an epic on mt washington

10:36 p.m. on March 3, 2014 (EST)
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Sorry for not having any pictures of the trip, but taking photos was difficult most of the day.

Myself and two other guys went up the lion head winter route of Mt washington recently.

We had great conditions, and the snow was so bomber on the steeps a rope wasn't needed at all, even coming down. Conditions of the steeps in recent years have warranted ice protection and ropes, but with the hero snow on this day I think a good stick from the ice Axe could have held 3 people.

Once above tree line we realized it was going to be a windy day. We took solace in the somewhat sheltered area of lion head rock to take a quick rest and hydrate. After leaving that shelter it was like leaving a 6300' mountain and being transferred to a much larger one. 65 mph sustained winds with higher gusts blowing us down, a 1200 foot drop a few feet to our left, and blowing snow made for an interesting approach to the summit cone.

Once on the summit cone the windchill dropped even more to 50 or 60 below. Snow blowing in our faces reduced visibility to about 40 feet and battling against the wind was exhausting.

15 minutes from the summit, the temperature took a sudden plunge in seconds and gear began to freeze. Getting expedition mitts, a heavy parka, and other gear was impossible - getting in your pack with those winds speeds couldn't be done. Just minutes before, we were sweating from our effort and now, in literally seconds, our gear and sweat had started to freeze.

I knew a storm system had been predicted to come in that afternoon. We could summit, but with 15 minutes to the top, a celebration on top, and a good hour to get back to some relative shelter, I listened to my gut.

I turned us around. It Was a little disappointing, but I knew it was the right call. We made it down with 2 of our party with frost nip but no worse for the wear.

I'll be back on 3/15.

6:48 a.m. on March 4, 2014 (EST)
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Thanks for going up there this time of year so I don't have to 8p  Sounds like that turn around was a wise choice.  Glad you decided to come back to tell the story rather than let the newspapers tell us how it ended!!

8:30 a.m. on March 4, 2014 (EST)
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I'm planning to head up soon for my first ever foray into mountaineering!

9:08 a.m. on March 4, 2014 (EST)
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LoneStranger said:

Thanks for going up there this time of year so I don't have to 8p  Sounds like that turn around was a wise choice.  Glad you decided to come back to tell the story rather than let the newspapers tell us how it ended!!

 Yeah cuz you know what happens when we start talking about a story like THAT!

 

Just like Ed Viesters....always listen to your Gut and the mountain! Great report!

9:34 a.m. on March 4, 2014 (EST)
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Seth - awesome have fun! Are you planning on going with a guide or experienced friend? I'm trying to get a small group of guys going on 3/15 if you want someone to join.

I can't promise to give you guide quality instruction though, so do your homework and be sure to be self reliant.

10:27 a.m. on March 6, 2014 (EST)
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Sorry to hear you didn't make it to the summit.  Good report.  Thanks for sharing.  Sounds like you made the right call though.  I bet you will be thinking about the summit every day until you get a chance to get back there next year.  Definitely something to look forward too.  

9:48 a.m. on March 9, 2014 (EDT)
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Definitely a good call on turning around, glad you did. No reason to turn a nice day into a nightmare over bragging rights. I think it's time to be honest about it and have Mt. Washington renamed Mt. Prankster or something.

9:19 a.m. on March 19, 2014 (EDT)
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Good decision.  Summiting is optional, descending is mandatory

10:53 a.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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Epics survived are great teachers. 

There's always the road to the top ;)

12:18 p.m. on March 21, 2014 (EDT)
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Here's one list of the world's deadliest mountains.  The first time I read this one I was surprised that the most deadly mountain in North America is listed as Mt. Washington... more so than Denali in Alaska.  I have not spent any time around Mt. Washington, but from everything I've read it sounds like a place to have great respect for.

That said, it sounds like you practiced some good decision making while there.  Hope you get better conditions for your next effort.

December 18, 2014
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