When we think of the classic shape of a mountain--all pointy, barren, and snow capped--there are few peaks in the northeast United States that capture that archetype more than New Hampshire's Mount Chocorua in winter. Chocorua's conical, bald summit (3,490') has been a landmark destination for hikers for over 150 years and figures prominently in the folklore of the White Mountains: the mountain gets its name from the legend of a Native American by the same name who, according to fable, leaped to his death from the summit in culmination of cultural misunderstanding-double revenge- tragedy.
Chocorua is one of my favorite peaks: delightfully climby and open; challenging but not an overly long hike--and I like to get to it at least once per year if I can. The mountain is also on the 52 With A View hiking list, which includes the finest sub-4K peaks in New Hampshire. A winter-conditions hike up the mountain seemed like a good fit for my hiking club--Random Group of Hikers--which was gearing up for a return after a long Covid-related hiatus, so I put it on the calendar. We had planned to do a loop starting at the popular Piper Trail from the south, but concerns about post-snowstorm parking area plowing at Piper caused me to change the approach to an OAB via the White Mountain National Forest's Champney Falls Trail from the north (7.6mi RT). The falls, which drop off a ledge into the side of a short slot canyon--are some of the most unique and impressive in the state.
We got 5 inches of snow overnight, on top of a layer of black ice: snowshoes were on the menu for the ascent and light traction for descent, but crampons would not have been out of order on the summit cone of the mountain where a few ice bulges made for tricky scrambles. The falls were partially frozen and the four brook crossings unfrozen but manageable on stepping stones. Views from the top were glorious. --Paul-William