Ascent of Mount Huntington on 2019-09-28

Climber: Map Man

Date:Saturday, September 28, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Huntington
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:3680 ft / 1121 m

Ascent Trip Report

#79 and #80 on the NH Hundred Highest. We arrived at the Hancock Overlook at 9:00 and secured one of two remaining parking spaces. Although we had heard that Mt. Huntington could be one of the hardest bushwhacks yet, we planned to be back by 3:00. We set off on the Hancock Notch Trail at a fast pace, cruising through the familiar 1.8-mile first section up to the junction with Cedar Brook Trail, which we had done twice before. It was our first time continuing on the Hancock Notch Trail, and it was clear that it receives much less traffic in this section. It looked like a typical wilderness trail, with mud and blowdowns, although it isn't actually in the wilderness. We only encountered one other hiker in this section, who was red-lining. It was 0.9 miles up to Hancock Notch, and it was a nice hike. The trail started out following a brook, then led through some small spruce forest with bogs and views of Huntington above. We started our bushwhack at the highest point in Hancock Notch, following a bearing directly to the summit of Mt. Huntington, which was 0.4 miles and almost 900' vertical away. We started out in open woods, crossing flat terrain that might be muddy in the spring. Progress was soon hindered by many blowdowns. The climb got increasingly steep, as expected with so much elevation to go in such a short distance, but overall, the climb to the first talus slope wasn't bad. Getting out onto the rocks was a bit tricky, and required climbing over some moss-covered rocks. Most of the talus was stable and easy to climb up. The views from the top of the first slope were amazing. Mt. Hancock was in the center of the view, and we could look straight down on Hancock Notch and the valleys on both sides. We could see the Franconias, Mt. Hitchcock, and the Bonds on the west side, and Mt. Carrigain and the Moat Range on the east side. As we climbed past the end of the first talus slope, we got into what is undoubtedly the most horrific bushwhack I have ever done in my life. To get up to the second talus slope, we had to climb up an insanely steep slope, where there was no solid ground - only wet moss-covered boulders. And of course, all of it was in the midst of killer spruce trees. The only fortunate part was that the spruce trees were tall enough for us to be able to crawl under for the most part. It was a major relief to reach the second talus slope, and we climbed easily to the top. We took a break on one of the boulders around an interesting crevasse. The view was improved from here. We continued straight uphill into the forest. We first had to deal with a bit more of the same nasty terrain, but it soon gave way to moderately thick spruce forest. Compared to what we had come through, it was heavenly. It wasn't bad as we continued to the top. We found the highest point without any trouble, but we did not find the canister right away. We walked across the summit ridge to the west for a while looking for it, but we soon gave up and returned to the highpoint. Before heading over to South Huntington, we decided to look on the east side and finally found it. The summit sign and register were in a small opening that was clearly not on the highest ground.

We started over to South Huntington (which is really more like southeast Huntington), dropping rapidly through the same moderately thick spruce forest. It didn't take long to encounter more dense trees, although it seemed like they could be avoided by staying on the south side of the ridge, where there was just waist-high spruce. We pushed through a final thick band to get to the broad col, where there was a rare area of wide open forest. We crossed the flat area, walked past a bog, and started climbing again. We hoped the open woods would continue up the slope of South Huntington, but it did not. Immediately as we started climbing, we were back in the thick spruce. Most of it was not too difficult to push through, it just impeded visibility of the many blowdowns to watch out for. The climb was short, but seemed to take forever. The trees opened up into fairly open woods just before we hit the summit. This time we found the summit sign and register right away, and they did seem to be on the highest ground. We took a short break before turning around and heading back down toward the col. We retracted our steps for most of the way, then broke off to the north just before hitting the col. We started downhill and soon encountered a huge open glade. It looked promising but ended quickly. We continued descending in the same type of terrain we had been in all day - thick but passable low spruce trees, with various hidden blowdowns everywhere. We kept looking at tall birch trees and heading toward them, but it was the same everywhere. The descent felt extremely long. The terrain improved as we got down further, but not by much. We eventually crossed the brook coming down from Hancock Notch and looked for the trail on the other side. We realized the trail was quite high up on the slope, and our last challenge was climbing up and and crawling over a blowdown pile to get to it. From there it was an easy walk back to the notch, and we headed out the same way we came in. We made it back to the Hancock Overlook at 2:40.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2120 ft / 645 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2120 ft / 645 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.8 mi / 12.6 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1660 ft / 505 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1540 ft / 469 m; Extra: 120 ft / 36m
    Loss on way in:120 ft / 36 m
    Distance:3.3 mi / 5.3 km
    Route:Hancock Notch Tr/bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Hancock Overlook  2140 ft / 652 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2000 ft / 609 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1540 ft / 469 m; Extra: 460 ft / 140m
    Gain on way out:460 ft / 140 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Route:bushwhack/Hancock Notch Tr
    End Trailhead:Hancock Overlook  2140 ft / 652 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Mt. Huntington

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Huntington-Ledges2019-09-28 a 
2Mount Huntington2019-09-28 b2120 ft / 646 m
3Middle Huntington2019-09-28 c 
Total Trip Gain: 2120 ft / 646 m    Total Trip Loss: 2120 ft / 646 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Map Man
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