Ascent of Mount Washington on 2009-07-30

Climber: Kevin Tilton

Date:Thursday, July 30, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Washington
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:6288 ft / 1916 m

Ascent Trip Report

Yesterday I set out for a run after work to the top of Mt. Washington. I've run to the summit numerous times on the auto road, both as part of the road race and in training. I've been up through Huntington Ravine, summited on a Presi Traverse, and hiked up Lion Head in the winter. Last summer I wondered how fast can I run up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail? It's shorter than the auto road by about 3.5 miles, and about 500 feet less elevation gain. Can I run faster than my 1:03:42 PR in the road race? It was a question I really wanted to know the answer to.

About this time last summer I headed up from Pinkham on a wet, dreary day and summitted in about 1:08, a good time, but slower than I hoped. It re-affirmed that I wasn't in the type of shape I wanted to be in. Flash forward to this year. I've been training pretty heavy for the Pikes Peak Ascent in Colorado on August 15. I've done a cool run over the Carters and one over Passaconaway and Whiteface. I needed a good uphill run this week to zero in on the effort level of the race.

I started out a Pinkham making sure I didn't try to run too fast in the first half mile, like I have done everytime I've run this trail as part of the Tuckerman Inferno. Navigating the rocks is a big challenge on the Tucks Trail. Concentration is almost more important than sheer fitness.

I reached HoJo's in 26:45 and knew I was on a pretty good pace. When I ran the Inferno in 2006 I made it to HoJo's in 25:09, which is actually faster on snow. I made it to the bottom of the headwall in just under 36 minutes, running every step to that point. I knew that I had about 1.2 miles to go and 24 minutes to cover it if I wanted to make my ultimate goal, a sub 60 up Mt. Washington.

Only 5 people have ever broken 60 minutes in the road race, and none to my knowledge via trail. I really wanted to join that club. I reached the top of the headwall, trying to avoid the stream running down the trail so that I wouldn't slip on the rocks. My Inov8 X-Talon 212( )trail shoes did great on the rock though. They are super light weight (7.5 ounces/212g each) and have great sticky rubber on the bottom that grips just about anything.

Pushing up the summit cone was tough, as there isn't much of a trail. I tried to run whatever I could and speed hike the rest. At 55 minutes I was in the clouds, but could see that the rocks were straight across on the horizon, which meant I was near the lower parking lot. I hit the pavement in 58 flat and knew I had to boogie to break 60. I sprinted up the last wall of the road race course, ran across the deck that crosses the RR tracks, and sprinted like a mad man for the summit rock pile. I stopped my watch at 59:35, exhausted, but very happy with my effort.

I took a quick break for some water in the Sherman Adams building, where I got some looks from the State Park crew (I was only wearing shorts, shoes, and a watch; Does that make me negligent if I got hurt?). I ran down the auto road to the Old Jackson Road to Pinkham for a roundtrip time of 2:01:22 for 11.6 miles. A great day on the mountain.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:60 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:61 Minutes

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