A Variable Volunteer Week

2015-03-25 19:07:48.000 – Bill Ofsiany and Barbara Althen, Summit Volunteers


It’s said that March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. You could probably say the same thing about our week of summit volunteering. Last week’s shift change was switched to Thursday because the wind on the summit was blowing at 120 mph, and the windchill was 65 below. The first five days we were here, the wind didn’t drop below hurricane force, and rarely below the century mark. We hosted a group of climbers from the EMS Climbing School and two Day Trips during our stay. The conditions for the Monday trip were perfect. The visibility was over 100 miles, the wind was blowing around 85 mph, the temperature was 18 below, and the windchill was, well polar. These conditions are why they signed up to come to the summit, and everyone had ear-to-ear grins, even if we couldn’t see them under their face masks.
I said it was perfect because they wanted extreme. Had the conditions been any worse, the trip would have likely been cancelled. Barbara and I were able to get out each day to experience what the mountain had to offer, even when the wind speed topped 100 mph. The highest wind gust during our stay was 113 mph, a personal high for one of our stays here. The last day of the high winds was bright and sunny and we tried taking photographs as wind gusts moved us back and forth about 12 inches. It was like trying to photograph something while you were jumping up and down on a trampoline, though here the movement was back and forth. The coming of spring didn’t change much, weather-wise, but after five high wind days, the lamb part of our stay began. The wind dropped to 20 mph or less, and the bright March sun’s radiant heat warmed us when we were out, even though the air temperature was still in the single numbers and teens. It felt like spring. We took a walk down to Mt. Clay and got some incredible, blue sky shots of the summit buildings and towers and the headwall of the Great Gulf in the same photo. The fair sunny weather and comfortable conditions lasted through the end of our shift. You could say that like the day trip, our shift was perfect.


Bill Ofsiany and Barbara Althen, Summit Volunteers

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