Wednesday, January 30, 2013

W48-in-1: The Hancocks - 1/20/2013

This single winter season quest has started out with me climbing 19 straight solo winter peaks.  I was excited to be having my brother along for the Hancocks for this hike. He had not hiked in almost 5 weeks after a bout with some tendinitis in his shoulder. This was going to be a good one, in terms of mileage and elevation gain to get him back going again, especially before our upcoming trip to Baxter. Something unique always seems to happen, and this time it was that this hike was my 20th and 21st of this winter season, and it was my brother's 20th and 21st all time in winter. Here we go!
Sunrise from the Hancock Trailhead parking area
We started our hike just before sunrise, at a more "normal" time, you could say. We started the Spot Tracker, and off we went down the Hancock Notch Trail into the wilderness. As we got going, the temperature was not really all that cold. The sun was splashing some alpenglow on scar ridge to our left, and the skies were looking good as we hiked in at lower elevations. The trail was nicely packed out into a highway for us, and the scenery was simply beautiful. We bare booted ourselves all of the way to the junction for North and South peak. Here we put our snowshoes, and snapped up our televators for the ascent.
Cedar Brook Trail in winter 
Cedar Brook and Hancock Loop Trail junction
I had been on the Hancocks two previous times, including once with my brother. Both times I ascended Hancock, North first. This time, we elected to ascend the south peak first. The trail was broken out well from butt-sliders. Our nice warm-up and televators on the snowshoes provided us no problem with the ascent, except for slowing us a little. That was ok, because of course we had arrow slide, the southern Pemigewasset Wilderness and Franconia Ridge in our view as we went up. Since it was my brother's first winter ascent of the Hancocks, he took the lead as we reached the summit for our respective #20's. There was a wind coming from the west, so the outlook on the west side provided not only a good spot for a summit break, but a great view looking east towards Chocoura.
North Hancock and Pemi Wilderness from Hancock Loop (south ascent) 
Me at Hancock, South Peak summit (3rd Round, and 2nd time in winter)
Bill's first winter ascent of Hancock, South Peak 
View from Hancock, South Peak summit
Enjoying some warm tea as a reward
We took a solid break here, but after a while, the fingers started to "feel it" and it was time to get going across the ridge to North Hancock. We proceeded along the completely well marked and broken out trail. It was noticeably different doing the loop in this counter-clockwise direction. The traverse was incredibly easy for us along this section. So much so, after we stopped to talk to a solo hiker, who turned out to be Matt (see his blog here), we had no idea that in just 10 more steps we were already at the summit of Hancock, North Peak. As opposed to the somewhat fair weather we had on south peak, it was snowing like crazy on the summit of North. It was getting colder by the second, so after a couple of photos, we ducked into the trees.

We did some pretty good butt-sliding/glissading down the trail, and it seemed like we were down super fast. The hike out after summiting the Hancocks is always very pleasant. We had a nice weather morning, some views, some snow, and great scenery - it was a great day for the Hancocks in winter, and the end of another solid 4-peak weekend for me.
Crossing a frozen stream on Cedar Brook Trail 
Bill hikes the Cedar Brook Trail 
The Osceola's from the Hancock Trailhead
Hike Stats
Trails: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail
Distance: 9.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,650 ft.
Actual Book Time: 7:05


  1. You guys went the day after my partner, Greg YEAH!, and I went to the Hancocks. Did the same route up South and down North. The butt-slide down North was a blast and didn't hurt the overall hike time, either! Very cool that you both hit 20 and 21!

    1. Definitely, the change in direction was a good decision. The hike between the peaks seems much easier doing South first.

  2. Good to see you up there Dan, even if my brain froze (figuratively, not too much literally!) on making the connection of the familiar face. Good luck with your quests this winter!

    1. Likewise Matt, thank you - appreciate you taking the time to say hello here.