Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Wildcat E, Wildcat D, NH
Trails: Lost Pond Trail, Wildcat Ridge Trail, ski trails
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 21, 2024
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: No issues 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Snow/Ice - Postholes 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Snowshoes, Traction, Ice Axe 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: None 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes:  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: It would be dangerous to take a dog up the west side of Wildcat E. Dogs are not allowed on the ski trails. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: There is a single olive-colored Atlas snowshoe and part of a hiking pole on Wildcat Ridge Trail on the west side of Wildcat E. We left them there. 
Comments: Most important: Do not ascend Wildcat Ridge Trail up the west side of Wildcat E unless you really know what you are doing with crampons and ice axe. The most dangerous part is the ledge traverse at around 2350 ft. elevation, and, to a lesser extent, the chimney that follows it. There is enough snow on top of whatever ice is underneath to make these possible, but the traverse is only about 3 feet wide with a dropoff on the left, and the chimney has a dropoff on the left too, and there are no handholds. Advice: Don't wait until you get to the beginning of the traverse to switch to crampons, because that small area is on the edge of a cliff (not much room to maneuver) and the approach to that point is very steep; instead switch to crampons as soon as you start ascending the steep part of Wildcat Ridge Trail, which begins almost immediately after the junction with Long Pond Trail.

Lost Pond Trail requires snowshoes (there are some deep postholes from hikers who apparently thought otherwise!) Ascending Wildcat Ridge Trail, after the traverse and chimney, maybe it would have been possible to switch from crampons back to snowshoes (ideally with televators) - at least the risk of a serious fall is lower once past the chimney - but several sections of the trail are so steep that progress might be difficult in snowshoes; we stayed in crampons until reaching 3750 ft. (at the top of a very steep area with only shrubs, not trees). Beyond that point, the unpacked powder becomes deeper and snowshoes are necessary. In some of the steep sections, we could not plunge the ice axe deep enough (it hit ice or a rock) to use it as an anchor to assist.

The top of the ski lift is between Wildcat D and Wildcat E; east of there, there is a snowshoe track that is pretty good, but still unpacked. (We were told by hikers coming from the east that the rest of Wildcat Ridge Trail was good for snowshoes all the way to Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail, and that Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail itself was very fast.) The ski slopes are closed to hikers between 8:30am and 4:00pm. We had a little time to kill while waiting for 4:00pm, so we continued east almost to Wildcat C before returning to Wildcat D to descend via the ski slopes at 4:00pm. Descent via the ski slope is fast (use snowshoes, and stay along the north edge), but the ski slopes are wide enough that they offer little protection from wind. Today, the upper part of the ski slopes felt like almost like an above-treeline hike in the Presidentials, requiring full face covering!

We didn't have a problem with ice anywhere - everything was covered in snow.  
Name: mathbp 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2024-01-21 
Link: https:// 
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