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Mt Washington State Park, Monday July 9th, 2012

Posted on by Mike Pelchat, Manager of Mt. Washington State Park

A young man from New Jersey telephoned our park the other day and asks, “I want to propose to my girlfriend up there, how do I do it?”  Well, I say, “just get down on one knee and ask her; Will you marry me? If she says yes give her a ring.” “No not that, I mean I’ve never been to the summit of Mt Washington before, how would we get there, what’s it like up there, where should I go to propose, will I need a permit or something?” I couldn’t resist toying with him a little but be assured I answered all his questions and suggested several of my favorite scenic spots around the summit that would be appropriate background for such an important question. And a permit is not required for such a simple request. Special Use Permits are required when “an out of the ordinary event” is planned to take place in a park that is beyond the parks normal day to day use.  For more information about NH State Parks’ permit process contact nhparks@dred.state.nh.us.

We also get requests from professional photographers looking for a scenic place for a photo shoot and even from filmmakers thinking about using the summit for movie making purposes. New Hampshire has a Film Bureau that assists potential film makers and promotes NH as a movie maker friendly state. Movies made in NH can help bring income to communities as well as provide some free advertising.  This week we happened to have a movie production company interested in making a 5 minute demo reel for a movie based on the book LOST ON A MOUNTAIN IN MAINE. A demo reel is usually made before the actually film to survey industry interest and secure funding.

Derek Desmond and his partner Ryan Cook want to make a movie about the true story of 12 year old Donn Fendler who was lost for 12 days on the slopes of Maine’s Mt Katahdin back in July of 1939. It’s a story of how a young boy was able to survive in the Maine wilderness by himself, with no equipment, (not even a cell phone!); A massive search mounted by local officials and townspeople closed the mills as all able bodied people came out to help in the search. It’s a story of inspiration, faith and determination loved not only by Mainers but all lovers of the Wilderness.  Derek is from Berlin NH and during summers off from college Derek worked in the MWSP kitchen cafeteria and knows the mountain well.

Clouds over Northern Peaks, from Berlin NH

With access to the summit via the Mt Washington Auto Road the logistics of getting a film crew to the summit is much simpler than trying to get the same crew and equipment to the summit of Mt Kathadin. On Mt Washington the green lichen covered rocks and trail cairns are similar to Kathadins’ so it would be a suitable place to film close ups of above tree line rock hoping where Donn Fender initially got separated from from his hiking party. Place a cloud cap with wind and fog on the summit and presto, could be Mt Kathadin!

Cloud Cap Over Mt Adams

Probably one of the most famous uses of Mt Washington State Park to mimic another mountain in film was by David Breashers who back in 1998 made a IMAX film documentary of the May 8th 1996 Everest tragedy where 8 climbers lost their lives in a great storm near the summit. In making his movie Breashers needed footage of climbers walking in high winds in near white-out winter conditions. Just an average winter day for the summit of Mt Washington! Armed with the knowledge that a small part of Mt Washington was used in the making of this IMAX movie it’s fun to try and pick out the scenes where Breashears dubbed in Mt Washington footage for Mt Everest.  On this link to scenes from the IMAX 1998 EVEREST part 3 of 5,  see if you can find the Mt Washington made scenes. I’ll give you a hint, fast forward to 2min 30sec and start searching from there. The rime ice on the rocks is a dead give away!

Last Saturday the Mt Washington Auto Road held it’s first of two bike races to the summit for the season, this one called Newton’s Revenge.  There were about 200 competitors who made the 7.6 mile climb to the summit challenged not only by the average 12-18% grade along with a whopping 33% final grade, but also by winds gusting over 50mph.

Upper Section of Mt Washington Auto Road

One competitor we were all rooting for was our very own Director of NH State Parks Phil Bryce.

Director Bryce pedals up the final stretch to Mt Washington State Park

Phil is first sitting NH State Parks Director to race a bicycle to the summit of Mt Washington! One just doesn’t hop on a bicycle and pedal it to the summit either. It takes every ounce of energy for even professionally trained racers to make it to the summit never mind a busy Parks Director. Kudos to Director Bryce for completing one of the hardest bicycle hill climbs in the USA!

Director Bryce after finishing Newton’s Revenge

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About Mike Pelchat, Manager of Mt. Washington State Park

I've been working atop Mt Washington for past 30 years so you can guess I like it above the tree line! After all these years I still never tire of the beauty of our NH White Mtns and consider my employment an extreme honor and privilege to work for the State Of NH and serve its visitors. When not on the summit you can find me enjoying the rock & ice climbing one of the many beautiful granite cliffs we have in Franconia, Crawford or Echo Lake State Parks. I have taken these climbing skills learned at our NH State Parks to climb in Alaska, Andes, Canadian Arctic and Himalayas. I live in Gorham NH with my wife Diane Holmes. View all posts by Mike Pelchat, Manager of Mt. Washington State Park →
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