The mountain will always be there, don’t kill yourself on this one
Mt. Washington in the White Mountain National Forest area is known for winter sports. People hike up with their skis and snowboards to different trails for free of cost winter sports. Winter hiking with crampons and plastic boots are equally popular among mountaineers.
I am no mountaineer. In fact, this is the first time on plastic boots for me. I have used crampons once before in Iceland to hike up glacier. But, that seemed easier. I wore regular hiking boots and crampons around it. But, with Mt.Washington, the snow is fresh and plastic boots are mandatory.
The hike started with a slight incline for about a 1.5 miles and I was doing just fine. After this point, we had to put our crampons on and start hiking upward sometimes even a straight vertical climb.
I somehow managed to climb up these vertical slopes. But, what got me was the area with inches of fresh snow. Every step was pulling the foot out of the snow holes. It was very tiring. I struggled quiet a bit through this stretch. I was almost ready to turn back if my guide had asked me to.
I realized that one can’t over prepare for this mountain. Physical fitness beyond just running a few miles every day is required in my opinion.
There is a common saying among mountaineers. “Reaching the summit is optional, coming down safely is mandatory. The mountain will always be there, don’t kill yourself on this one”
We pushed forward as much as we can and reached exactly 400ft below the summit when our guide decided that it was time to turn back. Strong winds, fresh snow storm, very low energy level of everyone, we decided that it was good enough we reached this far in 6 hours.
Coming downhill on snow was no fun either. I had to learn to trust my shoes and crampons that they won’t let me down. Climbing down, we were asked not to stop except for designated water stops. By then, my water was fully frozen. But, i had honeystinger shots that came in handy for the climb down the mountain.
After 3 hours we finally got down the mountain with few slips and butt-falls.
This mountain is my very first real mountaineering experience. It was scary, daunting, fun, adventurous and physically grueling.