- Jul 10, 2015
- Reaction score
- Lewiston, and Biddeford Maine
It would depend on the climb and guides, if you are local here, EMS, Chauvin, IME, and your doing a winter Washington trip, sure, their is some education. Same with RMI and Rainier, which is looked on by some as the peak of places they will go, others as a warm up for Denali. I don't know who her guide was and how many days they were together, or their record either. (more on that later)
In reading Into Thin Air, The Climb and Beck Weather's book, what they seemed to be looking at is can you handle the gear, (John K, commented that some climbers seemed to have difficultly with crampons.) They focused on how to traverse the ladders, how to "hook/tie" into the fixed lines. how to stay hydrated and making sure they are eating well and look out for HAPE/HACE etc. Part of me would think that as a guide, I don't want to educate type A personalities on how to determine weather and what the difference a hard but doable day and how thin that line is between going and not going. You certainly don't want a debate with your clients who you've educated on second guessing you. I know with scout groups and school groups, I was not looking at debating with others, scouts or parents on whether the plan was safe or unsafe & that was just local. A guide doing high altitude trips runs a delicate balance between getting clients to summits and keeping them alive. Bailing too early or having clients die puts you out of business. (The 2nd more tragic and sad)
I have no idea what Kate's summit days were on those big peaks, they do have beautiful days (whatever that means at 18-22K) and a beautiful day on Denali or Aconagua or Elberus is better than a brutal day on the Rockpile.
As for Washington's weather, as we know, that same weather applies to Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Monroe. (It's probably 90-95% the same on Lincoln, Lafayette, South Twin and Moosilauke, Katahdin, Marcy & it's highest neighbors.) I wasn't surprised that someone would get in trouble last weekend on F-Ridge. The hike is immensely popular and few discuss the weather of Lafayette. The alpine zone up there is fairly broad and it's cairns and features are not very distinctive. On the ridge it's narrow but not on Lafayette. I'm unsure how many of the new hikers understand Washington's weather extends to the other higher summits, they just don't have weather observatories on them. (Same as Avalanche danger in Gulf of Slides, Madison Gulf, Great Gulf, along with the Trap Dike and on Wrights and Gothics which by the slides on these peaks should be fairly evident but other than Tucks and Huntington, there is no "official" report.
In Winter I prefer doing the loop by going up OBP and down Falling Waters as I can decide at the Hut whether I go up or down and then again as I get out of the trees before heading for the summit. On the summit you make a decision to go back down or across. If it's okay to cross and then changes on the ridge and isn't so bad that a descent in the pemi is required to save your life, (which meant I picked the wrong day), getting off Little Haystack is easier, either down Falling Waters, which gets back into the trees pretty close to the summit, unlike leaving Lafayette, or staying on the FRT, although much fewer hikers do the ridge between little Haystack and Liberty Springs Trail and descending the rocks can be a bit tricky there, worse IMO than descending Liberty heading to Flume which requires some care in winter. In other seasons, I prefer up Falling Waters but it's not that big a deal.
The scene that Ty Gagne paints of the solitary hiker standing on Haystack looking longingly down Franconia Ridge trail, weighing the pros and cons of hiking it that particular day and then descending, living to hike another day, sticks with me. I've done that several times at treeline, debating whether I want to continue my hike. I'm not goal driven enough to reach a peak that particular day. I have no problem bailing. I usually defer to my GF's better judgement. The one time I over-ruled her was on the summit of Adams one cold July afternoon. She wanted to go back the way we came, which put us above treeline longer. I forced her to head down off the summit cone towards Adams 5 and relative shelter from the wind. She still thinks she was right. I know I was. She really hates the wind. She hates wearing ski googles because they fog up. (reminder: cat crap goggles) Once her eyes tear up from the wind, she can't see...But, she's cautious. I defer to her judgement. I'll live longer that way.