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Cabin Opens Thursday, Dec 1, 2016!
Greetings Mountaineers,
Hello again! We hope everyone had a safe, enjoyable, and productive summer rock season. We ran into a few of you in our travels this summer. It is always great to hear stories of the Harvard Cabin echoing off cliffs and crags across the continent. Thank You all for making the Harvard Cabin the spirited institution that has brought an unforeseen quality to our lives. It is a special place because of all of you and we are looking forward to continuing that tradition in the new year! Alright, enough with the sap already. It's time to make plans to spend time at the Harvard Cabin.

                Harvard Cabin - Winter Will Return

I'm sorry to have kept you waiting for the first Harvard Cabin Update this season. I've received several inquiries regarding cabin opening. It is good to know folks are psyched for another cabin season and the return of Winter! Fear not, as it has since 1962, the door swings open at the ol' Harvard Cabin this Thursday, December 1, 2016. Now in it's 54th season, we have plenty of awesomeness planned for this year! Winter is already off to a great start. So, sharpen those tools and give the planks a fresh coat of wax. Come up and get the systems dialed while enjoying some fantastic early season conditions. We hope you will choose to spend lots of time at the Harvard Cabin for what is sure to be a memorable winter. It's time to send it alpine style!

It's been a busy couple of weeks. Besides the holiday hustle and bustle, hauling loads of gear and supply up to the cabin, and tending to the list of logistical and administrative tasks that go along with cabin opening, Marcia and I have been busy sorting gear, trying to get the summer home tucked away for the season, and spending time with family and friends before cabin life once again becomes the focus. While I've climbed more ice then skied fresh pow lines this month, I'm happy to say I've done both. This November. In New England. Not a bad Fall in the Northeast, 'ey?

Staying at the Harvard Cabin

As a reminder, staying at the Harvard Cabin is on a first-come, first serve basis. The rate is still $15 per person, per night. (US Cash only). Check for space available at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center before heading up the trail. You can find the Harvard Cabin Register at the Trading Post Front Desk or downstairs in the pack-up room after-hours. All guests need to arrive prepared - sleeping gear, toiletries, food, and other equipment as needed. The cabin is equipped with full-kitchen amenities, so bring fresh food and leave the stove and cook kit in the car. If you will be camping at the Harvard Tent-Site, we are happy to help you any way we can, but campers need to be fully-prepared for a winter bivy - tent/shelter, cook stove with fuel, adequate warm weather gear. The water source is the Cutler River, located behind the cabin. No need to melt snow. Due to it's size of the facility, cabin amenities are to be used strictly by those guests who have signed-up to stay inside the cabin.

Current Conditions

It's no secret, the ice IS IN here in the northeast. Ice climbing in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines has been enjoyable for nearly two months now and is only getting better. Currently, the mountain is experiencing the dreaded mid-mountain warm layer. Temperatures this morning are around 40 degrees F (4.5C) around ravine elevation. If memory serves, this is about as warm as it been since about Nov 17th or so when the summit of Mt. Washington experienced two record-breaking warm days in a row. A bit of an anomaly that had to do with the lack of snow on the ground in central Canada. But, it's been consistently cold for most of the Fall up until yesterday arrival of a warm-wet air mass that is providing plenty of liquid moisture.A bit of a let down but there are a couple of positives. First, the system has arrived a couple of days early this year and it looks like we will avoid the opening day monsoon we experienced last season. -Glad for that! Second, with plenty of cold in the forecast all of this water is going to lead to some explosive growth of quality alpine ice just in time for the weekend.

Avalanche Conditions

Avalanche forecasting on Mt. Washington has not begun for the 2016-17 season. Keep an eye on your social media feeds for updates from the Mount Washington Avalanche Center.

Absent of an avalanche bulletin, typical early season hazards do exist which include isolated pockets of snow that could be triggered on seemingly insignificant snow fields. Such occurrences tend to send unsuspecting climbers on a quick and unplanned the encounter with the many rocks and alders that make up our gullies and ravines. Others concerns ahead of this weekend might be refrozen snow slopes and newly formed ice with water at or near the surface. These sorts of hazards seem to effect at least a couple of climbers a season, so keep a heads-up approach.

Trail Conditions

Trail conditions are also a concern this time of year. The availability of micro-traction in recent years has really made moving in the mountains early season a whole lot safer.

You can expect to negotiate the talus slopes on the approaches to your climbs this week. After this weeks rain, you can expect a bit more ice on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Last week, trails were covered with a pleasant amount of snow which made the trail a bit faster and who lot more bearable. I suspect we will have a few more inches of fresh snow on the trail before the weekend. I'm hoping anyway :)

All and all, the mountain is doing about as good as it did all last "winter". Things are looking up and I think we are at the cusp of a great season. Get stoked!

Tuckerman Ravine Trail Detour

There has been a detour in effect on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail this Fall due to a rather large project underway to replace the #2 bridge. Folks traveling on the Tuckerman Ravine trail are re-directed onto the Huntington Ravine Trail. For those going to Harvard Cabin, it is easiest to continue uphill, ignoring the detour signs in place at the junction of the HR Trail and the Raymond Path. Continuing uphill will put you on the Fire Road about 1 minute above the Harvard Cabin. Once you are on the Fire Road you will see an orange sign directing you to the left towards the Harvard Cabin.

Marcia and I often refer to the second bridge as the "mythical bridge" because it often goes unnoticed at the height the season. That will no longer be the case as a much larger bridge as been constructed to account for warmer winters with more devastating thaws combined with rain. Climate change aside, it was the only major bridge in the drainage not supported by steel. With Rangers using heavy machinery to get to and from the ravines each day, it was a long overdue upgrade. Keep your fingers cross that the bridge project will be complete within the next few weeks.

Work Weekend Recap

Thanks to all who attended our work weekend. . All said and done, we had an incredibly productive couple of weekends at the Harvard Cabin. The club was able to clear about 800 feet of growth on the Fire Road working from the top-down. This will make the tread way easier to negotiate during the early season. There is still plenty more work to do but we are happy that the Harvard Mountaineering Club was given the opportunity to become the official trail adopter of the Huntington Fire Road. We had a motivated group up from Cambridge and they along with a handful of other volunteers really made for a couple of great weekends at the cabin. Thanks to all who attended.

That is all for now. I'm hoping for a full-house this weekend. Come up and be part of opening weekend 2016! Thanks for reading and don't forget to Follow me on Instagram!
Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker

                            Rich and Marcia
                    Cabin Caretakers 2016/17

NOTE - Harvard Cabin is not affiliated with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Harvard Cabin is maintained by Harvard Mountaineering Club for use by the general public. The cabin is operated under a special-use permit granted by the USDA Forest Service. Cabin space and tent-sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between December 1st and March 31st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online at

Click Here for everything you need to know about getting to and staying at the Harvard Cabin.

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