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08 April 2011

Mt. Webster: Wish I Had Gotten an Earlier Start!

Mt. Webster . . . the one in the Crawford Notch! With so many magnificent mountains here in the Whites, it would be difficult for me to pick a favorite. However, I do like Mt. Webster a lot. I like to look at it, and I like to climb it!

On 08-April-2011, I puttered around the house doing this and that, and before I knew it, the morning was gone! My plan for the day was to climb to the actual summit of Mt. Webster. However, I could see that just wasn't going to happen, not with a start time of nearly 2 PM, plus the need to be home for a 6:30 PM obligation. So, I did the best I could with what I had, which is all anyone can do!

Even with the late start and the need to finish early, I knew it would be possible to at least reach the first set of ledges on Mt. Webster. From the trailhead, I took a snapshot of my ledgy objective located atop the south end of Mt. Webster, and then off I went. (The smaller peak to the right of Webster is unnamed, but my friend Ben has dubbed it as "Mt. Linda".)
The treadway had a relatively firm base, and it was even firm enough to support someone who had recently bare-booted the trail without creating too many postholes along the way. There's still a lot of deep snow on either side of the trail, particularly higher up on the trail, as evidenced in the snapshot below which shows a trail-blaze only a foot or so above the top of the snowpack.
I don't know the precise mileage (probably 1+ mile from the trailhead) however anyone who has ever hiked this trail will likely know the spot that I'll try to describe. It's the spot which involves a tricky scramble across the top of an old slide. Anyway, traction is definitely an issue at this spot and at several other spots above it for the next tenth of a mile or so. Ice, of course, is the culprit! I was able (barely) to negotiate these spot with the gripping power provided by my MSR snowshoes. However, I would've felt much more comfortable if I'd been wearing crampons to traverse these icy spots.

Having successfully negotiated the icy stretches of trail, it wasn't long before I arrived at the first outcropping of ledges on Mt. Webster. I really like the views from here! My favorite is looking southward down the Crawford Notch.
It's also impressive to see Mt. Carrigain sort of standing head and shoulders above the others on the horizon.
And then, there's that wonderfully intimidating view of Mt. Willey staring you right in the face! No need for a zoom lens!
At the north end of the "Willey mass", there are the cliffs of Mt. Willard. I enjoy gazing at Willard's cliffs from Webster, but it's a bit more impressive to view Webster's cliffs from Willard! . . . Hmmm!  Willey, Willard, Webster . . . sort of sounds like: "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers"! Regardless, shown below is a snapshot taken from Webster showing Willard at the end of Willey!
Just as a side-note, it's interesting to compare the Willard hike to the Webster hike.  It's nearly the same distance to the cliffs on Mt. Willard (1.6 miles) as it is to the first open ledge on Mt. Webster (1.8 miles). However, the elevation gains are quite different, i.e. 900 ft for Willard vs. 1,750 ft for Webster. I know in my mind that there is nearly twice as much elevation gain for Webster vs. Willard, but quite honestly, it doesn't seem TWICE AS HARD to climb to those first open ledges on Webster!

Okay, after taking some snapshots and sitting for a bit to enjoy the views, it was time to leave. It was such a nice sunny day in early spring. This made it ever so difficult to stop myself from continuing upward on the trail which was already broken out beyond this first set of ledges. So, if you go up there soon, the fingernail marks in the snow are the result of me dragging me back down the trail!

Although I was kicking myself for getting such a late start, it was some consolation to know that the mountain isn't going anywhere. It will still be there to climb on another beautiful day!
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5 comments:

  1. Terrific pictures! Thanks for sharing.
    -Lee T. Lincoln NH

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  2. Nice way to salvage the day, John! That first ledge on WCT is a fine destination. I remember a scary crossing at the top of that slide once when it was icy. Great photos!

    Steve

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  3. Thank you Steve and Lee for your comments!

    As you say Steve, it is a "fine destination" to hike from the WCT trailhead on Rt 302 to those first ledges on Mt. Webster. You get a sense of accomplishment if you simply reach this point and stop. However, one of the many things I like about this hike is that if you have the time/energy, etc, then you also have the option to continue onward and upward to even more viewpoints, including views of peaks in the Presidential and Montalban Range.

    John

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  4. Hi John,

    The notch is such a beautiful area. We've hiked Willard and Webster so far. I hope to get Willey sometime soon.

    I love your picture of Carrigain. You're right, it dominates the skyline in that direction.

    Even with your late start, you certainly did get some fantastic pics! Thanks for the great TR!

    Karl

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  5. Thanks for such nice comments, Karl!

    I totally agree with your comment about the Crawford Notch being a "beautiful area". It's difficult to single out one particular favorite. It's sort of like being unable to pick a favorite child when you're a parent of several children!:) But regardless, the Crawford Notch area ranks way up there with me in terms of "favorites"!

    I'll look forward to reading a Trip Report from you sometime soon when you get up to Mt. Willey. Best wishes for a good day when you do it. The views are awesome!

    John

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