Work Hard Play Hard

2012-10-20 19:35:48.000 – Mike Dorfman,  Summit Intern


Here on the summit of Mount Washington, we have a very unique work schedule. With shifts between 6 and 8 people, we work for 8 days straight and then can enjoy 6 days off. Many nine-to-fivers might drool at this schedule, but it is not as incredible as it looks. When we’re on the summit, work is nonstop and there is always something to fix, de-ice, digitize, observe or otherwise work on. We take observations once an hour, every hour of the day, every day of the year. With two day observers and one night observer switching off at roughly 5:30 AM and PM, the work is and nonstop.

Why am I up here, you might ask? Because I love it. I love the feeling of being in a close-knit community where we all work together towards a greater goal; research, observation and education. As the intern, I love learning from the rest of my crew. Even if it means working 10 (or more) hour days, I’d much rather work long and stimulating hours than short and boring hours.

Not only am I surrounded by educational opportunities every day, but I’m also constantly immersed in weather that I love. The summit crew loves to experiment with the extreme weather up here. I’ll review a few cool things that we’ve done for fun in the past, most of which you can access on our youtube page.

One of the observers, Becca Scholand, decided to play with bubbles on a cold and calm night. As she blew the bubbles, they would almost instantaneously freeze. Expecting a hard solid sphere, it’s surprising how fragile these frozen bubbles are.

Observers have done numerous time lapse videos in the past years, highlighting cloud movements, sunsets, and stars. These videos were made by setting up a camera to take photos every few seconds for a long period of time. Time lapse videos are very difficult to capture on the summit due to the extreme wind shifting the tripod-mounted camera.

We also love to play in our famously strong winds! From vaporizing a cup of boiling water to snowboarding across the (flat) observation deck, our winds allow us to do some incredible things. We also have an unofficial, but exclusive, club called the ‘Century Club’. To get a sense of what this entails, you can check out this short documentary (and see an attempt at it here).

To be on the summit crew, you have to have a certain personality and be willing to work long hours, committed to the goals of the observatory. However, working on Mt Washington isn’t just a job-it’s a lifestyle. We don’t go home to a warm house or back to our families at the end of every day (we have surrogate ones up here!). We are immersed in the weather that we love, playing with it and playing in it whenever we are able.


Mike Dorfman,  Summit Intern

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