Winter Climbing on Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is a popular destination in the summer months when thousands of hikers take to its slopes and climb to the summit. During the winter it’s not nearly as crowded, as the mountain’s infamous weather makes for a much more daunting challenge for the hardy, adventurous climbers who seek to reach the top.

The travel section of the New York Times has an excellent article today on climbing Mt Washington during the winter months, when the temperature plummets to well below zero and the winds buffet its slopes. But the allure of facing those conditions is drawing more and more winter hikers to the mountain each year, where they square off with the elements with the hope of being rewarded with an amazing view from the summit.

The official Mt. Washington website boasts that the mountain has the “world’s worst weather” and it’s hard to argue with that when you read the statistics. The weather station that sits atop the mountain records an average snowfall of more than 200 inches a year, and the wind speed tops 100 mph on a weekly basis. Back in 1934, the wind was clocked at 231 mph on the summit, making it the fastest ever record on Earth.

Beginning hikers are strongly encouraged to take a guided climb to the top, such as the ones offered by Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School. They charge $140 per person, which includes gear such as mountaineering boots, ice axes, crampons, and so on. They’ll also train you in how to use the equipment before setting out and make sure you get up and down the mountain in one piece.