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2010-02-03 21:18:10.000 – Charlie & Jeanine Kinney,  Summit Volunteers

After numerous trips here over several years this week promised to be a good one. There were guests scheduled for most of the week which keeps us busy and makes the stay very interesting. The most notable stir, however, was news of the wind speed record here being broken. As volunteers, our interest in the weather comes more from seeing how beautiful it is here and how daunting it can be when Mother Nature rears her ugly head. Actually it was a rather “mundane” week with the wind only topping 100mph twice and temps to -26 degrees. We do, however, recognize the importance of weather research and forecasting both in how the weather effects us and how, in fact, we affect the weather. All that being said, I go back to the highest wind speed. To read about the early years when people first maintained a weather station on this summit, constantly battling Mother Nature. To understand how much they put at stake to continue that task and the equipment they were dealing with, for me, makes the 231mph record one that will never be equaled. Not unlike the Old Man in the Mountain, just because it’s gone doesn’t diminish the vivid memory of it and how it was created. That is not to say that gathering data here today is a walk in the park as it’s not. Climbing on to the parapet in 80+ mph winds in the dark and breaking ice away from equipment, for one, is commonplace throughout the year. Much of the work here is dedicated to improving the collection of data and insuring its accuracy and with time, most likely, many new records will be established.

The second most notable aspect of our visit this week was cooking on the new stove. Not without some trepidation, we set out to make enough meals to keep 31 people contented, over the week, knowing the stove has been persnickety at times. What would you rather have, a ’37 Plymouth Coupe or a Ferrari? Personally, a 37 Plymouth Coupe, I would be one to miss the old blackiron stove, however, just like data gathering, progress demands better equipment. The week is drawing to a close and, knock on wood, the stove has cooperated marvelously without a glitch. It is nice to be able to turn on the burners or the oven with no matches or backfire and know the oven temperature maintains very predictably. The only issue was adjusting to the convection fan reducing cook time. The floor, as well, has transformed and, although practical and nice looking, it lacks the country kitchen feel.

The last, but certainly not the least, change for us was the mode of transportation. We have been making the round trip in either snow cat or van, depending on the weather, over the last 8 years. The ride this time was in the Obs’ new cat with comfortable seats and heat making the trip much more enjoyable.

Echoing the words of one of our guests this week, Willem Lang of Windows to the Wild, we’ve reached the saddest part of our visit on the “Rock Pile” when we say goodbye. I’m not much for preaching or soap box ramblings but being here surrounded by great views, great people, and great food brings to mind how lucky we are. I have friends currently in Haiti, one who did not survive the quake, doing what they can to help and that fact makes me feel a little guilty. As the crew here do what they do to better understand our planet we all can help by trying to better understand our planet and each other.

P.S. Only to clarify, I had not read Ryan’s Tuesday comment before writing ours. Any similarities are purely conincidental.

 

Charlie & Jeanine Kinney,  Summit Volunteers

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