Franconia Ridge

Having been confined to lift serviced terrain thus far in the season, Rob and I decided it was about time we ventured into the backcountry.  Specifically, we chose to ski Lincoln on the western slope of Franconia Ridge.   We arrived at the Lafayette Place parking area around 7:30 am.  After a solid 20 minutes of messing around with our gear, we were on the trail.  It was bright and clear, the wind was still and it was about 10 degrees: perfect skinning weather!

Here’s an overview:

View Franconia Ridge in a larger map

We shot off down the the Old Bridle Path toward the Greenleaf Hut, shedding layers left and right despite the cold.  The plan was to follow that trail until it passed the bottom of the drainage and then follow it all the up to the top of the slides.  After about 2000 feet of vertical, we realized we had missed the cutoff.  on the upside, we got a pretty good look at the slides we were about to ski.

View Franconia Ridge in a larger map

We skinned back down the trail about 300 vertical feet, until we found the point where the trail comes closest to Walker Brook.  Once there, it was obvious that someone had hiked out of the woods on skis.  We should have known to follow these tracks when we first encountered them.  We quickly found the brook and followed a week-old skin track toward the slides.





Left: the bottom of the drainage and the slides in the distance.  Right: Rob and I skinning.

Eventually the pitch becomes too steep for skins, so we stash the skis and start boot-packing our way up the 1300 foot slide.  This was fun but a lot of work.  The snowpack was mostly powder, but every now and then we’d find some crust or ice, and in many places we were scrambling over larger rocks that were buried just beneath the snow.  For much of the way up we were in thigh deep powder.  The ascent was about 35 degrees sustained and we had to use our poles to ladder up for nearly 50% of the time.

This was my first time hiking in my new North Face Off Chute 26.  When I first found it, I pretty much concluded that this thing was the perfect winter day pack and my conclusion still stands.  I was able to get all of my technical gear, extra layers, food and water into it and it still carries pleasantly.

Rob scrambles upward – I still  owe him a case of beer for
 breaking trail most of the way.

By the time we got to the top the skies had socked in and it had begun to snow lightly.  The wind was blowing steadily, though thankfully not too hard.  Even so, it was still pretty cold, so we scrambled to get dressed and ready for the descent.  On the way down, we alternated between taking fresh tracks and working the cameras.  Check it out…

Rob, wrapping up his snow pit and packing his bag.

A quick review of the run.

Rob, ready to slay pow. 

Killin’ it.

Rob disappears behind a small drop, in a cloud of smoke no less.
He talks me into dropping it shortly after…

Me looking like a fool…

Rob shreds up a nice pitch.
Many have already correctly observed that I was on the verge of experiencing cardiac arrest during the filming of this line.  This is hard work, we just climbed straight up a mountain!  I attempt to redeem myself as seen below:

Ducking under a tree on the way out.

By now, we’d worked up a pretty serious appetite, so we went into town and got sandwiches.  All in all, it was a darn good day.

Gear List (click links for more product info):

Black Diamond Sabretooth Clip CramponsBlack Diamond Raven Ice Axe Gray, 55cmBlack Diamond Axe Protector Bd Orange, One SizeBlack Diamond Spike ProtectorBlack Diamond Guide Glove - Men's Natural, LBlack Diamond Trail Trekking Pole Cinnamon, One SizeBlack Diamond Havoc SkiBlack Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Skins One Color, 95mmBlack Diamond AvaLung IIBlack Diamond QuickDraw Tour Probe 190Black Diamond Deploy 3 Shovel Cinnamon, One SizeBackcountry Access Tracker DTS BeaconBlack Diamond Whippet Self-Arrest Ski PolePOC Lobes Goggle Black/White, One SizePOC Synapsis 2.0 HelmetBlack Diamond Factor Alpine Touring Boot - Men'sFree Shipping on Orders over $50

7 thoughts on “Franconia Ridge

  1. Patriot82

    ah, Brian, at least you didn’t take a face plant. and guys, what’s up with all the heavy breathing? Sounds like someone about to have a cardiac arrest up there. Uh, any way, Brian, I have another good band for you from the 80’s to investigate. Triumph. They are sort of like Rush on steroids. Check ’em out along with Straovarius, Crimson, and Helloween.

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  2. Kbonk

    Yo Brian, remember how out of shape we were at the beginning of the year? Sounds like you still need a little cardio training. j/k – sick videos though. Any chance you can put up the few that Rob took of us? The hilarious one where we all stop, i think there’s a random one of me too

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  3. Brian Sweeney

    Have not skied the eastern side, though we had a pretty good look at it last fall and it looks like it should be fun. (See this post: http://www.briangerardsweeney.com/2010/11/guyot-backcountry-skiing-recon.html) It seems like those runs would probabyl slide under the right conditions but i’ve never heard of them doing so. The first time we were there was powder conditions. Rob dug a pit a few feet deep at the top which re-affirmed our observations on the way up: the snow pack seemed consistent and free of any obvious stratifcation. It was dense and relatively moist. Pretty solid seeming. Nonetheless we had our beacons on the entire way up and down the slide. The second time we went, we had 2 – 6 inches of mid density fresh on top of a thick and firm rain crust. The fresh was sloughing left and right, but the crust was keeping it from really gaining critical mass so it felt pretty safe. Still used beacons the whole way up and down.

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