Century Club Attempt
2009-02-10 22:21:38.000 – Mike Carmon, Observer
The road less traveled
There is a distinctive (and perhaps infamous) honor up here on the summit known as the century club. If you’re not conscious to it, you become a member when you successfully walk around the perimeter of our observation deck while the winds are sustained at at least 100 mph without holding on to anything, wearing crampons, or most importantly, without falling. Depending on which direction the wind is coming from, it can be a great challenge. Earlier in the week, the models seemed to be pointing towards an opportunity for an attempt to join. Just after dinner on Sunday night, the time seemed right as winds had just about reached the century mark. So, Jordan and myself geared up and headed out to the deck.
We were met with a loud roar, fog, and temperatures around 18 below. All of the sudden, the task seemed a bit more daunting. But we headed out into the growl of the winds, traversing the southwest side of the deck first. From the A-Frame to the far edge of the deck was pretty much a piece of cake-the winds were from the northwest, so the greatest force was being mercifully blocked. But as soon as I made the turn and approached the area with the binocular posts, I knew it was going to be a lot more challenging than I intended.
The winds were quite gusty at this point, which can give one a few lulls to make some headway, but can also present one with a seemingly ‘out-of-nowhere’ push that compels you to hit the deck (literally). And that’s exactly what happened. During my first attempt I made it about 3/4 of the way around, but once I got to the exposed northwest side of the deck, I fell prey to the full force of the winds, and after an attempt to hold myself up, I caved and fell to the ground. The deck was slippery, and I slid on my stomach to the center before I stopped and got myself up and back to the safety of the A-Frame. I was disappointed, and so was Jordan after his first attempt, but was also exhilarated (sliding across the deck was a good time!).
We both tried two more times, but to no avail. My third attempt was probably the most invigorating. I got a few yards past the same spot on the northwest side of the deck, and got turned around around and pushed, with my back to the wind and still standing, across the deck until I finally gave out and dropped. I made it back to the A-Frame again, and took a few much-needed breathers. ‘One more try’ I said to Jordan, and he headed out, with me following. This time was different. I got to the northwest side again and got as low to the ground as I could. For someone as tall and lanky as I am, I knew that would be my only hope. I pushed through, and-SUCCESS!! Both of us had successfully traversed the deck. We just had to hope that the winds had cooperated at remained over 100 mph.
We rushed downstairs to check it out and-wouldn’t you know it-the winds had lulled in the time we were out there. They were still gusting over 100, but were only sustained around 95 mph. I couldn’t believe it-it was all for naught! I tried to pull some positives from those 20 minutes. For one thing, the experience gave me much more respect for those who have been successful at it. And the feeling of having no control as you slide across the deck is a pretty amazing feeling, and gave me quite an adrenaline rush. Later that night, the winds picked up and were sustained over 100 for the better part of the evening, and we experienced the highest gust (126 mph) since New Year’s Day (132 mph). I decided to hold off on giving it another go, but I will be attempting it the next chance I get!
Mike Carmon, Observer