Super Bowl Climb of Washington
On Sunday February 5th (Super Bowl Sunday), my friend Andrew and I climbed Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. Ever since I did the Presidential Traverse during the summer a few years back, I have wanted to come back to this mountain in the winter and climb it in true alpine conditions. The mountain is notorious for its bad weather. So bearing that mind we set out from Toronto via Lake Placid for a day of veridical ice climbing to Mt Washington.
We stepped off down the trail just before 7:00 am on Sunday. We heard that the weather was supposed to be clear all day but with a new system moving in the afternoon. We walked the Tuckerman Ravine trail until we reached the trail head of the Lion’s Head Winter Route and put on our crampons and got out our alpine axes. The most difficult part of the Lion’s Head Winter Route was probably the first two hundred meters or so, where the terrain was mixed and the snow sparing. Even this was not much of a technical challenge and we never in any ‘danger’ during the climb.
The snow conditions on the upper part of the route were beautiful, primarily because the previous parties had already broken the trail. The winds were not too bad either, but it was not a place to stand around with exposed skin in the open. The longest part of the climb felt like the eastern snowfield, with few landmarks and soul sucking snow it can be pretty tedious. Overall though the assent was something that anyone with good level of physical fitness would be able to achieve, the level of mountaineering skill required was minimal.
By 1:00 pm we had reached the summit. It was a very proud moment for us both. For me it was my first winter assent of a peak, one with ‘the most extreme’ weather nonetheless, and Andrew’s first time climbing any type of mountain. The summit was cold, very cold. The winds were very high and we quickly took our summit shots and started our descent. The day had been perfectly clear all day and as we started the descent the clouds started to roll in. It felt like we were racing the system, which quickly engulfed the entire mountain above the ridge line. Thankful we managed to stay one step ahead the whole time and were able to bag the summit.
We took our time with the descent, but still made great time coming off the mountain getting to the parking lot by 4:00pm. The majority of climbing accidents happen during the descent, so as long as you remain vigilant of that fact it helps to maintain safety. I would recommend this climb for anyone with winter weather skills, knowledge of crampon and ice axe use and a good level of physical fitness. If you are seriously into mountain climbing in the North East there isn’t much else that can compare.
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