Ascent of Mount Isolation on 2014-03-29

Climber: Michael Berger

Others in Party:Richard Bedard -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Brian Platt
Nancy B
Date:Saturday, March 29, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Isolation
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4003 ft / 1220 m

Ascent Trip Report

#48 Mount Isolation

With Dick B, Brian P, and Nancy B. It's been almost six months since completing my penultimate peak on the AMC 48 and today's conditions and company made it worth the wait. We had early spring conditions - lots of snow but warm temperatures. We had a bit of a misstart - we all decided to start out with microspikes, but about 100 yards into the hike, we all stopped and changed into snowshoes as the temperatures had already started turning the snow into mashed potatoes and we were making a mess of the trail. We wore snowshoes the rest of the day and carried microspikes for all by 100 yards. We were the first up the mountain which meant we had to break trail. Not a big deal most of the time - there was only about two inches of new snow on the trail. However, there had been drifting in some areas and we completely lost the trail several times. When this happened we were breaking trail through much deeper snow until we would spot the trail again and get back to packed snow. Of course, several other groups followed us during the day, so our mistakes are now the new trail. There were a few spots where I think we would have had to give up if we didn't have the tracks of the real trail on our GPSr.

All the way up we had beautiful blue skies with only a few white clouds. Temps stayed in the low 40s and we all spent the day in shirtsleeves - even on the summit! We opted for the Engine Hill bushwhack - we had the same problems staying on the trail as earlier and redefined some of the bushwhack also. The bushwhack is running at much higher elevation than past tracks I've seen, but it is still a gorgeous walk through the birch stands. Last year, Dick tripped on his snowshoe and tore his quad tendon while hiking on the bushwhack and we were hoping to have an appropriate remembrance, but this year's bushwhack wasn't close enough to last year's to get to the exact spot. That injury put him out of hiking for 6 months and was the main reason why I picked a "winter" hike of Iso as my 48th so we could also celebrate Dick's victorious return to Iso. Congrats, Dick.

Same story on the Isolation Trail and Davis Path, mostly easy to follow until it wasn't. As we approached the Davis Path, my old nemesis - leg cramps - started to show up again. I thought I had been staying hydrated, but I guess not. I started drinking much more to try to keep it at bay. I finally ran out of water and spent about half the hike eating snow to stay hydrated. Just when we reached the base of the summit, we saw a new face. The final climb to the summit was very steep, but the snow was in good shape and we all made it up fairly easily.

On top, the skies were still clear and we had beautiful conditions with great views all around. I celebrated my 48th 4000'er with pictures and a champagne toast (thanks sherpa Nancy!) and a Sam Adams toast (thanks sherpa Dick!) There was no wind on top today and with the warm temps so we could all hang out comfortably in shirtsleeves. We were so comfortable and the views so great, we spent almost an hour on top. Especially noteworthy was the Washington summit appearing and disappearing in clouds. Several more groups of hikers reached to top shortly after us and we all hung out lazily for a while. Finally, it was time to leave. Our weather timing was impeccable - it was beautiful on top for our entire stay, but even before we were off the Davis Path, the skies had become completely overcast and gray. They stayed that way for the entire descent.

The hike down was mostly uneventful. Nancy saw stars as she was looking left at the incoming weather and got a good bang on the head from a downfall. We were dealing with chewed up trail front some barebooters hiking in front of us. About 1/4 mile from parking, I had to crawl under a downfall and I ended up kicking off a cramping session in both legs, so I had to lay under that tree for about 5 minutes before I could get up and finish that last 1/4 mile of the hike. At the parking, we all relaxed with cheese, crackers, and beverages. What a great day, great mountain, and great company to finish up my AMC 48.
Summary Total Data
    Route:Rocky Branch, Engine Hill b'whack, Isolation, Davi
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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

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