In winter, sub-zero temperatures, icy wind, blowing snow and instant white outs make this place one of the most dangerous in the American Northeast. Mt. Washington is the place where the world's worst weather occurs during winter. In January 2018 with a wind chill of minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit, Mt. Washington tied for the second coldest temperature on Earth.
On March 3rd, 2018, a group of photographers and adventurers including myself, made it to the top of Mt. Washington. Here is the story of that day written by me.
Our hike began at the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trailhead at 10:00 am. It was a cloudy, but somewhat warm morning with temperatures barely below 32F. It flurried at night, so a half inch of fresh snow rested on the ground and tree branches. My friend Alex, who photographed me throughout the day and whose photos you see in this blog, and I hiked slowly, making stops every 200-500 meters to catch our breath and take photos of the surrounding beauty. The Ammonoosuc trail is relatively easy even for beginners until it hits 4000 ft elevation, where the real mountaineering begins.
From that hight, we crept on the path because both Alex and I lacked the endurance for such a steep climb. Alex put on crampons on his yellow La Sportiva for better tracking, while I was battling the snowy ascent with micro-spikes on my Vasque boots. Nevertheless, everything was going pretty well, and I was in a good mood.
We met many experienced climbers on our way to the summit. These well-equipped, all around North Face folks were running, yes, running down the trail, forming snow waves coming from under their feet. I was in awe of them. Also, at that point, I had a disturbing thought coming to my mind. Those experienced men and women, who impressed me to the core a moment ago, had crampons on their boots which, apparently, were there not without purpose. I didn't have crampons with me, so I could only rely on micro-spikes on my boots and tracking poles in my hands. With disturbing thoughts about my gear, I continued the ascent up until we hit the Alpine zone, where trees do not grow due to year-round hurricane-strong winds and chilliness. Dangerous icy conditions began in the Alpine tundra. In some spots it was too steep and slippery for micro-f@!ng-spikes, so I was jealous to see how Alex's crampons cut into ice, how Alex slowly but confidently climbed up, while I was literally creeping and trying to avoid accidental fall. Nevertheless, we eventually made it to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, which meant that we hit 5000ft elevation.
The vigorous wind was the first thing I noticed at that hut. Instinctively, I wanted to find a shelter and hide. Luckily, walls of the hut served as shields from winds for us, and I enjoyed my lunch - hot water (yeah, I was carrying hot water in a thermos) and two cliff bars. I was ready to go. Less than 1 mile to the summit.
I won't tell you how difficult that last mile was for me. But Alex was there; he cheered me up all the time, and it helped me a lot! Here is my tip: don't summit Mt. Washington alone, especially in the winter time.
What I saw on top of the mountain, how I felt, what I thought - I will remember forever.
No words here.
Only awesome photographs.