This past weekend was the Blizzard of 2013 or better known as Nemo. We had over 30 folks signed up for multiple climbs of ice and Washington. The New England weather had other plans and in the end 3 were to endure the weather with us. Brett was off this weekend and headed South, I headed North. I left early to beat the snow and the traffic. I arrived in Bartlett at 10AM and waited for Jamie to arrive. He came in at 11:30 and we packed up for a day of ice climbing in the start of the storm. Our plan was to climb Pegasus or in the Hanging Gardens area. Whichever felt good when we arrived. We pulled into the Frankenstein parking lot and headed in. We scouted Pegasus from the trestle and decided we’d rather head for the Hanging Gardens. Unfortunately we found all of the columns and pillars wiped out. There was very little to climb in the Hanging Gardens but we tried to make the best of it on the only steep pillar we could find. The approach consisted of 8 inches of fluffy snow on top of ice. It was horrendous and on our way up we watched a guy take a 50 ft slide down the gully. We each took a run on the pillar and called it a day. After rappelling the gully (which we would normally walk down without thinking twice about it) we headed back to the car. The snow was falling heavily by now. We were disappointed by the day of climbing but a bad day in the mountains is better than a good day elsewhere.
We woke up on Saturday to 15 inches of super light snow. We dug out and Jamie and Anthony (our new guide) headed up Mt. Washington with one Climber (Mike). Mike had made the summit last year on a beautiful April day but he wanted to see what Mt Washington is really like in the winter. He got his wish. The group was stopped in their tracks after plowing through chest deep snow drifts at treeline. The winds howled above them and the visibility was poor. Avalanche ratings were in the “extreme” rating for the ravines which probably put their route in Considerable or Moderate. They made the easy choice of turning around.
I had 2 climbers for ice and decided we’d stay out of the wind and avalanche prone slopes of Crawford Notch. We headed for Cathedral Ledge and found we had to hike in to the climb as the road had not yet been plowed. We were the first to arrive at the North End and we enjoyed several hours of climbing, and rappelling. The weather improved as the day progressed but it stayed bitter cold.
Sunday I had a day off and the weather was absolutely amazing. It felt like a spring day with winter snow conditions. I decided to head up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and ski down the Sherburne trail. The skinning was fast and straightforward. I hit Hermit Lake in an hour and 25 minutes where I sat in the sun for an hour soaking in the rays and drinking hot water. I wanted to wait for everyone else to leave ahead of me so I could have the trail to myself. The sun dipped below Boot Spur ridge making it noticeably colder. Everyone decided that was their cue to ski down, so I began packing my pack slowly and followed suit a few minutes behind everyone else. The skiing was fantastic and it felt even better to be alone in the mountains and have complete solitude and quiet to myself. I felt lucky to enjoy such a great day on the hill alone. After one face plant into the powder, I was down at the car wishing I had more to ski.