This Car Climbed Mount Washington
I’m sure you’ve seen the fashionable, screaming faux-outdoorsy bumper sticker plastered across the back of someone’s proud family minivan or oversized Cruise America RV. It is regarded as a personal American herald: ‘This Car Climbed Mount Washington’. For a $30 entrance fee, the stickers are provided at the gate to one of the east coast’s most prominent icons, Mount Washington State Park, along with an official brochure packet and audio CD for your personal tour guiding pleasure.
Now, I have nothing against visiting state parks. I think it’s great that citizens and foreigners get out to experience the beauty of our country’s plentiful natural landscapes. It is these entrance fees that allocate the National Park Service with the resources they need to preserve our precious gems.
The irony of the sticker is simply equated to the fact that while our car did indeed climb Mount Washington, we climbed it as well; fingers, feet and rope across seven pitches of colorful granite. Climbing the Northeast Pinnacle of Mount Washington was the highlight of my East Coast adventure.
Mount Washington boasts an impressive 6,288 ft, making it the highest peak in America. A fragile alpine ecosystem covers a vast expanse of its sprawling terrain, protected by cairn-marked trails and manicured asphalt walkways. Unpredictable weather attributes to a limited tourism season, including gusting winds, encompassing fog, and heaping mounds of winter snow. Wind speeds greater than 230mph have been recorded.
Needless to say, I’m glad we didn’t get blown off the mountainside!
The Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle is a classic alpine endeavor, spanning 900 vertical feet of the mountain. During the winter months, it is a popular ice climbing destination.
The rock climb is rated a Class III on the alpine rating scale, which means it requires an entire day to complete the technical portion of the climbing. This includes a grueling ascent down into the valley and back out again.
We were granted a beautiful weather window and had a remarkable time of relaxed climbing, great company, and extraordinary views looking out across the vegetated summer landscape and rolling White Mountain peaks.
Reaching the summit of Mount Washington was one of the most meaningful moments of my travels this summer. Not only for the unsurpassable scenery, but because of the perfect alignment of the entire expedition.
It is rare thing to find an ideal climbing partner, but being able to climb in a perfect group of three is an indisputable gift. For that day in New Hampshire the JAM team ascended Mount Washington in true style, endless granite flowing beneath our fingertips, nature’s radiant murals surrounding us, simply adventuring: exuberant and carefree.
Oh, and the summit fox was delighted as well.