Mount Washington Observatory Summit Overnights

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IMPORTANT: Please read all background information and requirements for Mount Washington Observatory winter summit adventures, including required back-up dates. Click through each drop-down menu below to find more information about dates, topics, cancellation policies and more. 

The Ultimate Mount Washington Adventure

Overnight EduTrips allow you to fully experience the summit of Mount Washington by spending a night in our weather station at 6,288 feet above sea level. You’ll get to enjoy a full day of sightseeing and alpine adventure, then join our staff scientists for a hearty dinner in the comfort of our heated weather station.

The educational value of your visit will be enhanced by your choice of an exciting, alpine-related topic like the science of winter storms, mountaineering, climate research, and more (see 2023 dates and topics below). You’ll receive expert one-on-one instruction with the mountain as your classroom.

You might even get the opportunity to witness sunrise and sunset over New England—a breathtaking experience known only to the most intrepid mountaineers.

If you’re looking for the ultimate unique adventure, this is the program for you.

What’s Included

  • Round-trip transportation to and from the base in our deluxe snowcat
  • A dedicated Observatory trip leader
  • An expert instructor specializing in the field of your trip’s educational topic
  • Beverages and snacks upon arrival, lunch and dinner on the first day of your trip, and a hearty breakfast and lunch the next day
  • Overnight lodging in our bunk rooms
  • An exclusive tour of our weather station
  • The opportunity to experience Mount Washington’s famous winter extremes
Trip Format

Your adventure will begin at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, where you’ll meet your trip leaders and load the snowcat. As you ascend the 8-mile road, you’ll take in the incredible scenery of Pinkham Notch and the Presidential Range while marveling at the power of a two-ton tracked vehicle plowing through massive snowdrifts.

When you reach the top you will have gained over 4,500 feet of elevation, traveling from the temperate forest, through tree line, and into the alpine zone—a rugged, otherworldly landscape of earth and sky. After unloading the snowcat you’ll head inside the weather station and warm up with a hot beverage and snack.

The rest of your visit will be planned around the mountain’s incredible weather, but will include:

  • Ample opportunity to experience subarctic-like conditions, which often include winds at, or above, hurricane force, remarkable icing, freezing temperatures, blowing snow, and more
  • A behind-the-scenes tour of the Mount Washington Observatory’s famous mountaintop weather station, where you’ll learn about the institution’s work and see the instruments used by Observatory scientists
  • A trip to the top of the instrument tower for a birds-eye view of the summit from the highest point on the mountain
  • A social hour and hearty dinner with the weather station staff
  • The opportunity to experience sunset and/or sunrise from the tallest peak in the Northeast
  • A night in our weather station on the summit of Mount Washington
  • Expert instruction in your chosen trip’s topic

Trips meet at 8:30am and generally arrive back at the base around 3:00pm the next day. Please note that the exact timing of your ascent and return will be determined by the weather, so participants should be prepared for schedule changes. The changes could be as minor as an earlier departure to avoid an approaching storm, or as major as a second night on the summit in the event of an extremely severe, unanticipated weather event. Safety trumps all other concerns, so please bring your sense of adventure and a willingness to go with the flow. Please note that each trip have scheduled back up days in the event that your trip does not make it to the summit.

2023 Dates & Topics

The Science of Winter Storms

Date: January 2-3, 2023 (Backup date January 30-31)
Instructor: Mount Washington Observatory Weather Observers

Mount Washington is famous for its extreme weather, but few get to experience its fury directly. Join Observatory staff for a new program which examines the drivers and impacts of winter phenomena such as blizzards, nor'easters, lake-effect snow, freezing rain, and extreme cold. We'll apply theory and firsthand experience to understand the forces that produce New England's extreme winter weather events.



Winter Mountaineering Essentials

Date: January 16-17, 2023 (Backup date January 30-31)
Instructor: Joe Lentini, Professional Climbing Guide

Join trip leader Joe Lentini, professional climbing guide, team leader and past vice president of the New Hampshire Mountain Rescue Service. With over 40 years as a professional guide and rescuer, Joe can help you avoid the common pitfalls inexperienced climbers make in the mountains. Learn the skills you need for travel in any of the mountain ranges of the world while spending the night atop the highest mountain in the Northeast! Sessions will include crampon and ice axe use, self-arrest, navigation, as well as avalanche safety and avalanche transceiver use. Then, on the second day of the course, put your new skills to the test with an early morning hike around the summit.



Behind the Scenes & Science of Broadcast Meteorology 

Date: February 13-14, 2023 (Backup date February 27-28)
Instructor: Sarah Long, Meteorologist, WMTW, Portland, ME
Join WMTW meteorologist and former MWOBS summit observer, manager, and trustee Sarah Long as she pulls back the curtain back on how broadcast meteorologists operate and report on the weather. Learn how pieces are produced for a television audience, and who knows, you just might get your work presented live on air!



Mountain Weather & Climate

Date: February 20-21, 2023 (Backup date February 27-28)
Instructor: Baker Perry, Professor of Geography, Appalachian State University

Join trip leader Baker Perry, Ph.D, whose research into mountain weather and climate has brought him to mountains throughout the world, including the Andes, the Appalachians, and more recently the Nepal Himalaya to study the changing nature of mountain climates.  



Climate Research in the White Mountains of New Hampshire 

Date: March 6-7, 2023 (Backup date March 27-28)
Instructor: Jay Broccolo, Director of Weather Operations, Mount Washington Observatory; Jordon Tourville, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Appalachian Mountain Club
With data stretching back nearly a century on the summit of Mount Washington, opportunities abound to learn about the nature of weather and climate in the northern Appalachian mountains. Join MWOBS Director of Weather Operations Jay Broccolo and AMC Post-Doctoral Fellow Jordon Tourville as they share recent findings and information about current investigations of our physical and natural world.



The Science of Winter Storms

Date: March 13-14, 2023 (Backup date March 27-28)
Instructor: Mount Washington Observatory Weather Observers
Mount Washington is famous for its extreme winter weather, but few get to experience its fury directly. Join Observatory staff while we examine the drivers and impacts of winter phenomena such as blizzards, nor'easters, lake-effect snow, freezing rain, and extreme cold. We'll apply theory and experience to understand the forces that produce New England's winter weather events.



Cost

$1,349* per person. 

* Program rates do not include an additional administrative processing fee charged by our online booking service. This service reduces administrative time and helps Observatory educators, educate!
 
**Tips for your trip leader and/or instructor are not expected, but if you wish to provide one, they are appreciated.  
 
Reservations

Reservations may be made through this website or by phone at (603) 356-2137, ext. 225. Most trips are limited to a maximum of nine participants, and we maintain waiting lists for trips that are full.

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Health & Safety Requirements

Observatory trips grant access to Mount Washington's alpine zone, but not everyone is suited for this environment. Please read our full health and safety requirements to make sure you are eligible for a Mount Washington Observatory winter trip.

 
Cell Phone Use: Mount Washington Observatory cannot guarantee cell coverage during your visit. We recommend turning your cell phone to airplane mode for the duration of your adventure. 
 
Age Requirements

The minimum age for a winter trip is 16. Minors must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or qualified adult leader, and must meet all full health and safety requirements.

Gear Requirements

For your health and safety, and for the health and safety of your fellow trip mates, you will be required to come prepared with attire and gear to protect you from Mount Washington's extreme conditions. View the full list on our required winter gear list.

If you have any questions about any of this gear, don't hesitate to contact us. We will help you find what you need to enjoy the trip of a lifetime!

Directions

Trips depart from and return to the parking lot at the northeast corner of the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The parking lot is located on Route 16 directly across the road from the main entrance to the Mount Washington Auto Road. Once we are assembled we will do introductions, load our gear into an Observatory vehicle and walk across the street to the Observatory's garage for a brief safety orientation and then head up the mountain. Note: please park together with the other cars against the forest, so plow trucks can move easily through the lot.

Travel Considerations

Extreme weather may occur at any time, and may delay a trip's descent. For this reason, we recommend that you remain flexible with your travel plans for the day or two before and after your trip. Weather-related changes are an inherent part of any true alpine adventure.

Area Lodging

For a list of area lodging options, visit our lodging partners.

Cancellations

Participant Cancellation: Trip fees will be refunded for cancellations made at least 30 days before the trip date, less a $50 administrative fee. Cancellations less than 30 days but more than 14 days before the departure date will be credited at 50%. Cancellations made within 14 days of the trip date will result in forfeiture of the entire trip fee.

Observatory Cancellation: A minimum of six participants is required for a trip to run. If we do not reach that minimum by one week before the trip, the trip may be cancelled. All registrants will be offered the option of a refund or a re-booking on another available trip that same season. 

The safety of our guests and employees is of utmost importance, so trips may be cancelled due to extremely inclement weather. We will do our best to notify all participants of the cancellation in advance, but mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable, so we cannot guarantee advance notice. The decision to cancel a trip could be made on the morning of the trip, or even during the ascent. Please be prepared to have alternate overnight accommodations. In the event of a cancellation, a backup date for each trip has been provided. You are required to attend this backup date if your trip is cancelled or postponed. Due to limited resources and the associated costs of providing transportation to the summit of Mount Washington in winter, Mount Washington Observatory is unable to provide refunds or re-bookings for participants that cannot participate in the backup date provided. 

 

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