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Mount Washington

Last Updated:
Site Director: Crystal Wolfe
Wind Direction: Ideal is 80 deg. form the left and 100 deg.from the right
Wind Speeds: HG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 15 / PG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 10
Glide Ratio: 4.4

hanglider in the foreground with green and black wings. Background is the summit of Mount Washington.

credit: Max Kotchouro

The highest peak in New England and known worldwide for its outrageous weather.

At 6288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest peak in New England. The mountain is part of the Presidential Range of White Mountains in New Hampshire. Bring family members along; the ride up the Mount Washington Auto Road is exciting, the views from the top at the Mount Washington Observatory are spectacular, and a ride on the Cog Railway is always fun.

Due to its erratic and sometimes extreme weather, the mountain is only flyable a few days each year.

Meeting Place: Auto Road parking lot. Arrange for someone to drive the vehicle back down. Carpool with as many pilots as possible. Pay vehicle and people fees and enjoy the drive up. Unload in the parking lot.

Pilot requirements:

  • Pilot must have an H4/P4 or higher rating.
  • All pilots must sign the site waiver annually and be current members of USHPA & VHPA.

 

Launch: Auto Road (44.2701, -71.301198)

Elevation: 6170′ (1881 meters)
Direction: 100 degrees
Wind: Calm to moderate east to southeast wind
Wind Speeds:

A short flat-slope launch below the Mount Washington Auto Road and parking lot on the east side of the mountain. Respect the rare and fragile ecosystem that calls this place home. Minimize your impact on plants and animals while you prepare to launch.

Carpool with as many pilots as possible and arrange for someone to drive the vehicle back down. There is limited parking at the top of the mountain and we should avoid taking up parking spots. Unload in the parking lot. Walk down the auto road. Carefully step over the rock guardrail. Find a perch to setup or layout! The launch area is constantly eroding–pilots need to be creative.

Landing Zone: Back Lot (44.294215, -71.226629)

Elevation: 1548′ (472 meters)

There are flags and banners at the entrance to the auto road that provide clues to the wind direction and velocity.

There is free parking in the parking lots along the public road at the base.

Concerns:

  • Field might not be mowed.
  • Limited space.
  • A meadow north of a small pond adjacent to the Mount Washington Auto Road entrance provides a backup in case the lawn is filled with picnickers or a south wind is producing too much turbulence.

Flight Description & Concerns

Mostly thermal soaring although some light easterly days are ridge soarable. Many days cloud base is below the summit and launch.

Concerns:

  • Respect the rare and fragile ecosystem that calls this hellish environment home.
  • There is a “no-fly zone” above the Great Gulf wilderness area. This is a 5,500 acre ravine north of Ball and Nelson crags and east of Mount Clay and Jefferson. It can be seen to the right (north) of the auto road as you are headed up above the timberline.
  • Its Mount Washington! The weather can be extreme so expect the unexpected.
  • Wind speed and direction can change quickly.
  • Rotor conditions can quickly develop as winds change. Watch the smoke from the Cog Railway engine for a true sign of the prominent wind direction on top.
  • Clouds can quickly engulf the mountain.
  • Weather at the top and bottom can be very different. It can be light east on launch and strong south in the valley below.
  • The old “Lawn” landing zone is closed permanently. Do not land there.

Weather

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