Mt. Washington

September 24, 1988

The usual pre-trip fretting and indecision waiting for the weather to commit itself preceded our expedition; but then, what would a trip into the Cascades be without playing weather bingo. When we arrived at Big Lake on Friday evening the sky was clear but the mountain was ominously absent. By the time we woke up in the morning all was clear and bright but I was only guardedly optimistic recalling our hair raising experiences earlier in the year on Middle Sister. So we set off, deciding against the scenic route via Patjens Lakes, and gained the northwest ridge and a beautiful view of Jefferson with a three layer cake lenticular cloud concealing its top. We made the base of the summit pinnacle by 11 a.m. and scraped and scrambled our way to the top by 1 p.m. We added a couple of climbers from Portland on the way up and spent a relaxing hour on the flat, comfy summit. Ravens performed acrobatics close at hand and kestrels and a goshawk also added to the aerial displays. We cautiously made our way back down using a fixed line and prusiks in a couple of spots. Then it was the exhilarating rappel down to the saddle and some screeing down to the climbers’ trail. By the time we made it back to the cars dusk was settling on six tired climbers as a hypnotic full moon painted Big Lake with its silvery light.

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