Our climb started at 4:00 AM at the Pacific Crest Trailhead at Big Lake. We traveled south on the PCT, passing through the burned area of the 2011 Shadow Lake Fire. One of the results of this fire was an amazing crop of bear grass. The blooms were spent for the season, but seeds still remained on 5-foot stalks. After one hour, we reached the rock cairn marking the start of the climbers trail and gained the north ridge of Mt. Washington by 6:00, just in time to see the sun rise above the south slope of Black Butte. After scrambling up the ridge, we stopped at the saddle below "The Nose" to put our harnesses on. We set three ropes using slings that were already in place at several locations so that climbers had fixed lines to follow to the summit. As we approached the summit, a helicopter had circled us while the occupants watched us climb. Immediately after the helicopter flew away, a couple of American Kestrels cavorted in the air around the summit and conducted mock dive-bombing sorties toward us. Topping off the list of flying creatures were the hordes of flying ants and little gnats at the summit that speckled our helmets and buzzed around our faces. The weather was great, with mild temperatures, cloudless sky, light wind, and just a trace of forest fire smoke. We all reached the top by 10:30 and spent an hour enjoying the view and exploring the summit. The absolute highest spot had fulgurites formed when lighting struck the rock. For the descent on the technical sections, we set up rappels from the summit and from The Nose, but had problems with ropes getting stuck when we tried to pull them through rappel rings. We followed the scree trail down the west slope of the mountain and met the PCT for our hike out. We returned to the trailhead at 5:30 PM. We saw no other hikers or climbers all day. Thanks to Julie for assisting and Ivan for volunteering to break loose stuck ropes on the rappel.Members: Julie Polhemus, Ivan Paskalev, Todd Larsen, Brian Hamilton. Nonmembers: Svetoslav Dobrev.
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