Just recently over winter break my parents gave me their old Toyota Previa van with almost 250,000 miles on it but with everything in working order. So now that I have the capability of driving all over I decided to make it my goal for the year to climb a mountain every month and January was here so I set out to climb Mount Washington. Now I climbed it in November so I wasn't worried about it being any sort of new territory for me. I also wanted to see what my capabilities are now so I decided not to ask any of my normal climbing friends along.
I woke up at 2:30 am Sunday morning when my apartment-mates were still up on their computers refuseing to go to sleep early on a weekend. I packed and threw some food and water in the bag and left the parking lot just before 3 am. The best part at that moment was the excitement surging through me on five hours of sleep. I was also starting out at a disadventage because I was nurseing a patellofemoral tendonitis (runner's knee) injury from bad shoes and I also had run a 5000m race at a track meet the day before and pr'd (personal record).
From where I am in Worcester, MA its about 3 hours and 40 minutes to get to Pinkham Notch. I got there just after twilight, started dressing and was on the trail at 7 am.
At 7 in the morning the trails were fairly unpopulated which surprised me comming from my colorado backround where it is not totally unusual to start climbing in the middle of the night say 1 am as happened once to me. I was the third/fourth person up the trail that day so there was still a fair amount of trail breaking left to do. That took some energy out of me because the snow was fluffy enough that I sunk down eight inches but heavy enough that I couldn't shuffle.
I was going solid until I got to the point where its quite a bit more vertical. I slowed down a bit because to me at that time of the day it was all completely frozen and I would have liked another ice-axe. It also seemed to me personally that the slope was enough that you could not french-technique climb easily enough but long enough that front pointing would wear you out, or at least me the day after a meet.
Above treeline I passed the two of the people ahead of me putting me in second place for summiting. It was windy on Lions Head. I wore a facemask and glacier glasses but they fogged up almost instantly but I didn't take them off because the wind was cold. I made my way up the snowfields to the summit which was as windy as Lions Head.
I stayed on the summit long enough to tap my axe on the summit sign. I then headed down. For me going down is harder than going up so I needed all the vision I could get so I took off my glasses. It was then that I realized that my eyebrows had frozen with little particles of ice. I stomped my way down thankful that my Alchemy jacket was windproof and that my cotton shirt I had mistakenly worn was not cold from my sweating and happy that it truly wasn't cold enough to put on my parka.
Part of my favorite part of climbing mountains is helping people that are new to it and schooling those that might be more experienced than me. So when I always come down and most everyone else is going up I smile because the pain that I suffered higher up is over. One group asked me on Lions Head how far I got and I was stunned because visibility was miles and the wind was maybe 50 miles an hour probably less. It was good weather. What can you expect going to the place with "the worst weather in the world?"
Going down was fast I walked the whole way because I learned that is the safest unfortunately my mind wandered a bit and I got a chance to self-arrest with crampons and a pack on. Not the most fun thing in the world but I didn't have any holes and nothing was bleeding so I continued on.
The steep section of before had melted out and easy compared to how it was before. I got back down to the parking lot at 12:30 so 5.5 hours total. I ate a left-over sub from the day before and started driving home at one and made it home without falling asleep at the wheel and in time to eat supper before my meeting at 6 pm. Then I even did some homework that night. Exhastion finally kicked in and I was out at 8:30 for a pleasant 11 hours of sleep that is rare around college.