Mount Lady Washington, Colorado
Author: Mike Sullivan
Beautiful weather (the first full day of spring!), new boots to break
in, and an urge to check out the approach and conditions for the route
Dream Weaver... these combined reasons motivated me for a spur-of-the-moment
reconaissance hike up to the Chasm Lake Cirque in Rocky Mountain National
Park. I wadded some gear into a daypack, hurriedly drove to the Long's
Peak trailhead, and got a good bumbly-alpine start... 12:45 PM. Bootpacking
up the consolidated trail was pretty easy with a pair of ski poles, and
I soon found myself snapping photos and eyeballing the Dream Weaver
couloir from the overlook near the bottom of the cirque.
OK, now what? I gazed around and my eyeballs stumbled on Mount Lady
Washington.... At 13,281, it forms the northern arm of the Chasm Lake Cirque.
From most perspectives, it is usually overshadowed by the sweeping rise
and bulk of Long's Peak, but from where I stood it appeared as a nice
summit of its own distinction. I figured that from the top, I would
enjoy one of the most dramatic views in Colorado -- a head-on look at the
looming vertical granite of the Diamond on Long's east face. Extra-credit
scenery would include Mount Meeker's Flying Buttress, The Notch, Chasm
Lake, Lamb's Slide Couloir, Mill's Glacier, and panoramas of Lumpy Ridge,
Twin Sisters, and most of northeast Colorado.
Foreshortening made the summit look tantalizingly close, and I started
up before I even knew it. The climb was longer than it appeared to
be. After nearly 2000 feet of scrambling and boulder-hopping, I topped
out into wind gusts that knocked me to the ground and literally blew the
snot right out of my nose -- I think it rained slime in Estes Park the
whole time I stayed on top. The views were awesome, but I barely
managed to snap off a few hasty photos before scurrying back down the lee
side of the summit to escape the wind. Run, Toto, run!
I stumbled down the loose scree on the northeast slopes, plunge-stepped
a few snowfields, and rejoined the main trail just below treeline. From
there, it was a serene hike down, as I watched the mountains throw
ever-longer shadows off to the east. I returned to the trailhead just
as the last rays of sun flickered gold across the summits of the Twin Sisters.
Dream Weaver was in.