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Mount Washington Featured in February Edition of National Geographic

12-page feature focuses on New England’s “Backyard Arctic,” the mountain’s extreme weather and the Mount Washington Observatory
MOUNT WASHINGTON, NH – New Hampshire’s 6,288-foot Mount Washington, home to some of the most extreme weather conditions on the planet and the site of the fastest wind gusts ever recorded on the surface of the earth, is the subject of a feature article in the February edition of National Geographic magazine. The 12-page story focuses on the mountain’s world-famous weather extremes and the work of the Mount Washington Observatory. Through impressive photography by Maine-based photojournalist Jose Azel and the first-hand accounts of the author, Neil Shea, National Geographic illustrates that New Englanders need to look no further than their own backyard to find Arctic conditions that rival any other extreme location on the planet.
Author Neil Shea climbed Mount Washington fifteen years ago as a teenager, along with his youngest brother, twelve-year-old Jon. On that January day, Mount Washington’s fierce winter weather dealt them blow after blow. After a series of mistakes, the two brothers were lucky to emerge from the mountain alive. After Neil Shea was assigned the Mount Washington story for National Geographic, he convinced his kid brother, now a professional climbing guide, to try it again. This time, they set off on a winter traverse across the Presidential Range, with a goal of overcoming Mount Washington’s winter extremes.
Through Shea’s experience on Mount Washington with his brother, the article takes a look at how and why the mountain is so dangerous. Shea explores the origins of the mountain’s wind and ice, recounts one of Mount Washington’s most noteworthy climbing accidents and vividly describes the struggles of their winter traverse.
Photographer José Azel captured a number of stunning images that tell the tale of Mount Washington’s infamous weather. A scene of exploding ice is captured when Mount Washington weather observer Michael Finnegan takes a swing at accumulated rime on the Observatory’s instruments. Former Mount Washington Observatory intern Ryan Buckley is seen leaning into winds in excess of 100 mph. Azel also captured a stunning other-worldly view of the Observatory, lit by the light of a full moon. The collection of photographs captures the wonder and awe of Mount Washington’s weather extremes, which the non-profit, member-supported Mount Washington Observatory has been monitoring 24-hours a day since 1932.
The article was over two years in the making. Over the winter of 2007, Azel spent over a dozen nights at the summit to try and capture images of weather phenomena, scenic views and the round-the-clock work at the Mount Washington Observatory. In total, Azel captured literally hundreds of images for the story. Hours and hours were spent above treeline in fierce conditions, including Shea’s harrowing winter traverse with his brother.
Interviews of several Observatory staff members took place over the winter of 2007, and other members of the greater Mount Washington outdoor community were interviewed as well. In the final few months leading up to the publishing of the story, National Geographic fact-checkers contacted several Observatory staff members and others in the Mount Washington community to check, double-check and triple-check the information in the story. The end result is an awe-inspiring feature about one of New England’s most treasured destinations.
“It is such an honor to be featured in one of the most recognizable and respected magazine in the world,” notes Scot Henley, Executive Director of the Mount Washington Observatory. “The article was two years in the making, so we are very excited to finally see the end result. Neil Shea and Jose Azel did a fantastic job illustrating just how incredible Mount Washington’s weather can be, and also how dangerous it is.”
The February edition of National Geographic arrives in subscribers’ mailboxes starting this week, and will be available on newsstands beginning January 27. For the online version of the story, with additional images of the mountain and the Mount Washington Observatory, visit the Observatory’s website at www.MountWashington.org and follow the links to National Geographic magazine.
Mount Washington Observatory is a private, non-profit, member-supported organization with a mission to advance understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate. Since 1932, the Observatory has been monitoring the elements in one of the most extreme locations on Earth, using this unique site for scientific research and educational outreach. For current conditions, seven webcams, photos, forecasts and information about supporting the Observatory, visit www.MountWashington.org.
National Geographic magazine has a long tradition of combining on-the-ground reporting with award-winning photography to inform people about life on our planet. In 2008 it won three National Magazine Awards, for General Excellence, Photojournalism and Reporting. In 2007 it won two National Magazine Awards, for General Excellence and Photography. Its Web site won a 2008 Webby Award for best magazine Web site.
National Geographic magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world's largest nonprofit educational and scientific organizations. Published in English and 31 local-language editions, the magazine has a global circulation of around 8 million. It is sent each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $4.95 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call to apply for membership in the Society. The magazine's Web site is at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com.
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PLEASE NOTE: Images from the article are available to accompany this story. Please contact Beth Foster, National Geographic Magazine Communications Director at (202) 857-7543 or via email at befoster@ngs.org.  For all other information, please contact Scot Henley, Mount Washington Observatory Executive Director, at (603) 356-2137 ext. 218 or via email at shenley@mountwashington.org.



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