Ascent of Nubble Peak on 2017-09-04

Climber: Aleksey Zinger

Date:Monday, September 4, 2017
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Nubble Peak
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:3000 ft / 914 m

Ascent Trip Report

It appears that the most popular route starts off FR 304A, shortly after it leaves FR 304 (Haystack Rd.) about 2 miles from US 3. Since the NEHH committee strongly discourages the use of this approach, I decided to try Gene Danielle's ``favorute" described in the NEHH instructions. I was concerned that its description was probably decades old, but the approach seemed to make a lot sense.

The forecast for the first day called for quite a bit of rain, so I planned to get only to Haystack Mountain (called Nubble Peak on the topo). It ended up raining heavily throughout the evening and night, but most of the day was ok. Unfortunately, this made for a wet hike on the second day, even though I started later than normal to let things dry off a little.

I guessed that ``the old logging road that leaves Haystack Rd. about .7 mi from US 3" is the road shown on the NEHH topo. It is blocked off by a metal gate, not ``3 large boulders" anymore. The signs there say ``FR 304B" and ``do not block the gate". It was still possible to park one car there. As NEHH directions say, I followed 304B for
7-8 mins and then crossed the brook on the left. Shortly after, I encountered an old woods road going in the correct direction. I had wondered why the NEHH directions suggested starting off on 304B instead of directly off 304, so on the way back I followed this old woods road all the way to its end on 304. It ends about 100 feet from 304B. There is a similar metal gate there, but no ``do not block gate" sign; there is space to park two cars. Unlike 304B, this road is overgrown in places, with a particularly bad patch close to 304, but starting on it would save one from a very steep drop from 304B to the brook.

The old woods road runs almost directly south, climbing very gently at first. After climbing moderately for a little bit and passing through a very overgrown stretch, it reaches a fork; this was about 18 minutes from 304 on the descent, so perhaps 3/4 of a mile. The branch going left looked better than the one going straight and uphill, so I took that even though it was not heading directly for Haystack Mountain. It went towards the stream on the left (Haystack Brook) and continued to run parallel and above it. It passed two very small streams in a very overgrown section, about 6 mins from the fork on the descent, and two roads branching off to the right and up. Eventually that road kind of dissipated.

On the first day, I headed up and to the right, away from the brook, on some paths. Eventually I hit another road, which was on the branches I had passed most recently. At the bottom of a much steeper slope, it turned even more right and dissipated. I tried going up that slope, which was ok for awhile, but eventually the firs became impenetrable. At that point, I was thinking I as just going up the Nubble Peak, but the ascent seemed too long and too steep. In retrospect, I must have bypassed the Nubble Peak and was trying to climb towards the main peak on the steep portion not too far from the brook on the right (west) side. The branch going straight at the first fork would have perhaps taken me to this peak.

Looking at the map, I was thinking there was no point of going over the Nubble Peak at all, as it involved going very steeply near it and then dropping off from it. So, on the second day I decided to stay next to the brook on the left for as long as possible. I was able to find various old roads past the place where I left off the road on the first day. Eventually it got very steep, but I was able to find various paths going up and made it to the bottom of the slide. The slide seemed way too steep to walk on even if it were dry; when I was there, it was very wet. I went to the right climbing up slowly, trying to find a way through the progressively denser firs. With time running later and the water in shorter supply than I'd like, I decided to turn back. Soon after I encountered an old skidder road that took me roughly to the middle of the slide, where it splits. There was faint path through the firs next to the slide, but it soon became impassable. Perhaps I should have tried to continue to move to the
right from the slide.

The approach from the junction of 304 and 304B looks the simplest navigationally, because one is locked between two brooks, until well into the climb to the peak. The question is whether one can get through all the firs high up on the steep slope. I am thinking of trying this approach for a third time sometime the future, like next summer, but this time at least with an altimeter (not just map and compass) and small shears. If anyone else attempts this approach in the meantime, please post a report.
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