Saturday we had two climbers for Mt Washington. The Mt. Washington Observatory forecasted warm temps, high winds, and freezing rain. We lucked out and the rain never materialized. We flew up the Tuckerman Ravine trail among a large amount of skiers. The weekend brought in a lot of spectators and spring skiers as the Inferno Pentathalon was taking place that day. Once we cut off onto the Lions Head route, we were only joined by two other parties and virtually had the mountain to ourselves. The Lions Head Winter Route was pretty boney. There was dirt in spots but the melt freeze of Spring created quite a bit of ice instead of the snow that covers the trail throughout the winter months. Though cloudy above, we had great views into the valley above treeline. The going was slow however due to the lack of snow. The usual spring conditions make crampons a nuisance at times and mandatory at others. The steep slopes of the Winter Route called for crampons however much of the rest of the route called for MicroSpikes. After tip-toeing our way up to Lions Head on rock, ice and snow, we were hit by strong winds on the Alpine Garden. Surprise Surprise. As expected they decreased once in the lee of the summit cone. The traverse from the Alpine Garden to Split Rock was in superb condition! Firm snow that was perfect for our crampons to bite into and a welcomed break from the rock that covers all of the highest New England peaks . The firm snow was short lived and we were again on the tedious rock covered with a thin layer of ice from the previous night. We picked our way up to the summit and grabbed the obligatory summit shots. The Northern Presidentials were cloud free. Instead of descending the normal route and the way we had ascended, we opted for the snow of the East Snowfields. This proved to be a great choice although it was certainly not a great place for a slide. Two snowboarders validated that when one began sliding above us with no way to stop himself. Only after sliding 100 feet into some rocks and shrubbery did he come to a stop. I tried to slow his slide, but my attempt was futile. After deeming that he was indeed OK after his slide, we continued to try and snowboard down the slope! We reached the Alpine Garden without another incident and again opted for snow over rock and headed for Right Gully in Tuckerman Ravine. Somehow the snowboarders appeared again and, yet again, they were above us. We encouraged them not to try and ride the gully as it was too firm and a slide would go unchecked. They ignored and started down after us, sliding their way down and dropping ice on everyone below. After a anxious descent (Knowing that it would not end well had either snowboarder fell), we reached the floor of the Ravine and the recent avalanche debris from the wet slide on April 19th. We had a snack and began the straightforward descent to the car. We had a great day overall and got to see many sides of Mt. Washington from Lions Head, to the Summit Cone, to The Snowfields, and Tuckerman Ravine. Spring is here and our next climb will most likely be in Microspikes.
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