Mountains: Mt. Lady Washington (13,281’)
Route: Started at Longs Peak TH (~9400’), skinned up to Chasm Lake and climbed Martha to Mt. Lady Washington summit. Skied E-NE slopes to car.
Elevation Gain - 3900’ (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 11 miles (approx)
I had marked my calendar eager to get out on some Alpine route with Sherpa Joe
once before he left on his Denali expedition
. Suspecting that he’d rather climb something that kicked his ass (which wouldn’t happen while keeping pace with me) I was set on Dragon Tail
with another friend. However, come Friday afternoon at lunch at work, Joe issued a familiar “Mmrrr… uff… harrumph… Martha - Mt. Lady Washington - Longs traverse – ski Longs' North Face mruff?”
. This moderately well articulated grunt was influential enough to make me forget Dragon Tail and begin assembling topozone maps of the Longs Peak area. With a gentle reminder that my skiing skills were not up to a North Face descent (and that I might end up hucking the Diamond instead), Joe was willing to just climb Martha and ski the East Face of Mt. Lady Washington… there was that dang party (his own going away party) in Erie at 4PM anyway... a short day might work. I decided to head up to the Longs Peak TH the previous night and sleep in my Jeep (Wall-E) so I was a little better acclimatized than usual. Joe would meet me there at 3AM. Old Man wind began his familiar evil shenanigans at midnight (his gusts were sporadic and lasted all day). I was mildly surprised that Wall-E didn’t blow away that night. Someone needs to let the old grouch in on a little secret. Calendar winter 2010 is over old man... you have no business here for a little while. At 2:55AM Joe’s Corolla pulled into the lot. I ate, we packed and left the TH at around 3:30AM.
We hiked up the frozen trail with skis strapped to the pack for the first ~1.25 hours although snow cover was pretty consistent throughout. At about 11000’ we took a shortcut, began post-holing and switched to skins. We broke treeline at about 5AM and watched the sun rise…
After a couple refreshment breaks we got to the ranger hut near Chasm Lake at about 5:45AM and caught a fantastic look at Alpenglow all over Longs Peak’s gigantic East Facing mug.. El Diamante.
Alpenglow on the Diamond
Meeker got in on the alpenglow extravaganza as well… Dreamweaver looks like fun right now… great memories of last year
came rushing back…
Alpenglow on Mt. Meeker
We stood on top of Chasm Lake and quietly watched wind rake Longs’ North Face, sending plumes into the air.
Plumes over the N. Face
Martha on the other hand looked much less intimidating in person than I’d imagined.
My attempts to brew up ramen were in vain thanks to a previously mentioned old man’s nonsensical behavior. We ate some trail food, stashed skis and geared up. At 7:15 or so, Joe set off up the couloir ahead of his 70m twin rope. Wetslide debris from a warm day is seen littering the base of the couloir.
Joe heads up Martha
The plan was to simulclimb the thing without pro except at the crux. Sasquatch had set a fine booter up the couloir on a previous day… long strides, deep and large paw-prints - voluminous enough to hold a years’ worth of water reserves for the inhabitants of the Pitcairn Islands. We used the booter on and off… since we’d started early the snow was frozen and crunchy, perfect for climbing.
Looking down at Chasm Lake after first section of Martha
First ice section on Martha - 05-22-10
Looking down from the base of the first ice section, at someone walking across Chasm Lake.
Person on Chasm Lake - Seen from first ice section on Martha
The first section of ice was fairly straight forward... Joe had set a screw above this section but no anchor.
Close up of first ice section on Martha
Above the second section of ice Joe placed another screw and a cam, and placed an anchor on top.
Anchor above the second ice section on Martha - 05-22-10
Following the second ice section on Martha - 05-22-10 (c) Joe
Watch those ski tips climbing along the left of the second ice flow (c) Joe
Above the second crux the couloir opened up and I continued ahead. Joe dismantled the anchor…
Continuing above second ice flow on Martha (c) Joe
Continuing above second ice flow on Martha 2 (c) Joe
The Notch couloir or Keiners (or both, as we combined them
unintentionally in the past) look like they’d make for a fine alpine ascent right about now…
Notch Couloir / Keiners (c) Joe
The snowfield above the couloir was a straight-forward walkup with some traverses across snow and some boulder hopping. It was still before 10 ‘O’clock so the snow was still fairly frozen and crunchy. The summit was made. It afforded some great views of Longs’ North Face (great snow cover)…
Longs’ North Face shows great snow cover for late May - 05-22-10
Meeker's sweeping, poetic cliff faces
We left the summit at about 11AM… The skiing began a couple dozen feet below the summit…
Beginning the descent off Mt. Lady Washington - 05-22-10
On this day, we earned our turns… Joe makes back-country skiing look elegant and effortless…
Ski descent off Mt. Lady Washington
Ski descent off Mt. Lady Washington 2
We should probably get to that party over there in Erie
But first lets ski some more...
and I make it look obnoxious…
Corn turns (c) Joe
Corn turns 2 (c) Joe
Mruff ^@%# dry patch (c) Joe
We were back at the car at 12:30 (there’s no better way to knock off the approach on a Longs Peak area ascent than on skis) with most of the day left. We were able to ski back down most of the trail with minimal duck-walking across short dry patches. A nice relaxing day out with some fun climbing and skiing... my preferred way of saying good luck on Denali Joe… come back safe for your wedding homie.