Mt. Washington (I-90)
April 25, 1998

I signed up to lead yet another trip up Mt. Washington this spring. It's an easy and fun climb (as long as there is snow on the ground), and it's the first peak of the Cascades you pass as you drive east on I-90. To add a little variety to this outing, I chose to follow the logging road almost all the way to the top. The total distance this was is near 14 miles round trip (as opposed to about 6 miles if you climb the north ridge), but the slope is always gentle, and this way I'd get some new views, and get to cross the ridge known as "The Great Wall".

There was still more snow than I was expecting, but it was in good shape and easy to walk through. Sticking to the logging roads meant not really having to kick steps, just breaking trail - which seemed much easier. We had quite the mix of weather this day - everything from sunshine to snow showers - but since I was participating in a gear test for Backpacker magazine, and was testing some long johns, it was a perfect day! We wound around Mt. Washington's neighbor to me east, gaining views over to McLellan's Butte and down the I-90 corridor. After corkscrewing around 3/4 of the subsidiary peak we finally came to the Great Wall - it's an impressive, flat topped ridge that runs between this subsidiary peak and the main massif of Mt. Washington. It gives you the opportunity for fine views in all directions, and provides for some almost flat walking. Coming to the end of "The Wall", we turned right on more logging roads, eventually coming up to the SE corner of the summit ridge. We walked the remnants of an old road, now a trial, now a path, to the summit area with its small weather station. After a short stop for a snack, some pictures and another round of "Name that Peak" we headed back the way we'd come, briefly debating the merits of dropping south off of the Great Wall directly into the basin we'd need to come back to anyway. The drop off was steep, however, and looked very brushy and woodsy. Deciding that 7 more miles wasn't that awful we beat a hasty retreat from the summit, wishing for cross country skis, and knowing our feet would be pleased to reach the cars in just a couple of hours.


Last updated: April 3, 2001