My friend Trey and I climbed up Mt Whiteface (4060′) and Mt Passaconaway (4043′) on Sunday. We hiked the peaks starting from the Ferncroft trailhead in Wonolancet, hiking up via the Blueberry Ledge cutoff, the Blueberry Ledge Tr, the Rollins Trail, and back via the Dicey Mill Trail.
These trails form a loop around one of the few old growth forests in the White Mountains. an area called The Bowl, which is surrounded by the steep slopes of Whiteface, Passaconaway, and several peaks in the Wonolancet Range forming an isolated Lost World cut off from the rest of the Sandwich Range.
We hiked Whiteface first because the ledges leading to the summit are quite steep and easier to climb than descend. We barebooted up the Blueberry Ledge Cutoff before switching into full crampons at the intersection with the Blueberry Ledge Trail. The trail gets very steep and icy after this point, getting more difficult the closer you get to the Whiteface ledges.
While I’ve climbed Whiteface in winter condition before, I’d forgotten just how treacherous this climb can be. I’d forgotten to sharpen my crampons since my last hike over the Bonds so I was a little nervous. The ice was very hard and I wasn’t getting the kind of grip that I rely on from my crampon points. But there were enough trees roots to pull ourselves through the crux points and two instances where using our ice axes proved extremely helpful. Still it was very slow going, taking us 3.5 hours to hike the first 3.5 miles of trail.
We were also quite tired still from the previous day’s hike up to North and Middle Tripyramid, which are located quite close by.
Once we’d ascended the ledges of Whiteface, we got onto the Rollins Trail which loops around the northern edge of The Bowl and leads to the actual WhiteFace Summit. The Rollins Trail runs another 2.3 miles on a narrow ridge linking Whiteface to Passaconaway. The trail gradually twists and turns through the woods coming out about 500 feet below the Passaconaway summit.
From there we climbed a series of switchbacks and more thick ice to the summit of Passaconaway which was shrouded in mist when we got to the top. We had a snack, took a photo, and started high tailing it down the Dicey Mill Trail back to the Ferncroft Trailhead. We really flew down this section of dropping close to 3000 feet and hiking the final 4.4 miles of the hike in just over 2 hours.
Another great hike with Trey and #45 and #46 in my winter White Mountain 4000 Footers
Several inches of recent snowfall. Heavy traction recommended. Snow shoes unnecessary.
Total hike time: 9.5 hours/ 10.6 miles