Ascent to Mount Washington-Lakes of the Clouds Hut on 2009-11-21

Climber: Tony Rachupka

Others in Party:Anne
Date:Saturday, November 21, 2009
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Mount Washington - Lakes of the Clouds Hut
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:5050 ft / 1539 m
    Remaining Elevation:1238 ft / 377 m (8% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Based on a weather forecast for good weather we thought this might be our last chance of the year to hike Mt. Washington. As you have already seen from other trip reports the weather was different and crappier than what we expected. We (myself, Anne and Carl) started our hike from the Cog Railroad up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. Our plan was to go up to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, make a quick side trip to bag Monroe, hit the summit of Washington and then go down the Jewell Trail back to the Cog parking lot. Except for the Monroe part, this was the route I took in 1995 for my first 4000 footer.

We started at 8:30am after discussing the weather and whether the hike was still a good idea. We figured we would just see how far we could go and turn around if we had to. If we were lucky the clouds would break. The first mile and a half or so is mostly flat. But then you hit a pool and the trail is steep the rest of the way. Maybe a mile up the steep part a couple guys were coming back and told us it was too icy for them. Anne and I had recently bought microspikes so we were excited for the chance to use them. We continued on, wondering how close the ice was. I love how the trail follows alongside the river for most of the trail. The trees were getting shorter and finally we saw a large group of fifteen or so just standing around and we realized we found the ice. We put on our microspikes while the big group turned around. One guy had an ice axe but no traction. Good idea buddy! I guess he was trying to impress the girls in the group. Carl had some other inferior traction stuff but did okay on the ice for the most part.

I have to say, I love the microspikes! I didn’t slide at all. Great traction! We didn’t have much trouble with the ice but it was getting colder and windier and we were certain we would not be getting any views. We made it to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut and would take a break in the “dungeon room” shelter under the hut. Two guys and a dog were exiting the shelter as we got there. I don’t think the dog could have been happier. They had come up the Edmonds Path and were descending. We briefly thought about going to Monroe but decided this was a good place to turn back.

The hike down was slippery and harder than going up and we had to be a lot more careful. I was the only one not to take a spill. It must have gotten slightly warmer because the ice was starting to melt so that it would break off in sheets in some spots. Not so safe! The biggest test for the microspikes was when Carl hit one of these bad spots. He was above me and the ice gave way and he was would have slid into me had I not moved. Lucky for him I was able to catch him without sliding and saved him from sliding/falling another fifteen feet or so. That was almost a disaster.

After we got out of the icy area it was an easy hike. We had a side trip to The Gorge where there are a couple awesome waterfalls. It’s well worth checking out. For the rest of the hike we were amazed at how steep the trail was and proud of ourselves for hiking up. When we got back to the trailhead it was warm and sunny, nothing like the conditions we had earlier.

Overall, it was a fun hike. I was glad we got to try out our new microspikes. The icy terrain was beautiful which helped make up for the lack of views. I’m glad we did the hike and I’m also glad we turned around when we did. We plan to come back next summer.
Summary Total Data
    Weather:Drizzle, Cold, Breezy

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