Carter Notch

After seeing the promising early season snowpack decimated by the Christmas rain event, Kelly and I opted to skip the resort scene and head out for a light winter hike.  Now that we’re committed to a backcountry Montana excursion, some extra conditioning certainly couldn’t hurt.  An arctic front was firmly entrenched in the Whites for New Years weekend, bringing with it bitter cold and blustery conditions.  Not wishing to repeat our desperate scree-scramble atop Mt. Washington amid gale force winds, we selected a route substantially below treeline: Carter Notch via 19 Mile Brook Trail.

The hike is an 8 mile round trip, out and back.  It ascends gently for the first 3 – 3.5 miles, where it briefly climbs over the shoulder of the Wildcat ridge before dipping down in to the Notch.  The notch is a pretty spectacular spot: the precipitously steep east flank of the Wildcat Ridge tumbles into two alpine ponds nestled at the bottom of the even steeper Carter Dome.  Even though it’s not the majestic summit of some craggy peak, Carter Notch is a worthy day hike destination.

Since we were theoretically trying condition ourselves for the Montana trip, I loaded my 65 L pack up with all sorts of indulgent paraphernalia: puffy pants, a down jacket, down mitts, extra gloves, my shell, a fleece vest, microspikes, crampons, an ice ax, some camera equipment, you get the idea – way more stuff than you need for a low angle, sub-tree-line, day hike.  I also brought along my new flexible tripod to experiment with concocting some creative shots in the wilderness.  Have a look!

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Gear List:

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Bib Pant - Men's Deep Torch, M Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid Bib Pant – Men’s Deep Torch, MBlack Diamond designed the Men’s Dawn Patrol Hybrid Bib Pant for backcountry skiers and aski mountaineers who want the breathability and flexibility of a softshell combined with the serious waterproofing of a traditional hardshell. Like all the gear in the Dawn Patrol collection, the Hyrbid Bib is made of stretchy and moisture-managing Schoeller softshell to keep you comfortable and moving freely, but unlike everything else it’s also been hooked up with a three-layer waterproof membrane to make short work of deep snow and soggy mornings. If that’s not enough, the fabric’s been treated with Nanosphere technology to repel water, dirt, and oil, and hooked up with articulated knees to let you kick turn, climb, and shred freely. Additionally, the Dawn Patrol comes complete with adjustable and removable suspenders to keep your pants from falling down, drawcord cuffs and ankle gaiters to block out snow, and full-length side zips to let you dump heat when you’re working hard for your turns. Keprotec scuff guards prevent ski edges and crampons from slicing up the bottom of your new pants, and the zippered pockets and harness-compatible fly make life a little bit easier when you’re up in serious alpine terrain.

Black Diamond Absolute Mitten Black, L Black Diamond Absolute Mitten Black, LThe Black Diamond Absolute Mitten protects your hands from the harshest conditions on expeditions the world over. The Absoute features a removable liner with a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable insert and two kinds of synthetic insulation to ward off ungodly cold and wet conditions. The four-way stretch shell rocks a goat leather palm, KEVLAR stitching and a reinforced thumb for incredible durability when handling fixed lines and rocky summit ridges.

Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe Gray, 80cm Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe Gray, 80cmThe Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe is designed to give you the greatest comfort and ease of use possible. The ergonomic, stainless steel head has a flat top and hourglass shape at its connection to the shaft. This creates a shape that’s comfortable to hang onto and allows fast transition to self-arrest. The Raven’s pick shape is very secure in self-arrest, and the large adze makes the dismal job of chopping a belay ledge a little more bearable. You’re going to be walking for days with your ice axe. The Raven’s comfortable head will make all the difference.

Black Diamond Axe Protector Bd Orange, One Size Black Diamond Axe Protector Bd Orange, One SizeBlack Diamond’s Axe Protector covers the pick and adze on your ice axe or ice tool, so you don’t open your gear duffel to find your down jacket shredded to bits. The Axe Protector fits nearly any ice axe, and it’s a lot cheaper than a new jacket.

Black Diamond Spike Protector Bd Orange, One Size Black Diamond Spike Protector Bd Orange, One SizeIf you’ve ever opened the trunk of your car to find your ice axe shaft sticking right through the side of a duffel bag, then you understand the value of the Black Diamond Spike Protector. This simple piece of TPU fits over the spike of nearly any ice axe and keeps the sharp point from attacking unsuspecting gear and clothes while you travel.

Petzl Tikka + Headlamp Grey, One Size Petzl Tikka + Headlamp Grey, One SizeThe Petzl Tikka + Headlamp is a workhorse of a headlamp for outdoor enthusiasts of every kind. This sharp little light provides constant lighting all day long, with three different beams, five modes, and even two modes for the red light. The headband is adjustable and washable, and the housing makes sure the light stays strong in rainy weather.

Black Diamond Crampon Bag Orange, One Size Black Diamond Crampon Bag Orange, One SizeCrampons and soft gear mix about as well as ten people in a four-person elevator. Stash your mighty ‘pons in the rough-and-tough Black Diamond Crampon bag to make sure there aren’t any hurt feelings, ropes, or jackets when you unpack and rack up after the approach. Vinyl-coated nylon keeps the pointy parts away from the things that, frankly, don’t like to be pointed at.

Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Crampon Stainless, One Size Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Crampon Stainless, One SizeWith 14 vicious fangs that tear up everything from vertical water ice to mixed alpine climbs, the Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Crampon is the all-around favorite for versatile winter performance. This crampon’s stainless steel design features lower weight and higher durability than past incarnations of this crampon, as well as additional protection from rust and snowballing.

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