2010-03-10 04:19:02.000 – Tom Soisson,  Summit Volunteer


As a former science teacher, my greatest interests when spending time on the summit are the various science applications.

There’s the wind thing going on all the time. After taking ski trips to Utah, Colorado, Montana, and assorted New England areas, I have become impressed with the amount of wind we see in New England and have become used to the frequent wind scoured ice slopes when skiing. I’ve skied during storms in other locations and not seen as much wind as on a clear day in New England. We apparently live at the confluence of continental air streams. Even calm days see more wind than the average terrain.

When I arrived at the summit last Wednesday, there was relatively calm air and the remnants of the snow storms from the week before. With clear skies, the mountain became a playground for hikers and skiers. The snow fields were like enormous packed powder bowls. Then the wind came. Several days of 50 to 85 mph winds have scoured the mountain and revealed the ice plates underneath. The snow has been repacked onto the lower elevations and formed drifts on the road and in front of our doors. The snow cats were turned back in their attempts to come up the past 2 days. The drifts and blowing snow were too much for them. The wind is now dropping to the 40’s. The road will probably be open again soon.

This past weekend we had several clear sunrises and sunsets. The discussion here turned to the conditions necessary to produce the green flash. We learned a lot about geometric optics and light scattering in the lower atmosphere.

The state park has a new sewage treatment system developed for use in the arctic. I talked with the state workers at length about the mechanics and biology of the system. It seems to be working great, and it’s nice to be able to shower occasionally.

I find all of these fascinating. The crew here indulges my questions, making it fun to spend time here. Steve, Mike, Stacey, and Drew are a great group.

Ernie, the chef, was also here this week. He has been very patient with me and did a great job of teaching me his various cooking secrets. Truffles and Black Forest Cake bring a certain level of civility to the summit.

This week also had a variety of visitors. Eight meteorology students and faculty from Germany were here when we arrived. Then the Friends of Tuckerman group came up for some hiking and skiing. Them a ten person Edutrip arrived for mountaineering instruction. We’re now waiting the arrival of a group of 11 climbers also planning to overnight. The guest all have interesting stories to add to the experience.

So it’s been a fun week for me and a fascinating experience. I’m leaving with a great collection of pictures of rime ice, sunsets, and white peaks and a collection of unique memories. I hope to be back.


Tom Soisson,  Summit Volunteer

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