Matt Bancroft and Chantelle Honaker accomplished a rare winter climb to the summit of New Hampshire’s notorious Mount Washington on Christmas Eve. The intrepid adventurers from Santa Barbara made the attempt for personal fulfillment and to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy/WORK Inc. They both are employed by the nonprofit organization.
Bancroft reported that the pair encountered ideal weather conditions — before the East Coast was slammed by this week’s storms — but their unaccompanied 5,650-foot climb to the peak (it started at an elevation of 630 feet above sea level) was not without peril.
“We reached the tree line and hit heavy winds which poised severe danger of hypothermia, as we had worked up a moderate sweat climbing to the alpine garden,” Bancroft said. “As an alpine rule, if you sweat, you die — a fact that we were constantly balancing throughout our expedition.”
The final 1,000 feet “was very windy, cold, and tough. Nevertheless we pushed on through the four- and five-foot deep snow that had accumulated from the previous weeks’ storms. Stepping out of the few footprints that we could slightly make out meant plunging waist deep into the heavy snow.”
Their time at the summit was brief, Bancroft said, because the winds, initially calm, started blasting them in powerful gusts. They practiced their glissading techniques on the descent and finished their expedition after dark with headlamps glowing and legs aching.