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Ascent of Carter Dome on 2018-01-21

Climber: Scott Dresser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, January 21, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Carter Dome
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4832 ft / 1472 m

Ascent Trip Report

Up early again this Sunday for another trip north, although this time I was solo. The trip to Pinkham Notch is about the longest for any WMNF trailhead from my home, 3 hours each way. That meant getting up at 4:15a to make it to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead by about 7:30a. There were at least a dozen cars in the well plowed lot and others showing up as I arrived. A few minutes before 8am I started down the trail and began the easy hike up Nineteen Mile Brook to the Carter Dome Trail intersection. Passed about 6 people on the way up the trail and enjoyed not having to deal with any significant water crossings because the water was still high and that had been a major issue last weekend.

Once on Carter Dome Trail I ran into 4-5 easy duck-under or step-over blowdowns and 2 more easy water crossings, the trail was steeper but never difficult and microspikes were the right tool for the job with mainly a hard ice pack up to Zeta Pass. At Zeta Pass there was an inch or two of fresh snow/ice and since Carter Dome looked like it was still in and out of the clouds I opted to do Mt Hight first. The trail up the north side of Hight is super steep in places but, again, nothing that light traction couldn't handle.

Once I was on Hight I was rewarded with great views of the entire Carter Range, the ravines of Mt Washington and the shoulder of the Northern Presidentials. Everything above 5000' was still in the clouds but with the mixture of clouds, ice and sun down below it was stunning. Hung around on Mt. Hight gathering some pictures and getting oriented for the remainder of the day. It took about 2hrs 30min to get up to Mt Hight (4.2m). Temps weren't bad, probably 10-15F but enough of a breeze that it felt colder. After hanging out for 10-15 minutes with the peak to myself I headed down to find the geocache on the way to Carter Dome.

The hike from Mt Hight up to Carter Dome along Carter-Moriah Trail was easy enough, although there had been less traffic on the south side of Hight and in places it was postholed. I still stuck with microspikes since it was stable for the most part. Enjoyed occasional views north along the ridge looking back to Hight and to the still clouded peaks of the Presidentials. After about 30-40 minutes I arrived at the peak of Carter Dome and quickly checked out the NE lookout before it clouded in. I was fortunate to get some views back over the entire Carter Ridge before the clouds took over. Quickly found the geocache as another party behind me was catching up. We chatted and enjoyed the relative warmth, with almost no wind. Gathered my stuff and took a few summit pictures before hiking back north up the Carter Dome trail.

The Carter Dome trail after the Carter-Moriah turn off to Mt. Hight was in worse shape, so I decided to see if I could help pack it a little bit by putting on my snowshoes. As fate would have it they stayed on for the rest of the day. Once I got back down to Zeta Pass it was about 12:30p and since I was ahead of my schedule I did the math and felt like I could easily climb South and Middle Carter and get back to the car with daylight to spare. I knew Carter-Moriah wouldn't be easy because I had read the previous week's trail condition reports but figured I'd take it slow and turn back if it was really bad.

Leaving Zeta Pass I immediately ran into 3-4 blowdowns that required some gymnastics to get over/under, but once I was past the first batch it was easy going until the very top of South Carter. Again, there were another 3-4 blowdowns but no significant bushwhacking required. Eventually I arrived at South Carter around 1:15pm, the 0.75m ascent took me about 30-40 minutes. Again, I grabbed the necessary peak pictures and found the geocache. As I took off another group of 3 people with 2 dogs came through and said the remainder of the trail north wasn't too bad.

The trek to Middle was another 1.1 miles and took about 40-45 minutes with stops along the way to enjoy the Carter Ridge and views of the Baldface mountains. I ran into another solo hiker who was going faster than me, he had attempted Madison yesterday in 70mph winds. Yikes. Almost forgot to log the cache at Middle because of our conversation and managed to drop (and refind) the cover to my pen in the snow. On the way off Middle I stopped to enjoy the last views up on the ridge, but not for long because the wind had picked up on this end of the trail.

Following Carter-Moriah to North Carter Trail I was happy to be solidly back down into the protection of the trees and continued on until I reached the Imp Trail. The walking was tricky on these trails because the monorail was eroded underneath leaving you to step through occasionally even with snowshoes on. This meant a very slow hike down to avoid falls and injury. Once I got to the Imp Trail the snow pack got thinner so this wasn't a hazard. Made one more stop to find another geocache before continuing to a point on the Imp Trail where the bushwhack would bring me back out on Nineteen Mile Brook. I found a recent set of tracks heading in the same direction and set a bearing to keep track of where I was going.

The first brook crossing wasn't too bad but you needed to be careful on the ice. Once across it was smooth sailing almost to the end where one more crossing was required to rejoin the main trail. I was happy to be back on the trail with light fading as well as my legs which were getting tired. After the bushwhack it was a quick 0.25 mile back to the car completing the nearly 13 mile day with 4 peaks!

Trip stats:
Mileage: 12.6m
Total time: 9:10hrs (stopped 1:10hrs)
Total elevation gain: 5343'
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:412 ft / 124 m
    Elevation Loss:1063 ft / 323 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.7 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Low Clouds
30F at trailhead, 10-15F on peaks. Sunny in valley and peaks above 5000' in the clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:378 ft / 114 m
    Extra Loss:32 ft / 9 m
    Distance:0.5 mi / 0.9 km
    Route:Carter-Moriah
    Trailhead:Hight and Carter Dome Col  4486 ft / 1367 m
    Time Up:47 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1031 ft / 314 m
    Extra Gain:34 ft / 10 m
    Distance:1.1 mi / 1.8 km
    Route:Carter-Moriah, Carter Dome
    Trailhead:Zeta Pass  3835 ft / 1168 m
    Time Down:40 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Hight and Carters

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Mount Hight2018-01-21
2Carter Dome2018-01-21
3South Carter Mountain2018-01-21
4Middle Carter Mountain2018-01-21
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Scott Dresser
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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. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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