Ascent of Mount Willey on 2016-10-15

Climber: Michael Stonek

Others in Party:Michelle DeCastro
Chris Durning
Date:Saturday, October 15, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Willey
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4255 ft / 1296 m

Ascent Trip Report

Michelle, Chris and me started at 6:20 AM from the Crawford Notch parking area. We stayed together for a bit but, eventually, they took off ahead of me. I will only see them again near Mount Tom, about an hour later, when I was climbing and them descending.

I started on the Avalon Trail. After 1.2 miles I reached the intersection with the A-Z trail. It was 7 AM and I had climbed 1,100 ft (from 1,500 ft to 2,600 ft), but pretty gradually. I took A-Z for 1 mile to the spur to Mt. Tom to the right. It was 3,700 ft. The final climb was 0.6 miles and less than 400 ft of elevation to the top. There were cairns indicating the peak, but no views. A few feet away there was an opening for some descent views. I retraced back to A-Z and went for 80 yards to the intersection to the Willey Range Trail to the left, which I took.

The descent to the col was a quick 250 ft and then the ascent to the top of Field (at 4,340 ft), 0.9 miles from A-Z. I reached it at 8:20 AM. Similarly to Mt Tom, there were cairns to indicate the peak and an opening further ahead allowed for some pretty views. I started towards Willey, 1.4 miles ahead, still on the Willey Range Trail, on sparse blue markers. I reached the top at 9:15 AM. I descended and continued ahead on the trail for 1.1 miles to its end at the Ethan Pond Trail. To the right was the campsite, a mile away. I went the other way. After 0.3 miles I reached the intersection with the Kedron Flume Tr. This trail could've taken me towards Mt Webster, which was my next destination, but I decided to continue ahead on Ethan Pond for another 1.1 miles. After that, I reached the trail towards the Ripley Falls, 0.4 miles to the right. I would've liked to have gone there, but I didn't have much time so I decided to continue to the Ethan Pond parking lot. From here, it was a quick descent on paved road to Rt 302. It was 12:40 PM. I had descended to 1,370 ft.

This signified the end of the first part of the hike, on the West side of Rt 302. The second part would be on the Eastern side, once I crossed the road. It was 12:40 PM. The trail was much less defined on this side. I was on the Appalachian Trail here, but I made the mistake of taking the blue trail (Saco River Tr) towards the Willey House. It took me 0.4 miles to realize my mistake so I retraced my steps and continue on the white Appalachian Trail, which coincided with the Webster-Cliff Trail. It was 2.9 miles and more than 3,000 ft of elevation gain to the top of Webster.

The going towards this peak was pretty difficult. First, the scarcity of markers, compounded by all the leaves on the ground on this fall day, made for a not very certain ascent. I got off trail a few times. There were several false peaks and some steep climbs. Those false peaks offered the best views of the entire hike, though. I didn't reach the top until 5 PM! The peak sits at 3,920 ft; not quite a 4,000 footer, but the toughest of the 5 peaks I was doing.

After a well deserved break I continued towards Jackson. Very quickly I reached the intersection with the Webster-Jackson trail, but I continued on the AT (still Webster-Cliff) for 1.3 miles to the top of Jackson. This felt very easy to reach, compared to Webster. It was 6 PM. At the top I took the turn that descended towards the Webster-Jackson Tr and to Rt 302. It was dark when I reached the road. I had to walk on the shoulder for a quarter of a mile towards the car. Chris and Michelle were sleeping in the car when I arrived at 9:20 PM.

After subtracting the time and distance I was off trail, my final tally was: 5 mountains, 16.8 miles and 7,200 ft of elevation gain in 14.5 hours.
Summary Total Data
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Willey Range Trail
Descent Statistics
    Route:Ethan Pond Trail
Ascent Part of Trip: Willey's

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Tom2016-10-15 
2Mount Field2016-10-15 
3Mount Willey2016-10-15 
4Mount Webster2016-10-15 
5Mount Jackson2016-10-15 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

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