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Pemi Loop, Plan D

The classic Bondcliff photo (taken on day one by Ryan).

The original plan was to do a three day, two night Presidential traverse. A backpack in an extreme environment. Only one problem, an extreme environment can be deadly when combined with extreme conditions. And extreme conditions were what we were faced with. So much for a weather window to get it done. Since there can be a fine line between being tough and being foolish, Redline Guide Ryan McGuire and team wanted a Plan B. They needed one.

[…] with three days of winds up to 100 mph and windchills as low as -70F, a Presidential traverse was simply not the smart play. —Ryan

Ryan decided on a Pemi loop instead, and we suggested opting for a counterclockwise loop in hopes of avoiding Franconia Ridge as long as possible, thinking the conditions might improve. Doing this allowed for escapes down Twin Brook (Plan B) or Franconia Brook (Plan C) Trails on day two if conditions worsened. But this didn’t happen.

As is par for the course in the White Mountains, they always deliver. After the long slog on day one making it all the way to Guyot, we setup camp for the evening. The morning of day two we woke up to 3-4 inches of fresh snow, low visibility, and more screaming winds. For reasons of safety, morale, and comfort — even though the team stayed warm enough the entire time — they decided to backtrack. —Ryan

With the new snows impeding their progress it took them two hours to get back to Bondcliff, so it was probably a good call. And the winds! Well, three times Ryan was leveled by them. The col between Bond and Bondcliff is the worst.

While we didn’t complete our objective it was still exactly what one of the team members needed as he is training for Denali in June. The 22 miles and over 4000-plus-feet of gain with 75+ L packs was the perfect training trip for the big mountains. —Ryan

Well done, team. Good work up there. And thanks for adventuring with Redline Guiding.

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