Mount Washington In Winter

1 | 2 | 3

Mount Washington, New Hampshire, is known to climbers and weather observers as "The Home of the World's Worst Weather," and rightfully so. The Mount Washington Observatory, established at its summit in 1932, measured the world record wind speed of 231 miles per hour two years later. The summit is the highest point in a region where three major weather patterns intersect. There, unsurvivable power and tear-inducing peace often mingle within the same day, sometimes in the same hour.

Safe within the protection of concrete walls two feet thick and windows designed for 300-m.p.h impacts, weather observers and meteorologists work (and play) in alternating, eight-day shifts, around the clock, to measure the deadly yet beautiful meteorological phenomenon.Winds reach 100 miles per hour several times each winter. Temperatures dip below zero, and have gone as low as minus 42 degrees F. Blowing snow and fog can make it impossible to see past arm's length. In clear weather, visibility can surpass 100 miles, allowing the lucky observer a view of the Atlantic Ocean in one direction with Vermont, Quebec, and New York State in the other.

On several occasions since 1994 I've joined the summit crew as a volunteer. This is some of their daily work.

The trip to the top can be treacherous

Crew unloads the snowcat after arriving at the top

Chris Peruzzi secures the snowcat door for its trip back down

Sunset provides delicate light on rime ice, or frozen fog

The living room is as comfortable as any

Dan Solari takes a humidity and dewpoint reading

Intern Ryan goes out to replace the precipitation collector

He makes the switch...

...And returns with the old one

The roof deck has a phenomenal view

A sign near the summit displays rime ice

Nowadays, girls work at the summit, too

One can disappear into the fog

Rime ice cakes the historic summit stage office

AP photographer Jim Cole watches without shooting

Visiting German researcher Daniel Block shovels the entryway

copyright © Mike Colclough, all rights reserved. No image may be reproduced in any way without written permission.