Eric Pinder

writer/educator, former weather observer at the Mt. Washington Observatory


At any time of year, the mountain may be swept by winds so strong they can hoist me into the sky like a kite. Rather than walk, I must fly down the trail; the flaps of my jacket flutter against my ribs like wings. I wobble to keep my balance and try to walk in a straight line. All across the summit cone, I see other hikers buffeted by wind. They walk in jerky, mechanical steps through the gusts, like marionettes with missing strings.

Despite these extreme conditions—or, more accurately, because of them—Mount Washington is home to a small crew of scientists who live and work on the windy summit, keeping track of the notorious weather.

The Mount Washington Observatory was established as a private nonprofit organization in 1932 to study weather and climate trends. The Observatory’s wintry conditions attract scientists and researchers who are studying cold-weather climates. “We’re really an arctic island in a temperate zone,” explains staff meteorologist Mark Ross-Parent. “There’s something about weather extremes that people love.”

from Life at the Top by Eric Pinder (Hobblebush Books)