The following article appeared in Appalachia's December 15, 1967 issue (Vol. XXXVI No. 4).

As written by Miriam Underhill, {one of the finest climbers, male or female, that this country has produced, is a former editor of APPALACHIA. Modesty prevented her from writing a report of her winter climbing of the Four-thousand-footers at that time, but she has been persuaded to do so now.}

Climbing The Four-Thousand-Footers In Winter

It did seem to us, my husband Robert and me, Charter Members of the Four-thousand-footers Club, that climbing the New Hampshire Four-thousand-footers in winter would present an even more sporting challenge than ambling up the well-trodden trails in summer. In winter there is no footpath visible under the snow and, particularly in open hardwoods, finding the route may be a puzzle. Winter is colder; you can take only the briefest of rests, no more of those sybaritic siestas, stretched out on the warm, soft ground. Days are shorter. The rucksack is heavier with all those extra clothes, not to mention the crampons clanking away and the ice-axe. Then there's the business of finding water, which is more of a problem than in summer, with the rills trickling around here and there. At first it may seem strange but dehydration is a more serious concern in winter. Every breath you exhale carries away a lot of good moisture which the inhaled air, cold and so dry, cannot replace. Add to this the fact that the water in your canteen, as well as the sandwiches in your pack, are all too likely to be frozen rock-hard. Unless, that is, you have been careful to carry them under your outer garments, close to your body, where they will be tangled up with your camera and films. And these do not like to get too cold either. Most of all, the real work of breaking trail in deep or heavy snow, or kicking steps up steep slopes, is often considerable.

All these may sound like splendid arguments for staying home, but not to us. We were old winter climbers from way back, thanks to the good old Bemis Crew.

The Bemis Crew, initiated in 1923 (I joined in 1926), was a group of tough and experienced mountaineers who met for a week of climbing in February. Many of them were veterans of the Alps, and in a later year we found, upon a check, that more than half the members had climbed the Matterhorn. They knew how to handle snowshoes, snowshoe creepers, crampons, ice-axes, compasses and maps. Tough jaunts some of those jokers led. On that first year of my acquaintance with them we ranged over the Presidentials and Carters unaware, as we reached the summits of four-thousand-foot peaks, that more than thirty years later these ascents would give us points in a game, the game of Climbing the Four-thousanders in Winter.

This game was an offshoot, of course, of that very popular game of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Climbing the Four-thousanders, which was set in motion, and such vigorous and enthusiastic motion in 1958. Our game - "ours" because we were the first to play it - followed right along. As the initiators we set the rules, which concerned the definition of "winter". "Snow on the ground" and other namby-pamby criteria definitely did not count. "Winter" was to be measured exclusively by the calendar. In 1960, for instance, winter began at 3:27pm on Wednesday, December 21, too late to get to Crag Camp by daylight.