| Mt. Lady Washington - east slope
Mt. Lady Washington (13,281')
June 1, 2008
Route: east slope
Our total mileage: 9 or 10
Total elevation gain: The normal route is only 3,881 feet of gain, but on our decent we got way off route and lost and regained about 400+ feet, so, in total, we probably gained about 4,300 feet – much of which was on snow and talus, so it was an exhausting 4,300.
As we are continuing our prep for summer 14er season (and to get in better shape), Jen and I wanted to do a climb that would kick our butts – you know, a good old-fashioned spanking. We ended up getting a bit more than we bargained for with this climb. It came close to becoming epic.
We started up the trail somewhat late at 8 a.m. Fortunately, it was a bluebird day (maybe too warm and sunny).
For the first mile or so the trail was dry. Then the patches of snow started …
… and they became longer and deeper …
Most of the snow was packed down pretty good, so we didn't need our snowshoes, but it was slick. Yaktrax or Stabil-icers (or even lightweight crampons) might have been handy. At least I brought my trekking poles.
As we neared treeline (after the stream crossing), snow was everywhere. Still, it was packed pretty well so we just marched on up without much of a problem.
Above treeline, much of the trail was dry, though there were some small snowfields to cross.
At 9:50 we made it to Mills Moraine and the Chasm Lake junction.
Instead of going straight up Lady Washington's slope before us, we went up the Keyhole trail for a bit, then hung a big left and started up the rocks (we did our best to stay on snow and rocks and off the tundra).
Here's a rough diagram of our routes up and down Mt. Lady Washington's east slope:
As we ascended the slope, it became steeper and the talus got bigger.
Here is a shot that was taken less than halfway up, looking back down:
This route is rated class 2.
Sometimes we got ourselves on 2+ or easy 3, but none of it was difficult at all – just a lot of talus hopping.
Climbing up that slope seemed to take forever, and it felt much longer than it looks from down below. Don't let it fool you; it is tougher than it looks.
At 11:20 we gained the summit! While temps held nicely, it was rather windy up there, so we didn't stay long.
We ended up running over to the other, nearby summit, which is just slightly lower, yet closer to the Diamond.
Here's Jen on the second summit, with Mt. Lady Washington's summit in the background:
What an awesome view it was from up there! I had to stitch three vertical photos together just to get this much in:
Larger version of this pic here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aubandjen/2542900329/sizes/o/
Here is a shot of the Keyhole and the upper portion of the Boulderfield:
And a shot of the Diamond by itself:
At about 11:30 we started back down.
Here's Jen hiking down the slope (on our descent, we bypassed the snow sections as much as possible because postholing became an issue):
At about 1 p.m. we made it to the Jims Grove junction. Then, not far below treeline, we mistakenly followed some other peoples' snow tracks (they were fresh and it seemed like the most-beaten way). Well, that eight-foot-wide set of tracks slowly faded to a few tracks wide, then one wide, then none. When the tracks ran out in the dense forest, I felt like a misled hasher.
I really did not want to have to turn around and re-climb all that snow, and I really thought we would eventually intersect with the trail, but it was time to cut our losses and backtrack to get on the right track.
While we were hiking back up, out of that hellish trap, we turned around some other people that were making the same mistake. Soon thereafter we found the correct snow trail and continued our descent. That 40-minute (out and back) wrong turn cost us about 400 feet of vertical energy – energy we did not want to expend, especially since we were getting close to Empty.
On the descent we postholed quite a bit. It was tiring. The warm temps had turned that packed ice into slush. Because I was hot, I stripped off my legs and gaiters. Needless to say, my boots and feet ended up soaked to the core.
Completely exhausted, we stumbled onto the parking lot at 2:30 p.m. Cold water and Diet Mountain Dew waited, but I needed something stronger.
Mt. Lady Washington spanked us hard. Careful what you wish for.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):