Martha is the name given to the main couloir which runs down the south face of Mount Lady Washington. Clocking in at around 750', this route will challenge you with a variety of snow, ice and rock conditions. Unlike some of its nearby north-facing companions (e.g.: Flying Dutchman, Dreamweaver), Martha will tend to get more sun and thus potentially have more ice on her during the colder winter months. Conversely, she may lose viability sooner than the aforementioned routes due to this aspect.
Getting ThereStart from the main Long's Peak trailhead off of Hwy 7. Follow the trail up and above tree-line until you reach Chasm junction; this is where the main trail heads right up and around the eastern flanks of Mt Lady Washington to Granite Pass. You will want to follow the Chasm Lake trail to the left; basically head towards the magnificent view of Long's Peak's diamond face. The trail will take you to the Chasm Lake cabin at which point head up and right above the cabin to find Chasm Lake proper. Circle around to the right (or if frozen, cross over the lake) looking up at the south face of Mt Lady Washington until the route comes into view. Find a spot to gear up and get your crampons on.
In the winter and early spring months, the route from Chasm Junction to the cabin passes across a snow apron which can become very prone to avalanches. Use caution and wise judgment before crossing this area after freshly loaded with wind-blown snow.
Route DescriptionSome descriptions of the route rate it as having 5 pitches of climbing. Depending on conditions and/or your comfort level on moderate to steep snow as well as low angle ice steps, you may find that you will only need to rope up for 2 pitches.
That's it for the tough stuff. You'll now be standing on steep angled snow (be careful in late season conditions). Kick-step your way up about 30 more feet and look up and left. You should find a very nice crack system for an anchor, as well as chockstone to sling for backup. It is very comfortable to work with an autoblock sitting on a rock ledge to bring up the second.
Once you are both here, if you are comfortable you can pack up the gear. Trudge up another 40' or so and head left to work yourself over to the descent to the Camel Gulley. Or, continue straight up on varied snow and rock to the top of Mt Lady Washington and descend via the East Slopes
Essential GearYou should do fine with around 3 ice screws (both 10cm and 13cm); full set of stoppers; cams from 0.5 to #2 (or tri-cams from .5 to 3.5 with doubles in the 0.5 and 1); about a dozen draws with plenty of double-length slings.
Crux comparisonsHaving had the opportunity to climb this route twice within 3 weeks of each I got to see the crux in two wildly different versions. The first time on 27 April 2008 it was a meager, barely attached ice flow that forced some fun mixed stemming (image on the left). Just barely considered "in". The second time on 17 May 2008 it was much fatter (image on the right). Probably could've been fatter; but in the early morning the ice was very strong and took picks well. The May photo was taken one week after Eli Helmuth stated on his site that the ice was as fat as he'd ever seen it. The photo he took of it that day (7 May 2008, you can see the photo here.) actually looked less "in" than what we had on 17 May 2008. Also the ice section on pitch 4 below the crux was a lot better as well. I thought it would be nice for everyone to be able to see a few of the wildly varying conditions you can get on this route.
Added a final photo of the season by Mark Cushman showing the meltout of the crux in mid-June. This is what it looks like when no ice is present. The ice is very welcome and necessary as the climb went to a 5.6-ish variation with very loose and dangerous rock.