I climbed Mt Liberty (4,459 ft), my first peak of the new year, last Sunday. I picked Liberty because I wanted to hike up a steep trail in preparation for climbing Mt Washington (6,288 ft) this weekend. I didn’t summit the big one on my last winter attempt two years ago, and I wanted to make sure I’m prepared this time, weather permitting.
There’s been a huge thaw in the Whites over the past week and trail conditions on Liberty were plain awful. I felt like Paul Atriedes, from Dune, as a slogged up the slushy trail: stop, step, slide, stop, squish. I ended up bare booting the bottom two miles and then switched to full step-in crampons on the final, steep section, over hard ice and then finally bare rock at the summit.
The summit was completely socked in when I arrived, but as I started to descend, the clouds broke in Franconia Notch and I was treated to tremendous views.
I’ve always felt that there is a spirit that lives in Franconia Notch, and I think this is her way of smiling. Happy New Year 2011 everyone, and safe travels.