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Winter Climb - Mount Washington

New Hampshire - Jan. 22-24, 2007

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.

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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.

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Thick coats of rime ice cover buildings, equipment...everything.

An overview of the the summit buildings from the top of the observatory.

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Looking down into the valley below.

Fog is very common here and when it freezes in high winds, rime ice accumulates.

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The ice-encrusted weather observatory tower.

Undercast skies at sunset make for an enchanting scene.

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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.

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