2013-02-02 15:38:33.000 – Gail Langer, Summit Volunteer
‘I’ve learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.’ – Andy Rooney
I would like folks to know that although I am writing this from the summit of Mount Washington, I did not climb it; but traveled in the warm comfort of the Observatory’s snow cat. And, although I have climbed this mountain many times, I must say that I find complete happiness by both climbing this mountain and being chauffeured here in the comfort of a snow cat.
My last visit here was on December 31, 2012 when I joined a group of adventurous folks to ring in the New Year in a most unique fashion. Once again, the snow cat brought us warmly to the summit. We stopped a few times along the way to experience the worsening conditions and tried to ambulate in the high winds. It was truly invigorating! When we arrived on the summit, we found it difficult to walk in 70 mph winds and everybody’s surface had to be covered to prevent frostbite. Thankfully, the Observatory checked to make sure we were well prepared with the proper attire ahead of time!
A local chef, Ken Bacon, prepared a 16 course dinner of Asian cuisine for New Year’s Eve. I kept thinking, ‘Are we really on the summit of Mount Washington?’ At 11:30 PM, Cyrena Briede, Director of Summit Operations for the Observatory, took us out to experience 90 mph sustained winds! Yikes! What a great way to start the New Year, unless of course, we were blown off the mountain! Luckily no gusts of wind took anyone airborne and we all returned inside for a champagne toast at midnight! I cannot think of a better way to have spent New Year’s Eve.
Now, once again, I am on the summit, but this time I came as a volunteer for the Observatory summit crew and for two groups of guests. The first to arrive were an incredibly hardy group from Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School. With temperatures at 10 below zero (with lower wind-chills), they hiked all the way to the summit from Pinkham Notch. They were so happy to find a warm welcome followed by a beef stew dinner and a comfortable bed for the night. Two of the climbers had never been hiking before. Wow!!! We were beyond impressed that they would make this climb their entry into the world of hiking! Yet, they both claim that they plan to do the same hike again. I suppose that the average hike will look easy to them after this brutal, but exciting experience.
I awoke this morning to a sunrise that left us speechless! The colors were brilliant with wisps of summit fog streaming by as the sun began to rise. Just spectacular, and so unique to this summit!
Tonight we will be hosting an Observatory EduTrip. These trips take place during the winter months to allow anyone to experience Mount Washington’s summit weather. More happy folks will be enjoying the magic that this mountain provides, and I am thrilled to be once again on this magnificent mountain where I find such complete happiness!
Gail Langer, Summit Volunteer