I went to bed at 11:30 setting the alarm clock to 4am. I guess being i was so excited to get up and climb and try out all my new winter gear i did not fall asleep till about 3am. The alarm went off and with everything packed and waiting all i had to do was get the french press going as i must have my morning caffein fix and nothing is open at 4am anywhere!!
At about 7:45am i pulled into the Pinkham Notch Visitors center. I got dressed and was on the trail at 8:15am. The trail was snow covered but only inches and lots of ice. I had decided to do the TRT to the Lion Head trail to the TRT to the summit... About 4.5 miles one way i think. I reached the Hermit lake shelter very quick in just under 1 hour. I knew i was moving quick as i could feel it in my lungs but i had no idea how quick yet. After getting to Hermit Lake I decided to take a look around and sign in as i had not been on Washington since i was prob 12 years old. I also used the awesome bathroom!!
After the brief stop i headed back down the TRT a few hundred yards back to the split where Lions head goes up. Shortly after turning onto Lions head my pace seemed to slow quite a bit as the footing became a bit more tricky. Within 10 min the ice and pitch was so sever i had to put on my crampons as it is all i have for traction being new to winter hiking and having to buy all new gear this season. This being my first time in crampons i could not believe just how easy it made it to climb on ice... It was like i had magic feet!! I couldnt imagine having had to do a few sections without them. After some good up and around covered in ice the trees gave way to wind swept rock and more ice. Lions head came into view and now the crampons became a bit of a pain in the ass to navigate with as it became a mix ice and rock and a little snow. the As i got closer to Lions Head the wind picked up and at times even almost blowing me over. After some careful foot work on ice and rock i had made it to Lions Head. The wind had blown all the snow away now and at this point the crampons came off. The wind was so strong i literally had to lean into it and walk crooked as not to get blown to the ground.
I made it past the bare flat section and back into the small trees just before the dome of MT Washington. The snow became deep again and the ice abundant. The cramp ons went back on. The closer i go to the summit the more a pain in the ass they where as the snow again had blown away quite a bit leaving mostly ice and rock. With all the ice i just did not feel safe with no traction so i left the crampons on. I did my best to pay attention to where the trail was marked but headed for deeper snow paths to follow.
At this point i will not lie my legs where burning from the pace i was keeping and i was feeling the need to eat. I almost stopped to do so but could tell the top was not far off? No sooner i could see red poles rising above and i remembered from being a child and climbing the mountain that i was very close to the top now. I pushed on and before i knew it i had arrived. It was windy and cold, not to cold though and the sun was out with clouds lingering down at about 4000 ft. A beautiful day on the mountain all in all considering. One lone man was at the top and he would end up being the only person i would see all day other than the caretaker at the Hermit Lake Hut. We talked quickly as he was in a rush and we both went our own directions back down the mountain. I took out my phone to see if i had reception so i could call home and let it be know i was was safe and well. I noticed it was just 11am and had only taken me 1:45 min from Hermit lake to the summit for a total accent time of 2:45 min with stops to chat twice and clothing changes. I was kinda confused as i though it could take 4-5 hours to the summit but maybe i had my info wrong?
I went back down the way i came up. I took the crampons off as going down it was just not gonna work to wear them. I opted for using my hands quite a bit and doing a fair amount of jumping and boot skiing. It made for a quick decent! By the time i got to Lions Head i was pretty much running and continued to do so all the way back to within a half mile of the Visitors center and the end of my hike. I arrived at the visitors center at 12:40 pm for a total hike time of 4:25min. I am not sure if that is fast or slow as i am confused by what read online. I will say this though my legs sure are feeling like it was fast!!!
With my legs now feeling that i had been moving fairly well for the last 8-9 miles and 4.5 hours. I climbed in the car stuffed my face full of Reese's Peanut butter cups and water then headed to North Conway to check out a sale at Wild Things. I didnt find anything but it didnt matter as i had had an awesome first winter climb of Washington.
I think next week will check out Adams as i want to know these trails inside out so i can do these climbs in Jan and feb when teh weather and conditions are really a mess!!!