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Cabin Update – December 12, 2013

December 12, 2013
Howdy Harvard Cabin Mountaineers,The 2013-14 Cabin season is well underway! The cabin is well-stocked and ready for another long and enjoyable season. The first full weekend of the new season also brought the first full cabin of the seaon too! It’s sure good to be back and having seen so many familiar faces already! Keep ’em coming!

The caretakers have been busy turning the dormant refuge into the winter abode we all know and love. Evicting the mice, sweeping the chimney, clearing blow downs, cutting firewood, and the annual top to bottom cleaning and sanitizing. Eventually, it was time to hang the holiday wreath on the cabin door.

I wasn’t sure how it was going to be having two caretakers looking after the place at the same time. Turns out, it’s great! Twice the caretakers, twice the ability to do work! With the increase in productivity we decided to undertake the very overdue task of cleaning the interior of the logs. At first, I had suspicions that we we were removing some form of log treatment applied eons ago. Turns out the caked on residue was exactly what it seemed -decades of smoke, cooking oils, dust, dirt, and grime. It was a dirty but very satisfying process.

Overall Mountain Conditions

Fortunately, the mountain has been more Winter like then not. We did have one big warm up last week that also brought about a half an inch of rain. We lost much of the snow we had prior, but the ice really grew in the days after! It’s been cold ever since and we’ve been getting about an inch or more of snow a day. Yesterday brought a significant increase with over 7 inches reco. It seems most of the snow has been primarily result of the upslope effect, however, not all. There is a nice blanket of snow across the entire Mt. Washington Valley, with more in store for the region over the weekend.

I’m hoping this weekends snow event(s) bring the trails into full winter condition. It sure be nice to get on the skis for another season, if only for going uphill anyway. My left knee is still in recovery following ACL Reconstruction surgery this summer. Recovery is a long road and I need to remain disciplined to avoid re-injury.

This weekends snow will surely be accompanied by some relative warmth. Right now it is down-right frigid on the mountain. Wind chill values at the summit are approaching 50 below zero Fahrenheit.

Ice conditions in both Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine remain good. Over the weekend climbing teams gained the ridge through Huntington’s O’Dell, Pinnacle, Yale, and Central Gullies. One motivated team rappelled out of North after ascending the two climbable pitches.

On Tuesday of last week, Marcia and I along with Beth, the Hermit Lake Caretaker, navigated our way up the Tuckerman Headwall. It was my first ice in many months and my first day out with my repaired knee and high tech brace. It was an experimental outing for sure. Luckily, my knee and new accessories worked seamlessly! I had a lot of anxiety about the knee brace. I even had it retooled to be slimmer fitting and ski boot compatible……I am very pleased with the end result. A great big Thank You to Physical Therapist and brace tech back in Boston.

General Advisory In Effect – Watch for updates

On December 7th, 2013 the seasons first General Advisory was issued for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. General Advisories are issued when there are limited instabilities┬áwithin the entire forecast area. As of today, both ravines remain under a General Advisory while snow fields continue to develop. I could see the possibility of this weekends snow prompting the change over to 5-Scale forecasting. Keep your fingers crossed that we get served up with with a good dose of winter this weekend! Keep an eye on the radar and be sure to update your social media so that you’re made aware as soon as the Mount Washington Avalanche Center issues a new advisory. Head on over to http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org now and find out how. Know before you go!

Getting to the Cabin

The easiest way to approach the cabin is via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the “Fireroad”. Popular hiking maps can be somewhat misleading. The wide and heavily used Tuckerman Ravine trail make for the quickest and safest approach. Keep in mind, the trail is covered with plenty of early season water ice hidden just below the snow this time of year. A form of light traction is much more preferable then a full crampon while making your way up the cabin.

Staying at the cabin…

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that the Harvard Cabin is a public-use cabin operated by the Harvard Mountaineering Club on a first-come, first-serve basis. Everyone wishing to stay at the cabin must register at Pinkham Notch before heading uphill. The HarvardCabin Register can be found at the Trail Information Desk at the Visitor Center during business hours and downstairs in the pack-up room after hours. The cabin sleeps 16 people per night. There is also room for 16 additional campers outside at the Harvard Tent Sites. Rates are $15.00 per person, per night inside, $10 per person, per night outside. US Currency Only. Be sure to read ALL instructions when signing-in so that you arrive prepared and able to fully enjoy your time at the cabin!

If you have any questions you can e-mail jslattery@college.harvard.edu or speak to a Trail Information Specialist at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

Upcoming Events

New England Ice Festivals
Mountain Fest: January 18-20, 2014 – Keene Valley, NY
Smuggs Ice Bash: January 24-26, 2014 – Smuggler’s Notch, VT
Vice Fest: January 24-26, 2014 – Franconia Notch, VT
Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest: January 31- February 2, 2014 – North Conway, NH

Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop – Continuing Education Series
A new program offered by the USFS Mount Washington Valley Avalanche Center and the Friends of MWAC. Free and open to the public the talks are geared towards recreational backcountry users who’ve already taken an avalanche course or who have significant experience traveling in avalanche terrain. Held monthly at IME and spearheaded by USFS Snow Ranger Jeff Lane. For more details Click here for a flyer (200 Kb).

See you on the hill! Think Snow,
Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker

NOTE – Harvard Cabin is not affiliated with the Appalachian Mountain Club.Harvard Cabin is maintained by Harvard Mountaineering Club for use by the general public. The cabin is operated under a special-use permit granted by the USDA Forest Service. Cabin space and tent-sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between December 1st and March 31st each year.