Peak(s):  Mt. Lady Washington  -  13,281 feet
Date Posted:  03/04/2011
Date Climbed:   03/10/2011
Author:  luckyzsquirrel
 Ptarmigans on MLW   

~9 miles RT
~4080' gain

Before this hike I inquired on conditions in the area. Basically what I got was, not much snow above treeline, hard packed trail below, snowshoes no required... I really wish I would have brought them.

nice view on the way up

empty lot at longs peak trailhead!

The trail WAS as described, and I didn't post hole once the entire way up.


Visibility wasn't great as it was lightly snowing the entire time, but winds weren't too bad, temps probably in 20's so wasn't too bad.


On the way up stumbled upon a flock of snow flavored ptarmigans! Wouldn't have even seen them if they hadn't moved. Something I've wanted to see for years (seen plenty of the granite flavored ones in the summer, but never seen them in the winter). Those birds are hard core.



ptarmigans are in this picture too, can you see them?

MLW from near granite pass

From the top of MLW had so-so views of the steep face of Longs, key hole, etc.
Longs from MLW

up top

boulder field and key hole

key hole

On the way back took some shortcuts. Up above treeline was no problem what so ever. Heading into the trees I realized I was off the packed trail but I wasn't post holing and I knew I would intercept the main trail so I wasn't too worried. I really should have back tracked or had snow shoes on me (though it would have sucked even with shoes the way I went). The bad part was less than a 1/2 mile long, mostly downhill, but it took forever, basically post holing with every step. I even tried sliding down the steep parts but the snow was too fluffy. I could day lesson learned, but I really already knew better. So lesson re-learned: a longer packed trail is pretty much always easier than an unpacked shorter one. And if there's even a chance you're going to need snow shoes, bring 'em!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Comments or Questions
03/04/2011 23:07
Looks like a little more snow in the last two days since we were there.

Way to get after it!

03/06/2011 04:29
It seems,the worse the weather, the more the ptarmigan! I saw some on Mt. Sherman when I first attempted it in a blizzard. Any science behind that?

Re: Rcizzle
03/06/2011 04:48
you might be on to something. I saw a bunch of them in the summer of '08 or 09' on Challenger, and a little later there was a nasty thunderstorm with lots of hail.

03/12/2011 17:42
Where did you start ascending MLW? I'm hoping to attempt this in the next two weeks

RE Cody
03/12/2011 23:40
I more or less followed the East Longs Trail (where I could see it) up to Granite Pass and then just headed up the North Ridge (see the map). Was a pretty easy climb. The east face looks to have pretty steep sections so the way I went probably would be the easiest.

White-Tailed Ptarmigan
07/17/2012 13:18
REI Boulder has a free presentation on 3/14/2011
6:30 - 8:00 PM MDT White-Tailed Ptarmigan: Ghosts of the Alpine
Tundra ”Join presenter Joyce Gellhorn, a mountain ecologist and author for this program which follows these special birds and shows their unique adaptations to living in their high mountain world.”

Nice report. I love that area.

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