When I climbed Mt. Washington with a group of friends, in 1974, it was my first experience with mountain hiking. Standing atop the treeless summit, raked by a cold wind and looking out over the surrounding landscape of peaks and valleys, I enjoyed both a sense of accomplishment and the reward of magnificent vistas. We had ascended from Pinkham Notch, east of Mt. Washington, camping below Tuckerman Ravine for the night before a boulder-climbing assault on the summit the following day.
Anchoring the Presidential Range of northern New Hampshire's White Mountains, Mt. Washington tops out at 6288 feet, the highest summit in the northeastern U.S. The Presidential Range, trending southwest to northeast, catches both Canadian storm fronts and nor'easters from the Atlantic Seaboard, bringing copious precipitation to this high wall of Precambrian rock; Mt. Washington receives over 100 inches of precipitation each year, most of which arrives as snowfall (usually exceeding 300 inches). North and northeastward from Mt. Washington are, in sequence, Mt. Clay, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison while, to its southwest, are Mounts Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, Pierce and Jackson. While the terrain climbs gradually across the western flank of the Range, Pleistocene glaciers carved steep cliffs and ravines along its eastern side; the Grand Gulf curves northeastward from Mt. Washington, Huntington Ravine drops across its eastern flank and Tuckerman Ravine forms a steep wall on its southeast edge.
The alpine summit and its Weather Observatory, which still holds the world record for a human-recorded surface wind speed of 231 mph in 1934 (eclipsed by an automated measurement of 253 mph from Cyclone Olivia, in Australia, 1996) can also be reached via a cog railway or via an auto road that winds up from Pinkham Notch. Whether visitors hike or ride to the summit, they are treated to spectacular mountain scenery and have a chance to observe a wide variety of Northwoods wildlife, including black bears, moose, white-tailed deer and a host of north country birds.