During the summer months, Mount
Washington is a major tourist attraction with thousands of visitors
each year driving up the auto road or taking the cog railway to
the summit but in the winter, the harsh weather there makes climbing
the mountain similar to an arctic expedition. It is well known
as the place with the "Worst Weather in the World" and
the highest wind speed ever recorded at the Earth's surface was
measured here in 1934, a whopping 231 miles per hour!
I climbed the peak along with
Mark Robinson with the help of local mountain guides Sarah &
Paul (from EMS climbing, highly recommended) During the climb,
we had unusually calm weather which made it easier to both climb
the mountain and to film the ascent. Even at the top it stayed
calm & photogenic for another day or so. After spending 2
nights in the summit observatory with the meteorologists and weather
observers, the mountain returned to its typically harsh conditions.
High winds, fog, rime ice and bone-numbing wind chill temperatures
set in and we spent as much time out in it as possible.
At the summit with the observatory
in the background.
Those chains were put there
to help hold the building to the mountaintop in high winds.
Attempting to film a television
show in such cold and windy conditions is difficult. The visibility
drops to near zero and the wind pressure makes stable shooting
almost impossible. Add to that, the extreme cold temperatures
were wreaking havoc with our equipment, pieces were breaking off
our frozen cameras, mechanisms were malfunctioning and any plastic
parts that were malleable soon petrified and became brittle in
the cold. Frostbite became a serious concern for any exposed skin.
Thick coats of rime ice cover
An overview of the the summit
buildings from the top of the observatory.
Looking down into the valley
Fog is very common here and
when it freezes in high winds, rime ice accumulates.
The ice-encrusted weather observatory
Undercast skies at sunset make
for an enchanting scene.
Transmission equipment completely
coated in rime ice.
After 2 nights at the summit,
the Snowcat is the transport of choice for returning to the bottom.