What a Week!!

2014-06-10 19:48:43.000 – Gary MacDonald,  Extreme Mount Washington Docent


As one of the first volunteer docents in the new Extreme Mount Washington exhibit, I’ve had the opportunity to be living on the summit the last week. I’ve seen gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, clear days and days of zero visibility, no wind and gusts to 60 mph, and to top it off the incredible experience of seeing the Northern Lights from the summit. But even more importantly, I’ve witnessed the incredible work that is going on at the Mount Washington Observatory, and the passion and dedication for their work of all those involved with the organization. The observers and interns that I’ve encountered this week are doing so much more than just recording and reporting weather data, as the educational outreach to schools and other groups, and scientific research are also integral to their work.

During the day I’ve been busy in the new Extreme Mount Washington housed in the former location of the Observatory’s museum. For visitors, the experience starts with an incredible time-lapse video recording that draws you down the stairs. Once in the new area, interactive exhibits introduce visitors to the extreme weather dynamics found on Mount Washington, featuring the work of the observers as they do their jobs in winds often blowing over 100 MPH with wind chills of negative 40 degrees in the winter. The history of the infamous and record 231 MPH winds are told; the Washburn Exhibit is incredible; the first hand stories of mountain rescues are riveting.

Two other exhibits, one on Rime Ice and one on Alpine Flowers have been the topics that I have presented in slideshows throughout each day. They’ve been very well received, and provided visitors a chance to get a more in depth understanding of the subject matter, as well as to better understand the work of the Observatory.

I’ve lived in the shadow of Mount Washington for over 40 years, but I end this week with a much better understanding and appreciation for what goes on at the top of the ‘Rockpile.’ The Extreme Mount Washington experience at the summit and the Discovery Center in North Conway are ways for all to explore what makes Mount Washington such a special and unique place.


Gary MacDonald,  Extreme Mount Washington Docent

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