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View Full Version : President's Day Weekend Summit Hike Report 2/17-18/07



straps
02-20-2007, 09:54 AM
We were up on Lion's Head Saturday, guides by IME (Maury and Dan). I would definitely recommend them for experience, gear rental, and attitude. Tops in all categories.

Snow pack was heavy, chest drifts in some places. It was slow going breaking trail, but by the time we got up just below tree line to get some water and fuel, a steady line of what looked like hundreds of climbers came out behind us. So many that they surely had no idea we were breaking trail, people were getting impatient.

2 in our group of 5 summited. Conditions were favorable, but still exhausting. What a mountain!

mk10
02-20-2007, 02:02 PM
I was truly surprised to find the trails covered with light fluffy Colorado type snow, not that heavy high moisture type one would expect. It was crotch deep in some parts too, I send kudos out to the guide who was the first one through it Sat morning and blazed the route for the rest of us.

Had a late start on Sat (left Pinkham's at 11:20am), didn't have enough time to successfully reach the summit and safely descend while still in daylight (climbed up past Lionhead for a great view down into Tuck's ravine though). I'm not sure of the exact visibility figures, but the skies were completely clear with amazing views of the entire surrounding area.

Woke up earlier Sun (left Pinkham’s at 8:10am) and this time did make the summit (woohoo! :D ). Considering that I had just climbed 3000 feet the day before, there were times that I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Ascending the snow slope just below the summit boulder field a fellow climber commented "I'm going to be totally sore tomorrow whether I make the summit or not, so I might as well summit". I chuckled because these words rang so true.

Wind speed on the summit was an astonishingly low 20mph, but snow was coming down pretty good with visibility nowhere near as that of the previous day. Stood next to the 6288 ft. sign for the compulsory photo with ice axe in hand (next time I'm going to pose with my avalanche shovel instead--just to be different and to make a mockery of this whole macho ice axe posing thing). Seen three observatory employee's dressed in red jackets come out of one of the buildings and they began doing an Obcast recording. I thought it would be kind of cool to stand back and watch it live, but the narrator kept screwing up and kept on having to do retakes. I figured I was making him nervous (and that was without me making silly faces or gestures) so I just left to let them to do their thing in peace.

Judging by the traffic on the upper trails I'd say 100+ summited on Sat and maybe 70 or so on Sun. Quite a few large groups, lead by EMS and the like, were present. These groups were generally accommodating to those traveling in triplets and pairs as they graciously stepped aside to let these smaller, faster moving teams pass. All in all, everyone was very cordial and friendly and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Seen several climbers using wooden-shafted, antique ice axes and although retro and cool I'm not sure I'd want to be staking my life on them. Found an inordinate number of climbers choosing to fasten their crampons outside their packs, walking around like porcupines, seemingly oblivious to any potential hazard this practice creates (crampon bags are available at the visitor's center for only $22). Also saw a lot of glissading down the narrow lionhead trail. This practice, while fun, clears the footsteps from the snow and subsequent climbers have to ascend/descend the slick "butt-shaped" chutes left behind. If you are one of these reckless porcupines or glissaders, I disapprovingly shake my head.

Overall, the hike was pleasant and enjoyable. Had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people. Had a great workout and burned thousands of calories (now I can eat like a pig for the next few days). What better way to celebrate President Washington’s birthday, than a climb up Mt. Washington.

Mark

mk10
02-20-2007, 03:37 PM
We were up on Lion's Head Saturday, guides by IME (Maury and Dan)... It was slow going breaking trail, but by the time we got up just below tree line to get some water and fuel, a steady line of what looked like hundreds of climbers came out behind us. So many that they surely had no idea we were breaking trail, people were getting impatient.

I heard complaints from other climbers about the logjam on Lionhead trail Saturday morning. I stepped off the beaten path a few times and sunk almost waist deep into the snow. Breaking that trail must have been pure torture. Those whining climbers should be glad that they were waiting instead of being the first to trudge through that stuff.

I think I met one of your guides at Pinkham's visitor’s center. He took another group up to the summit the next day on Sunday. Young, no older than early twenties, dark hair, deep slightly red-colored tan or complexion, wore a bright orange-red outer shell. Don't recall his name. Anyhow, breaking that trail and summiting a second time in as many days--that’s pretty hard core.



2 in our group of 5 summited. Conditions were favorable, but still exhausting. What a mountain!

What ever happened to the other 3 in your group? Someone told me that there was a minor injury/rescue on Saturday, but I don't know any more than that.

KD Talbot
02-20-2007, 03:42 PM
I assume a guide stayed with each group when you split up?
KDT

straps
02-20-2007, 04:28 PM
(thanks to admin for putting this in the correct place, I originally posted this in a rush this morning!)

We all made it in one piece, and did not see any trail rescues. Dan (last name?) was the younger guide's name, and we were all in awe of his breaking trail one day and guiding again the next. Hard core indeed. If you are in need of a guide while reading this, he was great company and extremely knowledgeable, we recommend him.

Many locals we met respect Maury McKinney, our other guide. Reading back over his credentials I wish I'd asked him more questions! We made the call to split up and let the other 2 hikers in our group summit. The guides had no part in separating us. (you can easily find these details on IME-USA.com, but I don't want to turn this board into a commercial)

The trail was getting rather slick and boney by end of day. This was in great contrast to the beginning of the day, and we slipped around some; no doubt contributing to the butt-shaped groove down Lion's Head in the trees. Flurries in the early AM gave way to lenticular clouds and sun. The cone was in and out of clouds, but some decent views were to be had.

I just wish those that were getting impatient could have seen Maury and Dan breaking trail. They were monsters!

rockin rex
02-20-2007, 05:02 PM
Not like the day I climbed, saw only 2 other hikers. Holiday weekend on the rock pile, in the winter and with fresh snow and nice weather brings out the groups. Don't know what the hurry is. When I climb Washington I never want to leave!! Those who were upset about the log jam on Lions head need to remember there are other routes up that are walk up routes ( non-technical) Boot Spur is nice, Nelson Crag is nice, and my favorite with a group the Ammonoosic Jewell loop. With a nice powder covering the ice on the ammo would make for a sweet trail to climb. The one down side to Washington, crowds. If you know when to go and where to go you can find yourself all by yourself if that is what you are looking for. Just remember " ALWAYS put safety first!!!!!!!"

Bill O
02-20-2007, 05:12 PM
I wasn't up there, but I'd say those back ups are fairly rare on Mount Washington. Probably more likely to see it below the Hillary Step on Everest than on Lion's Head.

I know it's not easy, but there is nothing stopping you from picking off the slow climbers one by one. Ask them to step aside and they probably will. They aren't roped up, and they aren't hypoxic due to lack of oxygen. But you better be able to leave them in your dust and never look back. Or risk the embarrassment of gasping for air at the top of Lion's Head while the pack of turtles marches by.

smashburn
02-20-2007, 06:04 PM
We were up on Lion's Head Saturday, guides by IME (Maury and Dan). I would definitely recommend them for experience, gear rental, and attitude. Tops in all categories.

Hey Straps! I think we met up there. Maury caught up with me right at the top, 2:15pm. Cool guy. I went up with Elliot, another awesome IMCS guide. What a fantastic day .. a butt kicker even w/o breaking trail .. those guys are amazing!!

Did you get the wind speed/temp when we were there, it was fairly brutal. It looks like a whole other world in my Summit Pic. Especially after the sun and nice conditions most of the way up. The archive shows about 4 deg, -25 with wind chill. 45-60 mph winds. Felt worse! :)

straps
02-21-2007, 10:22 AM
Didn't get exact reads, but do know the wind was whipping. Once we got back below the trees, our energy bounded back up. The gusts weren't so brutal we couldn't keep on, but enough that it required that much more energy to keep warm.

Not sure who recommended training as if you were doing a half marathon, but I would also include as much cold air cardio as possible. Gyms are good for the legs, but the cold, humid air did my lungs in. Live and learn!

Dan Corn is the younger guides' name.

mk10
02-21-2007, 01:51 PM
I wasn't up there, but I'd say those back ups are fairly rare on Mount Washington. Probably more likely to see it below the Hillary Step on Everest than on Lion's Head.

I know it's not easy, but there is nothing stopping you from picking off the slow climbers one by one. Ask them to step aside and they probably will. They aren't roped up, and they aren't hypoxic due to lack of oxygen. But you better be able to leave them in your dust and never look back. Or risk the embarrassment of gasping for air at the top of Lion's Head while the pack of turtles marches by.

Funny that you should mention Everest...When we were waiting beneath the tricky, rocky part where you have to grapple onto tree roots to successfully gain purchase, we jokingly clamored "c'mon! go! move! we're gettin' frostbite down here" just like Tim and Gerrard at the base of the second step on the Discovery Channel's Everest show. The climbers above joked and laughed with us as they let us through.

rockin rex
02-21-2007, 02:42 PM
Funny that you should mention Everest...When we were waiting beneath the tricky, rocky part where you have to grapple onto tree roots to successfully gain purchase, we jokingly clamored "c'mon! go! move! we're gettin' frostbite down here" just like Tim and Gerrard at the base of the second step on the Discovery Channel's Everest show. The climbers above joked and laughed with us as they let us through.

The only place I know where you have to grapple on tree roots is on summer route of lions head, on the rock slabs before the traverse. Is the winter route open?? maybe the winter route has the same thing with the slabs and tree routes? I would think the traverese is filled in by now and safety is an issue. That part of lions head just below tree line is the hardest part of the climb. Especially to break trail in.

climbabout
02-21-2007, 03:39 PM
During periods of less than average snowfall, like this year, there is a section of the winter route that has a rocky slab underneath and it's tough to gain purchase there in the absence of snow and ice. As I recall, its about 1/4 or 1/3 of the way up the steep section. I'm sure that's the section being referred to. I recall a group of climbers one year refer to it as the hillary step. When there's an abundance of snow and ice on the trail, it's relatively easy.
Tim

straps
02-21-2007, 04:21 PM
We were definitely on the winter route, and with the amount of snowfall, were limited to stumps and branches. The summer route was prone to avalanche.

As we descended, we used our axes to grapple anything we could (snow, ice, wood) as we kicked footing. In some places there was rock and ice, but for the most part slick parts where people had sat and slid.

I am not familiar with technical names of portions of Tucks, aside from Hillman's Highway, but there was a great deal of snow in the bowl. Neither camera battery could be revived to capture it. Looks like I will have to go back!

Brad
02-21-2007, 06:28 PM
Hey Straps! I think we met up there. Maury caught up with me right at the top, 2:15pm. Cool guy. I went up with Elliot, another awesome IMCS guide. What a fantastic day .. a butt kicker even w/o breaking trail .. those guys are amazing!!

Did you get the wind speed/temp when we were there, it was fairly brutal. It looks like a whole other world in my Summit Pic. Especially after the sun and nice conditions most of the way up. The archive shows about 4 deg, -25 with wind chill. 45-60 mph winds. Felt worse! :)
Here is a gap in the Deck camera at 2:15 that day.

http://images22.fotki.com/v520/photos/1/1002902/4159843/20070217_141650_deck-vi.jpg

And the Conditions page at that time:

http://images20.fotki.com/v390/photos/1/1002902/4159838/20070217_142149_conditions-vi.jpg

mk10
02-21-2007, 07:08 PM
On Sunday, when it was less crowded, I managed to snap a photo of the tricky part of the winter route that we are referring to. It's towards the bottom portion of the trail and the first place where the pitch exceeds 45°. There was very little snow covering the rocky slab and the little snow that did exist was not constituted such as to be able to front-point up the slope without chunks of it simply breaking away beneath your weight. Just above this part the series of wooden check-dams begins.

Straps is spot on, there were times that you had to clutch and grab whatever tree, branch, or root that you could to keep yourself from sliding down the trail. Traction in the low-density snow was poor (even with crampons) and the entire ice axe shaft would constantly sink uselessly all the way up its head in the deep powder.

smashburn
02-21-2007, 09:30 PM
Here is a gap in the Deck camera at 2:15 that day.

http://images22.fotki.com/v520/photos/1/1002902/4159843/20070217_141650_deck-vi.jpg

Amazing how fast it changes up there ... this is my summit pic maybe 10 min later.

http://smashrocketry.com/climbing/SM-summit.jpg

Should have had my snack & drink -after- the summit pic! :) Awesome adventure either way.

smashburn
02-21-2007, 09:41 PM
On Sunday, when it was less crowded, I managed to snap a photo of the tricky part of the winter route that we are referring to. It's towards the bottom portion of the trail and the first place where the pitch exceeds 45°

Here's somewhat of a jam at that spot on Sat, but much later.

http://smashrocketry.com/climbing/lionhead-jam1.jpg

http://smashrocketry.com/climbing/lionhead-jam2.jpg

Everyone was cool and friendly .. what an awesome scene! :)