View Full Version : crampons for the long trail???

02-16-2006, 14:04
crampons or not for a winter end to end? any input would be helpul.

02-16-2006, 14:32
Yup. At least instep crampons...front points are probably un-necessary. Snowshoes might be useful as well in a winter somewhat more normal than this one. and can take the place of crampons a good deal of the time.

02-16-2006, 15:35
I don't think you can hike the entire long trail in winter. Some of the trail is on ski runs. Don't seem like they would be real happy with hikers in the way.


02-16-2006, 15:44
Definitely crampons and snowshoes.

02-16-2006, 17:29
Probably do-able in winter, but darn few do it. Ask your questions over at Views from the Top.

Wolf - 23000
02-16-2006, 19:55

Been there … done that … got the T-shirt. Before addressing your question I’m going say this, unless you have a LOT of experience DO NOT TRY IT. I’ve been out there in January and February, it gets BAD FAST!!! Do not play games!!! You really need to know what you are doing.

To answer your question, most of the time I did not need crampons but at times they would have been usefully.

Your biggest problems are going to be this:

Finding the trail. The trail is marked with white blazes that can look the same as white patches of snow on the trail. At times such as on the ski runs the blazes are under several feet of snow. Which way the trail goes you’re going to have to know almost by heart. Also the trail is NOT maintained making the trail look like it disappeared.
Falling snow. The trail brushes through a lot of low branches held down from the snow. That may not sound like a problem but when the snow repeatly falls down on top of you and your gear … it turns into ICE. You are going to look like a walking iceman. Gore-Tex, nylon jackets will all freeze. The best way to deal with it is wear a $10 black rubber poncho. It will save you a lot of problems.
Dehydration. Everything is frozen. You are going to need to stop in mid-day to melt snow. If you don’t you will become weaker and weaker. In the harsh conduction, you are going to need your strength.
Carry extra food and FUEL. I’ve been snowed in when it was not possible to hike. I could not see more then 3 feet in front of me.

Let me know if I can help but above all, BE SAFE. When are you planning on leaving.


03-01-2006, 15:08
One thing a lot of non-Winter hikers miss out on is the joy and tragedy of Spruce Traps. A Spruce trap is a hole under the boughs of a spruce or similar tree where there is no snow, or very little snow. You stray to close to the tree and the edge collapses in dumping you into the snow, often head first. It is entirely possible to get buried in there head down and not be able to free yourself before your air runs out. Getting out isn't that hard if you can get yourself upright, you just have to dig out. But it's not a lot of fun. Such things are most common in heavy snow winters.

Yet another reason to always hike with a partner in the Winter. The water issue is another consideration most people don't think to hard about. You need just as much, if not more water in the winter, but it's harder to get. Melting snow is one method, but even if you can draw it from a stream, you've still got to boil it to kill the cooties. That means more fuel, a lot more fuel.

The advantage a Long Trail hike has over an AT section through New Hampshire, is altitude and treeline. More of the trail in Vermont is below treeline than it is in NH. So when the weather goes bad, you've got some shelter. On the other hand, More of the Long Trail (especially in the Northern half,) is more remote and less well travelled, so if you get into trouble, you are far less likely to be found.

Ski trails...why not ski the sections that are skiable? Does that violate some hiker's code? Get yourself a pair of short, backcountry skis with climbing skins and some low-tech strap on bindings, and go at it.

Wolf - 23000
03-01-2006, 21:15
Ski trails...why not ski the sections that are skiable? Does that violate some hiker's code? Get yourself a pair of short, backcountry skis with climbing skins and some low-tech strap on bindings, and go at it.


I would not suggest using ski not because of some hiker's code. The trail has to many blow downs that if you have any speed your going hill your not going to be able to stop. As you said, the trail is very remote. If you get seriously hurt ... it not good.

I never hike with a partner. Honestly, I've been in a lot of BAD places!!! If I had someone with me - unless they were very, very good ... they would be DEAD. I've heard the arguments they can always go for help. By the time they got back with help you probable would be dead. As Iím sure you know, skin freezes in seconds in those temperatures. If something happen to them, Iím not sure I could handle that.


03-10-2006, 17:30
What did you do for shelter on the Jan-Feb LT? Tent (Kind?) vs LT Camps, etc. Also on the AT in PA, NY, CT, MA its generally possible to find water at springs even in the coldest January weather, avoiding melting snow. Did you find free-flowing streams/springs on the winter LT?

Wolf - 23000
03-11-2006, 06:10

When I winter hike PA north to MA, I too found some water flowing but not always. VT is different. Once you leave MA and start hiking into VT your going to notice a big different in the weather. It is a lot colder. VT has a totally different weather pattern. I normal had to melt snow the whole way every day, very rare did I every find any flowing water. Remember even if you don’t feel thirsty drink water, at lunch time melt snow for water. If you don’t after a couple days you will become to weak to continue.

As for shelter, I would suggest carrying a tent. You can try to shelter hop but you may not always make it. Even an eight mile hike can be VERY difficult making when the trail is covered with snow and seasonal blow-downs. When it gets dark, the wind really picks up, combine with the snow blowing everywhere it make the trail impassable.