A winter traverse of New Hampshire's Presidential Range, aka a "Presi Traverse", is the quintessential multi-day mountaineering objective in the East. It is an ideal objective for anyone preparing to climb bigger mountains like Mt. Rainier or Denali.
This Traverse is also the most serious and committing program we offer, and is not to be taken lightly. It is long and arduous, and therefore incredibly rewarding. We describe the Presi Traverse as a perfect arena in which to apply skills you've already learned - but not a good place to learn them. If you don't have much mountaineering experience above treeline, or if you haven't done much winter camping, we recommend you consider one of our other programs to prepare. Or, contact us directly to discuss whether the Traverse is a good option for you.
The definition of a true traverse varies, but most would agree that the trip should include a trip up and over each of the mountains in New Hampshire's Presidential Range. The most popular trek is approximately 21 miles and includes the following summits:
The trek is normally done from north to south, starting at the Appalachia trailhead on Route 2 in Jefferson and following Valley Way to the Madison Hut. Most parties want to bag all the summits along the way, but it is possible to do the traverse without hitting all the summits, making it slightly easier and quicker. At the end, after summiting Pierce, you follow the Crawford Path down to Crawford Notch, emerging just across the street from the AMC Highland Center. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can extend your trek after Pierce to include Mt. Jackson and or Mt. Webster (including the latter brings the total distance up near 28 miles).
In winter the trip is usually done in three days, with two nights spent out in tents along the way. You can expect your pack to weigh upwards of 40 lbs, so training with some weight on your back should be considered essential preparation. Winds can sometimes gust up to 70 or 80 mph, so proper face protection including mask and googles is essential.
You'll learn how to select a safe and protected camping spot, how to dig in, build snow walls, windbreaks, etc. In certain conditions we sometimes leave the tents behind to save weight, and instead dig snow caves or quincies.
If time is short, you should know that the Presi Traverse can be done in a day by a VERY strong team. A Swedish friend and I completed a 25 mile version including Mt. Jackson in 2006 in about 12 hours. Particularly strong teams can also consider a two day version, with one bivouac.
Dates can be arranged on a custom basis. Contact us to find out if there are any groups you can join. But keep in mind that if you join a group, the team is only as strong as the weakest member, and if one person has to turn back, typically everyone does.
Cost for the three day traverse (including equipment):
1 person: $1150
2 person: $830
3 person: $690
4 person: $590
5 person: $540
Cost includes equipment, such as: boots, crampons, ice axe, snowshoes, stove/fuel, tent. Course participants are responsible for personal gear/clothing, food, sleeping bag and pad. Sleeping bags and selected clothing items such as shell jackets and puffy jackets may be available for rent. If you are interested, please fill out our contact form and we'll send you our winter gear list.
Other Mountaineering Courses: