often a felled tree or something else you could cross on, or just stay on the same side of the stream and catch the trail again lower down. Several groups had dogs with them, one group turned around at the first stream crossing saying their dog couldn't make it, but at least 1 other group with a large dog was just fine, the dog walked across no problem.

The first 3 miles or so of approach to the peaks is pretty uneventful other than the stream crossings.

Towards the end of the approach you finally get some little views of Hancock and can clearly see the Arrow slide coming down the southeast face.

Once you reach the Hancock Ridge Trail, it immediately becomes quite steep. We started with Hancock first, and shortly after we started climbing, I headed off into the woods to climb the Arrow slide while the rest of the group continued up the trail.

After a short bushwhack through medium density trees, I reached the bottom of Arrow slide and put on my crampons.

Arrow slide was beautiful, the lower section was all old snow, and the upper section was largely ice with some snow to the right.

The whole way up there is a great view behind you of the valley and the Osceolas in the distance.

I headed up the right side staying on the snow until I got near the top, then made my way across the ice just below the largest step in the ice. I had brought my ice axes with me just in case I ran into some little spots to climb, and for arresting while we slide down the steep trail on descent, they definitely came in handy here as I wouldn't have been able to cross over without them.

The ice was in pretty good condition, though not very fat. I had ok sticks all the way across.

The slide splits into 2 chutes near the top, and there is a large cairn right below the left chute.

I headed up the left chute thinking the cairn indicated a decent way through the trees, but didn't really find one. The chute itself was gorgeous, with small pine trees, ice and snow only partially covering the rocks.

I would have loved to stay here a while and have a snack and take some more pictures, but I didn't want the other guys to have to wait for me and worry, so I made my way up and had to plow my way through the trees. Above the chute there is just a short climb through med/high density pine trees to the summit.

Overall not bad, but some sections got a bit thick. I reached the summit just minutes after the other guys got there, we took a summit photo and continued on our way.

The walk across the ridge is also pretty uneventful and went pretty fast. We reached the summit of South Hancock and stopped for a rest and some food. The outlook on South Hancock wasn't very good, maybe because the clouds had rolled in and obscured the far views, but the outlook isn't very prominent, you can't see as wide a view as many other viewpoints in the Whites. While we ate, a group of AMC hikers arrived that started hiking just before we did. They were camping at the intersection of the cedar brook and Hancock notch trails. We took a picture for them, packed up, then headed down the trail. We brought small sections of blue sleeping pad to sit on, and stuck them down our pants to pad us as we slid down the mountain. The trail down South Hancock is very steep, and with the icy conditions of the trail, it was VERY fast. While the trail wasn't very chute-shaped, there weren't too many hard turns that caused us to fly off-trail or into trees, but having an axe in arrest position was absolutely necessary to stay in control. Sliding made short work of the decent and was a ton of fun. The rest of the hike out was pretty uneventful. I found that skipping down the mountain, while probably making you look like a fairy, is a very fast and easy way to cover ground.

We stopped at the common man for dinner, and got back into Boston around 9.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2271 ft / 693 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Ice Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2271 ft / 693 m
    Distance:4.3 mi / 6.9 km
    Route:Hancock Nothc/Cedar br Trails
    Trailhead:Kanc  2129 ft / 648 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Hancocks 2-2-2013

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Hancock2013-02-02 a
2Mount Hancock-Middle Peak2013-02-02 b
3South Hancock2013-02-02 c

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