A seasoned mountaineer battles a storm and his ego during a single-day attempt of New Hampshire’s Presidential Traverse.
STOP. The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure even in the summer. Turn back now if the weather is bad.
THE SIGN was clear, but I was on a mission. I’d just left tree line on the Presidential Traverse, a nearly 23-mile, exposed ridge walk in New Hampshire. Hiking it in a day is a regional test piece, and that’s what I aimed to do.
One of the toughest hikes east of the Rockies, it boasts nearly 18,000 feet of elevation change and 10 summits above 4,000 feet—including 6,288-foot Mt. Washington, aka “Little Everest,” the highest point in the Northeast. But it’s the weather, not the elevation, that gives this hike its teeth.
The White Mountains sit at a confluence of several storm tracks. Air picks up speed as it pours east over the mountains, building into a frenzy that routinely clocks in at 100 mph.
But it was July, prime summit season, and though weather reports don’t mean much here, only a little rain marred the forecast. Physically, I was in top shape, and mentally, I was bolstered by the memories of treks I’d taken to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kinabalu, and Everest Base Camp. Compared to those climbs, this would be a piece of cake.
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