- Lead: John Stevens
- Participants: Jess Coady, Taylor Pearlman, Per Frost, Cesar Hernandez
- Route: Central Gully, Huntington’s Ravine, NH
Initially, the forecast was dire, as many of us in Northern New England had received 1-2 feet of heavy and wet snow several days before the climb was set to depart. Luckily, high winds and a prevailing fair weather pattern settled the new snow in a stable fashion over a base layer that was already well cemented onto Mt. Washington. Per and John had both scouted this route the week prior on separate climbs and it was helpful to compare notes before making the final decision to attempt the climb.
One last complication was the fact that the Tuckerman Inferno race was on this exact day, so we started a little early to beat the crowds.
With four of us bare booting and one lucky fellow on a set of skis and skins, we made our way up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. In less than an hour, we were turning the corner onto the fire road towards Huntington’s Ravine and had nary an encounter with other climbing parties. In fact, there was nobody above us in Central as we did a little trail breaking in very nice conditions. I’m 100% positive we were the only party that climbed Central on this day (3/18/23), even up high on the route, we could see nobody behind us. Occasionally the wind blew and we layered up, but mostly we layered down due to the sun and low winds and speed of our ascent.
On a side note regarding snow conditions, many of us experienced snow building up on our crampons as much as 8-10 inches, not exactly a snow-balling effect, more of a melting powder snow-cone effect. We’ll need to consult a snow scientist to really understand that phenomenon. It was temporary enough to be funny and not too annoying.
As we approached the route, I described the ascent plan. I would place one screw in the ice bulge area and then lead a nearly full pitch on the 70m rope Jess was belaying me on. I’d set a two picket anchor and belay Jess up. Taylor would closely follow Jess and clip into the same ice screw and join her at my anchor; belaying Per in sequence, while Per would then belay Cesar. Jess and I would trade leads and collect three pickets to begin simul-climbing to the top of the route with Taylor’s team following.
The bulk of the route was led by Jess. From our first anchor, Jess set out, breaking trail on her first Central Gully lead. She powered up the route in short order, setting bomber snow pickets for the rest of the group. She opted to take the left exit, while Taylor’s rope team took the right.
Without equivocation, this was my favorite day on Mt. Washington. The conditions, the weather, the climbing, but most especially the climbers on this trip made it really fun. I can’t wait to do it again.