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Mt. Tripyramid Loop 7/10/09

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  • Mt. Tripyramid Loop 7/10/09

    Day 4: Friday, July 10, 2009
    Mt. Tripyramid Loop
    (North Tripyramid (4,180’), Middle Tripyramid (4,140’)
    · Breakfast @ local restaurant 6:30 AM
    · Drive to Livermore trailhead on Tripoli Road
    (All Cars with WMNF Parking Permits)

    Note: “One of the most challenging and scenic trips in the Whites. Tripyramid is steep and rugged and all routes to its summits have at least one rough section; consequently the mountain is more difficult to climb than a casual assessment of the altitude, distance and elevation-gain might suggest.” AMC White Mountain Guide

    “The Tripyramid Loop is usually completed from north to south in order to ascend the steep rock slabs of the North Slide and descend the loose gravel of the South Slide. Descent of the North Slide is more difficult than ascent and may be particularly daunting to hikers who have difficulty or lack of experience on steep rock. Ascent of the South Slide can be frustrating because of constant backsliding on the loose gravel. Caution: The steep rock slabs of the North Slide are dangerous in wet or icy conditions. The Scaur Ridge Trail is a much easier and safer route than the North Slide.” AMC White Mountain Guide

    Note: “The lower part of the slide has the most difficult, slippery slabs, the upper part is more exposed but offers better traction.” AMC Guide

    · Dinner @ local restaurant (The Mad River Tavern) with dessert at Clay’s Chocolates (homemade waffle cone with Sandwich Creamery coffee ice cream and chocolate sprinkles!)
    · Return to Gilcrest Cottages, re-supply and pack for next hike day

    Day 4 Hike Totals: (kcal: 6,031)
    11.1 miles, 3000’ ascent, 2250’ descent, 8:00 – 9:00 hrs. BT+
    Actual Hike Time: 7:30 hrs.

    Tripyramid Loop Comments:

    Wow! This was simply an awesome, incredible hiking experience! The weather was as stunning as the views. The ridge path was magnificent and the ascent via the North Slide had my undivided attention from the “greasy” start to the wide-open, sheer, mid-point slabs and loose talus and finally the narrow climax of the pinnacle. The views were breathtaking – literally and figuratively! I took about fifty photos while ascending, but nothing could capture the severity of the angle and the depth and scope of the panorama I was experiencing. It was (by far) the best hike in Waterville Valley. I was so proud and overjoyed that I completed it as planned.

    I have a good hiking friend who climbed the East Slide of Mt. Colden (ADK) with me and whistled throughout most of the slide ascent. I initially thought the whistling was an expression of confidence, but she confided in me later that she whistled when she was nervous. Well, the first third of the North Slide of Tripyramid was definitely a “whistler”.
    I had an early start on Livermore Road. The grade and surface condition provided a welcomed, gradual warm-up. As I walked the route my mind wandered and I thought how wonderful this road would be in the winter on XC skis. I covered the 3.6 miles to the hairpin turn that started the North Peak Trail in an hour and a half and was eager to press on to see what I would be up against.

    As I reached the base of the North Slide, two younger guys caught up to me (Dave and Phil from Manchester). I proposed teaming up as we worked our way up the initial slippery sections. They didn’t seem responsive to the idea so I encourage them to continue at their pace and not to wait for me. They did outdistance me, but remained in voice contact until the slick slabs were history.

    The footing on the early part of the slide was very slimy. I was more or less forced to the slide’s left edge along the scrub trees in order to secure my position with roots and tree limbs. I searched for yellow paint blazes realizing that the route markings would probably identify the safest way up, but they seemed few and far between.

    The farther up I climbed the more I wanted to drift left for safety, but I had a feeling that the dense brush of the slide’s border actually created more shade and therefore greater risk of slipping. So I ventured out more toward the center of the narrow slide and started to locate yellow blazes. I also found natural cracks and indentations in the rock for more stable hand, foot and pole placement. So I remained centered and at one point actually caught up to the two guys ahead of me who continued to cling to the left edge of the slide. They commented that I didn’t need any help, but I was simply following a trail blazer’s suggested path and felt less vulnerable in the sun and on surfaces where I could get my foot in a “nook or cranny”.

    I was now in an area of increased loose rubble and talus, but the slide remained fairly narrow (15-20 yards wide). I noticed up ahead that the slide started to bend to the right and open up much wider. Although still quite steep, the footing became more secure and my confidence increased with the rate of my ascent. The black flies were very annoying and I muttered, “Oh, boy! They’re awful!” Fortunately, as I ascended higher, a breeze kept the “flying sharks” from a complete feeding frenzy.

    I easily found the trail close to the top of the slide. There were two small cairns marking a route change and then the opening in the balsams appeared. I was on the summit of North Tripyramid shortly, took a brief tour of a lookout path and was on my way crossing the ridge to Middle Tripyramid.

    The ridge walk was absolutely sensational. The sun highlights filtering through the forest canopy spotlighted the root-filled path. The stark contrast of the lichen-covered trees, ferns and plants of this harsh climate increased my respect and appreciation for the hardy species inhabiting this elevation. The lesson of the summit path was that I too could survive in this environment if I persevered and kept going.
    When I reached the top of Middle Tripyramid, I stopped for some food and a few calls back home to let family know I was OK. I took a few great photos of Waterville Valley at the lookout just before the summit and some more from the Middle Tripyramid rock top of the rocky summit of Chocorua and the long, descending ridgeline of Whiteface and Passaconaway.

    I crossed the top of South Tripyramid in another 15 minutes and started descending rapidly to the top of the South Slide. At first glance, it looked challenging, but other than finding stable foot placements and overheating in the powerful sun, the slide was fun and very scenic. With Lake Winnipesaukee clearly visible to the southeast and the Waterville Valley ski area emerging to the west, I carefully worked my way down the talus slabs and spaces of loose soil and scree without incident. It was time consuming, but better to be safe than sorry. I was amazed to see some remarkable trail work in the form of diagonal stone staircases at a couple of places in the slide.

    By the time I reached the base of the slide, I was eager for shade. Without rest, I started the prolonged, but pleasant walk back to Livermore Road. Even with a good pace, the trail seemed to last too long, but knowing that there was no other route on the map I persevered until I was (thankfully) back at the road.

    A steady, proud pace brought me back to the parking area where I shared some cold refreshments with three young guys who returned just after me. I was tired, but it was a well-deserved fatigue so I had a victory dinner at The Mad River Tavern and a delicious homemade waffle cone overflowing with Sandwich Creamery coffee ice cream and chocolate sprinkles at Clay’s Chocolates. What a party!

    My return to Gilcrest was much quieter since the group had departed so I prepared my pack for Saturday’s Osceolas’ hike, packed the car, cleaned up and fell fast asleep with panoramic slide visions dancing in my head!

    Oh, what a day!

    Here's a link to the Tripyramid Photos! Enjoy!