So for this Presidents’ Day weekend, Victoria and I signed up for a 3 day Intro to Winter Mountaineering Course with Synnott Mountain Guides. Our course was taught by Ryan Howes, a master guide from Maine. We spent day 1 on Willey’s Slide learning how to self-arrest, how to use crampons and ice axes, and the basics of roped travel. On day 2, the temperature had dropped into the teens (down from balmy low-30s we experienced at Willey’s Slide) and we hiked to Harvard Cabin to setup camp. After that, we continued our training by climbing the steep portion of Lion’s Head winter trail. ¬†We ended the day back at camp melting snow for our dehydrated dinner of beef stroganoff. Victoria’s plastic boots had been cutting into her ankle all day and we were unsure if she was going to be able to make the summit attempt the next morning. We also knew the summit had forecast winds of up to 150mph, so it would be unlikely that any of us would summit anyway.

Throughout the night the winds were howling, and Victoria’s ankle was not feeling any better by the morning. She decided to wait at camp while the rest of us would attempt to go as far up as we could. After climbing the Lion’s Head winter route without any major issues, we cleared the treeline and were greeted with 90mph winds and a -40 degree windchill. We made it to about 15 minutes below Lion’s Head before we were forced to turn around. Walking in the wind was extremely difficult with several members of our group being blown over. We returned to camp, broke it down, and hiked out – ready to come back and winter summit on our own.

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