Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tripyramids 11/23/12

Working subtitle: "Fuck your Black Friday, I'm going hiking"

Peaks: North Tripyramid, Middle Tripyramid

Trails: Livermore Trail (from the Kanc), Mt. Tripyramid Trail, Pine Bend Brook Trail

Mileage/time: 10.9 miles, 3300 feet of gain, book time of 7:09, actual time of 6:18

Sitting here (rather half laying) today, looking back on this hike, my body doesn't like me. Since I first hiked with Mike back in September, we've been talking about doing the North Slide on the Tripyramids, the second most difficult regular hiking trail in the White Mountains. The most difficult being Huntington Ravine, which we slayed our first time out. Finally, after waiting out shitty weather, and a bunch of waffling on my part, we finally had a solid window to make an attempt.

I've been up the slide before, a bit more than two years ago. Now, there's something to be said for experience, and likewise, there's something to be said for being properly equipped. Those were two things I was NOT when I was first on this trail. Having hiked 119 peaks since then, and to put it mildly, having seen some shit, I was more than ready to tackle this again. Last time, the biggest factor, was the dusting of snow, and the light snow that kept falling from the sky. It made for a harrowing ascent of the slide, sticking mostly to the edges, hauling ourselves up by tree branches. This time would prove to be different.

Mike decided on an 8am meet time at Pine Bend Brook, the gentleman Wayne who we met on the Hancocks a few weeks back, was going to be joining us. He was there before I was! Mike arrived, and since he was the last, we piled into his truck for the short ride up to the Livermore trailhead across from Lily Pond.

Mt. Kancamagus (?) from the road
At 8:17am, we started rolling up the Livermore Trail. I set the pace at first, knowing that both Mike and Wayne were faster than myself. I soon relinquished the lead, and settled for bringing up the rear the rest of the day. In fact, they began referring to me, as old man... and they're both 20 years older than I am. That just means I need to work harder. The northern part of Livermore Trail is pretty nice, and seems to be really lightly used in comparison to the southern, Waterville Valley end. That doesn't mean it wasn't easy to follow, though in the flats through Livermore Pass, I can see how high grasses could obscure the trail, as blazing is infrequent and faded. There were some extremely eroded sections on the climb up to the pass, not to mention some big blowdowns and some clusters blocking the trail. The south side was smooth sailing for the most part, as the trail widened out as it passed through birch glades, becoming more of a road, as it is on the Waterville end.

We quickly reached the northern end of the Mt. Tripyramid Trail, and made the turn, hitting the Sandwich Range Wilderness boundary at 10. Up to this point, we'd been dealing with dry (frozen) trail, some minor mud, and blowdowns. The section I was most worried about, the base of the slide, was coming up. After a small section of gravely outwash, the slide began, and as I feared, there was a healthy glaze of ice!

The icy base of the slide
We worked our way up the slope to the left, and were able to avoid all the ice on this lower portion. Wayne and myself kept in the open and just went up following the slide, Mike on the other hand, was on the actual trail which avoids the bit Wayne and I were on. He joked later that I was off trail and had to go redline it again, to which my retort was, I've already done it.

Compared to last time, this climb was a breeze. Views opened up the higher we climbed, the slabs were dry and grippy, with only minimal (and very avoidable) ice in some isolated cracks. In all honesty, it went by too quickly, and before we knew it, we were at the top of the slide, and headed back into the woods to hit the summit.

I finally found the "viewpoint" on North Tripyramid, after being up here twice before. It wasn't bad, a short little herd path just behind the summit rock to the left. The views were pretty obstructed, but they ranged from Washington to the north to Passaconway to the east. We didn't linger here for long, and made our way quickly over to Middle Tripyramid, where the views are better, and we took a break for lunch.

West from Middle Tripyramid (Camel's Hump is in the center on the horizon)

Chocorua and Passaconaway from Middle Tripyramid
From here, I stopped taking pictures. I've been on Pine Bend before, and it was pretty uneventful. Got some nice views over to the slide from near the Scaur Ridge Trail junction, and then dropped off the ridge. The steepness got the better of my knees. I was slow on the way up, as my calves and knees weren't cooperating, I blame the 17.5 mile day on Wednesday. Either way, I grit my teeth, and worked through the pain, keeping up with Wayne and Mike. After dropping down into the drainage, the trail smoothed out a lot, and the pain lessened a bit. It went a hell of a lot faster than I remember from back in June, but that was at the end of a 17.5 mile day too, it's amazing what distance will do for your sense of time.

We popped out on the Kanc at 2:33, just after my predicted end time of 2:30. After a brief rest, we decided to drive to Lincoln and get coffee. Wayne followed Mike and I, as I dropped him at his truck, then continued on to the coffee shop. There, we hashed out plans for next Thursday (it's looking like a full Franconia Ridge Traverse if the weather holds), and reminisced about the day. I soon took my leave, and wound my way back along the Kanc. The sunset was brilliant, and I stopped at one of the overlooks to take some pictures. Thanks to Mike and Wayne for an awesome day!


  1. Well done, and nicely written, Bill. Thanks for the company; you're cool to hike with.

    1. Thanks man, you're cool to hike with too. That Wayne guy though... he's just faster than both of us! :P

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Yvon! I've read your reports on VFTT, your photos and reports are always excellent. :)