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View Full Version : Sucessful first-time climb, yay!



redthorne
08-24-2009, 01:03 PM
Saturday was my first time climbing Mt. Washington, and I must say it was quite a joy! I met so many nice people on the way up and the way back, it was wonderful to have someone to chat with. Mt. Washington can make you look inside yourself and test your will, knowledge of the outdoors, and if you are prepared...allows you to enjoy nature in a unique way.

Although I am by no means a novice hiker or novice survivalist, my mentality with challenging Washington was that I would know nothing. Therfore I learned, confirmed, and read everything about 5 times. Most of the hikes I go on around here in Western MA as of course much, much, smaller. (yeah, yeah, "flatlander" yada yada :) ) "Be prepared for anything." So, I was, and I thus had a wonderful experience. I had the knowledge, just not the practical experience. I am glad to have taken the first step in learning about the higher peaks.

I was flying solo and as such I made many contingency plans to avoid problems. Three people knew my possible routes, of which there were only two. They also knew my expected time back. I committed to not deviate from these routes unless extreme emergency dictated. I also signed the log books and planned on the fact that if for some weird reason there were no other hikers on the trail I would not continue.

I took Tuck's up. The weather was a spittling of rain, nothing too bad. At Hermit lake I put on the rain pants and rain jacket, rested a bit, and chatted with two young men that were on the way up. (they had done it before and were obviously prepared)

At this time I scratched my head at some of the people coming through with sneakers, cotton socks/shirts, and jean shorts. Nothing but a few candy bars and one nalgene bottle for water... Um, ok, whatever floats your boat.

About 20 minutes after leaving Hermit I decided the raincoat had to go. I was soaked from sweat anyway and it was only spitting rain, so I packed it back and continued without it. I ran into two young ladies (sounded French) who set a good slow but steady pace. They didn't mind if I followed them up and over the headwall so we played leapfrog for a bit, chatting most of the way. At this point I determined I would take my secondary route back, Lions Head, because Tucks looked a bit wet for a safe first-time descent.

The most unexpected part up was the last stretch through the boulders. For some reason it just killed me...perhaps because I was running on just breakfast and a few goo packs (I had packed more food but just wasn't hungry). Still made it to the top and woo!!!

Checked into the observatory logbooks and ran into the two men I met down at Hermit. They had arrived about 15 minutes before me, we exchanged congrats. Whilst I ate my gorp and explored around I noticed a steady stream of the soaked and cold-looking people I saw down below streaming in. I hope they made it back down ok... There was also one guy who trail ran up and was on his way back down. I admire that...wow...

I checked the weather and was pleasantly suprised no t-storm cells were on the way, just some rain. I bought my "climbed this mountain" shirt (my main reason for going was to earn the shirt, lol) Because of the weather I determined I could enjoy another 15 minutes up top before heading back. (still allowing for an extra hour and a half of daylight upon my arrival at Pinkham)

Refilled the 3l camelback, offered my duct tape reserves to a gentleman whose boot-sole had detached, and offered words of support to some AT through folks. I then departed on Lions-head back down and quickly ran into a really nice Polish family of about 9 who were on the same route down. They had come for enjoyment and for one of the lads (about 15), it was a personal challenge as he was afraid of heights. He made it without any problem. These people were very nice and let me tailgate them.

One thing I had not expected was the feeling of a long descent. Muscles were of course complaining but not near failure. I am also glad that I had the proper footwear and absolutely cannot fathom how people go down in sneakers. Seriously. How?? Wet rocks, mud...how the heck?

The last part below treeline is much longer going down than it is going up, lol :) Many people I spoke to agreed that Tucks was too "wet" to chance going down and a lot of traffic jams were forming.

Total time up was about 3 hours 50 minutes. The way back was 4.5 hours due to the rain really coming down and our stops so the group I was tagging with could catch up. I was glad to just be able to sit there and look at the surroundings when there were breaks in the weather.

All in all I had packed for worst case scenario (staying above treeline overnight in 45 degree windy wet weather was my mentality), about 35-40 pounds including water (I train myself with a pack of this weight or more normally). Waterproof clothing, wool socks, and sturdy boots were of priority.

Overall I went through two goo packs, about 3.5 liters of water, a few cups of home-made gorp. Only casualties were a small blister on the outside of my big toe from the descent and of course a few sore muscles.

Really the only way to make the experience better would be to be more in shape so I don't get a blister and my legs don't become so sore. I'd like to try the other side or a hut traverse next time, or even venture up and watch some of the skiiers come springtime. I am a skier but I don't think I'm brave enough to try a run unless there is an easy route...lol.

KD Talbot
08-24-2009, 09:26 PM
Glad you had a great time! You sound like you had the right outlook despite the weather. Many good observations for a 1st timer about clothing, footwear etc.

The 2 things I caught in your report I would say, and I'm not criticizing, just tryin' to pass on some experience is, it sounds like you had a little more in your pack than you really needed, but better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. You might ask yourself what you could do without.

Secondly you spoke of not eating much because you weren't hungry. With activity like this, and I know you're not a beginner, but the saying is, "Lunch starts right after breakfast and lasts until supper." The thing to do is keep snacks within easy reach and keep munching all day. It keeps you from bonking later.

Sounds like you made the most of a not perfect day. I hope you can get back on a bluebird day and see what all the fuss is about! :D

KDT

redthorne
08-24-2009, 11:47 PM
Glad you had a great time! You sound like you had the right outlook despite the weather. Many good observations for a 1st timer about clothing, footwear etc.

The 2 things I caught in your report I would say, and I'm not criticizing, just tryin' to pass on some experience is, it sounds like you had a little more in your pack than you really needed, but better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. You might ask yourself what you could do without.

Secondly you spoke of not eating much because you weren't hungry. With activity like this, and I know you're not a beginner, but the saying is, "Lunch starts right after breakfast and lasts until supper." The thing to do is keep snacks within easy reach and keep munching all day. It keeps you from bonking later.

Sounds like you made the most of a not perfect day. I hope you can get back on a bluebird day and see what all the fuss is about! :D

KDT

Yes, I agree that I had more than I needed to. I sorta thought that going in, but like you said...always better to have more than you need than to get stuck without it, as long as you don't cross the line by overburdening yourself. Sorta the same mentality when I go backpacking...balance between functionality, preparedness, and weight.

Snow Miser
08-25-2009, 07:51 AM
Great TR! Thanks for sharing with us. And you will have to come back on a bluebird day as KD said. The views are spectacular and your hiking experience will be tenfold.

Brad
08-25-2009, 09:29 AM
A great report and many folks can learn from it. We still have plenty of good weather left this season for some awesome days up there. Hope you can come back on a good day and see the sights.

Addicted
08-27-2009, 10:54 AM
You should defiately head up in the spring to catch the skiiers. Fun to watch and nice to just sit in the sun for a while and hang out. We went up on the first day of spring and it was amazing. Tons of people skiing.

Brad
08-27-2009, 11:33 AM
You should defiately head up in the spring to catch the skiiers. Fun to watch and nice to just sit in the sun for a while and hang out. We went up on the first day of spring and it was amazing. Tons of people skiing.
The really fun day is the Inferno day!

krummholz
08-28-2009, 04:53 PM
I enjoyed reading this report. I think just about everyone has their muscles tested by the descent, whether by Tucks or by Lions Head. There's really just not much you can do at the gym or anywhere else to simulate this sort of activity. Your pack weight does sound a bit high, so maybe you could figure out a way to reduce it. If a lot of the weight was water, you could maybe plan on getting water somewhere up and purifying it with iodine tablets, or to a certain extent you could just refill up on the top (but you have to make it that far, of course :)). Congratulations on your successful conquest of George, and I hope you have many more trips in the area!

Tim&Val
08-30-2009, 07:39 AM
Congratulations! Your TR was great! We're very glad you had a good time and that you were well prepared which makes it a lot EASIER to have a good time.

I agree with Krummholz about the descent. Tim & I hike in the Whites almost every weekend, year round. The descent of MW still hurts. And the last two miles down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail have always felt to me like the hardest two miles anywhere. :D

Congrats again!
Valerie

mtruman
08-30-2009, 04:22 PM
Excellent TR - I really enjoyed reading it. You're right about being over-prepared being better than not (although a recent experience with a 45# pack might have convinced me otherwise - but that's another story). There's definitely no easy way down the mountain. Personally I'd rather go Tucks than Lion Head down but they're both tough. I know that my 52 year old knees don't appreciate it much. I'd rather go up twice than come down once... Hope the next time you go up (and I'm sure you will) that the weather cooperates a bit more. Very few things in life more spectacular than a clear day on this mountain.

smithtim
08-31-2009, 12:51 PM
congrads on your ascent and taking the time to share / post; the first time up is always to great and it sounds like you were very prepared and informed, thus, had an enjoyable hike :)