Mount Washington has been in the news lately. Last week it was the coldest place on earth with a wind chill of 93 degrees below zero. Supposedly it was colder than the surface of Mars. Washington is also notable for having recorded the fastest windspeed on earth, 231mph in 1934. And for having the worst weather in the world. And for being one of the deadliest mountains in the US. (almost 150 souls have perished on it's slopes)
Despite all of these less than desirable traits, I often find myself on Mount Washington's slopes. My love affair with the mountain began in 2007 when I was guided up the Mountain in the winter for the first time. The weather was crummy and we stopped just short of the summit due to deteriorating weather, but I was hooked. After several more guided trips and a three day mountaineering course and three day avalanche course under my belt I started going by myself to the mountain. I've been back probably thirty times since 2007. My guess is that due to the extreme cold and weather, I've only made it to the top sixteen or seventeen times in those thirty attempts.
One of my more memorable days was with my friend Frances. The spring temps were warm and there was a rare inversion, where the clouds sit in the valleys and the summits are clear.
Of course most days aren't so warm and pleasant. My friend Bailey and I attempted to climb the Lion Head route to the top one day in February. The day was clear but we were turned back by high winds and bone chilling wind chills approaching -50.
I've also completed the one day Presidential Range traverse in winter with my friend Collin, involving a 22 mile hike over Mount Washington and it's neighbors and 10,000 vertical feet of elevation gain. The trip started at 3am. We reached the first summit, Mount Madison, as the sun poked above the horizon.
Mountaineering isn't the only thing to do on Mount Washington, in fact it's more famous as the mecca of backcountry skiing in the northeast. Each side of the mountain offers a different experience and different character. The most famous area to ski on Washington is Tuckerman Ravine. A long skin will get you to the base of the ravine. I've skied out west and all through the east, nothing is quite like dropping over the lip in Tuckerman. Steep is steep no matter where you are.
The snowfields below the summit also offer some lower angle wide open skiing that can only be found a few places east of the Mississippi.
Tuckerman Ravine is the most famous spot to ski and therefore gets the most people. There are many places other than Tuck's to ski, including Gulf of Slides.