I jumped at the opportunity to do this difficult trio of peaks with two superstars. We met at the Garden at 5:30 and spiked our way across mud and ice to Johns Brook Lodge. From there it was all snow. Our threesome became a quartet when Joe joined us. He was doing Haystack alone to finish his 46W. The rocks on Horse Hill were coated in a layer of verglas so we knew what was coming. Indeed Little Haystack did not disappoint and I regretted bringing K-10's instead of my Black Diamond crampons. The “rock funnel” near the bottom of Little Hay was sketchy but not crazy, although instead of front-pointing down, facing in, I opted for a riskier leap of faith onto a postage-stamp-sized snow patch. My partners, god bless them were, positioned to catch me if I blew it and went sailing into the wild white yonder.
We definitely smelled the roses on this ascent, taking our sweet time, appreciating every nuance that the rock, ice and incredible lighting offered us. Back at the junction we had a bite of food and faced our next challenge: Mighty Basin.
And neither did it disappoint. The ice was definitely “in” and above the ladder I felt inadequate in my K-10's while the real climbers killed it gleefully and seemingly sans effort. The descent of Basin was easy on snow that had been post-holed miserably from the looks of things. The post-holes we used as stairs and gained the wall of Saddleback with no issues at all. The wall looked fairly dry but I opted for the stress-free Chicken Route and the guys didn't care one way or the other. I needed a helping hand at the crux but otherwise the route was straightforward. Quite amazing the route was as it followed the base of the cliff, rising steeply upwards and somewhat awesome under all that tannin-stained ice.
We enjoyed hot cocoa and homemade cookies in the warming hut for 30 minutes before trudging back to the parking lot. As soon as I got back to my “winter home” at 'Scoots' loft I went into getting ready mode once again.