The Presidential Traverse and Beyond

(L to R) Mount Jefferson (5,717′), Mount Adams (5,798′), and Mount Madison (5,367′) as seen from Mount Washington (6,288′).

Location: White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Dates: June 26-28, 2015
Participants: Dana Sanford, Miguel Gonzalez, Nate Watts, Ray Priebe, Dillon Sarnelli

Once upon a time way back in 2012, Dana, Migz, Nate and Ray got off a plane at DIA and within 24 hours found themselves on the summits of Chiefs Head (Sheeps Head if you ask Dana) and Alice in Rocky Mountain National Park. At the time I figured these would be some excellent “acclimation” peaks since a sunrise summit of Longs was on tap for the following day. It would be the 1st outing of what has since become a somewhat annual hazing tradition.

Skip ahead to 2014 and the reunion tour found us climbing some of Colorado’s finest peaks in Ruby Basin – Pigeon, Turret and the Animas Group –  all the way from Purgatory TH, a trip that Nate has since coined the Dillon Death March.

In 2015 it was their turn to return the favor… on their turf. And they sure did.

This was a long trip so I figured it be best if I kept most of this report to pictures as to not lose your attention.


Somewhere on the Mass Pike – “Hey guys, I found 5 nails in my tire yesterday, but we should be fine.” – 30 minutes later ^.

5 Gargantuan burritos and a few  Moat Mountain brews later. The gangs all here. Thursday night car camping in NH.

The Trip:

Day 1: Friday, June 26, 2015 – The Presidential Traverse
The Presidential Peaks: Mount Madison (5,367′), Mount Adams (5,798′), Mount Jefferson (5,717′), Mount Washington (6,288′), Mount Monroe (5,374′), Mount Eisenhower (4,760′), Mount Pierce (4,275′), Extra credit – Mount Clay (5,535′), Mount Franklin (5,028′)
Begin: Appalachia TH (1,306′)
End: AMC Highland Center
Distance: ~22 miles
Elevation Gain: ~9,000 feet

The Presidential Traverse – Elevation Profile.
This just got real.
Approaching treeline around 5:30 AM.
Top of the mornin’ to ya. Mount Washington (L) and Mount Adams (R) as seen from our 1st summit on the day – Mount Madison – Elevation 5,367′.
Descending Madison to our 1st “hut” – Madison Hut.
Summit of Mount Adams – Elevation 5,793′. Either Adams has no “cut-off trail” or this was taken before Migz stole the map!
En route to Jefferson. Nothing but fresh legs and clear skies for miles. NOAA is full of crap on the east coast too.
off route?
Jefferson looming large on the approach.
Summit of Mount Jefferson – Elevation 5,712′. Nate’s sees Wachusett!
Mount Washington (L) and our descent ridge (Monroe, Franklin, and Eisenhower – L to R) as seen from the summit of Mount Jefferson.
A lot of boulder hopping. The tundra up here reminded me a lot of RMNP.
Nate and Dana (lower center) descending Jefferson gives some perspective as to the enormity of Mount Washington’s shoulder.
Rendezvous at the saddle with the RZA and the MigZA. Ray and Migz are crushing it on the cut-off trails.
En route to Clay.
Dana ran his 3rd ultra marathon last month. He’s kind of a big deal. Summit of Clay – Elevation 5,533′. With only 200 feet of prominence this one is extra credit. Migz and Ray took their Clay summit shot from the saddle.
Starting to smell the pizza…
The COG. Many similarities between Pikes and Washington. The pizza vs the donuts is a toss up.
A look back at Jefferson.
Summit of Mount Washington – Elevation 6,288′ – June 26, 2015.
Summit of Mount Washington – Elevation 6,288′ – June 26, 2015.
Jefferson, Adams, Madison (L to R) and the COG.
Homemade chili and chocolate pudding does a body good.
50 lbs later and only 10 miles to go.
Mount Monroe (5,372′) and the Lake of the Clouds Hut as we descend Washington.
We call this one Barbara Bush.
Summit of Mount Eisenhower – Elevation 4,780′. Sick photo by Nate.
The Crawford Path – The Oldest Trail in America.
Slumming it for the night at the Highlands Center. Home of Lenny.
22 miles and 9,000′ vert later – all is good! Some well earned Dales right there.

Day 2:  Saturday, June 27, 2015
Peaks: Mount Zealand (4,265′), South Twin Peak (4,902′), Mount Guyot (4,580′)
Begin: AMC Highland Center
End: Garfield Ridge
Distance: ~15.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~6,200 feet


The Zealand Hut. My legs hurt.
The view of the Bond Mountains from Zealand Ridge. Pretty awesome.
Some random dude and the view of the Bond Mountains from Zealand Ridge. Pretty awesome.
This is when we took the map back.
Mount Zealand summit pano. Even Ray can check this one off. Sick photo by Nate.
Summit of Mount Guyot – Elevation 4,580′ – Extra Credit.
Summit of South Twin Mountain – Elevation 4,902′
Summit of South Twin Mountain – Elevation 4,902′
Hazing the dude from Colorado.
Brevard, North Carolina – BLASPHEMY!
This is the Garfield Shelter, our living quarters on night 2. Ray brought his waterproof pack cover,but not his tent because he didn’t think it would rain. Ray owe’s Mr Garfield a six pack.

Day 3:  Sunday, June 28, 2015
Peaks: Mount Garfield (4,501′)
Begin: Garfield Ridge
End: Lincoln Woods
Distance: ~15 miles
Elevation Gain: ~1,000 feet


Note: After waking up to sideways rain and uprooted trees we decided to alter the day 3 itinerary and make a very long beeline for the truck.

Summit of Mount Garfield – Elevation 4,501′
Soaking wet, but not broken. One of 17 stream crossings.
Ray, like a champ!
Wet as f#ck and still all smiles. The White Mountains are that good.

Nate, I owe you one for putting this all together man! I really didn’t know what to expect, especially having never been above any sort of treeline back east. Leaving the trees early Friday as we approached Madison I realized these peaks were something special. Then when I got to sleep in bunk and eat like a champ after a killer day, well it just kept getting better. I’ll leave 2016 to you guys – Tahoe, PNW, even Costa Rica.  I’ll be there for sure, but 2017 must include a top secret cabin in the San Juans. Until next time, thanks for one hell of trip boys and thanks for reading all!

4 thoughts on “The Presidential Traverse and Beyond

  1. Awesome report Dillon. Thanks for carrying a camera. Sorry the weather didn’t cooperate the 3rd day and we didn’t get to add another half dozen peaks to your tally. Oh, and you forgot to mention your final summit of Mt.Wachusett (2,006′) – the highest point in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut river! It’s a wicked ha’ad mountain to climb!


    1. Nate! Such a great trip man. The east coast has peaks above treeline… who knew! Thanks a ton for putting it together, buddy. I didn’t include Wachusett because it’s America’s best kept secret, outside of Wachusett of course. I downloaded the theme song off iTunes so I can relive the memories. The whole outing was ha’ad!


  2. What a heck of a few days there, Dillon! You got some damn good east coast friends there, buddy, to plan that for all of you! Well done, fellas. Man, I have some White Mtn peaks to do to catch up to all of you. Damn! I only hiked Washington & Monroe! Granted we were with Kristine’s folks and Kristine was 6 months pregnant, but all those peaks leaves me drooling. That’s a spacial place and glad you got to thoroughly enjoy it!


    1. Brando! Really was cool to see the Whites in all their glory. Washington and Monroe are a site in themselves as well. You’d probably find a few cracks on Madison and Adams to solo when you make it back! Enjoy your trip to Maine, my friend! That sounds like a blast. Katahdin is calling!


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