Mt. Washington

September 23-24, 1978

Five climbers reached the planned high camp on North Ridge at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. With time to kill and no better way to fill it, we decided the top of the mountain might make a more reasonable camp. Reached the summit at sunset. Wrestling with full overnight packs on the pinnacle’s wet rock spiced up an otherwise routine climb.

There’s barely room for five to sleep on top and the accommodations were hardly luxurious. We also discovered company—a very aggressive packrat who wouldn’t take a hint to get lost. He repeatedly stalked and attacked our food, even fighting a tug-of-war as one bag was hurriedly removed. With everything secured we settled in for a warm, calm night of solid stars, numerous meteors and a carpet of brilliant lights to the east.

Then at midnight came the rat attack. With well-practiced ease, two snips severed the zipper on Dan M’s pack. Dan B’s rain parka, unfortunately in the line of attack, was neatly holed as the rat burrowed deeper towards the food supply. He was too noisy, though. Both Dans came wide awake on the counter-offensive. But Brother Rat was much too quick for them, and quite a scene followed. Just try to imagine two grown men, both holding respected positions in their community, barefoot and dressed only in their underwear, chasing around the darkened summit of Mt. Washington at midnight waving flashlights, screaming obscenities, and threatening to obliterate a poor little furry creature with grapefruit-sized rocks! And all this attempted violence in the little critter’s home—absolutely no way for uninvited guests to behave.

Things quieted down after that. Several more hours of tossing and turning with sharp rocks for a mattress, and fears of sliding off the east face, then we awoke to a superb sunrise.

Lee Hatch arrived at the base of the pinnacle at this time, having hiked in late in the evening. We helped him up the pinnacle, then all headed down. Rappelling with full packs can be exciting. Back to cars-at 3 :00 p.m. for Dan Bates, Brian Gregor, Lee Hatch, Dan McLaughlin, Bill McWhorter and leader Bert Ewing.

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