SOTA/POTA Activation of Mount Washington (6,288′)

In the winter I really enjoy operating from my shack. But in the summer I’m finding that I really love operating mobile and portable – getting out in the great outdoors. I’m very excited about our upcoming SOTA/POTA activation of Mount Washington on Saturday, August 26th, 2017. If you enjoy portable or mobile operation or even just being outdoors with great people this is the event for you!

The top of Mount Washington sits at 6,288 feet above sea level. It is the highest peak east of the Mississippi and north of the Carolinas and is known for some of the “worst weather in the world”.  We’re hoping that doesn’t hold true on the 26th. Don’t let the weather or the altitude deter you as there are several ways up the mountain.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway:

 

SOTA - The Mount Washington Cog Railway
The Mount Washington Cog Railway

The unique way up the mountain is from the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Mt. Washington’s cog railway is the world’s first mountain climbing cog railway. Also, it is the second steepest rack railway in the world with an average grade of 25% and a maximum grade of over 37%!

The Mount Washington Cog Railway Access Road is located off Rte. 302 in Bretton Woods and trips begin at 8:00 am and run through 4:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance on their website.

Drive Yourself:

 

SOTA - Mount Washington Auto Road
Mount Washington Auto Road

The Mount Washington Auto Road is located in Gorham, New Hampshire on the other side of the mountain from the Cog Railway. The auto road is open from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm on August 26th and rates start at $29 for a car and driver and go up from there.

This drive is not for the faint of heart! There are panoramic views and you will travel through four distinct climate zones on your way up the Northeast’s highest peak. If you are not comfortable with heights or narrow winding roads without guard rails you may want to check out the guided tours or the hiker’s shuttle to the top.

Please note that there are some vehicle restrictions that you want to check out if you plan to drive yourself.

Guided Tours:

 

SOTA - Tours of Mount Washington
Tours of Mount Washington

Guided tours start at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road beginning at 8:30 am and you have the option of a two hour guided tour or three hour guided tour. The disadvantage of the guided tours is that you are not on your own schedule and time at the top is limited.

The tours do sell out so you will want to book your tickets early if this is the option for you.

Hiker Shuttle:

 

SOTA - Hiker's Shuttle
Hiker’s Shuttle

Another way up/down the mountain is the Hiker Shuttle.  The Hiker Shuttle leaves from the Stage Office at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road beginning at 9:00 am. The shuttle then leaves on an as-needed basis, so waits of an hour or more may be necessary. The one way down option can be a little tricky as rides down are sold on a first come, first served basis.

Hiking:

 

SOTA - Connor (KC1GGX) descending via Tuckerman's Ravine trail
Connor (KC1GGX) descending via Tuckerman’s Ravine trail

The final way up/down the mountain is hiking the mountain. Although this may not be for everyone – this is a very strenuous hike – it is the most rewarding.

There are two starting points for getting up Mount Washington – the east face and west face of the mountain. The east face trails begin at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center which has information and basic rooms available for rent. Reservations in advance are a must!

The East Face:

 

SOTA - East Face of Mt. Washington
East Face of Mt. Washington

The easiest trail (easiest is probably not the right term for any trail on Mount Washington) on the east face of the mountain is Tuckerman’s Ravine for both the ascent and descent. Lion’s Head is the same distance, but slightly steeper. It is not the best for a descent. Boott Spur is another option, which is not any more difficult than the other trails but is much longer. The benefit of this trail is the awesome views!

SOTA - Abby (AB1BY) on Lion's Head
Abby (AB1BY) on Lion’s Head

West Face:

 

SOTA - West Face of Mt. Washington
West Face of Mt. Washington

The trails on the west face of Mount Washington begin from Mount Washington Cog Railway and offers two trails, the Jewell Trail and Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail ascends via Lake of the Cloud Hut where you can stop and get a hot coffee, hot chocolate, water or some snacks… not to mention the fantastic views!

SOTA - Lake of the Clouds Hut
Lake of the Clouds Hut

If you are planning on hiking an early start is an absolute must, especially if you plan to have any time to operate on the summit. Club members that are planning to hike please let me know. It would be fun to have a group to hike with as well as safer for everyone involved.

Accommodations:

 

There are many accommodations in the area ranging from beautiful hotels to primitive camping areas. Again, booking in advance is a must! Many of the camping areas in the White Mountain National Forest are booked on a first come, first served basis. They do not take reservations in advance. My family is planning on camping out on Friday and Saturday night in the area. We will probably be at the Roaring Brook Campground. We’d be happy to have people join us!

Join in on the Fun!

Lastly, the Finchum’s have a tradition of celebrating any major peaks with a celebratory Moxie the top and we invite you to join us in toasting at the top!

SOTA - Toast at the Summit of Mount Washington
KC1GGX, KC1ENX, and AB1BY Celebrate with a Moxie Toast at the Summit of Mount Washington

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