New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington has long been hailed as having the “worst weather on the planet”. The summit is regularly pounded with high levels of precipitation and snow storms are a routine occurrence every month of the year, with annual snow fall averaging over 21 feet of accumulation. The place is also well known for its high winds, and for more than six decades, it has held the record for the highest wind speed ever measured. But now that record, which has long been a source of pride for the state, has been broken.
Way back on April 12, 1934, a sustained wind speed of 231 miles per hour was recorded on Mt. Washington, and until recently, it was widely recognized as the faster ever recorded on the planet. But it has now come to light that Typhoon Olivia, which moved through Barrow Island off the coast of Australia in 1996, managed to generate winds of 253 miles per hour. The new record was confirmed last week by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a branch of the United Nations that studies global climate patterns and changing weather conditions. The Barrow Island record was uncovered largely by accident while examining data from the typhoon.
While the loss of the speed record may take a little of the luster off of the mountain, it will no doubt remain a major draw for hikers and climbers alike. Standing 6,288 feet in height, what Mt. Washington lacks in stature, it more than makes up in challenge. While the altitude and trails aren’t especially note worthy in and of themselves, that legendary weather is a constant shadow over any trek. Experienced climbers looking for the ultimate challenge should give it a go during the winter months in particular.
A lot of adventure travelers also happen to be armchair mountaineers. They follow the worlds top climbers as they make bold attempts on impossibly high and remote mountains in all corners of the globe, and they cheer them on as they stand at the top of the world. Many of them secretly wish they could go on their own expeditions to these distant peaks, but for a variety of reasons, they never have the opportunity.
It turns out there are a number of great climbs that can give you the feeling of your own big mountain expedition, without the big mountain expense and the need to give up several months of your life. Forbes Traveler has put together a list of ten such mountains each of which will challenge the heartiest of travelers, while delivering a true mountaineering experience.
Several of the mountains on the list are icons that are already popular with amateur climbers. Mountains like Mount Blanc on the border Italy and France. The 12,000 foot peak is considered the birth place of modern mountaineering, and is one of the classic climbs of Europe. The 19,340 foot Mt. Kilimanjaro is also considered a classic climb, taking trekkers to the highest point in Africa.
The other mountains on the list, while possibly lesser known, offer unique mountain experiences that are sure to thrill any adventure traveler and would-be mountaineer. These peaks can be climbed in a matter of days, rather than weeks, and they won’t leave your pocket book quite so empty as say an Everest expedition, which can cost upwards of $50,000 and require two months of time on the mountain.
So, if you hear the call of the mountains yourself, and you can’t resist the lure, strap on your crampons, grab your trekking poles and head to any one of these peaks for an adventure of your own.
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.