The Tripyramids are a famous bunch of 4kers in New Hampshire with more than one epic route for ascents. After having hiked the Tripyramids from both the South Slide and the North Slide, I decided to come back to hike the comparatively gentle Pine Bend Brook Trail.
|The summit of North Tripyramid, looking towards the Presidentials|
A long, cold, snowy winter is a terrible thing to the general public but a wonderful thing for us hardcore hikers, is it not? I've only spent three winters here in the Northeast but everyone tells me that this is a winter to remember. It seems like every other day has had a snowstorm and I don't think I've hiked in lower temperatures in either the Cascades, Rockies or Sierras... even winter hikes in those ranges!
This winter has had some success so far with a great hike of Moat Mountain, Belknap and Red Hill. Very deep powder turned me back on a hike of the Baldfaces. Come to think of it, this hike was my only 4,000-footer of the winter! That's too bad.
The highest summit, North Tripyramid, is 4,175ft and Middle Tripyramid is 4,139ft with a saddle 240ft below the summit between the two. South Tripyramid is a subsidiary peak with not enough prominence to make the 48 4kers but its a nice summit none-the-less. For those compulsive AMC peakbaggers, East Sleeper is just to the southwest of South Tripyramid. It can be easily hiked along with the others but there is little reason to hike it other than simply bagging the AMC 100 Highest
. Its a silly endeavor, to be sure... but then again is climbing the New Hampshire 48!
Here are some photos from my summer hike of the North Slide and South Slide:
|Looking down the South Slide, Tripyramids|
|North Slide, Tripyramids|
|View from the summit of Middle Tripyramid|
While the North and South Slide could be fun in the winter, I didn't want to tackle these alone. Pine Bend Brook it was!
Pine Bend Brook begins right off the Kancamagus Highway and starts at 1,373'. This is probably the most popular winter ascent of the Tripyramids but there is very little parking at the trailhead (essentially, just a small pullover on the Kanc). Its a gentle start which weaves around the woods while crossing a few creeks. At about 2,200', the trail enters the Sandwich Range Wilderness which is my favorite wilderness of the White Mountain Range. The entire wilderness is very well preserved and there's a lot of older-growth trees which given the forest a more primitive feeling. It was no less beautiful in the winter
|Hiking through the Sandwich Range|
|Higher up in the Sandwich Range|
I brought snowshoes but I happened to come late enough so that the trail was sufficiently broken (the second mouse gets the cheese!). As I climbed up the steep side of North Tripyramid, I did put on the micro-spikes which have been an invaluable addition to my permutation of winter footwear. I might never use my mountaineering crampons again for anything short of glaciers!
In classic fashion, the trail looks almost as if it is just upon the summit but really this is just a saddle. At about 3.2 miles in, I hit the saddle between Scaur Peak and North Tripyramid. Its another 0.8 miles and about another 700' of gain. This trail is enjoyable though because it runs along the ridge between the saddle and summit. The summit itself only has directional views but the wilderness is perfect.
|View of Waterville Valley from the Tripyramids|
North Tripyramid is the tallest summit of the bunch and the tallest summit of the entire Sandwich Range at 4,175'. Hiking to Middle Tripyramid is a short jaunt but you dip down about 300' between the two summits. Its enough to make the hike that much more challenging but if you've come this far, you might as well tag the summit of Middle. It has a better view anyways. Its about another additional 0.9 miles, one way.
Of course, you could continue on to South Tripyramid but this summit holds little prominence and almost no view.
|Looking towards Mt Passaconaway|
Well the hike was just as gorgeous in the summer as it was in the winter. I often try and only hike "new things" but I'm glad I came back and tried this one again. Even over President's day weekend, the hike was almost completely clear of people. I am sure that the very cold weather probably had something to do with this but White Mountain Hikers are not easily deterred. I wouldn't call 9.6 miles an easy hike, even by White Mountain Standards, but it wasn't quite as crazy and difficult as other winter hikes in the Whites. I suppose this means I'll have to come back and hike the Tripyramid slides in the winter...
Read. Plan. Get Out There!