Mt. Washington

September 12, 2010

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you’re going to climb the north of Mt. Washington in September:
1. When spending the night before the climb near the trailhead at Big Lake, avoid camping close to people with generators, bonfires, and alcohol. You may not get all the sleep you need.
2. When hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the dark on the morning’s approach, remember that you will encounter the climber’s trail, marked by a rock cairn, shortly after a sharp switchback in a new section of trail. Don’t keep going for another half mile unless you enjoy hiking and have plenty of time to kill.

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather although we began our climb day with frost on our tents. We were on the trail at 5:00 a.m. This was the leader’s first lead of Mt. Washington and the first time on the mountain for the other five of us. A seventh member of our party came along for the hike and stayed at the base of the “nose” while the rest of us set up and followed three fixed lines to the summit. There was hardly even a breath of wind on the summit and just a few distant whiffs of smoke from the recent Scott Mountain fire. After a half hour on the summit, we down-climbed two of the pitches, secured by prusik loops, and rappelled off the final pitch. The rest of the descent was made on the scree trail, where one climber was narrowly missed by a rock knocked loose from above. After 11½ hours (including an hour spent checking maps and locating the climber’s trail) we were back at the trailhead. Along for the hike was Kevin Murphy on his first Obsidian trip. Reaching the summit were Garney Hamilton and Dalen Willhite on their first Obsidian climb and Obsidian members Sean Breslin, Randy Sinnott, April Anderson (assistant leader), and Brian Hamilton (leader.)

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