Lincoln’s Throat

View from high up Lincoln’s Throat, looking across at Cannon Mountian

Lincoln’s Throat has been on my to do list for the last few seasons, but with the banner snowfall winters we have had over the last few seasons my focus has been on skiing rather than climbing.  Furthermore, since the majority of this climb ascends a drainage gully, there is oppurunity to encounter avalanche danger as well as deep snow.  With the lack of snowfall this winter, an attempt on Lincoln’s Throat made sense this season.

Doug shortly after we decided to rope up

The idea of climbing Lincoln’s Throat has always been appealing to me because it allegedly offers a full day, big mountain feel, a remote location, and minimal difficult climbing.  Furthermore, the long approach promised the route being free from crowds, a luxury on any weekend in New Hampshire.  Factor in the fact that the route summits a New Hampshire four thousand footer, and you have an appealing objective.

Doug heading up the ascent gully

The Mount Laffyette parking lot was already filling up as we pulled in Sunday morning, but after a quick scan around it seemed as though we would be the only climbers.  As we followed the masses up the Old Bridle Path we leveled with the drainage we were looking to follow and ducked off the path.  Footprints and ski tracks helped assure us we were on the right track but we never saw another person the rest of the day.

 Doug getting ready for the first pitch of “real climbing”
Not only was the promise of solitude delivered on our ascent of Lincoln’s Throat but the promise of a full day was delivered as well.  Our original estimations had us making it to the route’s technical climbing in about two hours; the reality was that it took us double that to reach a point where we thought a rope was necessary. Going to this route early in the season is highly recommended.  Despite minimal snow on the ground in the parking lot, we regularly encountered waist-deep snow.  The amount of snow dramatically hampered our progress the entire day making the approach not only longer but much more physically taxing than imagined. 
 Tim wading up knee-deep snow

Arriving at the technical section of the climb, we found the crux thirty feet of ice looking rotten and poorly formed.  The ice’s condition and our overall low psych level led us away from the ice to ascend to the less-steep right side of the gully.  We found it necessary to rope up for four pitches of semi-technical climbing involving chest-high snow mixed in with short ice bulges.  In hindsight, we probably could have done the four pitches in three but anchors were hard to come by.  Once again the steep snow slowed our progress to a crawl and had us wondering if we would gain the ridge before sunset.  
   Looking across the summit snowfields
After the fourth roped-up pitch of climbing we saw the ice bulges disappear and give way to more deep snow.  In an effort to increase our speed we packed the ropes into our bags and continued toward Franconia Ridge un-roped.  While still hampered by continually deep snow our pace quickened without the rope work and we found the climbing easy but exposed.  Luckily we pulled ourselves onto the ridge just as the sun was setting and donned headlamps for the traverse across the ridge and the descent down the Falling Waters Trail.  
The beginning of Sunset from high on the climb
We arrived back in the parking lot ten and half hours after we started, and were not very excited for the long drive home.  It had been a fairly long time since I had last been benighted, and the trip up Lincoln’s Throat made me feel like I can go another long while before it happens again.  Lincoln’s Throat gave us everything we were looking for and a little extra.  The relatively easy grade of the climb makes it easy to underestimate, but my experience says that this climb offers more than the modest grade, and should be respected by prospective ascensionists.  When researching the climb on the internet, I noticed many photos taken at sunset and some trip reports indicated more than one attempt was needed to complete the objective.  Now I see why.  
Mount Laffyette’s summit from high on the ridge. Earlier in the day we thought about hiking to the summit but when we arrived at the ridge our only thought was getting back to the car.