Friday, May 21, 2010

Video of a Trip Up

Thursday was a beautiful day on the mountain. Here's a video that captures just a piece of the experience.

Hope to see you this weekend.

- Ryan

P.S. Now open to motorcycles, too. (Weather permitting, of course.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Guided Tours Start This Weekend

The Auto Road is clear. The summit is accessible. And, Guided Tours will start on Saturday.

It's a beautiful thing.

No, really, look. It is!

More images on our Facebook page.

Guided Tours will run Saturday and Sunday, and then take a break midweek. We'll get them rolling daily starting Saturday, May 29.

The Auto Road is in terrific shape. A huge turnaround from last Thursday. Honestly, I have no idea how the Road Crew does it.

See you soon!

- Ryan

Monday, May 17, 2010

Open to the Summit!

Warm weather and hard work by the Road Crew have allowed us to open to the summit. Each season, we hope to open to the summit by Memorial Day weekend, so we're thrilled to be open all the way this early.

No guided tours yet, but you can drive yourself. We open at 8:00am.

I haven't had a chance to make the trip yet, myself, but I hope get some photos later this week. Plus, I can't wait to see the dramatic turnaround from last week!

See you soon.

- Ryan

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Look at Thursday's Trip to the Summit

Here's the video from Thursday's early trip to the summit.

Once again, we still need warm, dry weather to help us get the Road ready to go, but we're getting closer. Enjoy the video.

- Ryan

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting Closer

Today, I had an opportunity to get up the mountain and take a look at the progress. And, right now, things are looking good. Odd, but good.

As you know, right now, we are open to Winter Cutoff, which is 4.5 miles up the Auto Road. The road surface to that point is fantastic, and the views around the Horn, from Signal Corps and from Winter Cutoff are stellar. But, it's like a tale of two roads. Once you get through the S Turns and onto the 5 Mile the road conditions change rapidly. The 5 Mile is very muddy. Water isn't flowing steadily, so we've been able to grade in the waterbars. However, it's mushy. If we were to put more than 15 cars on it in a day it would totally deteriorate and become completely impassable. Same goes for Cragway, but it's even worse. It's downright soupy in places.

That being said, warmer, drier weather would do wonders for both these gravel sections. Throw in some wind (shouldn't be a problem on Mt. Washington!), and things could change rapidly. That's the good news.

Be sure to check out the photos from today on our Facebook page.

Want more good news? OK. And, not to bury the lead here, but we will begin daily operations on Saturday. Hours will also extend from 8:00 to 5:00. Jump to our website for details.

But that's not all! (I feel like a late night infomercial.) On my trip up the mountain today, I actually went all the way to the summit. It wasn't pretty but it was doable. Aside from the squishiness of the gravel sections of the Road, I still found plenty of snow and ice across the Road, especially above Cow Pasture. And, right now, the parking lots are completely covered in ice. So, even if the gravel was passable, the ice narrows the Road in too many spots for us to open to the summit. Plus, there's no place to park when you arrive! The Road Crew was working on breaking up the ice on the Road today, and sunny skies will only help. I'll have pics and video posted, probably tomorrow.

So, like I said, we're getting closer. And, really, to be at this point already in mid-May is a bonus. Normally at this time, we're questioning whether or not we can open at all. As always, stay tuned for updates.

- Ryan

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When, when when???

At this time of year, there is one thing on everyone's mind: When will you open to the summit?

Believe me, if we had a definitive answer, we'd give you one. We're just not sure. It keeps snowing! Seriously, more snow fell overnight, and temperatures plummeted. It felt much closer to winter than it did summer. Here's what it looked like from the base this afternoon:

As you can see, buds on the trees but snow on the mountain. Winter is slowly releasing its grip. Very slowly.

All that being said, we're going to remain closed this week, but reopen on the weekend. We will at least be open to Winter Cutoff still, and the views from there have been spectacular. People have been surprised what a great trip even the abbreviated route provides.

When will we reach the summit? Honestly, it could be this weekend. A lot will depend on the weather this week. Right now, next weekend looks more realistic, but, again, no guarantee. Be sure to check our Early Season Operating Notes for all our operational details.

My plan is to head up on Thursday to get more pics and video, so stay tuned for that, too.

- Ryan

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bicknell's Thrush Tours In June!

The Mt. Washington Auto Road announces six guided Bicknell’s Thrush Tours in 2010. These special opportunities will be offered in June and will provide birders the chance to spot the rare Bicknell’s Thrush.

More often heard than seen, Bicknell’s Thrush is an extremely rare species with very limited breeding grounds. In fact, in the northeastern United States, Bicknell’s Thrush has been found in only two primarily locations: Mt. Katahdin in Maine and Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The unique yet harsh climate is just what the birds prefer due to the combination of low vegetation and abundant moisture.

Because of the uncommon access provided by the Mt. Washington Auto Road, the new Bicknell’s Thrush Tours will give guests a chance to glimpse these elusive birds. And, they are quite elusive. Even though they are often heard along the Auto Road, they are rarely seen. However, the Bicknell’s Thrush Tours will leave early from the base of Mt. Washington, even before the Auto Road opens to the general public, in order to limit the amount of traffic on the Auto Road and to increase the chances of a sighting.

Bicknell’s Thrush Tour Details:
Dates: June 5, 9, 12, 13, 16, and 18
Time: Tours depart from the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road at 5:30am. Tours last approximately 2 hours. Please plan to arrive by 5:15am for prompt departure.
Cost: $50 Advanced reservations required.

For complete details or to book a tour, contact Mary Power at 603.466.3988 or email

Photo courtesy Vermont Center for EcoStudies.

Friday, April 30, 2010

All Systems Go!

Great day on the mountain, and the Mt. Washington Auto Road will indeed open tomorrow. A combination of good weather and hard work, and we're ready to go. Thank a member of the Road Crew when you see them! Curtain goes up at 9:00am. See you then.

And, by way of a preview:

That's the view from the turnaround point at Winter Cutoff. Need I say more?

- Ryan

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday was a Challenge

Today was a tough day on the mountain. As a consequence, we're feeling less certain about getting open on Saturday morning. We're still trying for it, but it's going to be tough. Here's the story.

Tuesday brought the snow, and by Wednesday morning we had at least 15" of new snow on the ground at the base. More at higher elevations. We had success clearing a lane to Winter Cutoff by early Wednesday afternoon. Now, a clear lane doesn't mean it's down to bare, dry pavement. It simply means that the bulk of the snow is gone, but in most cases it's still a chains needed or, at least, four-wheel drive scenario. We need this lane open so the Road Crew can get back up high to ensure that the work already completed—open culverts, clear water bars—is still intact. Essentially, we need to be in two places at once. It's a bit tricky, but things were moving along. Then, Thursday happened.

We had hoped for a clear, calm day. Sun on the Road would not only shrink the snowbanks, making clearing easier, but it would also continue to dry out the road surface. But, no such luck. On Thursday, the mountain was primarily in the clouds and flurries fell throughout the day. Worst of all, it was windy. Windy enough to cover the Road with three foot drifts in places. The lane we had cleared had to be recleared. It was almost like starting over.

Here's the good news: the forecast for Friday looks good. And, we're not giving up. The Road Crew is going to head back up the Road tomorrow and keep clearing, and clearing, and clearing. Hope for sunny and calm skies. I'll have an update late on Friday with our plans for the weekend.

- Ryan

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mt. Washington Auto Road Set to Open

The Mt. Washington Auto Road will open for its 149th season on Saturday, May 1 at 9:00am for guests to drive their own vehicles. The Mt. Washington Auto Road will be open to 4.5 miles to a turnaround point above treeline, which affords stunning vistas of the surrounding peaks and offers a true taste of the Mt. Washington experience.

The Road Crew has worked diligently this spring to clear the ice and snow from the lower sections of the Mt. Washington Auto Road allowing this early opening to above treeline. In most seasons, the Mt. Washington Auto Road does not open to this point until mid-May. The Road Crew is still hard at work on the upper sections of the Auto Road with a goal to open to the summit by the end of May.

At this time, the Mt. Washington Auto Road will be open weekends only through May 9. Guided Tours are not yet available. Early season pricing is in effect: $23 per safe carload.

Be sure to stay tuned to the blog for updates on continued progress up the Auto Road and details on our plans for opening to the summit.

- Ryan

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beginning Work on the 5 Mile

Here's a look at the Road Crew starting work on the 5 Mile.

Plenty of snow to go around! Work will continue all week as conditions permit.

Look for another video update soon.

- Ryan

Friday, April 23, 2010

First Video of the Season!

Here's a look at the trip up the Road on Thursday, 4/22.

Beautiful day on the mountain, and the lower half of the Road is in very good shape.

Up next is a look at the Road Crew beginning work on the 5 Mile.

- Ryan

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Starting work on the 5 Mile

After the snow of late last week, it seemed like we might never see the end of winter. But, thankfully, the snow at the base melted quickly, and the story was much the same on the portions of the Road already cleared. The even better news was the state of the culverts: clear. With that bit of luck, the Road Crew has made steady progress this week. Today, I headed up to see just what things looked like.

Starting up from the base, you would never have any idea that there could be any snow left on the Road at all. You don't see anything white until the shaded snowbanks at Mile and a Quarter Park. But, as you travel upward, you're reminded you're on Mt. Washington. By 3 Mile, the snowbanks on either side are fairly significant, and the snow is encroaching on both sides. In fact, in many places, the Road is still only one lane wide. However, we were able to travel to Winter Cut Off, about 4.25 miles, without chains or 4WD. And, the snow is melting quickly. Above that: it's a whole different story.

As soon as you make you way through the S Turns to the base of the 5 Mile, you encounter snow, slush, ice and winter. It's a totally different world. Today, the bulldozer was working near the top of the 5 Mile taking care of the top layer. The grader is also up there smoothing the way for the backhoe and steam drill. The backhoe was searching for culverts and making good progress. The crew working steam drill wasn't working too hard today as they needed only a bit of shoveling to open up the ends of already flowing culverts. That's great news because that means less ice in the culverts, so we can move more quickly up the mountain. Well, once we get all the snow out of the way. The snowbanks are still quite substantial: at least 15 feet in many spots along the 5 Mile.

Good progress to this point, and the Road Crew is feeling very good about their work so far. This week's weather has certainly helped, and more sunny, warm weather will help the melting below Halfway.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and we're starting to think about an opening date, but, right now, it's too early to make any definitive plans. We need to watch the weather, monitor the road conditions and hope. As soon as I know, you'll know. I'm planning to make another trip up the Road next week to get a look at the Crew working on some culverts.

Be sure to check out the full photo gallery on our Facebook page. Video coming soon, too!

- Ryan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Halfway...Sort of...

It's a classic good news, bad news scenario here at Mt. Washington right now.

First the good news: the Road is cleared to halfway, and all the culverts below that point are flowing. Aided by warm, dry weather, the Road Crew has done a great job on the first 3.8 miles of road. We can even get vehicles without chains to that point. All good news.

Here's the bad news: it's snowing. As I type this, it's currently 17° at the summit. It's only 34° at the base. Winter is back, and that's not exactly conducive to getting the Road open.

What does it all mean? Well, we won't really know until the weather clears. We could get 6 inches of new snow or more above 4000 feet. We could have a number of culverts refreeze. We could have to clear large sections of the Road again. We could have a lot of icing. It's all a guessing game right now. Fingers crossed that it doesn't get too nasty.

All that being said, we are right about where we hope to be at this point in the Spring. It's rare that we aren't forced to take a couple steps back due to mountain weather, but it wouldn't be Mt. Washington if it was smooth sailing the whole way. Depending on how much snow we do get, the bulldozer will be moving up to Winter Cut Off and onto the 5 Mile on Monday. If the Crew doesn't need to tackle too many refrozen culverts, look for them to be right behind.

My plan is to head up the mountain late next week and get some pics and video of the Crew working on the 5 Mile. I could have gotten some shots of them working this week, but the Road would basically look just like it did last week...just a different section. And, those guys don't want me in the way! So, look for more pics late next week, but I'll have a culvert update on Monday or Tuesday.

- Ryan

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A First Look at the Auto Road This Spring

Work has begun in earnest on the snow and ice that buries the Auto Road each winter. Spring is a busy time for the Road Crew as they clear not only the Road itself, but they also clear the 114 culverts of ice.

On April 8, I took a trip up the Road to check on their progress. And, so far, it's all good news. We're able to drive to 2 Mile Park without chains, which is nice because I took our Smart Car! Above that point, chains are a necessity. The bulldozer has moved up above 3 Mile Post and is making good progress. The best news is that there are only 2 frozen culverts below the 3 Mile Post. Chris should be able to clear those out this afternoon.

I've posted a couple photos below, but there's a full gallery on our Facebook page. Be sure to become a fan!

My next trip up the Road will be mid next week. I'll have a 4WD vehicle with chains, so I'll be able to get some video of the bulldozer in action and the crew working the steam drill. Reports are that Signal Corps (4.25 miles) is buried in a huge drift, so not sure how long it will take them to get through that point. Then it's onto the marquee locations of 5 Mile and Cragway. Hope for continued warm weather, so those culverts keep flowing!

- Ryan

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bring on Spring!

It's that time of year, when our thoughts turn to steam drills, culverts and bulldozering. Don't yours? Well, they should because it's time to start getting the Mt. Washington Auto Road open for the season.

We had a terrific winter on the mountain as many, many guests joined us aboard the SnowCoach. Some of our visitors had never been to Mt. Washington. Others had been up the Auto Road in the summer and were amazed by the changes that winter brings. But, now it's time to clear away the winter snows and get ready for summer. Each spring, the Road Crew works diligently to clear the Road, so we can open in mid-May.

The Road Crew's first foray up the Road will be on Tuesday, April 6. This will allow for more melting down low and give the Crew the time they need to get all the equipment ready. Be sure to check back here for all the latest on the progress. We'll also be posting pics and video of the opening process.

For a look back at what it took to open the Auto Road last season, be sure to check out the blog archive at left.

Again, we're aiming for a mid-May opening, but it all depends on the weather. We'll have a better estimate as we start working.