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MechAeroE
03-14-2009, 03:58 PM
Mount Washington summit Via Lion Head - 3-13-09

Friday the 13th...Mount Washington style :cool:


My day began waking up at the Red Jacket Inn and stopping by Dunkin Donuts for my traditional morning-of-a-hike bagel. The 25 minute drive was far better than my previous 3 hour trip before my last attempt on President?s weekend. Upon arrival I quickly signed in to the logbook and was out on the trail by 8:00 AM. For the first time, I took the calculated risk of not wearing my second layer underneath my snow pants, and instead just having my long-johns below them. This proved to be a great decision as I cruised up Tuckerman?s ravine trail without requiring a single stop lasting more than a few seconds to catch my breath. As I arrived at the first-aid cache, I noticed a couple hikers putting on their gear for Lion?s Head. After spending 5-10 minutes taking a quick trail mix break, and rearranging my gear, I head into the narrow path of Lion?s Head. The only main difference from last time I hiked was the giant annoying log that was a pain to hop over was now just above ankle height. Either someone found some way to lower it, or the recent snow we received simply raised the trail?s surface height. As I was approaching the steepest sections of Lion?s Head, I began to get nervous, as this was where I had to turn back a few weeks earlier. With being used to climbing ice-walls with a harness and rope, I took great care in securing every step and every plant of the ice axe knowing that if I slipped, I would be getting to know the trees below me very well. Sometimes, I planted the ice-axe a little too well and almost lost my balance when trying to leverage it out. The conditions of this section were ideal. There were steps stomped out of the steeper sections, and there was a very friendly mix of ice and snow that provided just the right amount of traction. Taking my methodical, snail?s pace up this section one step at a time, I eventually heard the cheers of the couple ahead of me, and I knew I was close. However, going at such a pace put a large amount of strain on my calves, and they were absolutely spent by the time I reached the top of the tree-line. I knew the rest of the trip would be difficult at best. As I was nearing the top of the steeper inclined section above tree-line, I saw a group of three men approach from behind. They eventually caught up with me and check to see if I was alright with hiking solo, which I think is understandable considering I was probably the youngest hiker out there, being 19. I continued to approach Lion?s Head as we passed each other back and forth as each of us took small breaks. When I approached Lion?s Head, I was surprised to see this massive rock which looked like a small boulder from the base of the mountain. I didn?t realize the magnitude of its size before hiking, but I found climbing over it to be enjoyable, even with my aching calves. I decided to take out my ice-axe to be extra cautious. There was some exposed rock, but it had a good layer of snow and ice on it. Without any other day to compare it to, its conditions seemed fairly reasonable. Once over Lion?s Head I could see the last stretch of hiking. Once I started climbing the final steep sections past Lion?s Head, I began to notice a few hikers making their descent. The number of these hikers seemed to exponentially grow as I neared the top. I thought the most amusing, yet depressing part of this stretch was when a super-hiker sped past me with nothing but a small school backpack on and not very long after raced back down past me after summiting. One of the highlights of this section was when a large, orange coast guard helicopter swooped over the summit not that high over our heads. This final hill had a hardened crust of ice/snow that broke in many parts as you stepped on it. In what seemed like the longest part of the hike, I push on through the last section, and finally reached the summit. Once on the summit I realized how truly cold the summit of Mount Washington can be. Even after only taking my gloves off for a few seconds to help a couple get their summit picture my hands seemed to turn into bricks and flexing my fingers became difficult. However, like the idiot I am, I still ran over to the observation deck and tried to get out my massive RPI sign. The winds were just too great though to hold it up, and the webcam only caught me trying to not get knocked over, digging through my back with my ice-axe thrown in front of me. It can be seen here:
http://images44.fotki.com/v1467/filedBS1/5020b/2/1002902/7286094/20090313_132332_deck.jpg
After freezing for the longest 4 minutes of the trip, I ran over to the base of the round building where the webcam was to get out of the wind, and try to get geared back up for the descent. With how dead my calves were, I was afraid they would cramp or give-out while descended Lion?s Head, and for safety?s sake, since I was solo, I opted for the dreadfully long and boring auto-road. Not much to say about it. It was long, wide, boring, and?long. However, it offered some magnificent views of Adams and the other side of the presidents. This was also when I saw what I believe to be Mount Katahdin, which was great to tell my dad at the bottom who grew up in Millinocket Maine, which if the North Conway of Baxter State Park. Once I reached the last couple miles of the auto-road, I saw a trail that led back to Pinkham Notch. I decided to take it since I like the sense of completion of taking such a long trip and ending back exactly where you started. I took a few more photos and headed back home after one of the best hikes that I have ever been on.

Pictures can be found here:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=96576&id=782871053&ref=nf

mtruman
03-14-2009, 07:40 PM
Great TR and fantastic pictures Joe. I particularly like the whole progression up Lion Head. Like being there (but warmer);)
I'm sure this is a trip you're going to remember for a long time. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Charlie
03-14-2009, 08:22 PM
very nice pictures thanks

mk10
03-14-2009, 10:06 PM
Thanks for the TR, it brought back memories--all except for the part where you hiked down the Auto Rd. I've considered descending that way before (just for kicks), but usually after summiting I just want to get down and back into town as fast as possible. I give you a lot of credit though, sounds like you had quite an adventure. Did you manage to make it back to Pinkham's before it got dark?

MechAeroE
03-14-2009, 10:26 PM
Thanks for the TR, it brought back memories--all except for the part where you hiked down the Auto Rd. I've considered descending that way before (just for kicks), but usually after summiting I just want to get down and back into town as fast as possible. I give you a lot of credit though, sounds like you had quite an adventure. Did you manage to make it back to Pinkham's before it got dark?

Yeah, fortunately I did. I had about an hour left of sunlight. I was sure to bring a headlamp and a Maglite though in case I was caught in the dark.

Brad
03-15-2009, 06:59 AM
Joe,

The picture of the summit stairs with the 2 hikers on the right should be submitted to the Photo Journal. I like that angle. You showed far more above treeline in the winter pictures than I have seen before. A great job and you certainly picked the right day.

TrishandAlex
03-15-2009, 07:15 AM
Congratulations!!! Excellent! :D :D

Bill O
03-15-2009, 09:34 AM
Nice trip report.

Sorry to disappoint, but I don't believe Katahdin is visible from Mount Washington. I may be wrong, but it's just too far. Could it have been Sugarloaf?

krummholz
03-15-2009, 11:35 AM
Congratulations! I really enjoyed your detailed report. One time in winter after reaching the summit I went down the Auto Road. It's enjoyable until you get below treeline--and then, like you say, it gets pretty boring. But the advantage is that it's just effortless. You can walk down on autopilot, and I wouldn't be surprised if the total physical effort is no more than going back down the Lion's head even though the distance is far longer.

MechAeroE
03-15-2009, 01:07 PM
Nice trip report.

Sorry to disappoint, but I don't believe Katahdin is visible from Mount Washington. I may be wrong, but it's just too far. Could it have been Sugarloaf?

Yeah, I realized now that it can't be Katahdin due to the direction it was located. My bearings were slightly off and the peak I saw was much more to the north west. And as you said, it is pretty damn far!

KD Talbot
03-15-2009, 01:27 PM
Great effort! Thanks for the pics, really nice!

KDT

smithtim
03-17-2009, 09:58 AM
Thanks for the TR, it brought back memories--all except for the part where you hiked down the Auto Rd. I've considered descending that way before (just for kicks), but usually after summiting I just want to get down and back into town as fast as possible. I give you a lot of credit though, sounds like you had quite an adventure. Did you manage to make it back to Pinkham's before it got dark?

is it feasiable to hike back down that way if you have pleny of time???


as I hate going down that section of lions head winter route just above the hunignton ravine fire road; so narrow and if you get stuck behind some people you may as well take a nap....

When I was on lions head on the way down yesterday I saw a couple of kids ski down the big one into tuckermans :eek: For a minute there I thought "hey maybee if I could glisside down there and miss that narrow strech of lions head", but then I came to my senses I decided I wanted to live to see another day

MechAeroE
03-17-2009, 12:03 PM
Well, I only made it to the summit by a little past 1:00, and I still had plenty of time to make it down. But as I said in the TR, it is miserably boring after the first bit of views you get on it. I would only do it again if I was aching enough to feel uncomfortable going back down Lion's Head.

Addicted
03-18-2009, 04:15 PM
We are planning to hike up to the first aid shack on Saturday. Can you tell me how the trail was from Pinkham Notch to Hermit Lake, and then from there up to the first aid shack? I'm hoping for snowshoes all the way in, as I don't have the skills for anything more difficult. I have hiked Tux in the summer, so know the trail.

KD Talbot
03-19-2009, 03:31 PM
Guaranty you'll hit packed trail with maybe some icy spots. Probably won't need snowshoes but microspikes would be useful.

KDT

Brad
03-19-2009, 08:50 PM
When I did the trail on Tuesday this week, it was nice packed snow all the way to HoJo's. Microspikes helped but were not required.

MechAeroE
03-26-2009, 12:29 AM
Well I think that I am going to go for it again with a couple of my friends within the next few weeks or so. How long do we have before the snowy alpine conditions wear down significantly? It would be nice to have plenty of snow up there for the hike.