A bunch of us hiked up Mount Jackson this week, taking advantage of a narrow weather window before a big freeze and high winds hit the region. Wind speeds were predicted to reach sustained 100 mile an hour winds later in the evening with gusts reaching into the triple digits and temperatures (not including wind chill) dipping to 70 below.
I’ve climbed Jackson several times before, including last winter. It’s not a huge peak or a terribly long hike, but it is fairly steep 2.6 mile/2,100 foot climb that takes about two hours from Crawford Notch. Microspikes were the preferred choice for traction on the trail which was quite wet and slushy with intermittent patches of thicker ice. Full crampons were only required for climbing the rocky summit which had a thin layer of hard ice and thin granular snow.
We hiked up the Webster-Jackson Trail from Crawford Notch which is surrounded by forest, only breaking above treeline on the final 200 foot rocky climb to the summit. Along the way, we had to navigate a number of unbridged stream crossings, including Silver Cascade Brook at 3200 ft, which feeds the Silver Cascade waterfall in Crawford Notch and can be ice-climbed when it freezes.
Instead of wearing microspikes, I took the opportunity to do this climb wearing some very lightweight and very sharp aluminum step-in crampons I bought for this season. I have some harder and higher climbs coming up in the next month that require full winter gear and I wanted to get use to walking in them with mountaineering boots before then.
When we got to the summit we didn’t linger long because of the wind. I was wearing a balaclava with a facemask which was sufficient and goggles weren’t really needed. Despite its short height, Jackson can have quite stunning views 360 degree on a clear day, including 30 of the 48 White Mountain 4,000 footers. Unfortunately, these were obscured by low clouds and we really couldn’t see much of anything in the distance.
The descent down Jackson was fast and pretty easy after the steep climb up. Total hike time was under 5 hours, but it was a good training hike for me and I got to hike with some new hardcore winter hikers. All in all, a good day in the mountains.