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MITOC Winter School

Returning to my roots, I decided to join the MIT Outing Club for their annual Winter School. This time, I’m a leader instead of just an eager beaver.

Jakes Peak

Had a Spring Break MITOC reunion, with Chris, Greg, Drew, Eric and others. Stayed at a Tahoe “cabin”, really an incredible home we were able to stay in for free. No Camelot for us! There’s more snow here than I’ve ever seen. The moutains got seven-plus feet over the last week. Got up there on Friday night after a long drive, made longer by needing to put on chains, which were entirely unnecessary. I wish CalTrans would let you pass the chain control if you’re a competent winter driver. But the (apparently injury-free) rollover accident we saw indicates that not everyone is…

Record breaking snowfall

Went to Alpine on Saturday, which had a tremendous amount of snow, but was incredibly windy. Got stuck at the base of Sherwood when the lift shut down, so we had a nice climb out. Should have gone to Squaw, where our friends had a top ten day. At least we got a comped lift ticket for another day. The walls of the parking lot were 20′ of snow, so there should be plenty left later in the season.

Ascending from the Lake
At the back of the pack

On Sunday we went to Jakes Peak just off Emerald Bay. It’s a classic backcountry run, with a pretty steep skin track right off the bat. I’m a little out of shape, but Chris kept me company in the back. When we got to the top, I was glad to have my new beacon and shovel, as there are several clear avalanche paths. Definitely need that gear out here; and yes Mom, I am going to take a safety course.

Descending un-gracefully

Descending was not as epic as you’d think given the amount of snow. The high winds had done their worst, and the surface was pretty slabby for the top third. The middle was quite nice, and then it got a little heavier at the bottom. Took a few tumbles in the soft snow when I couldn’t keep my weight far enough back. Still, I had a better descent than John, whose rented AT gear malfunctioned and so had to walk/shovel ride down 2000 feet. Better luck next time, Gamble.

After one lap, I was too spent to consider another. The boys built a kicker at the side of the road and got some extra vert off the 12 foot drop. Drew called his Mom while sending it, for a thousand extra gnar points .

Got home around 9:30, and launched the new site. Not bad for a three day weekend.

Mt Stinson

Finally got out on the snow a weekend after the big storms. Found a hill near the MITOC cabin at Rumney, which was logistically convenient and close enough for a day trip. The snow was still deep and light, but the pitch wasn’t quite steep enough. That, or I need to wax my skis. Still, weaving between the trees is always fun. I got stabbed in my shoulder by one, which actually drew blood even through my shell. Glad I was wearing my new helmet and goggles. Chicks dig scars, right?

Sledheads at Summit
Lunch spot
Bottom of run
Tired and hungry
Route Map

Thanks to Nadya and Keith for the photos

Got back to the city with just enough time for a shower before the LSC SciFi marathon. Couldn’t miss that MIT tradition.

Mt Percy

Ventured into the far north woods of New Hampshire for a weekend off the beaten path. Greg found Mt. Percy by scouring Google Earth for bald peaks; it’s beyond route 2, but close enough to a snowmobile trail that it’s pretty easy to get to. After a long drive beginning at some ungodly hour, we got to the trailhead around 10. Skinned in on the side of the snowmobile trail, diving for cover whenever those ferocious machines sped past. Next time, we’re bringing a rope and getting towed. Once we got to the hiking trail, the noise dropped off and we were alone. We didn’t see any signs of recent skiers, only a moose bed in the deep snow.

The mountain juts above the landscape, only 3300 feet but still two thousand feet above the road. The bald peak looked like a perfect ice cream cone. Sadly, due to equipment issues and our late start, we didn’t make it above treeline, turning around at 2:30 near the col between the two peaks. Still, the ski down was fun in the light powder, and we stopped at a gravel pit on the side of the trail to play on the 40 degree slope. The snowmobilers were impressed by our antics, although we both looked at each other like they were crazy. Cim, Greg and Pat had impressive rides, and I gave it the old college try. The black and white shot below is just prior before a spectacular wipe out.


Huntington Ravine

This weekend I drove up to the mountains for some work on the MIT cabin at Intervale. By trading my blood, sweat and tears, I now have a key to a great base for further adventures in the Whites. After cutting down trees all day on Saturday, and gorging myself with meat Saturday night, I thought a hike was only appropriate for Sunday. I convinced a few other folks to join me on a loop of Huntington and Tuckerman ravines on Mt Washington. I didn’t tell them that the AMC guidebook lists the route as the “most difficult regular hiking trail in Whites.” If they had been warned, they might not have followed me into the breach.

As it was, they were glad they came. It was a gorgeous, clear fall day, with just the right chill in the air to take the edge off the strenuous climb. The trail starts off on the regular Tucks highway, but after Huntington diverges, becomes very steep. There are parts that require hand over hand climbing, and those unsure of their footing might prefer a rope. I made like a mountain goat and scampered up. Having trail running shoes as opposed to real boots was a blessing, because I could jam my feet in cracks and smear on smooth faces. We topped out of the ravine in the Alpine Garden, and I remembered that it was one of the places we scattered Ann’s ashes years ago. I said a silent prayer as we walked across the field, enjoying the sunshine and the spectacular view. Then we turned left and came down Lion’s Head, instead of Tuckerman. Had dinner at a family restaurant in Lincoln, where they had a painted saw with hymns and a cross on it. A cultural experience, to say the least. Then a hurried drive back to Boston, and an exhausted shower. The perfect end to a perfect weekend.


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