Mount Monadnock Winter Climb

Mount Monadnock Winter Climb

Mt. Monadnock
3,165Feet, 4 Miles
December24, 2010
Monadnock Orchard by Richard Whitney
Mount Monadnockor Grand Monadnock
Mt.Monadnock is the most prominent mountain peakin southern New England, and is famous in prose, poetry, song and painting dueto the careful attention of the artistic world, beginning with Thoreau andEmerson. Located only 80 miles from Boston, it has long been known as one ofthe most frequently climbed mountains in the world (125,000 visits per year),reputedly second only to Mt. Fuji in Japan (200,000 visits per year). Monadnockis the archetype for erosional remnant mountains called monadnocks in Americangeology (iselbergs) in European geology, who suffer from not having the benefitof Abenaki nomenclature, from which the word monadnock is originallyderived. 
MaryChapman – Scholar and Hiker
My daughter Mary returned from Vanderbilt forChristmas sporting a report card of straight A’s, and further delighted herfather, by agreeing to a Christmas Eve Day hike, bribed with early Christmaspresents of new hiking garb and boots. It was my first trip up this vastlyover-climbed hill, and local pet policies prohibit the bringing of “pets of anydescription”, thereby eliminating my trusted hiking buddies Mrs. Katie andBaby. The New England Hiking Guide recommended the use of the White Dot andWhite Cross Trails, named for their eponymous markings. This is a 4 mile roundtrip, up a series of ledges, some quite steep, and all covered in a thickcoating of ice.
Mary in her new coat heading upMighty Mt. Monadnock
It was quite cold and windy on top (10 degrees,30-40 mph) and was highlighted by an encounter by a 40+ year old guy named Bob,who was chasing his friend Larry up the hill. Bob was wearing short-shorts withbare and very cold legs. He was clearly one of the psycho-climbers from thearea, who explained that he had climbed the hill 5 times over Thanksgiving, andwas hoping to climb it 10 times over Christmas week. This guy needs to get alife, and a pair of long pants.
There is reputedly one guy who has climbed Monadnockevery day for 10 years and counting. Notable”power hiking” records associated with the mountain include that ofGarry Harrington who hiked to the summit sixteen times in a twenty-four hourperiod and Larry Davis, who claimed to have hiked to the summit daily for 2,850consecutive days (7.8 years). There isreputedly one guy, going after this record, who has climbed Monadnock every dayfor 10 years and counting. These guys have taken OCD behavior to new heights(pun intended). While I can understand the motivations, I would pick a better hill.
The bald summit of Mt. Monadnock
Geologyand Morphology
The mountain is largely composed ofhighly metamorphic schist and quartzite from the Devonian Littleton Formation.This same rock extends from Massachusetts into the White Mountains, and isfamiliar to hikers of Mt. Cube in our area. Structurally, the mountain is partof an overturned syncline. Dramatic small to medium-scale metamorphic folds arevisible on many of the rock faces of the mountain, and there are notableerosion pockets of selected MAFIC minerals on the surface of the rock as wellas extensive glacial smoothing and striations.
Pockmarked Quartzite – preferential chemical weathering
The locals repeated burned and cutthe timber (red spruce) on the hill, until finally having enough in 1815 andsetting the entire mountain on fire, ostensibly due to wolves denning in blowndown timber. The inferno burned for weeks, and destroyed all topsoil above 2,000feet. The result has been some terrific views, and slow re-forestation up toabout 2,500 feet.
Mary Chapman on top, looking North
View to the North East from Monadnock
Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

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