In October 2003 Sue Johnston, Thom Davis and Bob Williams started planning an attempt at setting a record for the New Hampshire 4,000 footers in winter. They started out on December 26th, and Thom injured himself that day. After taking the next day off he rejoined them, and by the time they had finished in the early hours of January 6th he had done 35 peaks. Over the next three weeks he finished the remaining peaks, with a total elapsed time of 34 days, 10 hours and 50 minutes. He has written his own very modest account of his adventure; I have extracted details from Bob Williams' daily postings to give a more complete picture of that phase.
- December 26th. He started out with them, and went up the ski slopes to Wildcat D, then over the ridge and down to the hut. Somewhere in the notch he injured himself, he writes: "I had planted my face and chest into the ice on the floor of Carter Notch following our descent of Wildcat A and barely dragged myself up Carter Dome." He had to bail out by the 19 Mile Brook Trail, while they did the rest of the Carter-Moriah range.
- December 27th. He did not hike, while they did the Twins, Garfield and Galehead.
- December 28th. He was recovered enough to join them on the Northern Presidentials, going over Mounts Madison, Adams, Jefferson and Washington, then down the Lions Head.
- December 29th. He joined them for part of the trip, going over Mounts Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower and Monroe. They continued to Mount Isolation and out to Rt. 16, while he returned over the Crawford Path to the notch.
- December 30th. He hiked with them all day, first doing the Willey Range, then Mount Cabot.
- December 31st. He joined them doing the Kinsman Ridge, but did not do Mount Tecumseh with them.
- January 1st. Bob and Sue went over Mount Hale on their way to doing Zealand and the Bonds, while Thom bypassed it; they met on the windy summit of Mount Guyot.
- January 2nd. Bob and Sue did the Franconia Ridge, while Thom "gives his toe blister a day off."
- January 3rd. A snowy and rainy day. Thom does the Hancocks then leaves to dry out, while Bob and Sue do the Osceolas and, after a dinner in Lincoln, Moosilauke. After a trip to a laundromat in Lincoln, Thom did the Osceolas alone, meeting Sue and Bob as he was going up the slide.
- January 4th. All three do the Tripyramids, Whiteface and Passaconaway together.
- January 5th & 6th. Thom does the Franconia Ridge while Bob and Sue to Owlshead and Carrigain, then joins them for the grand finish on Waumbek.
After that he worked on the remaining peaks in a more leisurely way. Over the course of a bit more than a week he did six of the missing peaks as single peak hikes, alone:
- January 6th. Mount Tecumseh after dark (2.5 hours RT, +10°F on summit).
- January 7th. Mount Carrigain (7.2 hrs RT, -5°F on summit).
- January 10th. Mount Hale after dark (4.5 hrs RT, -25°F on summit).
- January 11th. Mount Isolation (7.5 hrs RT via Rocky Branch Trail, 0°F on summit).
- January 12th. Owlshead (8.9 hrs RT via Black Pond cutoff, mild).
- January 13th. Mount Moosilauke (5.0 hrs RT via Glencliff Trail, +5°F on summit with whiteout).
Thom did the final seven peaks in two hikes with Cathy Goodwin. The following is taken from his write ups of those two hikes:
January 19th. N Twin, S Twin, Galehead, and Garfield. After spotting my car at the Garfield Trailhead near Five Corners, Cathy Goodwin and I left her car at the Seven Dwarfs Motel near the head of Little River Road (we always pay the owner $3) and began hiking at 9 am. All three crossings of the Little River are now well frozen over. After bare booting up to about 3000 ft, we snowshoed the rest of the way. We reached N Twin at about 12:30 pm, S Twin about 1:10 pm (just off the summit out of the wind, we stopped for a short moment of silence for Kenneth Holmes), Galehead hut about 1:35 pm, Galehead summit and back to the hut by about 2:30 pm, East Garfield Ridge Peak (3590 ft) about 3:15 pm (easy bushwhack), Garfield Ridge Trail / Garfield Trail Jct about 5:15 pm, Garfield summit 5:30 pm, Garfield trailhead at about 7:30 pm, so 10 hr, 30 min total. We skipped West Garfield Ridge Peak (3667 ft) for sake of time. One tricky spot of snow-covered water ice on steepest pitch below tent platforms on Garfield Ridge Trail (crampons would have been useful if we had them, but snowshoes and ski poles worked). Temperatures hovered around 0°F all day/evening long; wind gusts up to 20-25 mph on summits.
At 5:50 pm on Thursday, January 29th 2004, Cathy Goodwin and I completed a traverse of S&M Carter (no pun intended) and Moriah at the C-M Trailhead in Gorham, after departing the 19-Mile Brook Trailhead at 9:30 am. We bare-booted the first part of the route until we began encountering snowdrifts up to 4 ft deep on the C-M Trail just north of the North Carter Trail Jct., which led us to don snowshoes for the remainder of the hike. Temperatures hovered around 0°F the entire day, with wind gusts pushing high 30s and low 40s mph on the ledges south of Moriah. Cathy used a pocket anemometer to measure a steady 27 mph wind speed on the summit of Moriah, but that was after higher gusts had relented.