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  • Writer's pictureParker DePond

Mount Washington 6,288′ (1,917m)

Pinkham Notch, NewHampshire

The assent ~4,000ft in 4 miles. The views speak for themselves.

Since moving to Pinkham Notch, I have been attempting to familiarize myself with as many trails as possible, as it is the majority of my job. On my last days off I decided to hike up and climb down Mt Washington. I will explain the difference in a moment.

This mountain has a lot of history around it, dating back to the pioneer days. I wish there was more native history around it, but this has been much harder to find. This mountain holds many records: the tallest mountain in the North East, the coldest Windchill ever recorded in the USA (-103 F), and the fastest wind speed ever observed by a human (231mi/hr)

It also holds the names of many dead men and women who underestimated or got their names drawn by this short killer. Last year alone 4 people perished on the sides of the mountain, but I refuse to be one, yet.

I started in the morning expecting the round trip to take me 8 hours to complete, but I finished in 5.5 hours and made it back home in time for lunch. I couldn't have picked a better day, hardly feeling even a breeze climbing the west side of the mountain. I traversed Tuckerman's Ravine trail before climbing above the trees on Lionhead to get to the summit (the video).

During the summer months, there is a road to the top, along with a gift shop and research station. However, once winter comes, the only thing that remains are cold-blooded scientists and their fancy snowcat. They will not even open the door for you unless you are actively going into shock.

More on why I had to climb down and not hike. Mainly because of the rime, a layer of frozen cloud covering every rock and sign. The Tuckerman's Ravine trail is a trial 'built' before the 'invention' of switchbacks. It goes UP the ravine steeper than a staircase, and with the freezing groundwater seeping out of the granite, it made for a fun slide. Placing my hands on the tops of exposed boulders, I was able to monkey my way down and back to the warm fire of Pinkham.

I am happy that I can now talk to visitors from experience rather than just what I have heard or read in books. This is a formidable mountain that I am grateful I get to sit at the foot of. I get first-kiss anxiety whenever I think about the fun that snow sports will bring. I wonder what it is like to do the same assent on skis.

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