Winter Triple Play – Climbing Mt Waumbek, Cannon & Mt Tecumseh

Winter Triple Play – Climbing Mt Waumbek, Cannon & Mt Tecumseh

Mt. Tecumseh (4.4 miles, 4,004 ft.), Waumbek (4,006 ft. 7.2 miles),

Cannon Mt. (4,100 ft. 4 miles)

February 3, 2013

Wes Chapman


Mt Tecumseh & Waterville Valley from Mt Tripyramid

Winter can be a cold and lonely time in the North Country, so I decided to pursue the 48 4,000 foot mountains in New Hampshire as a reasonable alternative to fireside sloth or skiing on ice. Over the last couple of weekends we’ve done three; Tecumseh – home to Waterville Valley ski area, Cannon – home to the eponymous ski area, and Waumbek – a lovely little jewel off Route 2 in Jefferson NH.

Waterville Valley is a robust real estate development, attached to a modest ski area, built on Mt. Tecumseh – the smallest of the 4,000 foot mountains in New Hampshire. The mountain was founded in 1966 by Tom Corcoran, a 1954 graduate of Dartmouth College and two-times Olympian. The mountain has had a checkered financial history – in and out of bankruptcy – and is currently controlled by an investment group assembled by the Sununu family. Waterville Valley – like Cannon – does not allow AT access to the front of the mountain, so we climbed the pleasant Tecumseh Trail to the summit.


Gary, Wes Pete and Jill headed up Tecumseh

The weather was cold, so the climbing trail was packed with hikers – seeking some alternative to the wind and cold on the lifts. Near the summit we met a group of 6-8 who had spent the night camping on the summit, and were pretty cold and eager to get down. The view from the summit was great to the northeast to the Presidentials, but it was well below zero, and blowing around 20 mph, so we did not tarry long. We hopped on our skis, and headed down to grab a little cross country skiing before departing.


Mt Washington & Mt. Carrigain from Tecumseh

 Jill in burka

Jill demonstrates the mountaineering Burka

The cross country skiing was great – fast, cold snow with nice tracks. We skied out Livermore Road to the big pines – apparently two or three old growth pines that somehow escaped the ax for the King’s masts or knotty pine paneling. In any event, these are some big trees, and worth a little après-ski cross country.

 Jill with big pines

Jill resting against the big pine

 Big pines from the bottom up

Big pines – from the bottom up

 The Summit of Cannon

Cannon from the Kinsman Ridge Trail

Having been turned away from Cannon a couple of weeks earlier, yesterday I went back at it – up the steep but short Kinsman Ridge Trail. Last week witnessed warm weather, followed by torrential rain, followed by the return of frigid cold. The day was cold and dark and the trail was a solid sheet of ice – first requiring Microspikes then full crampons. I bumped into only a few fellow pilgrims on the ascent, and was at the summit in about 1.25 hours.

Icy Trail up Cannon

Some fresh ice on the Kinsman Ridge Trail

There was very little skier traffic, and I was all alone at the modest summit structure. Snow was starting to blow, and I headed out.

The summit of Cannon

I met a number of people on the way down who had ridden up on the tram, and wanted to hike out. None of them was prepared for the ice, and they were falling the whole way down.

This morning found Pete and me in Jefferson NH, preparing for a quick hike up Mt Waumbek. The last time that I climbed this Hill was in the tail end of a hurricane, and today’s weather was a perfect alternative – spectacularly clear and cold.

Pete on the summit of Waumbek

Pete on the summit of Waumbek

We headed up the 3.6 mile Starr King Trail, which was icy, but mercifully less steep than Cannon. Near the top we bumped into our Kilimanjaro climbing pal Brad, who was out for a little Sunday hike with another friend. It was great to see him, but we missed his wife Ann (and frequent climbing partner), who had headed to the Caribbean for a little warm weather R&R.

Sunlight through the trees on Waumbeck

A beautiful cool morning on Mt Waumbek

It was 0° F on the summit, and more people and dogs started to show up – time to go. The trip down was fast, and a lot of fun. The drive home included a lunch stop at the Mooselook Diner and a piece of their signature maple cream pie – simply terrific.

Presidential Ridge from Waumbeck

Adios, from Mt Waumbek


Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    February 04, 2013

    Nice to get a SPOT again. Betsy and I have been skiing at Sugar for the last couple of days. Good and cold. We will be here for a couple of weeks. The camp is good and warm if you have any interest.