Mt. Washington’s Huntington Ravine Trail

The Huntington Ravine trail.  Supposedly the hardest hiking trail in the northeast.  My verdict? It… wasn’t …not hard 🙂

Right after the trip up to Maine, my father, aunt, and uncle came up to the whites for some hiking.  On Monday we did Monroe with the whole gang, and on Tuesday, pops headed back down to New York and my aunt and uncle were left to conquer the ravine!

oh i'm sorry, were you expecting pictures of climbing and not frogs?

oh i’m sorry, were you expecting pictures of climbing and not frogs?

I was actually a bit nervous about this trail since I’d heard so many things about how scary it was, but it wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating.  That’s not to say that it wasn’t still an interesting and challenging hike.

carol and scott approaching the headwall

carol and scott approaching the headwall

would you like to climb some boulders before your boulder climbing?

would you like to climb some boulders before your boulder climbing?

We started out on the regular Tuckerman trail and it was already oppressively hot and sticky outside.  When we hit the Huntington junction, the trail almost immediately started going UP!  As we progressed, the boulders got bigger and bigger until the hike became more of a boulder scramble than walking on a trail.

boulders in "the fan"

boulders in “the fan”

After navigating through the boulders to the base of the headwall, we were greeted with …more boulders :).  As we proceeded up the boulder field (I believe it’s called “the fan”) we could see the beginning of the rock slabs where the real climbing starts.

the real climbing begins

the real climbing begins

We reached the base of the slabs and things slowed down a bit as we made sure of our hand holds and also kept checking that we were still on the “trail” (needs…more…markers!!!).  There are definitely plenty of spots where a fall would result in some major ouchies, but for the most part the hand holds were decent and I didn’t feel particularly anxious.  I remember maybe 3 or more spots where the maneuvering was slightly tricky and I felt a bit vulnerable to death/dismemberment.  At one spot, most of us needed a boost from below or a helping hand from above to get up onto this one boulder with bad hand holds, so I’d recommend doing this trail with a friend and not alone.

trail says... go up

trail says… go up

At one point we couldn’t see any markers and I climbed up ahead to see if I could find the trail, only to realize i was ever-so-slightly not on it.  Because of this, I had to do some annoying maneuvers in a scratchy bush.  Super secret pro tip: stay on the trail.  😉 😉 😉

carol looking like a boss navigating some rock slabs

carol looking like a boss navigating some rock slabs

The entire scramble up the headwall I was waiting for some super steep sections with iron rungs, as that’s what I was expecting based on a trail description I was given a few years back.  A woman I had met on the summit had just climbed the ravine and told me about the trail, how tricky it was, and how they had installed iron rungs in places to help out the climbers.  Welp, they must’ve rerouted the trail since then, because I saw NO RUNGS!  My aunt and uncle had done the trail 10-15 years back and were also under the impression that it had changed since then.  These declarations came mostly in the form of my exasperated aunt saying “I DON’T REMEMBER THIS!!???!” as we climbed up the headwall.  Hi Aunt Carol!!! 🙂

view from somewhere on the headwall

view from somewhere on the headwall

at the top!!

at the top!!

We finally reached the giant rock cairn at the alpine garden, signifying the end of the Huntington Ravine trail.  We survived!  We ate some food, my aunt mumbled “never again!” and then we made our way across the alpine garden to the Lion’s Head trail.  On the descent we were eaten alive by black flies and then it conveniently decided to pour on us.

carol, scott, and lots of cairns on the alpine garden trail

carol, scott, and lots of cairns on the alpine garden trail

The end!!!!!

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