| Mt. Harvard
Tylerstorm and I left my house in Erie around 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening and arrived at the TH at exactly 10:00 p.m. After setting up camp and firing off some EasyMac we turned in for a few hours of much anticipated sleep. My cell phone alarm was set for 3:10 a.m., but unfortunately after setting it in my sleeping bag to avoid the battery sucking cold, I slept on top of it, and didn't hear the call until 4:17 a.m. I scrambled out of my tent in a semi-panic and shook Tyler‘s tent to wake him. While we boiled water for hot cocoa, and readied our gear, we debated breaking camp and packing before leaving for the trail, but decided it could wait.
That decision would come back to haunt us later in the afternoon.
We were supposed to meet up with a few others for the Harvard/Columbia traverse, and after getting such a late start we shot out of camp without getting breakfast.
That decision would come back to haunt us later in the morning. (see where I'm going with this?)
The weather was warm, but overcast with a dense fog settled into the entire basin. We set a quick pace in the hopes of catching the other group, however they were hiking quickly too, as we would find out closer to the summit. The gradual incline through the trees went quickly, but the lack of rise was an ominous reminder of the monsterous elevation gain that was to come.
I was trying to conserve water, so I would have enough for the combo route, and ended up dehydrated by the time the strenuous climbing began.
The ascent went very slowly, but smoothly through the scattered snow fields. We stopped to layer up, and took some pictures of the valley below, then began the final push.
We saw the group we were trying to catch on the summit, but they set off for the ridge as we approached 200'-300' below the top. Needless to say, by the time we reached the top, I was hanging on by will alone. My fingers were numb, my coordination was shot, and the traverse across an exposed, technical ridgeline was out of the question for me. We downclimbed the rocks to the Northwest of the summit block to gain some shelter from the wind so I could warm back up. Tyler set up the stove and made another batch of hot cocoa to help me get my fingers back. I huddled in my rock shelter while he scrambled back up to the summit block to chat with a few other climbers that had just arrived.
The cocoa was the magic ticket to get me back into shape. I warmed up, my fingers sprung back to life, my attitude rose from the ashes, and I emerged to take part in the conversation, as well as the obligatory summit shot.
After 20 minutes or so, we began our descent back to the car. The downclimb was a bit slushy but manageable, and we passed several groups on their way up.
Once we got down below the snowfields and into thicker air, I felt completely recharged. I spotted a great set of boulders just off the trail to send some problems on. We stopped for about half an hour to play on them, enjoying the warm weather and quiet gulch. After bouldering for a bit, we set off for camp again. About half an hour out (I-R-O-N-Y) the clouds opened up. Not wanting to stop to layer back up, we quickened our pace to no avail as we got soaked to the bone in the cold rain. When we rounded the turn to the TH, it dawned on us that we still had to pack sleeping bags, and tents (D-A-M-N). Being cold, wet, and tired we opted instead, to (mostly) empty the tents and throw them in the bed of the truck with our packs on top to hold them down.
As we were so impressed last weekend with the Evergreen Cafe's food, we stopped off for lunch there (just in time, as we were the last customers they allowed in before they closed for the day).