Peak(s):  Lady Washington, Mt  -  13,281 feet
Date Posted:  05/15/2011
Modified:  05/16/2011
Date Climbed:   05/14/2011
Author:  LIV

 Martha 3rd attempt and summit of Lady Washington  

Mount Lady Washington was never big on my tick list of summits, but as I always loved to romp around the Long's Peak area, she was a mountain that I planned to do some point. When it was suggested to do it via Martha Couloir, the idea got in my head, so Kol and I decided to try Martha for the first time on January 16, 2011.

To treeline that morning was just a fine hike, but once we were out of the trees, we encountered huge winds.Image
Winds at Mills Moraine

We hid behind the bathroom at the moraine for a quick break on that one, and then tried to make it further toward the lake.
About halfway to the lake, we turned back.
After turning back and starting down

Second attempt - March 26, 2011 - the winds were predicted to be pretty low, but snow had fallen recently. We figured we could do it if the winds were low.Image
No trail up before the bridge and we crossed

Unfortunately on that one, there were winds, and the snow above treeline was HUGE.
Winds and huge amounts of snow

Volumes had fallen between January and March. We attempted a little postholing above treeline, but finally turned back.Image
Looking south through trees

Third time is charm - seduction.

We had planned to attempt Martha again on Sunday, May 15, but on Friday night, made a quick decision to try her again on Saturday, May 14, 2011, because the weather showed a nice day until the afternoon, and Chris Tomer reported that there would be rain and snow Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning. We were hoping we would get up and down Martha before the "wrinkle" Chris was reporting.

We took off from my place at 2:00 and headed up to Estes. Because of the 10" of snow that was supposed to have fallen on Wednesday/Thursday, we took snowshoes. I didn't want to be turned back by a few drifts this time. But about 20 minutes down the trail, with no new snow, we decided to return to the car and ditch the snowshoes. Although it put us a little late in the start time, we probably made up the time by less weight on our loaded packs.

The boot pack up to the moraine was worn enough that in places it was icy. This was in stark contrast to the times we had been up earlier. We arrived at the moraine, and for the first time in all of the times that I have been to that point, there WAS NO WIND!! Not even a slight breeze. The sun was coming up, and it was absolutely beautiful weather.

We barely stopped at the moraine, just long enough to put on crampons, and we made our way toward the the lake.
Perfect day at the Moraine

We crossed several snow slopes on our way to the lake that we were very happy we wouldn't have to cross on our return trip with soft snow.
Looking back at Mills Moraine and our tracks across to the couloir

Instead of traversing around to the left of the lake, Kol took a direct line straight up the dam of the lake, over the ice to the couloir. We only crossed a very sliver of the right side of the lake.

We started up the couloir on snow that was in pretty solid condition.
Up the couloir
Looking across to Dreamweaver

Although we considered stopping to get the ropes out where the terrain was manageable, it just didn't seem like they were needed before about the start of the third pitch (in all truth, I think Kol could have soloed the entire thing with ease, and I felt super solid on the entire route through the couloir also). Kol combined the 4th and 5th pitch (ice crux), and I followed.
The mixed pitch
Back down the couloir
Me at the mixed pitch
Very cool climb!

Once we started above the exit of the couloir, the snow had heated from the sun, and it was super sketch from there. Slush and wet snow was the order of the day. Since it was about 65 degrees at that point (I was dripping sweat), and the slope was south facing, the snow had turned to mush. As Kol led up, numerous smaller wet slides came down past me. We stayed roped up, and Kol got some protection in the few rocks he found.
Above the couloir in sketchy conditions

I climbed up as quickly as I have ever climbed (ha, Mount Morrison would have fallen under record time if I were to have done her this fast). We finally got some mixed rock and snow, and proceeded to the summit. As we climbed this slope, we saw three large avalanches off the Notch and Long's.
Avalanche on Longs

We finally made the summit of Mount Lady Washington as low clouds started coming higher on the peaks.
Me - top of Mount Lady Washington
Kol at the summit of Mount Lady Washington

We ate small bites quickly, repacked gear, and headed down and soon were in a whiteout. We descended in the general direction of the moraine. Finally at the moraine we took a break and then headed for home, glad to have finally done this!

"Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.”
Dennis Waitley

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

05/18/2011 00:51
Love this climb! Looks like you guys had better conditions then when I did it. Awesome! Way to get after it over and over! It also took me three tries on this route due to various factors. Keep up the climbing 8)

Brian C

Awesome photos
05/16/2011 12:18
The shots of the slides coming off the Diamond are amazing. Nice job.


05/17/2011 01:59
sounding trip! Love the photos of the avi rolling off Longs congrats of the successful climb, sounds like all the effort was worth it in the end


Looks like an amazing climb
04/02/2015 19:45
The mixed pitch part is particularly impressive.


Threading a needle . . .
05/17/2011 02:28
Just got very lucky on this one day . . . we've all had it at some point. Scary up above the couloir, however. But thanks all for the comments. Kol took all the pics of the day we got the ascent.


05/19/2011 15:22
Very nice report and pics. Yeah, it is pretty much a wasteland above treeline in the winter. Even if you break a trail it is often gone again the next day due to winds. Looks like your perseverance paid off with some great views. Of course, I'm partial to the area. (see my current avatar)

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