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Mt. Washington: Winter Blow Out!

This is recent update from one of our USAF 7 Summits Team Members- Maj Malcolm Schongalla.  He will be climbing Lobuche Peak in Nepal with the Everest Team and has been hard at work training in NH and the surrounding states.
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Kelly and I took advantage of a stalled cold front and blustery winds to get some great cold weather acclimatization in today (17 Feb 2013). ¬†At 7 AM we started up from Pinkham Notch at 12 degrees F, and the temperature just kept dropping as we made our way along the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the Winter Lion’s Head route. ¬†It was Kelly’s first time with crampons and an ax, and she handled the crux in good style!

People climbing down reported hellacious conditions above– “the worse it is, the better!” we said. ¬†Topping out above¬†tree-line¬†on the Lion’s Head, it gave some perspective to “the world’s worst weather” reputation. ¬†If this were McMurdo Station, Antarctica, it would have been Condition 1 (no travel allowed).

trailmarker

We practiced some good risk management, and set some firm criteria for turning back.  Towards the intersection with the Alpine Gardens Trail, a mere 1 mile from the summit, we called it off.  Strong gusts were knocking us off our feet, and visibility was barely good enough to see cairn to cairn.

weather

Image Credit: Mount Washington Observatory website

So, I’m 0 for 3 on winter attempts on Mt. Washington. ¬†It would have been great to summit. ¬†But my goal was not to summit, my goal was for both of us to walk in our front door and have a beer on the couch, at the end of the day! ¬†The mountain is still there, and hopefully next week, I’ll be there again too. ¬†Breaking in a new pair of boots, perhaps…

–Malcolm

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