On Friday March 16th, we climbed Mt. Washington with 8 climbers. We started out from Pinkham Notch in warm temperatures and cloudy skies. We hiked the hard packed Tux Trail and cut off onto the Lions Head Winter Route. The “Hillary Step” was bare of any ice or snow and was a pure rock step. The rest of the route below tree line was a mix of mud and snow. By the time we had reached Lions Head, those cloudy skies opened up to full on rain. The second time it rained on one of our Mt. Washington climbs this March. Luckily the temperature was warm and the winds were only about 20mph. The Alpine Garden traverse was also bare of snow which made walking in crampons awkward. The visibility began to diminish down to about 100 feet or so. We pushed on in soggy boots to the summit. All 8 climbers made it! Despite the temperature being above freezing, it still felt around zero degrees with all of the moisture in the air and in our clothing. We spent a good 35 minutes on the top and began our descent. At Lions Head one climber got a leg cramp and could hardly move her leg anymore. She made it down to Tux trail through a mix of roped glissades and limping on her own. Due to the leg cramps, we almost tied our record for longest climb.. 11.5 hours on the mountain! Everyone made it up and down safely, so we are super happy! Great Job everyone!
Our Two Day Skills Course started on Saturday. Similar to Friday, Saturday dawned cloudy and warm, however 2 hours into our climb up the Gulf of Slides Trail, the sun burned through and things quickly heated up. Sunglasses and Sunblock were the name of the game, as the sun turned to hard-packed trail to mush and we post-holed the remaining 2 hours to our campsite in the Gulf of Slides. This trail often takes much less than 3 hours, but with the conditions and the heavy packs, we made slow progress. After setting up camp, we headed 2/3 up Gully #1, where we could practice self arrest with an awesome view. We also practiced crampon techniques and traveling as a rope team. The sun began to dip behind the ridge so we headed back to camp but not before a fun glissade down the gully. Back in camp we made dinner and taught common knots to the group. We went to bed early.
We awoke on day two to a red ball rising over the mountains, and before we knew it things were heating up again. We decided to head down to Pinkham before the trail got too soft and the weather too hot. We post-holed again for 2 hours or so back to Pinkham. After a fresh pair of socks and shoes, we taught anchor construction, crevasse rescue, and avalanche rescue. It was a full weekend of climbing for sure, which is how we like it! We were lucky to have a such a great group of climbers this weekend.
We have the next two weekends off… what to do with ourselves…