SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – October 2008

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes - Mt. Washington, NH

It'll blow you away

by: Kelly Bastone


The Hike Known as the most dangerous small mountain in the world, 6,288-foot Mt. Washington boasts some scary stats: The highest wind velocity ever recorded at any surface weather station (231 mph) was logged here on April 12, 1934. And 137 fatalities have occurred since 1849. No surprise: Most are due to hypothermia–and not only in winter. "They call them the White Mountains for a reason," says Lieutenant Todd Bogardus, SAR team leader for New Hampshire's Fish & Game Department. "We see snow right on through the year." Several weather patterns collide on Washington and produce its notoriously foul weather, which can move in quickly. In 60-mph winds, hiking becomes nearly impossible: Traveling north along the Crawford Ridge from Washington's summit, hikers routinely–and unknowingly–get blown off course by powerful westerly winds, which shove them down off the ridge into the Great Gulf or the Dry River Valley. "It's human nature to go with the wind rather than into it," says Bogardus. Unfortunately, hikers often find the winds have steered them many miles from trails and roads, thwarting their safe return.

Exhibit A Staff at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center warned 23-year-old Gabriel Gauthier that 1 p.m. was too late to start a summit bid. But sunny, 70°F weather in the valley convinced him otherwise, and on September 21, 2006, he and three friends hiked up the peak in little more than shorts and T-shirts. The mercury plummeted 40 degrees as they climbed, and Gauthier's body temperature dropped as well, ultimately rendering him unconscious. His pals continued to the summit and summoned help by breaking into buildings that had been closed for the season, but rescuers couldn't revive Gauthier. He lives–but with massive brain damage inflicted by profound hypothermia.

Survival Plan Lots of New England's nor'easters are predicted well in advance, so check the Mt. Washington Observatory forecast (mountwashington.org/weather). And most accidents occur in shoulder seasons to hikers not expecting winter to last so long or summer to end so quickly. Plan for high winds and icy temps, and pack warm, weatherproof layers and an emergency blanket or bivy sack. Check hikesafe.com for more tips on surviving Washington.




Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com
May 10, 2013

new nfl jersey cheap, 2013 new nfl jersey sale, nfl jersey 2013, cheap baseball jerseys
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/ sf giants jersey cheap
baseball jersey for sale, cheap ncaa jersey, wholesale nba jerseys,wholesale nhl jerseys, discount nhl jerseys,
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/Nike-NFL-Jerseys-c124/ wholesale nike nfl jerseys
nike nfl jersey wholesale ,new nfl jersey wholesale
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/MLB-Jerseys-c94/
cheap mlb jerseys, mlb jerseys cheap cheap nhl jersey
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/NBA-Jerseys-c77/ cheap nba jerseys
wholesale mlb jerseys cheap nhl jerseys wholesale nhl jerseys, basketball jerseys cheap, nba jerseys for sale. college ncaa jerseys
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/Soccer-Jerseys-c118/
Australia basketball jerseys sale. Australia soccer jerseys cheap.

Star Star Star Star Star
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com
May 10, 2013

new nfl jersey cheap, 2013 new nfl jersey sale, nfl jersey 2013, cheap baseball jerseys
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/ sf giants jersey cheap
baseball jersey for sale, cheap ncaa jersey, wholesale nba jerseys,wholesale nhl jerseys, discount nhl jerseys,
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/Nike-NFL-Jerseys-c124/ wholesale nike nfl jerseys
nike nfl jersey wholesale ,new nfl jersey wholesale
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/MLB-Jerseys-c94/
cheap mlb jerseys, mlb jerseys cheap cheap nhl jersey
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/NBA-Jerseys-c77/ cheap nba jerseys
wholesale mlb jerseys cheap nhl jerseys wholesale nhl jerseys, basketball jerseys cheap, nba jerseys for sale. college ncaa jerseys
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/Soccer-Jerseys-c118/
Australia basketball jerseys sale. Australia soccer jerseys cheap.

Star Star Star Star Star
paul dourlet
Dec 24, 2012

I hiked up Tuckerman Ravine to Hermit Lake (1900 ft vertical) I have hiked in Colorado,Wyoming , Montana,Utah, Arizona, N.M and California and New York's Adirondacks but I have never gotten a scarier vibe from a mountain then I did on Mount Washington. I have driven up it 5 times. The scary thing is that being able to drive up it lend people to underestimate it even more. I will make sure I have a bivy bag and winter gear gear ,even if its the summer. I have never seen weather change faster.

Moosegame96
Oct 20, 2012

11/26 No. You have left sanity behind. I only climb solo. I have years and many miles of experience without the safety net of hiking pals. I would recommend the hikes I complete to no one. On Tuesday the 16th I summited Katahdin via the Cathedral Trail in the rain. Up top this turned into a delightful early snow storm. However, if you have to ask if something is wise, it is safe to say it isn't. 12 hours you say. There will not be 12 hours of daylight on that date. And then you ask for the funnest route up with rocks?!? If winter delivers early, there will be no rocks on any trail. If you like ledges come to Huntington Ravine in the summer on a dry day.

Andy D
Jul 19, 2012

After a cliff climbing accident I took the recently rehabed freind and two brothers up lions head in 78'. despite their injuries we did it in 1:45. Ive enjoyed reading the stories I hope to get back up to the summit again some day when I get a new knee. Is there still ice bridges over the streams in august?

Dan
Jun 01, 2012

Hiked it when I was about 15. As we got above the tree line, the clouds rolled in, very quickly. Just like in the article, temperatures dropped and it started pouring. We were close enough to scramble up to the top and take shelter from lightning and wind in the shack. Thankfully we caught the final shuttle van of the day to the bottom.

Brandon
May 28, 2012

I hiked Mt washington when i was 19 with 3 friends, we smoked pot and shot whiskey all the way up, summited in shorts and tees during june of 2004, whaat a good time, damn it was nice being a young hiker, leaving massachusetts tomorow for the mountain to see if i still got what it takes

Christy
May 24, 2012

Washington can be a disaster or a cake walk depending on your preparedness and the weather! Even the average summer day can be dicey if you aren't prepared for the typical forecast of "mostly sunny with a chance of afternoon thunder showers"! When the temps drop, the wind picks up and you're soaking wet and you only brought a water bottle you're *******. That's an extreme, but you get the idea. The weather can change on a dime and the conditions it very often presents are NOT hiking weather. You have to be smart and be willing to put the trip off to another day. OH! The current wind record for a "manned" observation station is still Mt. Washington Observatory's of 231mph.

Rob G
Mar 29, 2012

Climbing Mt Washington in the winter can be the easiest thing you've ever done, the hardest, or in some unfortunate cases the last thing you've ever done. Weather and conditions change dramatically. It can go from serene to apocalyptic in a matter of hours or sometimes minutes. I've been up about 50+ times in the winter and every time it's pretty much a different experience.

Russ Natualist
Jan 20, 2012

For a couple of decades I and a group of friends would camp at Hermit Lake Shelters or Harvard Outing Club Cabin for a winter summit trip on New Years Eve, trying to be the first climbers to summit on New Years Day each year. We made it up about half the years. Other years the weather was bad (we'd have to wait a day or 2)or someone got sick. Another good tip: don't attempt Mt. Washington unless everyone is feeling 100% healthy!

Russ Natualist
Jan 20, 2012

For a couple of decades I and a group of friends would camp at Hermit Lake Shelters or Harvard Outing Club Cabin for a winter summit trip on New Years Eve, trying to be the first climbers to summit on New Years Day each year. We made it up about half the years. Other years the weather was bad (we'd have to wait a day or 2)or someone got sick. Another good tip: don't attempt Mt. Washington unless everyone is feeling 100% healthy!

randy neiser
Jan 17, 2012

about 20 years ago my best friend asked me to go with him to hike mt. Washington. At the time I hiked a lot in pa. Where we live near blue mt. Ski area. I said yeh sure why not, I knew a little about the mountain but turns out not enough. We were lucky because it was july but it was not like the july we knew on the summit. The weather turned to crap at the bottom of tuckerman with misty rain n light wind all the way to the summit. We made it but wet n tired, wayne wanted to hike back down and I talked him out of it.
We sat inside n warmed up and the wind out
Side hit speeds I have never seen in my life ever. We took the shuttle off the mountain. Best 15 bucks I ever spent! Since then I have hiked there 4 more time and skiing tuck's but we were well geared up. I still to this day tell people that mountain can kill u if u r stupid or think u have big balls!

smarter than a 5th grader
Jan 12, 2012

it doesn't take a real man to hike mt Washington in January in shorts. it takes an idiot.

smarter than a 5th grader
Jan 12, 2012

it doesn't take a real man to hike mt Washington in January in shorts. it takes an idiot.

Todd Mulligan
Jan 03, 2012

Is it really that dangerous? I just watched a video of some girl who did a solo, night ascent of Mt. Washington:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4housdZL4s

craig calabrese
Oct 28, 2011

For your safety dont overextend yourself and be in shape many people have died from pride and from failing to return to ground below the treeline in bad weather the deaths will continue on mount washington people making bad judgements and there continuing to trust lady luck will add more names to the death list its tradgic and most could have been prevented by being prepared and using common sense and having respect for a mountain that has taken so many lives

craig calabrese
Oct 28, 2011

For your safety dont overextend yourself and be in shape many people have died from pride and from failing to return to ground below the treeline in bad weather the deaths will continue on mount washington people making bad judgements and there continuing to trust lady luck will add more names to the death list its tradgic and most could have been prevented by being prepared and using common sense and having respect for a mountain that has taken so many lives

craig calabrese
Oct 28, 2011

For your safety dont overextend yourself and be in shape many people have died from pride and from failing to return to ground below the treeline in bad weather the deaths will continue on mount washington people making bad judgements and there continuing to trust lady luck will add more names to the death list its tradgic and most could have been prevented by being prepared and using common sense and having respect for a mountain that has taken so many lives

craig calabrese
Oct 28, 2011

For your safety dont overextend yourself and be in shape many people have died from pride and from failing to return to ground below the treeline in bad weather the deaths will continue on mount washington people making bad judgements and there continuing to trust lady luck will add more names to the death list its tradgic and most could have been prevented by being prepared and using common sense and having respect for a mountain that has taken so many lives

craig calabrese
Oct 28, 2011

For your safety dont overextend yourself and be in shape many people have died from pride and from failing to return to ground below the treeline in bad weather the deaths will continue on mount washington people making bad judgements and there continuing to trust lady luck will add more names to the death list its tradgic and most could have been prevented by being prepared and using common sense and having respect for a mountain that has taken so many lives

View all comments

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Even conservative Christians are beginning to
Posted On: Aug 26, 2014
Submitted By: High_Sierra_Fan
The Political Arena
The audacity of coal mining companies. They want
Posted On: Aug 26, 2014
Submitted By: High_Sierra_Fan
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions