I was looking to cross Mt. Tripyramid’s Middle Peak off my winter list, and at 8:15am I started up the Pine Bend Brook Trail to do just that. I’d visit North Peak on my way to Middle, and if the weather and my body were good, I’d keep going to South Peak, for the hell of it.
If I went to South Peak, my hike would come in at just under 10 miles… low mileage relative to many of my recent hikes. But Tripyramid guards its 3 peaks well – things get very rugged up near the top.
Tripyramid is special to me because it has sent me home in rough shape more times than any mountain.
- 4/3/2011 – Rich and I struggle up the north slide in waist deep snow. We went half a mile in 2 hours. Couldn’t find the trail at the top of the slide, and it was late. Had to head home.
- 11/20/2011 – I went back solo, and scared the crap out of myself on a very wet and slightly icy north slide. The ominous weather (which never actually turned bad) didn’t help. I did complete the classic loop on this trip – over the peaks and down the south slide. South slide teamed up with lousy socks to beat my feet up badly.
- 12/29/2012 – Having broken trail in deep snow and blistering cold, our tired group of 3 turned around on North Peak.
- 11/29/2013 – Rich and I summit North and Middle peaks on a very cold day. Ice on the rugged trail made for slow going up – so we decided to head down Sabbaday Brook Trail and walk the road back to Pine Bend Brook trailhead with the mistaken belief it would save us time. Bad decision. High water in the freezing cold got us bad… in the dark as well. Very wet, cold feet for the last 2 miles. Can’t believe our feet were ok at the end of this one.
So it was with some trepidation that I started my hike.
Things started going my way from the start, though. I was pleased to find I wouldn’t be breaking trail. A group was starting off just as I arrived, and the snow that was supposed to have fallen overnight did not amount to nearly as much as predicted. And the brook was not running high – this was great to see knowing the trail crosses it about 10 times.
It’s easy hiking until the trail starts to climb out of the ravine, somewhere around 2 miles in. Then things get steep for a while, but not crazy steep. There are nice views of Carrigain here and there – at least when the trees are bare. After the final crossing of the brook, things stay steep, but all of a sudden, you’re popping up onto the ridge at the junction with the Scaur Ridge Trail.
From here, its a very easy and flat half mile before a steep and rugged .3 miles to the summit of the northern peak.
Just before the summit is a nice look over toward Mt. Tecumseh, easily recognized by the Waterville Valley ski area on its east side. Mt. Moosilauke was looming out there behind it, to the north and west.
Don’t expect much of a view from the summit, although the trail does line up with Mt. Washington for a very limited view just below it. Today the rime covered summit tower was shining in the clear, dry winter air.
All 3 peaks are heavily wooded. It’s a very pretty walk between them, though, especially in the snow. The small streaks of bright light that were finding their way through the trees were quite nice on my way to Middle.
There was enough snow on the trail between all the peaks to not make the going too treacherous, but I could feel the hard ice beneath it all the time on the steeps. A little less snow and I would have had to throw the crampons on for sure.
After crossing over Middle Tripyramid, I went straight over to South. It’s not far at all, and not as strenuous as the climb up to the middle peak. Just below the summit of South, I found a nice look back to the north and middle peaks. This angle shows off the “pyramid” aspect of these peaks, especially Middle.
I made good time getting back to the North peak after a quick stop on South.
I detoured .2 miles down the North Slide Trail to get the view from the top of the slide. On a clear day, this is almost always worth the crazy steep descent – remember that as you’re thinking it won’t be worth the climb back up!
I stepped out onto the top of the slide carefully as the ice cracked and deep snow slid away from my feet. Standing on what was either a snow covered boulder or cairn, I looked out to the Osceolas and the Pemi until the cold prompted me to get moving toward the car.
After the steeps getting down into the ravine, it was fast going back to the trailhead, and I was climbing into the car at 2. By the way, you may need to shovel yourself a spot at the trailhead in the winter. You’ve been warned!
This was my least eventful hike up Mt. Tripyramid, and that’s a good thing.