Black Mountain – Moosilauke’s little brother

Black Mountain
A Beautiful December Day for Kilimanjaro Preparation
The Prouty Mountaineering Program
(the first Prouty Challenge Event benefitting Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center)
Prep Hike #5
3.8 miles, 2,830 feet
December 3, 2011
Wes Chapman
Black Mountain – Mt. Moosilauke’s little brother
Black Mountain is a great local hike for Kilimanjaro preparation, located in the town of Benton, just to the Northeast of Haverhill NH. The Chippewa Trail up Black Mountain (off the Lime Kiln Road) was written up this past summer in our local newspaper, The Valley News, as the “Stairmaster from Hell”. Earlier in the season, and prior to a Dartmouth Football game, I climbed it for the first time with Gary and Jill Rogers in a fairly ugly snow/rain storm to test that description.
L to R, Gary & Jill Rogers, Wes Chapman, and many dogs

Our test group uniformly rejects the florid Stairmaster descriptor – finding the hike short, pleasant and rewarded with great views. I guess we know how the author of the article sets his Stairmaster.

Black Mountain from Lime Kiln Road, Benton NH
My next trip up was the Saturday after Thanksgiving with Rick Morse. Today’s climb was with my favorite climbing companions – my dogs Kate and Baby – and four other Pilgrims that we bumped into on the trail. Early December can bring some great weather, and today started at 29 degrees, warming to 38 by the time we got to the top. The sky was clear, and the wind from the north at 5-10 mph. In short, it was just about as nice as it gets. The photos shown herein are a combination of these two trips.
This mountain lies just a little outside the Smarts/Cube/Moosilauke axis that most Hanover and Dartmouth people seem to favor, and accordingly gets less traffic and offers a great, short alternative for folks training for Kili.
Hoar Frost crystals on the Trail near the summit
The Kinsman Range with Lafayette beyond from Black Mt. Summit
Moosilauke seen from the summit of Black
The Author and two friends on the trail in November
Rick Morse and Wes eating Thanksgiving leftovers on Black Mt.
Fog across the Connecticut River Valley from Black Mt. in November
Mrs. Baby – the dog treat bandit
Like many of the other local hills in western and southern New Hampshire, the summit of Black Mt. is quartzite, a very hard “cap rock”. Quartzite is basically highly metamorphic beach sand, composed of quartz – silica dioxide. Although I haven’t done the research to confirm, I assume that the origin of the quartzite is from thrust faulting from across the river in the American Plate. Quartzite is also very resistant to chemical weathering, and is very poor at supporting plant growth. The plants occupy the same tenuous position on these mountains that a toupee does on a bald man’s head – they are much more tied to each other than what lies beneath.
A small fold in a quartz vein in the Black Mt. Quartzite
The Black Mountain Quartzite is generally massive, and frequently polished by glaciation, with clear striations and check marks. It is brecciated near the summit along the former contact zone into the coolest quartz breccia that I’ve ever seen. The fold shown in the photo above is a great example of plastic deformation in this very hard rock – it’s hard to imagine the pressure and temperature to facilitate that. This is a great hike, with cool geology and super views – well worth the trip.
Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

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