Winter has arrived in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and most of the high peaks are now snow-capped as far west as Franconia Ridge, all the way east to the Presidential, Carter and Wildcat Ranges.
I spent this weekend, hiking and climbing, including an ascent of Slide Peak (also known as Gulf Peak), carrying a full loaded winter pack and wearing mountaineering boots to train up for what promises to be an excellent winter hiking and backpacking season. Excellent, because all winter hiking in the White Mountains is excellent!
Slide Peak is probably best known for Glen Boulder, a huge precariously perched rock and tourist attraction, with excellent views of Mt Washington, Boot Spur, and all of the peaks in the Carter and Wildcat Ranges. The summit of the Slide Peak is about 1.2 miles past Glen Boulder with an additional 860 feet of elevation gain or 2,760 ft for the complete ascent.
In addition to the views, I was climbing Slide with a fully loaded winter pack and mountaineering boots as a training exercise to get ready for winter. I don’t know exactly how much weight I was carrying, but it was easily over 40 pounds, including a tent, liquid fuel stove, sleeping bag, and so forth. But the toughest part of this climb was the fact that I was wearing mountaineering boots again. I am really not used to hiking in boots, and mountaineering boots require a very different stride than the trail runners I use the rest of the year for hiking.
Slide Peak and the Gulf of Slides, the ravine it overlooks, are considered part of the Mt Washington massif. Just beyond the summit of Slide, the Glen Boulder Trail joins the Davis Path which heads north the Washington and south to Mount Isolation. While the summit of Slide is completely exposed, there’s about a half mile of krumholz to it’s east along the Glen Boulder Trail which can be handy to know about if you’re caught in heavy winds on the Davis Path below Boot Spur and want a bail out route.
Most people who bag peaks in the Whites don’t climb Slide, which is a big loss because the views from its summit are quite good, especially of Mount Eisenhower, Pierce, Jackson, neighboring Boot Spur, the Carters and the Wildcats.You can even see the weather station towers on the summit of Mt Washington from the right angle.
After taking in the summit views, I turned and hiked down Slide Peak that way I’d come, taking half as as much time to hike down as I did hiking up.
If you’re in the mood for a good training climb, great views, or for a bit of solitude in busy Pinkham Notch, Slide Peak has a lot to offer.
Recommended Guidebooks and Maps:
- Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Guide
- AMC White Mountain National Forest Map Set
- Exploring New Hampshire Map from the Wilderness Map Company
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