Hiking Mount Washington

Hiking Mount Washington can be a rewarding experience. It is the highest mountain in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 feet high. It may not seem like a “tall” mountain compared to the Rockies, but hiking it can be rewarding.

Cliff Calderwood has hiked this famous mountain and has some tips for a successful journey:

Hiking Mount Washington – Six Tips to Survive the Ascent

By Cliff Calderwood

Every year on Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a hiker gets into difficulties and needs rescuing. Some year there’s more than others. On occasions the outcome is tragic.

Since 1847, 146 deaths have been reported on and around the mountain – more lives claimed than on Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. Mount Washington is one of my favorite destinations in New England. But I’ve learnt not only to enjoy the mountain but respect it as well.

At 6,288 feet Mount Washington is no giant. And the fact many people do hike to the summit successfully without any prior major climbing experience belies the danger lurking on its slopes.

This mountain is in the direct path of three major storm tracks in the Northeast of North America, and its exposure means the difference in temperature between base and the summit can be 30 degrees. Snow has fallen in all twelve months of the year.

In this article I’ll cover six common mistakes that get hikers into trouble and how to avoid them so you have a safe and remarkable climb.


The weather is Mount Washington. It’s what makes it both fascinating and dangerous. Blindly taking a chance the weather will be fine or get better is foolhardy. Check the weather reports and predictions the day before and be prepared to postpone your hike. If you encounter poor visibility or worsening conditions when climbing be prepared to turn around and live to hike another day.


On Mount Washington if nobody is with you, or knows where you’re going, then nobody will know if you don’t get there. Hiking this mountain with friends or a group is not only smart but also more enjoyable. A group size of 4-6 is best, but hiking in the White Mountains solo is for hermits and the bears. If you must hike alone make sure somebody knows your plans and you arrange check-in points with them.


Wandering from the trail is not only damaging to the fragile environment but is also reckless. The weather can fog you in quickly getting you lost if you’re not on a trail, and causing falls into a ravine. Getting rescued on Mount Washington can sometimes require you spend the night on the mountain until help arrives – life threatening even in the summer. Above treeline keep as close to the Cairns as possible – they’re there for a good reason.


Above treeline the temperature drops dramatically and the wind can pick up a “head of steam.” Dress in layers so you can add and subtract as necessary, and pack extra warm clothing – a fleece is good – and a change of clothes in case sweat or rain soaks everything. As a runner I can attest to the fact wet socks = blisters. Keep dry as your body loses heat three times as fast when it’s wet.


Make frequent rest stops to avoid fatigue, especially in hot weather. Take plenty of water and energy bars. It’s easy to get wrapped-up in the climb and then find yourself exhausted and stuck above treeline and no shade for recovery. Also make sure you have some snacks that contain protein – ’cause you’ll need it for the journey down, which in many respects can be as grueling on the body as the ascent.


As corny as it sounds – be prepared for the worst and enjoy the best! A basic scout survival pack takes up minimum space and consists of: a trail map (AMC publish excellent ones), compass, whistle, matches, rain gear, pocket knife, extra food and water, first aid kit, and a small flashlight.


Allow 9-10 hours for a round trip hike to the summit on one of the trails from Pinkham Notch. Depending on the trail or trails you use you’ll be climbing 4,300 feet over a distance of 4-5 miles – not a walk in the park for anybody.

Hiking Mount Washington to the summit is a wonderful experience but it’s a strenuous climb and demands you be in excellent physical condition. If you’re healthy and fit and avoid the six common mistakes mentioned here, then you’ll join the growing list of hikers whose body has survived the climb to the top of Mount Washington.

For more details on other destinations in the White Mountains and to pick up your free travel and vacation reports go to Cliff Calderwood’s New England destinations site at: http://www.new-england-vacations-guide.com/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cliff_Calderwood

The top of Mount Washington has the worst winter weather in the lower 48 states.  In fact it held at one time the highest wind speed ever recorded at 231 miles per hour.  I have hiked many trails in New Hampshire, but as of yet,  not conquered Mount Washington.  I hope you have a chance to soon.

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