All of my previous plans to get over to the rockpile this season have been thwarted by the weather, so on Sunday I didn't want to miss what appeared to be one of the remaining chances to find some decent coverage throughout the Great Gulf. Having been there by chance on the same weekend last year, I noted a definite decrease in the extent of the snow, thanks to the recent warm temperatures and rain.
But, first things first. Before anyone asks, there were no bugs. I occasionally heard a fly buzzing overhead, but I experienced no bites or even attacks.
With Otto opening at 8, there was no need for an Alpine start. The sun had risen over Mount Mansfield as I started out from Burlington.
The drive across eastern Vermont and New Hampshire was a bit dreary and depressing, with low cloud cover obscuring all the mountains. Fortunately, the clouds topped out at just over 3,000 feet. Here are views looking eastward from Sphinx Col...
... and northward toward Mounts Jefferson and Adams.
This is what's left at Boott Spur and Huntington Ravine. The clouds hovered over Pinkham Notch and southward all day.
Meanwhile, clouds intermittently climbed up the west side but eventually dissipated. Here we're looking northward at Mount Clay.
Here are Pipeline, Hallway and Activator. Extended turns are available but require some downclimbing. From other posts it's apparent that Airplane offers the best sustained run.
I like this viewpoint above Hallway. It gives a good sense of the steepness of the routes.
Here I am trying to make the headwall of Hallway look like it offers more sustained turning than it really does.
This is a mellow snowfield that flows into the Sphinx Trail, which at that point is still covered by quite a bit of snow. It's only visible from the north and east.
From the top, you can see my favorite gully on the south flank of Mount Jefferson...
... which by that point already had a set of my tracks.
The gully's headwall offers a nice view of the north flank of Mount Washington and Chandler Ridge. Unlike last year at this time, it's no longer continuous with the gully proper.
The depth of the moat here is 10-12 feet. There definitely is some snow hanging around, so go out and find it while you still can.