After turning round on an Mt Jefferson try final week, I used to be resigned to not getting the height for my January Grid: The climate has been so exasperating this month, with frigid temperatures and excessive wind, that there have solely been a handful of days when Jefferson has been secure to climb. I had little hope that I get one other likelihood this 12 months.
However as luck would have it, we bought a climate window on January thirtieth and determined to provide it one other go. This time we made it and summitted Jefferson with a powerful group of 6 in good climate circumstances with no wind and undercast (cloud inversion). This was one of many.finest above-treeline hikes I’ve ever had within the White Mountains.
The day of the hike, all of us parked on the Cog hiker’s lot and climbed the Jewell Path to the Gulfside Path junction on Mt Clay (5533′). Clay is a subpeak of Mt Washington and overlooks the Nice Gulf. The Jewell had been effectively packed out by different hikers since we’d been there every week earlier and we had been in a position to put on path crampons on the climb as an alternative of snowshoes to avoid wasting power.
The forecast referred to as for solar, with a excessive of 15F on Jefferson, 10-15 mph winds, and a -15F windchill. These are good circumstances for mountaineering Mt Jefferson in winter, which is normally very windy because it’s adjoining to Mt Washington.
I wearing layers for the climb however overdressed and sweated greater than I preferred on the preliminary climb. Fortunately, I had the foresight to put on my KUIU lengthy underwear which could be eliminated with out taking of 1’s pants or boots, so I used to be in a position to strip them off rapidly. Nonetheless, I used to be sweating on prime, which involved me as a result of I hadn’t packed an additional baselayer or midlayer to vary into once we broke above treeline, which a number of of my associates love to do. It’s not a foul concept.
Once we broke above the treeline, we had been in a dense fog. From this level we needed to climb one other 500′ or so to the Gulfside path, however this part of the Jewell could be downright difficult to observe because the snow obscures the cairns marking the path. The path additionally runs precariously near the sting of a really deep ravine which you actually don’t need to slide down unintentionally, unnerving a number of of the opposite members of our get together.
As we approached the Gulfside path which hyperlinks the entire peaks of the Northern Presidentials (Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison), we popped above the fog layer and had been greeted by solar, blue sky, and undercast. The entire decrease peaks surrounding us had been smothered in a layer of cloud and obscured from view. However the summit of Mt Monroe poked up via the cloud layer like an island, off the west flank of Mt Washington.
Once we reached the Gulfside junction we set off north in the direction of the summit of Mt Jefferson which additionally peaked above the inversion layer. That is usually an extended and arduous traverse, usually into westerly prevailing winds. However there was nearly no wind all day, which is an actual deal with when climbing Jefferson which is among the windiest mountains within the Whites.
We descended into the col between Clay and Jefferson, climbing previous the Sphinx Path Junction and ascending to the Monticello Garden, a flat expanse beneath the Jefferson summit cone. From right here it was a simple climb to the summit.
However we had been nonetheless solely midway via the hike!
After posing for a couple of summit selfies and gorging down some meals, we headed again to Mt Clay on the Gulfside Path, earlier than descending the Jewell Path as soon as once more. Everybody breathed a sigh of reduction once we reached the protection of treeline once more and started our lengthy descent again to the automobiles.
This was a giant summit for me, particularly, as a result of it was the twelfth calendar month that I’ve climbed Jefferson (gridding out Jefferson) and the final 4 thousand footer I wanted to climb (of the 48) for the month of January. This summit additionally brings me to 97.6% of the White Mountain 4000 footer grid accomplished with simply 14 peaks left in April and Could to complete all 576 summits. It’s exhausting to imagine that this quest might finish this 12 months, however I’m trying ahead to ending and beginning one other large mountaineering undertaking sooner or later.
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