The Presidential Traverse

The Presidential Traverse is the most serious and committing program we offer, and is not to be taken lightly. It is long and arduous, and therefore incredibly rewarding. Photo: Parts of the Presidential Range from the west.

A winter traverse of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range (the “Presi Traverse”) is the quintessential multi-day mountaineering objective in the Northeast. It is an ideal objective for anyone preparing to climb bigger mountains like Mount Rainier or Denali. Our standard trip is 3 days and 2 nights.

If time is short, you should know that the Presi Traverse can be done in two days (w/ a bivouac) or even in a day by strong teams. SMG owner Mark Synnott completed a 25 mile version including Mt. Jackson in 2006 in about 12 hours. If you’re interested in this, please see our Private & Custom Mountaineering option.

This Presidential Traverse is available as a private, pre-existing group, or via our Flexible Booking option (we’ll try to match you with other climbers). Keep in mind that if you have or join a group, the team is only as strong as the weakest member, and if one person has to turn back, typically everyone does.

  • For your Presidential Traverse, please choose whether this is a private or group.
  • $0.00
  • Online booking is available 2 days from today (please call or email to inquire about earlier dates, we can often accommodate last minute requests). This is your chosen starting date.
  • We'll be in touch to work out specific details, but please briefly describe your outdoor background (relative to the course or guiding objective) and goals.
  • Please read and check the box if you agree to the policies.

    Online Bookings
    Online bookings are subject to guide availability and other factors such as weather and climbing conditions. After receiving your online booking, we will get back to you within 1 business day via phone or email to confirm your booking. In the event that we cannot accommodate your booking, you have the option of having your payment refunded or applied to a future booking.

    Payment
    SMG accepts credit cards, PayPal, checks, and cash. Payment is due in full 7 days before a booking (or at time of booking confirmation when a course/trip is less than 7 days away). An exception is made for payment by check or cash...in these cases, payment is due in full at or before the course/trip.

    Cancellations
    If you have to cancel your booking, please give us as much notice as possible. If you cancel 30+ days before the booking, we’ll apply the deposit/payment towards another booking at a later date or you can request a refund. If you cancel from 14-29 days before the booking, we’ll apply the deposit/payment towards another booking at a later date. If you cancel 13 days or sooner from the booking, for any reason, the deposit/payment is forfeited.

    Weather & Winter
    Winter courses/trips are rain or shine. If SMG cancels a booking due to weather, we will reschedule you for an alternate date of your choice.

Pay a 50% Deposit

Course Information

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 mountaineering programs to prepare. Or, contact us directly to discuss whether the Presi 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:

  • Madison
  • Adams
  • Jefferson
  • Clay
  • Washington
  • Monroe
  • Eisenhower
  • Pierce

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 quinzees.

Cost (per person) for the three day traverse (including equipment):

  • 1 person: $1225
  • 2 person: $905
  • 3 person: $765
  • 4 person: $650
  • 5 person: $570

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.

Mountains, Cliffs, & Routes

The Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Difficulty

Intermediate to Advanced

Length

3 Days & 2 Nights

Season

Winter

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