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Old 01-20-2021, 08:28 AM   #3
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,273
With snowshoes your speed really depends on the conditions- in particular, how many other snowshoers have passed through since the most recent significantly accumulation of snow. If you're breaking trail (the first person or group to snowshoe through after a major storm), you can find yourself moving incredibly slowly- possibly even 0.5 miles an hour or less.

Fortunately, the High Peaks are so popular these days that many of the trails to a summit (and even the herd paths) get broken out pretty quickly after a major storm. With a well packed out snowshoe path, you don't move all that much slower than you would in the summer (in some cases, if/when rocky sections are buried deep beneath the snow, you might actually move faster on snowshoes than you would traverse the same trail in the summer).

Keep in mind that while your chance of needing crampons (in addition to microspikes) is fairly slim (particularly on those two peaks) it is not zero. IMO, you need not necessarily run out and by crampons for this trip or the next, but do understand that if you're serious about winter High Peaks ascents, sooner or later you will eventually run into a situation where the only safe decision without them is to turn back.

With regards to snowshoes vs. microspikes for extended distances, it depends on the depth of the snow. DEC regulations require the use of snowshoes whenever the snow is more than 8 inches deep (although under the new regulations coming soon, that will change to 12 inches). The intent here is to prevent post-holing, which is when a hiker without snowshoes sinks deeply into the snow. In the event of a minor thaw followed by a hard freeze, post-holing can create a dangerous situation for all other winter hikers, no matter how well prepared they may be with appropriate footwear for winter travel.
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