For those following the current Everest season, reports are that the first (western) summit was David Tait this morning. Nowhere near as impressive but equally exciting (for me, at least) is that my summer climbing plans are coming together nicely.
First up is our practice climb: my partner and I are aiming for Mount Washington in New Hampshire. As the highest point (at 6,289 feet) in the northeastern United States, we’re treating it like we did Mt. Katahdin last year (see Part I and Part II of that climb). But it’s a starkly different mountain. First off, Washington is known for its super erratic and often dangerous weather. While the summer months likely won’t subject us to extreme cold, sudden rain and electrical storms can have a serious consequence as well if one is not prepared for it. In addition, it’s higher than Katahdin last year by about 1,200 feet. Were still working out details on our planned route (more on that later).
While we’ll attempt Washington in July, barely a month later we’ll hop on a flight to Seattle for our climb on Mt. Shuksan via the Sulphide Glacier. Information from our guide company is that it’s equal to if not somewhat harder than Mt. Adams (last year’s big climb), but overall a totally different animal. We’ll spend an extra day or two on the mountain, spend more time on roped travel and glacier navigation (plus crevasse rescue), and do a combination of forest (below the tree line) hiking, roped travel up the glacier, and finally some low fifth class rock climbing on the final portion to the summit. Based on my reading, this last section of 5th class rock is the crux of the climb.
Equipment wise, I need to stock up. Most importantly I need a new sleeping bag. The North Face Snow Leopard II I had last year (and used on both climbs) was plenty warm and very comfortable, but it was simply to big to easily carry (even in its stuff sack). It was simply to much mass and weight in my already heavy bag. So I returned it and plan to get a new bag in the coming month. This particular item I will (likely) need for Washington, so my time frame is a bit tighter.
The other gear I want to buy, including my own set of crampons and my own ice axe, can wait till we’re closer to Shuksan since I won’t need such gear on Washington. But I am already starting to read reviews and figure out what looks best this time around.