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November on Mt Washington

November on Mt Washington can be just about anything. I just returned from three days staying at Hermit Lake shelter and climbing. Mt Washington is by far the best mountaineering destination in NH and is really only rivaled by Mt Katadin in Maine in the North East. The great thing about Mt Washington is one day you can be ice climbing the next you can be rock climbing and you can follow either up with a windy stomp up to the summit to round out the mountaineering experience.

This recent trip was with Michael and his son Bryan. Climbing has been a tradition for them while Bryan was home from the Army where he is in charge of a unit that dismantles bombs (climbing does not scare Bryan). Their goal was to spend some time in the mountains and have fun. The plan was to go up and set up camp at Hermit lake shelters and be equipped to climb either ice or rock and let the conditions steer us.

Our first climb was a fun ice route left of center on Tuckerman’s headwall. The route was thin and mellow with a few steep bulges but a good early season warm up. Once we topped out we descended back to camp via Lyons head trail to our camp. November is great for camping since we were the only ones at the shelters that night aside from the fox that befriended Bryan whenever he went for water.

The next morning was a casual alpine start at 7am and a walk over to Huntington’s Ravine where there was very little ice to be seen. We had already made the decision to rock climb due to the warm weather. Our sights were on Pinnacle buttress. Michael and Bryan had never rock climbed before so we would take variations to the classic line and stay on the crest for much of the route then avoid the crux pitch by skirting to the East. The route goes for about six pitches the way we climbed it and has difficulties up to 5.5.

After topping out we packed up our gear and headed towards the summit. Mt Washington did not let us down. Despite the mild temps that allowed us to climb the rock barehanded we were getting blown around as we strolled to the summit.

We hiked down the Lions Head trail, which delivered us to our shelter at Hermit Lake and to a hot supper, and down sleeping bags. November on Mt. Washington can be just about anything.

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