The winter solstice has become an important day in my life. No no—haven’t converted to paganism (just yet). But I am on a vaguely spiritual mission, or compulsion. I’m aiming to climb, during winter, all of the 4,000+ foot summits in New Hampshire (of which there are 48, in case you’re playing along at home.)
Now some feel that the winter in New England “drags on” or is “too long”. Utter nonsense. From the perspective of a winter peak-bagger, winter is just too damn short. Starting at the solstice and ending at the vernal equinox, we get only three months per year to pursue the goal. The weeks fly by, and the opportunities to get to the mountains must be jealously guarded. So many hurdles and distractions, during those months: the holidays, annual ski trip, the flu, dead car batteries, bad driving conditions, the lure of tropical sailing junkets, nice warm bed, etc. etc… All must be shoved aside and a path beaten to the mountains before the mind weakens and the body follows.
Right now, I’m in pitiful physical condition. Nine months of loafing and sailing have taken their toll. But I’m feeling the internal agitation, the foot tapping, the quad tensing, that tell me the season is almost here. Will I finish the list this year? Maybe. 42 down, six to go. And a kick-ass six they are.
Why do this? You mean other than the sheer joy of it? Well, I’ll tell you— only a few hundred people have succeeded at this before. If that sounds like a lot, check out how many people have summitted Everest….
(Above, the view from Mt. Monroe, January 2005…)