Friday, April 12, 2019

Wildcat D & E: 4/11/19

With fresh snow and warm spring sun, snowshoe clumping and dripping branches seemed likely on most trails. Ascending groomed ski trails with continuous views seemed like a better bet.

I purchased the $10 uphill pass at the Wildcat base lodge and headed up the designated route along the north edge of the ski area, starting on the Stray Cat Trail.

First views back to Mt. Washington. Very sad to learn that evening that a skier had been killed in an avalanche in the ravine of Raymond Cataract. RIP.

Adams and Madison all lit up.

Quite a few skiers and riders were on the slopes on this bluebird day, enjoying midwinter snow conditions in the morning.

Long straightaway.

Beautiful glade skiing on the north side of the trail.

This narrowish pitch on the Catnap trail requires attention on the part of hikers - stick to the edge!

Looking up at Wildcat Ridge.

Gulf of Slides, Boott Spur and Tuckerman Ravine.

Long views out to New Hampshire's North Country.

Full spread of Washington.

The Wildcat Express quad was down for maintenance in the morning, so for a while Upper Polecat was a groomed highway solely for hikers.

Spectacular day.

Looking back at South and Middle Carter.

Frosted trailside trees.

This makes up for all those days hiking for miles through the woods to a single view at the top.

Approaching the col between Wildcats D and E.

Three hikers heading down - the only fellow trampers I would see.

Upper terminal of the Wildcat Express.

The elevation on the sign is for Wildcat D.

 South view from the open area behind the lift - now the best viewpoint in the D/E summit area.

Looking up at a ledgy area on Wildcat C. I had hoped to go across the ridge to that spot, but it was not to be.

Starting the short, steep climb to Wildcat D, following bareboot tracks from the three other hikers.

Holy cow, there was a lot of new snow up here - a good foot with bigger drifts.

A short bushwhack revealed this view down the Wildcat Brook valley.

At least one blaze was showing.

Big snow load on the summit viewing platform. Even with this additional lift, tree growth has obscured the views to the south, east and north. It's now mainly a western outlook towards the Presys and NW to the North Country.

Impressive snow depths in Tucks.

Huntington Ravine.

This was the start of Wildcat Ridge Trail leading north. Wildcat C was not going to happen, solo.

Broke trail through big drifts down the alternate western path off the summit.

Looking across at former 4000-foot peak, Wildcat E. The honor was shifted to D in the 1990s after Brad Washburn's superb Presidential Range map gave D an elevation of 4062 ft. and put E at 4046 ft.

The entrance to the alternate path.

The Moats and Big Attitash.

Decided to pay a visit to Wildcat E for old time's sake, and to seek a view to the southern/western Whites.

Amazing drifts. I think I was still on the Wildcat Ridge Trail at this point.

Depth of the new drift.

That was work.

Could be the trail.

Definitely not the trail here, but Wildcat E had its own mini-open snow ridge a la Carter Dome.

Views from Wildcat E!

Carter Dome rises behind Wildcat A.

Looking back.

Almost a 360.

Down a bit off the summit of Wildcat E, found a good view SW a short distance off trail.

Sandwich Range.

Carrigain and Hancock.

Mt. Isolation peering over Rocky Branch Ridge. Mt. Moosilauke in the distance.

Ski tracks in the Gulf of Slides. One of the most memorable hikes I've done was a snowshoe into this western-style basin, on an April day of low avalanche danger, with John Compton/1 Happy Hiker. As today's tragic event shows, though, the eastern ravines of Washington can be dangerous places anytime during the snow season.

This was the Wildcat Ridge Trail. I was able to follow it back to the col through all the clinging, snow-laden limbs.

Making tracks.

The unassuming summit of Wildcat E.

More drifts.

Inviting seat along Upper Polecat.

Middle and South Carter.

Quiet descent in late afternoon.

Sun and shadow on Adams and Madison.


  1. So much snow! Looks like a gorgeous day. Very sad to hear about the avalanche fatality...