Q&A With Bill Warren
The vice chair of the NH chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club has climbed 48 4,000-foot mountains
Bill Warren atop Mount Washington
When Bill Warren was a kid, his parents had trouble keeping him inside — from the age of 3 on he has wanted to be outdoors. And that’s just where he’s been for much of his life. In recent years Warren has hiked NH’s 48 4,000-foot mountains and all of New England’s 100 highest (“I did 26 of the final 33 solo”). He’s now working on climbing the NH 48 in winter.
Warren is well-credentialed for what he does. He’s vice chair of the NH chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. As a NH Chapter Class 1 trip leader, he’s qualified to lead winter hikes. He also leads a workshop in winter camping.
LIke many hikers, Warren loves NH’s Presidential Range, which is part of the Appalachian Trail. Crowning the range is Mount Washington, named for George, of course. In 1820 a party of men ascended Mount Washington to name other peaks in the range for presidents and other famous people. A few years ago, Abigail Adams became the first woman to have a peak named after her.
How many times have you traversed the Presidential Range? Once, and then a few repeat peaks. I have done five of them two times and have done four of them in the winter.
Anything unusual about the Presidentials? Once you reach treeline the entire hike is all above treeline. If you hike up to Pierce and traverse to Madison while going over Monroe, Washington, Jefferson and Adams, then finish on Madison, you will be above treeline the entire time.
Are there peaks named for non-presidents? Yes. Clay, Franklin, Webster, Abigail Adams, Sam Adams, John Quincy Adams, Clinton (later named for Franklin Pierce, Pleasant (later named for Eisenhower), Jackson (not named after the President but rather for Dr. Charles T. Jackson, NH State Geologist).
A peak experience that you’ve had? A couple of years ago I took a small group up to do Pierce and Eisenhower. It was 17 degrees below zero at the trailhead. We got up above treeline and one of the guys who had never been above treeline in the winter became almost speechless at the view across Eisenhower, Monroe and Washington. I have experienced the same feeling many times.
What are some of the contests/challenges that take place on the Presidentials? There is a hike, the Presi Traverse. It is a one-day hike across the Presidentials that covers 23.8 miles with 9,050 feet of elevation gain and takes about 16¼ hours. This is not an AMC event. The NH Chapter of AMC offers a Presidential Range Hike each summer with stays in the high mountain huts. It occurs during the middle of July each year — 2014 will be the 48th PRH. You will summit 12 4,000-foot mountains and gain 15,000 feet of elevation while traveling about 50 miles.
How fit do you have to be? Being fit is very important. Being smart and having your wits with you may be more important. The weather can be so many different events and change so fast that you need to remember — Mother Nature does not fool around.