Mt. Washington

June 11-12, 1977

The Mt. Washington “grandmother” climb began Saturday afternoon in the South Eugene H.S. parking lot with all twelve climbers loaded into Bob Dark’s 12-passenger van while all packs trailed behind in his utility trailer. By 4:30 the stalwart twelve were at the Pacific Crest trailhead east of Big Lake ready for whatever came next—well, almost. Within the next hour of hiking, sunshine, hail, rain and occasional thunder were encountered. After leaving the trail & bushwhacking for an hour, camp was set up just before higher elevation would have brought us to totally snow-covered areas. The day ended with a beautiful sunset in a cloudless sky, a typical campfire, and the decision to get up at 4 a.m.

Shortly after 5 a.m. we were hiking with Dave tying some strips of ribbon to trees in the hope that someone might remember how to find the way back to camp. Following a compass bearing through the trees finally brought us to timberline and the view of all the peaks to the north. So far a cloudless, windless day! The hike to the saddle was uneventful with the exception of a few falling rocks which made it somewhat more exciting for those on the downhill side.

Bob Dark’s climbing and belaying talents became evident as he climbed the chute, then belayed the rest of the group up to the rappell point. As half the group reached that point, Bud went on with them to the summit while Bob finished belaying and brought up the second half.

The view at the summit was exceptional—no, unique! Besides being met with the standard view of the distant horizons, we were also met by Obsidians Bert Ewing and Sam Miller and a companion. Not that that is so unusual but how often does one see Bert & Sam dressed in well pressed suits with ties and polished shoes? Not only that but would you believe these two were comfortably seated on each side of a tablecloth covered rock on which they had a variety of fruit, a giant grinder sandwich and a bottle of wine (for looks only, of course). After this shock wore off, a short rest and some lunch were in order.

Next came the down climbing to the rappell point and a very unhurried rappell to the saddle. Everyone handled the rappell just fine, but who was it who squeezed my 9 mm rope down to 7 mm? The hike down the snow-covered north ridge to timberline introduced same to the plunge step and some mini glissades.

At timberline more of Bob’s talents became evident. With his internal radar turned on, Bob zeroed in on the return trail and led us back through the trees directly to camp. After a short rest to pack up, the group headed back to the skyline trail, the van, the Rustic Skillet and Eugene. The “Grandmothers” included Elsa Gontrum, David Lewinsohn, Dorothy Leland, Jan Middleswart, Henrietta Richmond, Parker Riddle, Velma Shirk, Merle Traudt, David Zevenbergen, Mike Zevenbergen (age 11), Bob Dark and Bud Proctor (co-leaders).

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