Winter, where have you gone?

2007-03-14 08:03:12.000 – Alan Metcalf,  Summit Intern

Rain wrecks havoc with our winter conditions

Well, my plea for help seems to have backfired. It appears that the overwhelming participation in my little plan to provide us with some high winds, instead injected a large amount of humidity into the air. Just before Kyle and Mike headed to bed the rain began, and has continued through the night making Jon’s night observations wet and miserable. We’ve woken up to the same dreaded scene that has become all too familiar this shift, clouds. Nothing but clouds as far as the eye can see, which given their density is only about 100 feet. We love our work and I promise you, we don’t take for granted the opportunity to live on the Summit. But it’s weeks like this that make us look forward to today’s shift change. Hopefully upon our return in a week, conditions will once again resemble winter.

As I write this the full destructive effects of last nights rain are becoming painfully evident. The clouds are presenting us with breaks, offering up a window of winter’s death. What was once a beautiful field of snow covered boulders, undulating with various curves and dips, are now the familiar dark grey croutons which has given rise to the name The Rock Pile. The snow that’s still present is heavy with excess moisture, having lost its fluffy textures. Exposed areas litter the summit cone, with tiny flows of water washing over the small rocks. The movement of water gives the illusion of the exposed ground moving from beneath your feet.

The mesmerizing rime ice formations that were so dominant just a month ago have long since vanished. A few remnants however remained. No longer. The wind and rain have taken care of their last grips on the summit structures. The once white landscape, with thick, full snow drifts, conformed layers of clear ice, and rime that resembled ocean coral, now feature naked summit buildings, having lost their winter coat. This is no paradise for winter lovers, but we love our mountain and will remain faithful to her.

We will return next Wednesday with hopes of a winter reborn like a phoenix rising from the winds and cold once again. As St. Patrick’s Day peaks its head around the corner, so too does a potential winter storm. This is New England, where winter never seems to die, nor do we want it too. Yes we will return, with spirits and hopes high. We will forgive the mountain for showing us that winter is long in the tooth, and we have faith that she still have some surprises in store for us.


Alan Metcalf,  Summit Intern

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