Hampshire County Highpoint Trip Report

West Mtn (2,106+ ft)

Date: February 29, 2004
Author: Gene Daniell

I used the approach from the roadside parking at Plainfield Pond on MA 116/8A as described by Mike Schwartz. The snowshoeing was very strenuous, due to fairly deep powder under breakable crust. For those who are not snowshoers, this means that not only do you sink in quite a way, consuming lots of energy, the crust tends to trip you up as you lift your foot to plod forward again. I soon struck a well-marked trail that had been broken out in the recent past and, as it made travel incomparably easier, I followed it. (I was also hoping that my predecessor on the trail was a CoHP-bagger - unfortunately, he or she wasn't.)

This trail angled up to the left, with a wildlife area boundary in sight on the left much of the way, and took me to the pass to the east of West Mountain at the Allis Cemetery (at this point in time one lonely gravestone piercing through the snowdrifts). I then labored my way up the east ridge of West Mountain, which proved particularly tantalizing with constant suggestions that the summit was near when it wasn't. The trail didn't save me any distance but it probably saved a good deal of effort since the north slope of West Mountain is fairly steep in places and the combination of breakable crust over deep powder with a steep slope would have dealt me a serious struggle indeed. I debated but instead of retracing my tracks descended directly north (probably a mistake), which required more effort than one might think - you constantly have to hold back against gravity to avoid getting going too fast with the inevitable face-first dive into that cold white stuff that follows. I was surprised when the trail suddenly disappeared within sight of the highway.

The trail won't save you any effort in snow-free seasons but it could contribute to an interesting loop. To find it on the ascent, simply start at the east end of the roadside parking and you'll strike it fairly soon.