Variations of the New Hampshire 48 4,000-Footer List

Reaching a goal is an amazing feeling. Whether it’s the completion of a thru-hike or graduating college, the accomplishment makes the toil and sweat worth the effort. It can also leave you with a sense of confusion at what to do next. When I completed the 67 4,000-footers of New England, I was happy but I also felt lost. Who was I, now that I was no longer “Socked In Hiking The 67?” What was I going to do now that I was done? With endless options of what mountain to hike, I struggled to pick a destination. Luckily, there are several variations of the New Hampshire 48 4,000-footer and New England 67 4,000-footer list. These lists will keep any peakbagger busy hitting the trails in pursuit of another patch for years to come.

The Winter NH 48

The summit of Mount Liberty.

After completing the NH 48, most hikers move on to completing the list in winter. This variation of the list won’t necessarily be easy to complete, and more than likely it will take several winters to finish. In order for a hike to qualify as a winter completion, the same basic rules of the original 48 apply, with one more twist. All of the hikes must be completed during the winter season. The AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee established the following criteria to define when winter season officially starts and ends:

“Trips must begin after the hour and minute of the beginning of winter (winter solstice), and end before the hour and minute of the end of winter (spring equinox).” 

By completing this list, you will be one of a much smaller group of hikers. Finishing the 48 4,000-footers in winter is not easy, especially because of the unpredictable weather year-to-year. You can count any peak you summit while working on your original NH 48 4,000-footers list toward the completion of this list, as long as they qualify as done in winter.

The most popular mountains to start your winter 48 on are very similar to the ones four-season hikers start on. Mount Jackson, Mount Pierce, Mount Tom, Mount Field, Mount Willey, Mount Waumbek, and Mount Tecumseh are all very popular mountains to hit in winter. These mountains tend to see a lot of foot traffic, which is extremely important in winter. The stability of the monorail plays a huge role in whether you have an enjoyable or miserable hike. Checking weather and trail conditions are imperative when setting out for winter hikes. Make sure you are carrying proper gear and wearing the right clothes.

The Four-Season NH 48

The trail leading to Sandwich Dome (not a 4000-footer).

The AMC Four-Season White Mountain 4000 Footer Club (established in 2016), adds one more step beyond just checking mountains off a list. In order to earn the patch, hikers are required to perform 48 hours of trail work. The specifics of what qualifies as trail work can be found here. The rules for what qualifies as a hike are the same as the original NH 48 list (found here). The definition of when each season starts and ends is defined below and at the following link:

“Each season is defined by the date and hour of the solstice (winter and summer) and by the date and hour of the equinox (spring and fall).”

In order to complete this list, a hiker will summit each of the 48 4,000-footers in all four seasons. This equates 192 summits. The ability to peakbag mountains (reach more than one summit per outing) means that the daunting 192 summits aren’t as bad as you’d think. Additionally, mountains that you’ve summited while working on your NH 48 4,000-footer list or your winter 4,000-footer list can be counted toward the completion of this list. The application as well as some additional information is found on the AMC 4000-footers website.

The Grid

Looking north toward Davis Path from Glen Boulder Trail.

The list for a lifetime peakbagger who lives in New Hampshire (or New England) is known as the Grid. The first person to complete the Grid was in 1989, prior to the official list and patch being established. The second finisher, Ed Hawkins, established the committee and website where information on hiking the Grid can be found. As of the close of 2018, there have only been 83 finishers of the Grid.

In order to complete this daunting task, a hiker must summit each of the NH 48 4000-footers in each month of the year. In total, a hiker will summit 576 peaks to complete this list. Becoming a Grid completer is much more of a marathon than a sprint. However, there are some people who set out to complete the list in one year. The beauty of this list, though, is in the time it takes to complete it. Rather than feeling like a race to the finish line, a hiker working on the Grid is committing to a journey.

Rules for completing the list are the same as the NH 48. Verification of completion is all based on the honor system, and if you wish, you can even ask Ed Hawkins to complete your final summit with you. The application is a completed Grid spreadsheet and there is no fee to apply for the patch/scroll.

Remember Why You’re Out There

Unknown Pond.

Whether you’re working on completing the NH 48, the Winter 48, or the Grid, don’t lose sight of why you’re out there. Don’t focus so much on the list itself and forget that the whole reason we go hiking is to enjoy nature. Each of these lists was established not for notoriety or patches, but to encourage hikers to continue to get outside even after finishing their 48 4,000-footers. Ultimately, it’s the journey, not the destination, and the real “patch” you earn comes in the form of the calluses on your feet, tan lines, and peace in your soul that can only be obtained after spending time in the wilderness.

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Comments 2

  • Disne Marinkov : Jan 30th

    Another outstanding writing Becky. Keep up the good work. Stay safe in the winter & always.
    Love, Aunt Diane

    Reply

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