New Hampshire White Mountain 4000 Footers in Winter
On March 17, 2005, Gordon DuBois of New Hampton and Bob Manley of Center Harbor, successfully climbed West Bond, their 48th over 4000’ White Mountain summit in the winter. By doing so Gordon and Bob became members of a very small club, The Winter Four Thousand Footer Club.
Since the first known person completed this feat in 1961, only 325 people have become official members. It’s no wonder, the White Mountains have the reputation for having some of the most severe and unpredictable weather in the world. To qualify as having completed a summit in the winter, the start and finish of the hike must take place after or before the official winter solstice and spring equinoxes, late December to mid March.
Gordon and Bob started their adventure together in February of 2001. Gordon had hiked a couple winter summits before partnering with Bob on their ambitious goal, to hike all 48 over 4000’ White Mountain summits. Since then, every winter has been spent pursuing their goal. Although, given the right conditions, most of the summits can be accomplished in a single day; many cannot, at least not by the average hiker. Many of the summits require an overnight stay in the mountains. On numerous occasions Gordon and Bob would spend two nights camping out in the pursuit of their goal. One night, on their attempt at Mt. Madison, temperatures dipped lower than –20F.
“Prior to my first winter camping trip I would have thought you would have to be nuts to pitch a tent in the snow and spend the night in it,” says Bob. “Now that I have done it, believe it or not, I am always looking forward to the next opportunity.” Bob and Gordon both agree, it’s not for everyone. For those who do get the chance to try winter camping, you’re in for a real treat (that is if you don’t freeze your butt off).
Bob, a photographer, documented their experience via thousands of pictures and many pages of journals. He is in hopes of some day compiling all his pictures and journals into a book. He says, “It’s a strange and wonderful world atop the White Mountains in the winter, if you can’t be there to appreciate it in person, then hopefully my book will allow you to gain a different kind of appreciation for it.” “I often compare some of my experience on the summits to what it must be like to be on another planet.”
It’s not over yet, Gordon and Bob are now in hot pursuit of an even smaller club, The New England Hundred Highest Club; to date, a feat only known to have been completed by 73 people in the winter. However, Gordon and Bob would both like to point out, the pleasure of being out there and experiencing the mountains is the real goal, completing a specific number is only the consequence.
To find out more about the Four Thousand Footer Club as well as several similar clubs you can go to http://www.amc4000footer.org/
To find out more about Bob and Gordon's journey click here or the "hiking journals" link at the top and bottom of each page.
You can view our 4000 footer Slide Show (must have high speed internet to view this link), We have also created a poster with images of all the 4000 ft summits which can be viewed here Summit Poster - April 2005. Some of the summit images are made up of assemblies of images as we did not have images of the two of us on all the summits.