Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Hikers like to say that New Hampshire’s Mount Washington has the world’s worst weather. The summit is just 6,288 feet above sea level, but it can see snow every month of the year and has recorded the world’s highest land wind-speeds. In winter, the temperatures can get truly extreme. How extreme? Check out this fork-ful of spaghetti, frozen cartoonishly in mid bite. They don’t have this problem at Olive Garden
The frustrated diner was Ryan Knapp, a weather maven with the Mount Washington Observatory. The observatory is staffed year-round, gathering weather data for researchers and meteorologists. Observers work 12-hour shifts, in pairs during the day and solo at night.
Knapp was wrapping up an overnight shift, and took their plate of breakfast spaghetti outside to watch the sunrise. Temperatures sat at about -30° Fahrenheit, and the wind was whipping at 65 mph. Knapp apparently tarried too long forking spaghetti from plate to mouth: The observatory’s Facebook page noted that the conditions “prevented them from taking a bite” (or at least made it a lot more likely that they’d chip a tooth).
One of our Observers found an area out of the 65+ mph winds this morning and was going to have some leftover spaghetti for breakfast at #sunrise but the -30F (-34C) temperatures prevented them from even taking a bite.
Our Higher Summits Forecast: https://t.co/TaZNjmpICj pic.twitter.com/FhFhX0BnF1
— Mount Washington Observatory (MWO) (@MWObs) January 11, 2022
Of course, frost-bitten Chef Boyardee is a relatively lighthearted scenario on New England’s highest point. The peak’s deceptively treacherous conditions have spelled doom for dozens of hikers, climbers, and skiers. A 2019 article in Accidents in North American Mountaineering documented 212 incidents on the peak, including falls, avalanches, and fatalities due to weather, between 1998 and 2019. About 95% of them occurred between January and May. The keys to staying safe up there: Checking the Observatory’s weather forecast, packing adequate layers, and being prepared to turn around if (when) the weather changes.
Still, the summit of Mount Washington is worth a careful approach. A little physical discomfort is guaranteed, but it will probably be paired with stunning vistas that make it all worthwhile.