Mount Washington Museum Brings Extreme Winter to Visitors

“STOP,” reads a US Forest Service sign that once hung in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. “The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure, even in the summer. Turn back now if the weather is bad.”

It’s just that kind of weather that the new Extreme Mount Washington interactive museum at the Mount Washington Observatory in North Conway wants to bring to life for its visitors.

According to The Boston Globe:

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When visitors descend from the observatory cafeteria to the gleaming, futuristic new museum, they see exhibits that capture the day-to-day duties of the hardy souls who choose to make their living in this most inhospitable of climes and who revel in conditions most sane humans run from.

The museum, which opens June 13, features exhibits designed to explain the hurricane winds, icy spikes, and thick fog of the summit in an interactive way. Visitors can operate a Sno-Cat simulator, learn about frostbite, and see taxidermied specimens of the species that manage to survive the mountain’s harsh conditions.

Most of the 300,000 annual visitors to New England’s highest peak come during the summertime, which means they don’t get to experience the extreme weather conditions for which the mountain’s winter is famous, for better or for worse.

Even in warm months, conditions on Mount Washington can change so quickly and radically that climbers and hikers can be caught unprepared. This is one reason why more than 140 people have died on the mountain since 1849.

A weather observatory on the summit recorded the highest wind gust ever measured on the Earth’s surface. Scientists at the observatory on April 12, 1934 measured the wind at 231 miles per hour. We’d like to know what their hair looked like after that experience!

Mike Carmon, a meteorologist at the observatory, told The Boston Globe that many of the people who work on the mountain are actually drawn to its challenging conditions. “It’s cool because it’s dangerous, and it’s dangerous because it’s cool,” Carmon said.

Check out the full story here.