The team just after setting out.
This weekend Mooney Mountain Guides, along with five guests, had the opportunity to spend a night in the Mt. Washington Observatory (OBS) on the summit of Mt. Washington. Growing up as a New England kid in love with his local mountains, Mt. Washington represented the pinnacle of mountain terrain. As I stared at its windy white summit, it was completely wild to think that people actually lived and worked up there. It seemed as cold and remote as the moon. My curiosity and imagination running wild of what it must be like.
It seems that this feeling I experienced since my childhood is not uncommon among others who go to the mountains. After all, year round weather observatory that has been manually taking weather observations every hour on the our, 365, since the 1930’s is quite unique. Why wouldn’t a mountaineer want to spend a night up there? Spending the night is only half the fun. MMG’s five guests and I had to climb the mountain to get there.
The trip begins with a leisurely meeting time of 8:00am. Followed by a discussion on gear, and itinerary. Typically we are hitting the trail by 9:30, prepared to spend the next 36 hours on the mountain.
Ascending the technical Lions Head trail.
After relatively laid back hike up the wide Tuckerman’s ravine trail providing us with lots of room to talk and get to know one another we reached the Lion’s head winter route. At this point on the trail, ice axes and crampons are used to ascend the steep semi technical terrain on our way to tree-line. Once above the trees on the exposed “Lion’s Head” our group began to feel the wind Mt. Washington is famous for; however, it was relatively light and the temperatures were warm with bright sun.
Ascending the summit cone.
We continued our traverse across the southern end of the Alpine Garden, our sights fixed on the summit cone ahead. The team was making such good time in the favorable conditions that we had time to ditch the crampons for some self arrest practice on the snow fields of the summit cone. Following some fine tuning of our technique, the team continued up the snow and rock towards the summit. The bright sun, mild temperatures, and moderate winds made our time on the upper mountain very enjoyable.
Taking a moment to enjoy the upper mountain.
We reached the summit and took our time taking photos and exploring the alpine terrain. On this particular day we enjoyed 130+ miles of un-OBS-structed visibility. Seeing summits in New York’s Adirondack State Park! For those of you who know Mt. Washington, you know how special this opportunity was.
Finally inside we were greater with warm soup and freshly baked bread. A magical sunset was followed by a delicious dinner. With some good conversation we called it a night with hopes of catching the sunrise the following morning.
Weather instrument tour.
Sunrise, breakfast, and a tour of the weather instruments left us prepared for the journey down the hill. The team made a slight detour to experience the stronger winds, spend more time in the beautiful sunshine, and explore more of the mountain. The team enjoyed a picture perfect descent. We all found it difficult not to smile following such a wonderful trip to the OBS.
Descending the upper mountain
Special thanks to Mooney Mountain Guides and our guests, Mammut for the gear the makes alpine exploration possible, and the Mt. Washington Observatory for being such gracious hosts.
I hope to see you all in the Mountains