Winter Shift Change

2006-10-25 14:47:14.000 – Jim Salge,  Observer

Beginning shift change…

There is something majestic about seeing Mount Washington snowcapped for the first time each season. I was driving north into Conway yesterday when the clouds parted allowing views right to the brilliantly white peak. I knew about all the snow, but I didn’t expect the full on winter look that now ensconced the peak. It was beautiful.

Shift change today was done as if it were winter. And really, it is now winter…and despite the fact that this was the first time this season that I’ve put the chains on the truck, and rode in the back of the snowcat, it just seemed normal. Certainly nothing on Mount Washington is (or ever should be) routine, but this is the way I more intimately know the Observatory. After all, more than half of the year is exactly like this … or worse. But it’s hard to imagine worse right now.

The conditions at the summit are very poor. It’s a very biting, very dangerous environment currently. Whiteout is an understatement, and blowing snow fills the air already thick with fog. Winds today are consistently gusting to hurricane force, driving the snow against you…and it stings any exposed skin, and it chills you very quickly as it melts, robbing you of heat. Frostbite and hypothermia are very real concerns, and can happen very quickly in current conditions. Please note the message at the bottom of the comment…the summit facilities are closed!

I have attached a picture of our essential departure point in the notch as the picture of the day. After meetings I will link in a few more pictures, highlighting the rapid changes in conditions as we ascended the road. Check back in a few hours.

As promised…A tour of the road during shift change today…These pictures are in ascending order…they stop at 6 Mile (2miles from the summit), because visibility became less than the ability of the camera to discern ANYTHING!

Pic #1
Pic #2
Pic #3
Pic #4
Pic #5
Pic #6
Pic #7

****IMPORTANT BULLETIN*****
The Sherman Adams Building (operated by New Hampshire State Parks) is now closed to the public for the season. The Mount Washington Auto Road is also closed for the season, as is their summit facility “the stage office.” The Cog Rail Way may run on a conditional basis. Please contact them at 603-278-5404.
This means that there are now no public facilities on the summit, nor any alternative forms of transportation apart from your own two feet. Please plan accordingly.

 

Jim Salge,  Observer

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