More media visit the summit

2009-01-31 03:31:29.000 – Cara Rudio,  Marketing and Communications Coordinator

The producer and the sound guy

Mt. Washington’s weather is infamous.

My boss hates it when I use that phrase (he says it “has a negative connotation”), but I think it’s pretty accurate: Mt. Washington’s weather is well-known, well-respected, and yes, a little notorious. So what does such a famously bad reputation bring? Media attention, of course. And lots of it.

The particular media attention I’m writing about today started a few weeks ago with a phone call from LA-based Workaholic Productions. They said they were making a Discovery network show about cosmic weather, and were featuring the places on Earth that best exhibited the extreme conditions of other planets. In our case, the planet they were featuring was Neptune, and the condition was wind.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday. I’m climbing aboard the Observatory snow tractor with a three-person film crew from Workaholic Productions and Dave McDonald of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. We’re headed up the mountain to film the wind, document the work of the Observatory, and interview Dave and our crew about the meteorological conditions of Neptune and Mt. Washington. On the way, we chat about the show and the crew’s expectations for the shoot.

“Do you think we can get some good shots of the wind?” the producer asks. ‘Oh yeah,’ I think, ‘you’ll get your wind alright.’

Upon arriving at the summit, the determined crew quickly scouted shots, tested their skills at operating a camera in sub-zero wind chills, and ultimately declared that “you just can’t see anything out there.” From my cozy perch inside the weather room, I could see that they were right: a blizzard raged outside. Retreating indoors, they conducted interviews in the weather room instead, and crossed their fingers that Thursday’s weather would be a bit more conducive to filming.

Sometime around 2 a.m. I was awoken by an excited voice telling me that it was blowing over 100 m.p.h., and that I should come outside and check it out. Needless to say, I went back to sleep.

Later that morning, I learned that a member of the film crew had actually taken Brian up on his crazy invitation. With sleep-deprived eyes, the videographer gushed about the awesome visual effect of back-lit rime ice shattering off the parapit in 100+ mph winds. He continued to add that he had also captured a time-lapse video of the Hays chart during the period that the sudden spike in wind speed had occurred. The rest of the crew agreed that the footage was totally amazing.

After lunch, we headed outside to capture Mike and Ali taking an observation. Spirits were high as we worked in the sun, which had emerged from the clouds and was shining brightly on the newly fallen snow and stunning undercast. A perfect contrast to Wednesday’s storm, Thursday’s relatively calm winds and blue skies allowed for more great filming of the mountain’s many wondrous conditions.

Soon, it was time to head down. As we boarded the snow tractor, the film crew unanimously agreed that the shoot had been an overwhelming success. They likened the experience to a stint in Alaska covering the Iditarod, to personal expeditions on 14,000-footers in the Sierras, and even to an expedition on Kilimanjaro. (None of which compared, they noted.) As our conversation gave way to silent reflection, a member of the film crew motioned us to look out his window. Gazing into the void of the Great Gulf wilderness, he said to no one in particular “wow … I have never seen anything like this.” I couldn’t help but agree.

Thanks for sharing in the magic of this special place, and stay tuned for more information about the upcoming show! We’re told that it will be in production for a few months, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have an air date.


Cara Rudio,  Marketing and Communications Coordinator

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