Mount Lady Washington
December 28, 2002 - West Ridge – Winter
Gary and I wanted to pick up one more climb before the end of the 2002 and accomplish some reconnaissance for future trips with particular interest in the Dreamweaver Couloir of Mount Meeker and Kiener’s on Longs Peak. We figured the best way to scope out these routes would be a climb of Mount Lady Washington whose summit would provide views of the couloirs on the north side of Meeker as well as reveal the location of Lambs Slide, the snow climb leading to the Broadway ledges.
The wind was blowing fiercely in Cheyenne but we hoped that was just Wyoming weather at its best and not a guarantee of the same in Estes. Now neither of us are fools so we assumed (not really) against all logic that the upper elevations around Longs would for some reason be still. Of course, that hope proved to be false. We arrived in Estes Park, after a stop in Boulder for a pilgrimage of sorts to Neptune Mountaineering, and proceeded to the Mexican restaurant on Rte. 34 for dinner. We also found a room for the night and began to reconcile ourselves to the wind, which was doing in Estes what it had been doing in Cheyenne on our departure.
The Saturday morning air proved to be still in Estes but we figured getting above the trees on the flank of Longs would surely entail again meeting up with the wind. We made a Cottoneer’s start, 7:30 a.m., and headed up the Longs Peak trail toward tree line a few miles above. The trail was snow covered all the way to tree line but well trodden and snowshoes were not needed. The winds at tree line were slight and we continued to the junction of the Longs Peak trial and Chasm Lake cutoff where we layered up for the route up the east ridge of Mount Lady Washington. Before starting, we both took a hard look at the map to convince ourselves that the summit we saw from the junction did indeed gain enough elevation to be the summit of Lady Washington. No amount of map reading did the trick so of course we resigned ourselves to the climb.
The climb up the ridge is tame for the first 2/3 but then the size of the rocks go from talus to boulders and there is a bit more route finding needed to wind one’s way through the boulder maze with a minimum of climbing. Neither of us have a problem with climbing boulders but many of them were coated with a thick hoar frost, which made for some slippery going. With the gain in elevation, the wind also increased and by the time we were a few feet below the top, there remained little doubt that the wind just over the crest was a bit on the strong side. We completed the final pitch and the wind proved to be blowing in the 60 mph range and gusting fast enough to make one bend over and keep a hand on a rock here and there to remain steady. We took some route photos, made a quick observation of the cable route for a future climb as well, and made short work of the register.