A Long Awaited Week On The Rockpile In Winter

2015-03-20 16:10:57.000 – Mark Truman, Summit Volunteer


My love affair with the White Mountains and Mt Washington began only about 10 years ago. When my daughter was young we began coming to the mountains with her each summer and we all fell in love with them. In 2007 I turned 50 and gave myself a birthday present – a 4 day hike over the Presidential Range between the AMC huts. The first day of that trip I stood on the summit of Mt Madison, my first 4000 foot peak, and I was forever hooked. In planning a return trip for a different route the following summer I was looking for information resources and found the Mt Washington Observatory forums and my relationship with Mt Washington and the MWObs began. It was also the beginning of many close friendships that began online in the forums and became personal over the years through Seek the Peak, the annual fundraising hike to support the Obs. I’ve participated each of the last seven years and it has always been a wonderful experience. There is nothing like standing on the summit of Mt Washington on a beautiful day, or even more, standing in the top of the Observatory tower and looking out over the White Mountains and beyond, and better yet, sharing it with the many friends that have that same love for this magical place. But this year I got an opportunity for much more.


Last winter my friend Kevin Talbot, who I had met online and at my first Seek the Peak all those years ago, suggested that we do a volunteer week together at the Obs this winter. This was something that I had always wanted to do but had just never taken the initiative to make happen. This time I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. Kevin had volunteered seven previous times in all seasons and was a real veteran and I felt like I could uphold my end of the bargain. We applied, and last September got the news that the final week of winter was available and it was ours if we wanted it. We jumped at the chance! You can read Kevin’s account of the week in the previous Observer Comment.


Mt Washington is an incredible place at any time of the year, but in winter it is really special. This mountain and its weather are not to be taken lightly. While I have gotten increasingly into winter hiking and have now been to many 4000 footers in winter, Mt Washington and the northern Presidentials have not yet made that list. Being on the summit in winter for 8 days brings opportunities that hiking it never could. Sunrises and sunsets, being outside in the worst weather and getting to experience its full fury (while being able to then go safely back inside), seeing all of the best and worst of what the mountain has to offer in one of the most beautiful seasons of the year.


Mark Truman, Summit Volunteer

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