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Finding Your Limit

The family had done some hiking through Scouting and personally, just for fun. It’s something they really enjoyed. The most recent hike was Moosilauke. And that was back in September. The family’s matriarch decided a winter trip in the mountains, complete with some critical training, would be both adventurous and fun. She decided that this would be a perfect gift for herself and two teenage sons. The specific want was to take on our Two-Day Winter Mt Washington program — an entry-level mountaineering staple ’round these parts. On lead for both days of this epic was Redline Guide Mike Maciel. Mike has provided his own summary, below, but before we segue to that, we’d like to take a moment to thank Black Mountain Ski Area in Jackson for kindly allowing us to have the mountaineering skills portion of our day one on their slopes.

Our team for this trip was an adventurous family, a mother and her two teenage sons cashing in their self-gifted Christmas present: a two-day mountaineering program culminating with a Mount Washington summit attempt via the Lion Head Winter Route.
Mountain Goddess, however, had other ideas, and cranked up the dial on the wind. With early morning gusts topping out at over 120mph, the team set off with the understanding that a trip to Lion Head, or even to treeline might have to suffice as the summit for the day.
As we sized up the Wilcox Step, currently a little more complicated with some exposed rock, mom thought she could do it but asked for a rope/belay. We had practiced this the day prior and were happy to provide a little extra insurance.
She made it through and her boys followed, shunning the rope and relying on their inner spider-monkey skills. At the start of the second steep pitch we stopped to assess how everyone was doing. Batteries were running low, legs were tired, and it turns out our adventurous mother had found something many people don’t give themselves the chance to discover: her limit. She didn’t want to let her boys down, and it turns out she didn’t at all. What she had already accomplished was impressive and sometimes if the answer isn’t “Hell yes!” then it needs to be “No.” During the classroom portion of our training day we had spent some time talking about heuristics (those mental traps) and decision points, and this family passed the test when it came time to apply that knowledge.
We headed back down, this time with all three family members utilizing a belay at the step (even for young spider monkeys things often look different on the way down). I led the group on a nice detour up to Hojo’s for a late lunch on the deck where they admired the beautiful scenery, the lively atmosphere, and the impressive winds overhead. —Mike M.


First some photos the training day…

Now some photos of the climb…

Great job, team. Fine lead, Mike, and to our guests, well done and thank you for choosing Redline Guiding!

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