Mt Washington State Park, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend this year saw much better weather on the higher summits than last year and so we were visited by many more people.

Mount Washington State Park on May 27, 2012

Saturday was the Mt Washington Auto Road’s Alton Weigel Day, where participants ascend the mountain in costume and/or by some unusual means. I especially liked Hans’s way of climbing the mountain. You may remember Hans from an earlier post, who climbed the mountain on stilts. Hans is also an amazing athlete which you can read more about in a Mt Washington Auto Road news piece about him. Hans latest trick was to hike up the Auto Road backwards, barefoot while skipping rope. Good job Hans!

Sunday was beautifully clear all day. In the morning the valleys were filled with a Smokey haze that the NW winds transported down from Canadian Forest Fires.

Valley Haze from Canadian Forest Fires

Sunday afternoon the valley haze cleared enough to launch an special, digital camera equipped Cessna from Assist-Us in Concord.

US Assist Aircraft

NH Division of Parks and Recreation hired this company to take a series of summit photographs from the air to help in long range planning for Mt Washington State Park. You may see some of these birds-eye photographs posted later this week on our NH Parks website.

The alpine flowers are looking especially beautiful this year. The Lapland Rosebay and Diapensia are bursting out everywhere and are rapidly approaching peak bloom.

Diapensia on Saturday 5/26  Diapensia on Monday 5/28

Nature lovers should make a point of visiting the Alpine Gardens below the summit of Mt Washington anytime in the next week to enjoy this magical flower display. The diapensias are so thick in places the tundra in-between the rocks looks like snow!

Last Monday, May 21, USFS snow rangers recovered the body of Norman Priebatch, a 67 year old hiker from the Boston area. On April 1st of this year Mr. Priebatch slipped and fell on hard packed snow while descending the 45 degree steep Tuckerman Ravine Headwall and slid into an opening in the snow, called a crevasse, which was located at the top of the locally known ‘open-book’ waterfall. This waterfall is about 100′ tall and at the time, except for the crack at its top, was entirely beneath the snow pack. Snow Rangers tried valiantly to rappel into the crevasse but where turned back by extremely dangerous hazards that existed in that waterfall under the snow. Snow Rangers kept a close eye on all the crevasses in the area around the waterfall. Seven weeks later a tunnel developed below a cliff to the left of the waterfall. Rangers were able to crawl through this tunnel to locate Mr. Priebatch’s body and remove him from the base of the waterfall without having to rappel directly into the waterfall. USFS Snow Rangers made the decision to recover Mr. Priebatch’s body from the mountain as soon as they discovered a relatively safer way under the ice that had melted.  Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Priebatch. It’s been a long 7 weeks waiting for this recovery and we are all relieved Mr. Priebatch has been returned to his family and can now rest in peace. Kudos to the USFS Snow Rangers who persevered in accomplishing this technical body recovery from under many feet of remaining ice and snow.

Mt Washington
Moose Family below Tuckerman Ravine



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.

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