Sunday, June 16, 2024

Return to Mt Jefferson in January


MT Washington and Mt Clay poked above the cloud

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 protected to climb. I had little hope that I get one other probability this 12 months.

However as luck would have it, we bought a climate window on January thirtieth and determined to present it one other go. This time we made it and summitted Jefferson with a robust group of 6 in excellent climate situations with no wind and undercast (cloud inversion). This was one of many.finest above-treeline hikes I’ve ever had within the White Mountains.

We were able to use Trail Crampons to ascend the Jewell Trail
We had been ready to make use of Path Crampons to ascend the Jewell Path

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 nicely 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 a substitute of snowshoes to save lots of 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 situations for mountaineering Mt Jefferson in winter, which is normally very windy because it’s adjoining to Mt Washington.

When we reached treeline, we were smothered in cold fog.
After we reached treeline, we had been smothered in chilly fog.

I wearing layers for the climb however overdressed and sweated greater than I appreciated on the preliminary climb. Fortunately, I had the foresight to put on my KUIU lengthy underwear which will 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 after we broke above treeline, which a number of of my associates love to do. It’s not a foul concept.

After 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 will be downright tough to comply with for the reason that 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 celebration.

The summit of Mt Monroe, the fourth highest 4000 footer, poked up through the cloud layer like an island.
The summit of Mt Monroe, the fourth highest 4000 footer, poked up via the cloud layer like an island.

As we approached the Gulfside path which hyperlinks all the 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. All the 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.

After we reached the Gulfside junction we set off north in direction of the summit of Mt Jefferson which additionally peaked above the inversion layer. That is usually an extended and arduous traverse, typically 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 crossed the Monticello Lawn before ascending the Jefferson summit cone.
We crossed the Monticello Garden earlier than ascending the Jefferson summit cone.

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 straightforward climb to the summit.

However we had been nonetheless solely midway via the hike!

After posing for a number of summit selfies and gobbling 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 aid after we reached the protection of treeline once more and started our lengthy descent again to the vehicles.

Hiking back to Mt Clay and the Jewell Trail.
Mountain climbing again to Mt Clay and the Jewell Path.

This was a giant summit for me, specifically, 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 arduous to consider that this quest might finish this 12 months, however I’m trying ahead to ending and beginning one other massive mountaineering challenge sooner or later.

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