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 exciting, alpine-related subjects, like geology, landscape photography, mountaineering, and more. You’ll receive expert, one-on-one instruction with the mountain as your classroom.

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

If you’re looking for the ultimate alpine adventure, this is the trip 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

Looking for something shorter? Check out our day trips.

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.

Dates & Topics

Stories from the Mountain: Risk and Decisions in Wild Weather 

Date: January 11-12, 2020 (Backup date January 25-26)
Instructor: Ty Gagne, Author and CEO, The New Hampshire Public Risk Management Exchange

Join Where You'll Find Me author Ty Gagne for a workshop exploring the challenges and unpredictability associated with backcountry activities in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Topics will include situational awareness, risk management, and decision-making with regard to increased safety whether at 6,288 feet or at sea level.



The Science of Winter Storms

Date: January 18-19, 2020 (Backup date January 25-26)
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.



The Science of Winter Storms 

Date: February 8-9, 2020 (Backup date February 29- March 1)
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.



Winter Mountaineering Essentials  

Date: February 15-16, 2020 (Backup date February 29- March 1)
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.  



Weather Basics 

Date: March 7-8, 2020 (Backup date March 28-29)
Instructor: Marsha Rich, former Resource Agent, American Meteorological Society
Learn about how weather is created by the interrelationships between the sun and earth: specifically the land, air and water in its many forms. Explore the basics of weather observation and reporting, energy flow through the atmosphere, and the peculiarities of mountain weather. This trip is geared toward anyone with a general interest in weather, and provides a great training opportunity for science teachers.



Climate Research in the White Mountains 

Date: March 14-15, 2020 (Backup date March 28-29)
Instructor: Dr. Eric Kelsey, Lead Research Scientist, Mount Washington Observatory and Research Assistant Professor, Plymouth State University

The infamous climate of the White Mountains is known the world over for its extremes. Since 1932 the Mount Washington Observatory has been studying these subarctic conditions, amassing one of the longest running climate records in North America. Join New Hampshire native and climatologist Dr. Eric Kelsey for an exploration into recent changes in temperature and precipitation in the heart of the White Mountains and what we might expect in the future.



Cost

$999 per person for supporting members of the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory.

$1,099 per non-member. Not a member? Join now to save money and enjoy a number of valuable, exclusive benefits, including advance notice for upcoming trips and registration.

* 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. 211. 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.

 For the safety of all our staff and guests, Mount Washington Observatory does not permit the consumption of alcohol or controlled substances in or around our summit weather station or in any of our facilities. Alcohol is not available on the summit, nor should it be brought to the summit by staff, visitors or guests.
 
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. A laptop computer with internet access is available at the Observatory for urgent use but unfortunately there will be no wireless network access available at the Observatory. 
 
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 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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