Mt Washington can be climbed after all!

If you are a frequent follower of our blog, you know by now that last weekend didn’t turn out exactly how we would have liked. The weather made for terrible summit conditions, hence no one stepped foot on Mt Washington’s summit. This weekend started out with a little more of the same. We got a late start on Saturday March 3rd with a great bunch of climbers. The morning consisted of nice drizzly rain which allowed for no good views beyond the trees and snowy highway that is the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The rain tested our discipline as we had to keep our goretex layer on regardless of how much we were sweating while hiking into the Lions Head Route in above freezing temperatures. I would much prefer zero degrees and snowing than 35 degrees and raining. At the first break we had a climber’s knee pop out of socket, which she calmly popped back in after explaining that it happens quite a bit. Unfortunately her day was over at that point and Jamie descended with her. After dropping her off at the visitors center he then sprinted back up the mountain to catch the rest of us. As we broke treeline, the rain had stopped (woohoo!) and the clouds had lifted to a higher elevation so that we could now see Pinkham Notch and Wildcat Ski Area. The ceiling of clouds left a few neat looking stragglers which I was sure to capture in the photos below. Two more climbers decided that they had reached their limits and Jamie again descended with them. I pushed on with a group of 5. We reached Lions Head at 2:30PM, much too late to attempt the summit. The winds were around 55mph at Lions Head and we saw many parties turning around in the Alpine Garden. We also heard reports of near whiteout conditions near the summit as the crust was starting to be ripped up by the wind and thrown into the air. Although the next day we also heard that it wasn’t bad at all passed the Alpine Garden.. Either way, 2:30PM is no time to be going for the summit. We took some photos and video and headed down the mountain to big burgers at the Muddy Moose in North Conway. The summit of Mt Washington remains elusive in the past two weeks.

The forecast for Sunday March 4th promised to be a summit day. Low winds (40mph) and mostly clear skies. We climbed quickly up the Tux trail, feeling extra motivated by the good weather. We made good time up to the Lions Head Route. For some reason, the fitting of crampons etc took awhile today which put us behind schedule slightly. 10 minutes up the trail, we had crampon issues again. We decided to climb the left side of the “Hillary Step” just using the fixed handrail to aid our ascent. No traffic jam today! We ascended the steep sections quickly and continued up to treeline. Jamie was ahead with 6 climbers and I had stayed behind with two climbers. When I arrived at treeline, it was apparent that we were moving too slow to summit, so Jamie took the 4 climbers who felt strong enough to pick up the pace and headed off for the summit. I took a long break at treeline with the other 4 and then we leisurely made our way up to Lions Head where we were delighted to find a 10-20 mph breeze. We hung out on Lions Head for about 40 minutes and watched the others ascend the summit cone to Split Rock. On our way down, we took off the crampons and glissaded down parts of the Lions Head Trail, which was a blast but short lived. Jamie’s summit group made the summit at 2:50PM after battling through some leg cramps. They reported a 10-20mph breeze on top, which is calm even by summer standards! Mt Washington can be climbed after all!

Next weekend’s forecast is calling for sunny skies… here’s to hoping for more summitteers!

Interesting patterns in the trees along the Huntington Ravine Fire Road.

Climbing out of the trees

Really neat clouds in the notch

The March 3rd crew on Lions Head

Despite the winds, the day ended fairly nice

March 4th Summit Team