Mt Lady Washington

24 Nov 2000 - by Kevin Craig

Hoping to climb the Cables Route on Longs sometime this winter or next spring, Doug Cook, and I headed out to do a reconnaissance on Friday 11/24. We left the Longs Peak TH at about 7:50 and found pretty much the entire trail up to the Boulderfield to be hard-packed with shallow snow. Just below Granite Pass there were some larger snowfields to cross but again, these had a well-packed trail across them. We left our snowshoes in the truck and were very glad we did.

Along the way, we observed a recent, small avalanche. The slide was very obvious from the E. Longs Peak trail just above timberline. From later inspection of the topo, I would guesstimate it at around 11,400 to 11,500 feet with a NE or ENE aspect. From binocular inspection, it appeared that the headwall was roughly 5 feet high. It appeared to be a natural release which broke to and ran on the ground. Vertical run was about 100 - 200 feet with width about 3 - 4 times that. Sorry, we didn't hike over to measure the slope angle or make a detailed inspection of the headwall, though I wish we'd had the time and energy to do so.

Also of interest, on N to NE aspects we found pockets with 4" of *hard* slab over about 3" of sugar snow with the lot resting on about a half-inch thick crust itself underlain by more sugar snow to the ground. It could take a lot to fracture the top slab, but if it broke, it would be bad. The good news, for now, is that there's not much snow in general up there. We couldn't find a big enough patch with proper slope and aspect to do strength tests.

Anyway, after reaching the trail junction to Chasm Lake we headed in that direction for a little way then headed up the ridge to Mt. Lady Washington which we summited around 12:20. The scrambling up the ridge was strenuous and seems to go on forever. There was some snow in the crevices between the rocks but just enough to make routefinding a bit more challenging. The summit register indicated no summiteers from about 10/21 until 11/21 an indication of the November that we had. We hung out for a while, scoped out the routes on Longs and were visited by a martin who kept circling the summit block and peeking up at us. This is the second martin that I've seen near Longs (the other being in the Trough two summers ago); I didn't know their range extended that high. Of course, I'd left my camera at home, and Doug's was in the truck.

There appeared to be lots of snow on the ledges of the lower section of the Cables Route leading up to the crux. At around noon to 1PM from, we observed a party of 3 doing an up-close-and-personal reconnaissance of this section presumably for a climb the next day (they had a tent pitched in the Boulderfield). Also, the gully where one starts up from Broadway to the Notch for Kiener's and the Notch route was FULL of snow that appeared to have been experiencing natural sluffs. Above this area, there was only a little snow and probably some alpine ice. It's possible that one might be able to pass this lower snow section on the rock to either side, but crossing below it appears that it would be scary at best.

The ice above Peacock Lake is "in" fat as is the ice at the top of the Loft. The Loft couloir and Lamb Slide appear to be in good shape (lots of snow, don't know about slide potential since we weren't actually in these areas). Dreamweaver looks pretty dry still.

After a bit, we headed SW down to the saddle and on down to the Boulderfield. Once there, we contemplated a side trip over to Chasm View, but given the limited daylight this time of year, opted to pick up the Longs Peak trail again and head back. On the way down, we encountered several parties headed up for climbs the next day. We arrived back at the TH just after 4PM. The entire day had been cloudless and dead calm; incredibly rare, and made us wish we done the climb instead of only a recon. Oh well.


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