Leader/Co-Leader – John Stevens/Pat Murphy
Participants – Norman Michaels, Per Frost, Ken Avery, Ken Hodges, Nick Macomber
Summit Sensations had a wonderful turnout this month for a technical route in Tuckerman’s Ravine NH. All seven participants made easy work of the ascent to Hermit Lake in a little more than an hour and a half. There were plenty of skiers and snowboarders to be had, but we did not see many other climbers. This ended up being a boon for us as the climbing conditions consisted of very firmly packed cement snow with a layer of sun and rain crust covering it. Crampons and ice axes were barely adequate!
After cramponing/harnessing up at Hermit Lake, we proceeded to the base of Hillman’s Highway with bright sun shining and not a single skier or climber above us. While we were overtaken at one point by an intrepid snowboarder (who later had to down climb due to conditions) we had the route to ourselves the entire climb.
As always, just when we thought we were cruising, the route did become more icy and arduous towards the top and we all felt hammered by the incline. Some battles were fought with loose footwear and some with conditioning, but by 1 pm, all of us topped out despite the 40-60 mph wind in our faces. After a quick break to gather ourselves up, we quickly broke left and downwind along the Boott Spur ridge, occasionally being blown off of our feet in wind gusts approaching hurricane force.
Soon we hit treeline, dropping into a spruce forest buried in about 8 feet of snow, with no trail to be seen. After some excellent trail finding by Ken Hodges and others, we were able to find the trail and post hole our way back down.
Overall, we encountered improving weather with somewhat favorable climbing and avalanche conditions. The group itself was prepared and in shape and you really can’t expect much better of a combination than that. I’d like to extend a personal thank you to Patrick Murphy, who as always, was a stalwart and steadfast leader. I can’t wait to climb with this group again!