Greg and I took a guided van tour to the top of Mount Washington during our 2012 and 2011 vacations. We would like to share our experiences plus pictures and videos. This is a popular and dangerous mountain to hike that has claimed a lot of lives over the years. The weather is unpredictable as it can suddenly change bringing blinding storms. Only experienced, healthy hikers who are prepared to hike through extreme weather conditions should even attempt this mountain. As an example, this evening in Buffalo the temperature is 34 degrees. On top of Mount Washington it is 14 degrees F, -11.2 degrees F wind chill, and the wind gust is 57.5 mph. Check out their website for more weather information.
The ride up the mountain is an interesting trip. It is a two-lane road hugging the edge of the mountainside with no guardrail and no room for error. You can see for miles on end including the state of Maine! And you can also view a straight-down drop along the mountainside! People do drive their own vehicles and motorcycles to the top. But you better have good brakes and nerves of steel. There are several rest stops to cool off your brakes! Occasionally someone “freezes” and cannot make the trip back down the mountain. In those cases a tour driver will rescue them by driving their car down the mountain. The tour vans are especially designed for these trips up and down the mountains.
On the top of the mountain, there is a weather station and observatory that is occupied every day of the year. This is a great place to study extreme weather conditions. As a matter of fact, the highest wind gust ever (231 mph) was recorded on top of Mt. Washington. For more information refer to their website.
Below is a picture of the weather station we took on our 2011 trip.
In the below picture you can see the weather station is chained down because of the high winds.
When we went in 2011 we were lucky because it was a clear day. Our guide told us it is rare to have such a clear day. During our 2012 tour, it was a cold and windy day with limited visibility as you can see from the weather sign below. We almost did not go because of the weather. But we were told that this weather is typical and would be good to experience. So we purchase our tickets, got in the van, and headed off into a new adventure.
During our trip up to the top, we saw hikers who were close to the summit. I took this picture through the van window so it is a little blurry. But I do love it as it shows how rugged it is to hike this mountain.
The visibility was very limited. I was several feet away from the sign below when I took this picture. This is a trail sign marking one of the many trails to and from the summit.
Below is a picture of a seating area that on a nice day you enjoy the view. But not today!
I was hoping to get to the summit. But the winds were brutal and I could barely walk. I made it from the van to the building that has the refreshments. The van driver parked close to the door – and even that was a challenge! Greg walked to the summit and basically came back frozen stiff! In the picture below you can see the 6288’ summit behind me.
On our way down the mountain, I took the below picture from the window.
As a point of comparison, below are several pictures from our 2011 trip. It was such a clear day – but it was windy and cold! We left the base where it was summer and got to the top of the mountain, which felt more like winter. This is one of my favorite pictures – we were literally above the clouds!
Greg hiked to the summit. I did not attempt it since I was not wearing my hiking boots and it was a pretty rocky climb. In 2012 I wanted to walk to the summit but did not even attempt it with the high-winds.
I love this picture of a solo climber taking in the breath taking view before his decent into the clouds. What a beautiful scene!
You can take the Cog Railway to the top of the mountain. It looks like another great way to get to the summit. There is more information on their website plus a short video.
The Tip-Top House was built on top of the mountain in 1853 to compete with The Summit House – a hotel build in 1852. It is the oldest building surviving on top of the mountain. In 1908 a fire destroyed the observatory and the 3-story 91 room hotel that was built on top of the mountain. With the extreme weather on this mountain, it is hard to imagine there was ever a hotel!
Because the weather changes so rapidly on this mountain, you will find these rock formations that look like a pyramid. They are called “Cairn” and are man-made piles or stacks of rocks. This picture is taken from the top of the mountain. There are a few of them in the below picture that are close to each other. Typically they are only a few feet apart. The purpose of these rock formations is to help climbers find their way during a storm. During a snow storm visibility may only be a few feet resulting in their close proximity. Sometimes hikers cannot even see the next rock formation.
Here is another picture of the Cairns taken from the tour van and the scenic valley below. Can you imagine not being able to find your way during a snow storm on this mountain? There have been unfortunate deaths where people were several feet from shelter but could not see it.
Below are a few short videos showing you the weather conditions we encountered once we reached the top of the mountain during our 2012 trip. The winds were unbelievable and you really could not see very far.
Trip Up the Mountain
Arriving on Top of Mt. Washington
On Top of Mt. Washington on a Cloudy and Windy Day
Another short video on top of Mt. Washington
Greg trying to get to the summit
Greg on top of the Summit with High winds
Beginning Path to Mt. Washington
Check out my other New Hampshire hiking videos and pictures – they are located under “Fun Stuff”. You can find that link on the left hand side of my blog.
Glen Ellis Falls
Hiking Trip to Arethusa Falls
NH Hiking Trip to Gibbs Falls, Crawford Cliff
NH Hiking Trip to Ripley Falls
NH Hiking Trip to AMC Highland Lodge
NH Hiking Trip
New Hampshire Signs from our Fall Hiking Trip
One of the breakfasts I enjoyed at Stonehurst Manor was their Italian Frittata with home-fried potatoes. It made for a hardy breakfast preparing us for a day of hiking and fresh air! Below is my version of home-fried potatoes that I made when we got home.
2 Baked Potatoes, cool slightly
Small sweet onion, sliced or diced
Small sweet pepper, diced
Salt and pepper
Asiago cheese and dried chives for topping
I like to make my baked potatoes in the microwave – you could make them a day ahead to save some time. You will want them to cool a bit to make them easier to cut.
Pour a small amount of olive oil in a small frying pan and add your onions. You can either slice them or dice them in large chunks depending upon how you like them. You do not need to completely cook them since they will continue to cook when you add them to the potatoes mixture.
To a large frying pan add a small amount of olive oil and start to heat. Dice your potatoes and add to the pan along with your caramelized onions, and peppers.
Seasoned with salt and pepper. Mix periodically until golden brown and until the onions are cooked to the right consistency. You can also add the onions a bit later to maintain their texture. Top with a little Asiago cheese and dried chives. Then serve with my Italian Frittata!