Mt. Washington

July 13, 2003

The group meet at the trailhead the evening before the climb and despite the rain that came down through most of the night we started just after 5 a.m. As we hiked in, there was a solid overcast sky above us and one could hear the wind blowing hard in the treetops. Just after leaving the PCT on the climbers’ trail to the north ridge, the clouds and wind surrounded us and it began to get cold and wet with low visibility. Nevertheless, all in the group were motivated and wanted to push on to see if things would improve up higher. When we reached the base of the north ridge (~8 a.m.) the wind and clouds were still coming. But because the route mostly stays on the leeward side of the ridge, it was not uncomfortable to continue. Just after we started up the ridge, Mueller and Lamb left the climb. At the top of the ridge we dropped down to the west to go around the buttress and up the ravine to the base of the summit pinnacle. This put us right in the full force of the wind and clouds. We nearly missed the entrance to the ravine in the whiteout. At the base of the pinnacle (10 a.m.), it was extremely cold with the wind coming right up the ravine. Mark convinced us all that this was going to be the coldest we would be. He was right, and by the time I had set the fixed line to the top of the first pitch, the wind had dropped and the sky lightened. By the time I had reached the top and set the last line, the cloud cap had just lifted. By the time we were all on top (just after noon), it was sunny and all of the surrounding peaks were visible. We were all back to he base of the pinnacle by about 2:30 p.m., and then we climbed back down the North ridge in warm sun with no wind. The return walk on the PCT even felt too hot to most. The group arrived at the trailhead just after 6 p.m. We were all happy that we pushed on in the morning despite the initial bad weather. It is to be noted that there were several other groups at the trailhead in the a.m. that intended to climb, but we saw no other climbers on the mountain the whole day. All on the climb made a concerted effort to keep going despite marginal conditions. A special thanks to my Co-Leader Mark Slipp. The climbers were, members: Jason Mueller and Virgil Lamb, who left at the start of the ridge. Summitting were: non-member — Lee Shaffner; members — Wayne Deeter, Juli McGlinsky, Ron Unger, Bob Burnett, Rich Peevers, Greg Zupansic, and Co-leaders Mark Slipp, and George Baitinger.

Seen by the side of the PCT

Climbing up the North Ridge in the fog

At the saddle

Clear, at last!

Looking back . . .

—photos by Wayne Deeter

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