2008-12-29 21:00:15.000 – John and Susan Van Slooten,  Summit Volunteers

Sunset – December 29th 2008

When asked ‘Why would you drive 900 miles to volunteer on the top of a mountain over Christmas?’ We answer, ‘It’s about the people. It’s about the organizations. It’s about the weather.’

This is our third Christmas on the summit of Mount Washington with the MWO. Did it in 2004, 2006, now 2008. Each time unique. This year, as last time, we first volunteered with the North Conway Believe in Book’s ‘Polar Express’ as elves before coming up to the summit on Dec 23rd. A wonderful event!

Our ride up in the snow cat on Tuesday took about 3 hours due to the large drifts in the auto road. The New Hampshire State Park bombardier driven by Mike Pelchat (State Park Manager) broke the way for us. Quite a sight with him hugging the mountain fully encased in the blowing snow swallowing him up. Dangerous work as well. Thank you Mike.

Two special events marked this trip: first was the EMS group which hiked up in the rain on Saturday. After reaching the summit Peter proposed to Amy, who despite being cold and wet, said, ‘Yes’ and accepted the beautiful diamond ring. A celebratory dinner was enjoyed by all.

The second special event was during Sunday’s evening dinner. John, noticing that the wind speed gauge in the kitchen was reading 106mph, said, ‘Let’s do it! (Join the Century Club.) He jumped up, grabbed his gear, headed for the door. Everyone else dropped their silverware and ran for coats, gloves and goggles. Off to the observation deck. The goal–traverse around the edge of the entire deck without touching the railing, without falling and make it back to the entrance, all while the winds are sustained above 100 mph. We did it! Observers Stacey and Steven, Intern Jeff, and both of us successfully joined the elite ‘Century Club’!! Check Dec. 28th observer comments for more info on this exciting event.

We have had another enjoyable adventure here in this beautiful state of New Hampshire thanks to the Mount Washington Observatory and the Mount Washington State Park.


John and Susan Van Slooten,  Summit Volunteers

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