While I have over 50 winter ascents of Mount Washington I can count on one hand how many of them allowed me to stand on the summit with zero wind. Yesterday David, Charlene, and Sam returned for their third climbing day of the season with me, having previously climbed some ice at Cathedral Ledge and Willey’s Slide, today’s objective was a winter ascent of Mount Washington, all in preparation for David’s next attempt on Mt. Rainier this August.
Trail conditions had improved a bit and micro route finding got us to the Summer Lion’s Head Trail without resorting to micro-spikes or crampons. Where the trail steepens, at the first avalanche path, we stopped and donned micro-spikes. Again, micro route finding and a little coaching got us up to tree-line without having to resort to our mountaineering crampons. The small avalanche prone snow slope just before treeline provided some brief introduction to snow layering and “what causes avalanches”. It even provided some positive hand shears for reference.
We made good time up to a windless Lion’s Head and took in the view while refueling.
A casual walk to the base of the summit cone then up to Split Rock.
By 12:30 we were on the summit reveling in the rarest of conditions with dozens of other climbers. A quick check of the weather station info indicated the current wind speed was 3 miles an hour.
3mph. On Mount Washington. Yup, it was pretty nice up there.
We relaxed for a bit then headed down at 1pm passing a few large guided groups on our descent, arriving at Pinkham right at 4pm. It was another great day with these three adventurers and I look forward to our next trip together. Rumors of a Franconia Ridge Traverse and some rock climbing this Spring were heard, and I can’t wait to hear about David’s Rainier climb this August!
Heads up, it’s still winter on Mount Washington! Today Mount Washington Avalanche Center has posted Considerable Avalanche Danger. Don’t let the calendar fool you into thinking your don’t need to be snow smart while recreating up there. Also look out for each other. I ran into a teenager in blue jeans at the bottom of the Summer Lion’s Head trail who’s two friends had gone up to “see where this trail goes” without any traction, maps, headlamps, etc… Spring usually brings a fair share of search & rescue calls so if you see something a bit sketch consider sharing some friendly advice.
Gear Giveaways Coming!
Also as the winter guiding season draws close I’m planning a more detailed recap of the avalanche course season and a few product giveaways. Early in April I’ll be giving a VSSL Supplies kit away in a contest ($110 value). I reviewed this clever little kit here. I’ve you want to find out how to enter please follow this blog at the top right so you’ll be notified when I post the contest no later than mid-April.
See you in the mountains,