Friday, May 24, 2013

How to make 5.1 "fun," an attempt on Mt. Washington

Edward and I set out to climb the North Ridge on Mt. Washington Wednesday. The weather was supposed to be awful and it was. We went anyway because, in our own twisted minds, "we had nothing better to do." I was going to write an essay about it entitled "how to make 5.1 climbing fun" since I saw somewhere that that was the rating. The thesis was that if you pick a chossy, exposed route, and try to climb it in a white-out with 50mph winds, it would be more "fun." Unfortunately that white-out led to us ascending the wrong ridge and then being faced with a steep ice traverse in the 50mph winds. We hadn't really planned on climbing ice and only had one axe each, not to mention we couldn't really see anything. Thus we retreated and my thesis went untested.

As we descended our tracks had already filled in with snow and soon we were simply following a vague compass bearing. An hour and a half later we were in tangles of fir saplings and realized we must have crossed the PCT without realizing it. We started bushwhacking north and a couple hours later we entered an old burn. Soon after we stumbled upon the PCT. We thought we were really close to the car at this point but apparently we had been moving very slowly. The trail wound on forever and we started to suspect that we were caught in a time-space vortex: THE MOUNT WASHINGTON TRIANGLE (cue Twilight Zone theme music). Would we ever reach the end of the trail? I sure as heck didn't remember half of the trees we passed, but then again every tree looked exactly the same. We eventually hit the car and made jokes about projecting 5.1. We've almost got the beta down, now the only question is whether or not we wait for another blizzard.

This doesn't look bad at all. We are still on the PCT right?

Coming up the West Ridge which we still think is the North Ridge. My mountain sense is tingling!

The weather is getting more and more "funner" by the minute.

Brew stop. Stomp those feet.

It's a mountain mother clucker! Do you see it?!

Retreat! Reatreat! Oh that's what it looked like? I couldn't tell through my iced up goggles.

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