Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Washington’

Snow Safety on Mt. Washington


Helping to keep Climbers, Skiers and Hikers Safer on Mt. Washington, NH, USA
Chris Josen of the US Forest Service is one of a small group of avalanche forecasters and safety personnel on Mount Washington’s east side, where Tuckerman’s Ravine sees thousands of backcountry skiers per season. Not all come well equipped or knowledgeable about how to safely travel in the winter snow-scape. Learn more about what Chris does on Mt. Washington, the highs and lows, and what motivates him.

Mt. Washington’s Summit, Ykes!


As we approached the last few feet of the Tuckerman’s Trail, at the summit of Mt. Washington. we took the last steps… to what? A parking lot filled with camera toting, Lay’s Potato Chip bag eating, heavy handed, and heavy set “summiteers”.

They had just driven up the highest peak in the land.
And they were taking pictures of us, the hikers, as if we were wildlife…maybe we were.

I’m a native of New Hampshire, and after all these years, had forgotten to avoid the White Mountains in the summer. I’ve been living in other parts of the world and usually come back to New Hampshire during the off seasons.  So, when Amanda and I decided to climb to the Northeast’s highest summit on a midweek day last August, I vaguely warned Amanda about a crowded summit. But nothing prepared either of us for the sheer numberof poeple. While I’m the first to share the mountains with others, and gladly give way on the trails, the element of an auto-road raises the stakes of tolerance.

The day started and ended nicely, it was the middle part that was challenging. As we headed up Lion’s Head Trail, we passed a few people here and there.  It was Amanda’s first time on a bigger peak in the Northeastern US,  and she enjoyed getting a sense of the mountain, feeling the “mountain spirit” which each unique to each mountain. The Inca have a word for it, “Los Apus”, the “Mountain Spirits” which reside in and on every mountain, or in essence, are the mountain. Mountains are either maculine or feminine, and have certain traits, such as strength, or flexability or love, or supporting compassion for example.  Amanda was getting a feel for what she felt as the female, but big,  loving energy of Mt. Washington, whose indigenous name is *Agiocochook (or Agiochook), and Waumbeket Methna meaning “The place of the Great Spirit”; “The place of the Concealed One.” (and in one other reference also named, Kodaak wadso).  (*Referred to by Emerson as well, in his journals).

When one quiets the mind, and tunes into the surrounding natural environment, the place and natural features will speak to one. But because of our incessant need for mind chatter, and our worried lives, we rarely tune into the pulse of nature, as exemplified by our summit experience.

The Summiteers

Amanda has been reading Postcards from Ed, a collection of letters and postcards from Edward Abby, which we both highly recommend. Our suggestion, dismantle the road, and the cog railway while they’re at it.

Note: Stay tuned for another post featuring “Ingram’s Law”: A law based on Gresham’s Law of economics, in which Ingram  applied the same principles  to recreational management in our national and state parks and other public lands.

Eastern Alpine Ski Touring


I’d grown up, skiing every spring, on Mt. Washington’s east side – Tuckerman’s, Gulf of Slides, and Great Gulf. Once,  I think I took one run, years ago on the west side,  but last week Junji Itagaki suggested we head up to his favorite haunt. I don’t often get in ski touring mode when back east, but the west side of Mt. Washington is as close as it gets to a wonderful alpine touring experience on the east coast of the U.S.
We climbed up Munro Gully, then headed to the Lake of the Clouds, then over to the summit of Mt. Washington, for a nice descent down Ammonoosuc Ravine, on thick but great snow. I think we had record-breaking temperatures that day. (See my earlier post on getting kids outside, which was filmed in Ammonoosuc Ravine).

Mt. Washington's West Side

Pictured above, Junji Itagaki, Lake of the Clouds and its Hut, Mt. Washington to the right.