WINTER

Mount Washington Observatory

NORTH CONWAY, NH

Southern slope of Mt. Washington

This unique experience combines the challenge of a winter ascent of the Northeast’s highest peak with the rare opportunity to spend the night on the summit inside the Mount Washington Observatory’s legendary mountaintop weather station. We’ll climb Mt. Washington’s eastern flank, aiming to be above treeline around noon. From there, we’ll cross the desolate landscape of the Alpine Garden, where the winds are often at their fiercest, and head up the summit cone.

Once on top, we’re given access to the Observatory’s weather station, where we can find our comfortable bunk beds, change clothes, and relax in the station’s comfortable living quarters. After a family-style dinner with the Observatory crew, we may have time to tour the weather station and learn about the important research conducted there before we head for the bunks. A fortifying breakfast gets us up and going before we head back out into the weather and begin our descent. If you’re fascinated by the extremes of weather, or even if you just want to watch the sunset from 6,288 feet, this trip is unlike any other you’ll ever experience.
Our guides have logged hundreds of Mt. Washington winter ascents over the years. Each one of them knows this notoriously unpredictable mountain well and has the training and experience to lead you to the summit successfully and with an unforgettable story to tell.

The Climb

The tallest peak in New England is an even greater challenge in winter. Over half of the 8.2 mile round trip is above treeline where conditions can be famously harsh. Mt. Washington still holds the world record for the highest land wind speed at 231 mph and winter wind chill factor reaching a staggering -50 degrees!

If facts like these get your competitive juices flowing, our experienced guides will provide all the technical gear you need (ice axe, crampons and boots) to take on Mt. Washington at its toughest. While no prior mountaineering experience is required, we do recommend taking our Winter Climbing 101 course so you can make your ascent with total confidence.

Our personal gear and clothing list details everything you are required to bring with you. The morning of the ascent, you will need to arrive on time at 7:30am, be dressed appropriately, and be outfitted with the required gear in your pack when you meet your guide. Before starting out, your guide will briefly cover how to dress for extreme winter conditions, as well as how to pack and how to climb efficiently. Along the way we will also introduce methods for identifying hazards such as frostbite, hypothermia, avalanches, and whiteouts. Coming to the school by 3pm the night before your summit day is a good idea if you have questions so that more time can be spent on the mountain and not on the morning of your summit day (be sure to call ahead if you are planning on arriving the afternoon before).

<< Winter Climbing 101

Climb Details

Trip Length Cost (pp) Skill Level Dates
Mount Washington Observatory two days $495 basic/ fitness click for dates
Gear List

Itinerary

Groups meet promptly at 7:30am at the Eastern Mountain Sports in North Conway. Click here for directions. In the morning you will meet your guide, sign a waiver form, and get fitted with climbing gear for the day. Once everyone is outfitted groups will leave straight for the trail head at Pinkham Notch on the east side of Mt. Washington. Standard route to the summit is the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the Lions Head Trail. Please refer to Gear List for items you will be required to have for the climb. Approximate hiking time is 5 hours up and 3 hours down. Hiking time may vary depending on weather, trail conditions and overall pace of the group. The day will end around 4:30pm back at EMS.

Included/ Not Included

Climbers will be outfitted with all technical equipment for the day. You are welcome to bring your own gear but it will be subject to approval by your guide. Equipment provided includes mountaineering boots, crampons, and ice axe. Climbers will be expected to arrive dressed appropriately for the weather and provide their own lunches and snacks for the day. See gear list for complete list of items you will be responsible for bringing. Transportation to the trailhead is not included.

Cancellation Policy

Due to commitments with the Mt. Washington Observatory, we must impose a strict cancellation policy for this trip. For any cancellation we receive 30 days or more prior to the trip’s scheduled departure, there is no financial penalty. There will be a $25 fee for any cancellation received 30 to 15 days prior to the trip. Cancellations made 14 to 8 days prior to the start of the trip will result in a $125 forfeiture. If you must cancel with 7 days notice or less, there is no refund.

The weather on the mountain plays a strong role in our summit attempt and in our descent. As a result, we have had one or two trips over the last several years that were unable to return to the valley on schedule. In the unlikely event that we need to spend an extra night on the summit, there will be an additional charge of $195 per person. Because of this remote possibility, you should allow a greater cushion of time in your travel plans, or consider purchasing travel insurance.

If you do not reach the Observatory due to physical conditioning, severe weather, or other unpredictable situations, you will be refunded half the total cost of the trip.