Volunteer Comments

2010-12-29 22:24:50.000 – John & Susan Van Slooten,  Summit Volunteers

Observer Note: You may have noticed a lack of wind speed data on our home page and on our current summit conditions page. Due to the failure of our wind speed devices capable of withstanding icing conditions, the wind data we are currently collecting, when in freezing fog conditions, is erroneous. When we are in the clear and no icing is taking place we will publish wind speed data from a secondary working anemometer. In addition, as an FYI, much of the wind data that is recorded on the NWS Form F-6, available through our weather page, is skewed low by approximately 30-40%. Thanks for bearing with us as we work diligently to replace our faulty anemometer.

Well, it’s another week on the summit for us. This is our fourth Christmas week spent here. First time was in 2004, then 2006, 2008, and now 2010. Each time a wonderful experience and opportunity of volunteering for the Mount Washington Observatory.

We have had from near dead calm sunny days, to blizzard and 105 mph plus winds. From strolling and a 4 mile hike with Mike Finnegan (see Observer comments dated 12-24-10) to being blown over in the blizzard which gripped the East Coast this past weekend. Of course snow wasn’t a problem for us – we were not going anywhere and we didn’t even have a car to brush off. Correction – I just remembered our van in the valley at the end of the auto road. Hum, I wonder what it looks like.

People back home (in Michigan, an 898 mile drive from here) wonder why do we do this? It does have some serious “bragging rights”. Last time, Susan and I became members of the Century Club – a walk around the deck in sustained 100mph plus winds.

But the real reason is to stand in the face of power greater than can be imagined. To see beauty as I described in a Christmas Eve e-mail home: “Below lay mountain tops and valleys with a still flowing blanket of snow clouds, between which were the lights of towns, some close at the base of this mountain, and other lights from Maine and the coast 100 miles away. Above, in a clear sky, is the brightness of the moon illuminating these panoramic mountains, valleys and clouds. If earth be envisioned from a satellite: it would look like this, this picture which God has given us this night, is truly a beautiful sight.”

On this pinnacle of danger and struggle, as we are protected by these structures, we as individuals can be blessed by the protective embrace of others; of family, of friends, of even a stranger in the darkness bringing a word of kind encouragement. We need to remember who we are – a friend and opportunity to others. A pinnacle of strength and power and of hope and friendship.

Join us in this experience and enjoy this wonderful mountain and the Mount Washington Observatory.


John & Susan Van Slooten,  Summit Volunteers

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