The 5th Annual Pemi Traverse took place February 28-March 1, 2015. Tour participant Julie T. Higgins wrote this trip report.
Five years ago, Pete Lane got the idea to lead a trip across the Pemi. This is a 21 mile, 2 day ski though the Pemigewasset (Pemi) Wilderness of the White Mountain National Forest, (#23 in Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast by Dave Goodman.). There are two ways to do this trip: light and fast in one day, or, with overnight gear across two days. To complete the trip in one day the group of skiers would have to start or end the day with headlamps, since there is a small window when one can traverse the Pemi on skis due to the many snow bridges. Pete always aims to have the trip the last weekend in February or the first weekend in March for the highest likelihood of having the snow bridges intact and also having the longest possible day. Pete made the decision to do the ski in two days using Zealand Falls Hut as our overnight stop. The first year we did not make it. Second year just Pete and I made it. Third year one skier turned back. The fourth year a few skiers turned back knowing they were not fast or fit enough. Would we all make it?
Many will remember the winter of 2015 for its great snow year and skiing conditions and many will remember it for the number of days below zero. The ten skiers assembled at Lincoln Woods for the fifth Annual Pemi Traverse were excited about the ski conditions but nervous about the overnight in the hut. Luckily for the participants the temperatures were forecasted to be in the 20’ and 30’s and for once the forecast was not only correct but also perfect for skiing.
After a mile long detour we all made it to the hut and enjoyed a nice dinner of chicken, potatoes, bread, cheese and salad. Don’t forget the brownies, we had brownies too! We all ate more than our share getting ready for the long ski the next day but also because nobody wanted the weight in their backpacks. We rose early the next day and had a lovely breakfast of pancakes.
Sunday was a perfect day for skiing and we all enjoyed the views, the friendships new and old, but most of all we enjoyed the ski tracks. For the first time in five years the trail was skied out. In some places it was perfect but in others it took us up and over dales, which we had not skied before. Thank you to the ski angels who skied before us. With a little duct tape, some leftover brownies, and after many spills we all made it to Lincoln Woods with big smiles on our faces. Fifth year: ten skiers start the Pemi Traverse and ten complete the traverse. The sixth Annual Pemi Traverse is already planned for 2016; watch your newsletters and the website for registration. For the past two years the trip has been full with a wait list, so sign up early!