A Farewell to the Summit
2017-05-16 12:39:58.000 – Nathan Flinchbaugh, Summit Intern
It’s been a little over two years since I first stepped foot on Mount Washington for the first time. It was early April of 2015 that I arrived in New Hampshire for my interview for the internship program that following summer. A rather snowy late winter and early spring in New England had left the White Mountains and surrounding valleys in a blanket of snow. When I returned a month or so later, the warmer weather won out, and other than a few specks of snow above tree line it was all gone. Over the course of that summer, I never saw the snow return.
Most people would probably be okay with that, but during the summer, visitors and even fellow staff had winter on the brain from time to time, and with obvious reason. It’s the season that makes Mount Washington famous, and after falling in love with the Whites that summer, I knew at some point I needed to make it back for a winter. Luckily, less than two years later that opportunity arose and I took it. As beautiful as summer is on the summit, winter in no way disappointed me.
On top of the weather, the overall atmosphere of the summit is very different during the cold months. Thousands upon thousands of visitors make it to the summit one way or another to get their picture with the summit sign and beat the summer heat. Other than overnight trips and an occasional hiker on the nicer days, the summit cone is pretty much completely deserted other than those who work here in the dead of winter. The role of working in the gift shop and conducting multiple tours per day is replaced with shoveling, deicing the tower and keeping the instruments operational.
Many aspects of life and work at the summit do not change in the winter, such as daily forecasts. However, forecasting wind gusts beyond 100 mph was something I had never done before and probably never will anywhere else. Getting outside and experiencing winds of this magnitude is also something that is hard to come by at any other location and is truly a once in a lifetime experience for most people. Possessing the ability to do both has certainly honed my forecasting skills and garnered my respect for the power of Mother Nature.
Having been here for both seasons, I’ve gotten the opportunity to tackle a variety of tasks as wide as the variety of weather I’ve witnessed. I can’t think of a better way to begin my career than working alongside the dedicated staff of the Mount Washington Observatory.
If you have a deep interest in Meteorology or Atmospheric Science and are captivated by the mountain’s extremes as much as I am, I’d suggest sending in an internship application. Fall applications are now being accepted through mid-July on the “Careers and Internships” section of the website. You won’t regret it; you’ll broaden your skillset, make incredible memories, and maybe come out of it with pictures similar to these.
Nathan Flinchbaugh, Summit Intern