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MCpl Boyd -CFLRS

Early on 27 March 2018, after a good night of rest and an all-you-can-eat breakfast, we were ready for what was going to be a great adventure.

Crampons on our boots, backpacks on our backs and 5 liters of water, our group of 10 left the Pinkham Notch Center through Boot Spur Trail to reach the summit of Mount Washington which stands at an impressive 1917 meters. The sky was clear and blue; we could easily distinguish the peak from the trail head. The weather was on our side with a comfortable -5 degrees at the beginning and reaching a warm 4 degrees as the sun rose. We stepped off at a brisk pace, quickly shedding clothes down to our base layers.

After a few hundred meters of elevation, we could already feel the burn in our legs but that was only the beginning of our ascent. The higher we got, the more we would be feeling the mountain’s difficulty. At around 0845 hrs, we hit a very dense wood line, where our equipment would get stuck every couple of steps.

At one point, when it finally seemed to be the beginning of the alpine zone, we came a dead end where the trails disappeared abruptly into the woods. After long minutes of searching unsuccessfully for other paths around, our leader, Sgt Ellement, made the decision to blaze through the last few hundred meters of the alpine zone in the thick snow with a depth of more than one metre.

This phase increased the level of difficulty and greatly reduced our speed to approximately 5 meters a minute. Every step we took would sink our body up to our waist, making the hike much harder than anticipated. Walking through the woods, trying to get past the thick trees, we eventually hit a trail that had not been used for a while, from where we could finally stand up and walk out of the treeline to see the exceptional view of the alpine zone.

The remainder of the ascension was warm and comfortable as we continued on Davis Path followed by Lawn Cut-Off, until we hit the final stretch to the summit on Tuckerman Ravine Trail, which was close to 600 meters long. At that point the wind picked up and made it more challenging every step we took. We had a very steep hike where we had to switchback our way up as people were going down with their skis and snowboards.

We reach the summit at 1245 hrs after more than 9 km of hiking. After observing the breathtaking view that awaited us on the top, we gathered for our official group picture. Afterwards, we changed into dry clothes, ate an IMP lunch, drank some Gatorade and prepared for our descent.

The route down through Lion’s Head was very harsh on the knees. We expected it to be somewhat easy until we hit a very steep stretch where ice picks were a must to descend, otherwise we would slip down couple dozen meters were we’d meet either a tree or be lucky enough to fall in deep snow. We finally reached the base camp at around 1610 hrs, after a long and exhausting journey of 8 hours and 38 minutes, 15.62 km and 3269 calories burned. All the participants of this adventure training will undoubtedly remember this day for a long time.

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