Winter on Mt Washington

2012-11-30 18:45:54.000 – Mike Dorfman,  Summit Intern

Sunrise From the Summit Cone

Living in New England, I have visited Mt Washington many times. One of my favorite trips up to the rockpile was last spring. Instead of celebrating the end to my undergraduate career, I didn’t go out drinking or sleep for a week straight. Instead, an hour after finishing my last final exam, I was in the car on the way to Mt Washington. Meeting up with a friend, I headed up to the Hermit Lake Shelters for the night. Under crystal clear skies and the blur of the Milky Way, my friend and I woke up and strapped on our crampons to head up Lion’s Head. We were aiming to get to the summit by sunrise but our hike took longer than expected, and we enjoyed a neon yellow sunrise halfway up the summit cone.

Once we got to the summit, the weather was unusually clear and calm. It felt like we were alone on the summit, but I knew there were observers hunkered down in the fortified Sherman Adams building. We could see all the way to Mt Marcy in the Adirondacks. On a clear day, parts of New York, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and Canada are all visible from the summit. You can even see many far-away locations such as Mexico, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Peru (all town names located in Maine, of course). After spending 20 minutes or so on the cold and calm summit, my friend and I started slowly on our way down the summit cone, a small arctic island in a sea of temperate climate.

Climbing Mt Washington is something that is incredibly rewarding, yet requires both knowledge of the mountain and outdoor skills. If you are new to the outdoors, Eastern Mountain Sports offers a variety of climbing courses which summit regularly in the winter. If you want to experience the summit without having to climb to the top, winter Edutrips are a wonderful opportunity. They are themed trips that spend a night on the summit, taking the Observatory’s snow tractor up and down the Auto Road. These trips allow participants to explore the summit and participate in a variety of activities revolving around the trip’s theme. Sleeping arrangements in the Observatory’s cozy and warm living quarters and a delicious dinner cooked by the summit’s volunteers are included.

Observer footnote: Our year-end fund drive is taking place through December 31, and we need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount here. As a nonprofit, people-powered institution since our founding in 1932, we need your help to continue our work! Thank you in advance for your generosity.


Mike Dorfman,  Summit Intern

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