Thursday, November 17, 2005

Observations from Mount Washington

Whenever I feel a bit chilly in sunny Colorado, I like to think back to my early climbing days on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Then I feel a lot warmer. At 9:04 a.m. Eastern time today it was 14.9°F atop the 6,288-foot summit, with a brisk 54 mph breeze. I found these stats on the data- and photo-packed website of the Mount Washington Observatory, which sits on the summit. In October, the observatory recorded more than six and a half feet of snow (more than five times normal) on the summit. Does the Mount Washington Observatory photo above look like an October scene to you?

I spent many days on Mount Washington in high school and college, and the brutal weather was great training for bigger peaks, which almost always turned out to be balmy by comparison. Usually, the conditions looked like the Mount Washington Observatory photo at right, taken last January 1. But I remember an amazing New Year's Day when I climbed through thick clouds to burst into blue skies and bright sun on the mountain's upper slopes. At the summit, the air was completely calm. It looked and felt like ... Colorado.

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