Anyone wanna climb Mount Washington?

This looks fun, if you like torture. I think it was Brian Slater who ran across mention somewhere that a unicyclist has supposedly done this before.

Does anyone know anything about this race? Is it hard to get into the race? They only accept the first 500 or so, I believe.

I’m going to try to do this next August, assuming I can get in the race.

For those of you who might be familiar with other similar hillclimb races, how does this compare? Here’s some info on the route:

Just how steep is the course?
The Mount Washington Hill Climb is quickly becoming known as the toughest hill climb in the world and as Dick Devellian, past Race Director, says “This is the World Championship of hill climbing. If someone wants to say they are the best climber in the world then they need to prove it here on Mount Washington.”

The Mt Washington Auto Road is 7.6 miles in length, has an average grade of 12% with extended sections of 18% and the last 50 yards is an amazing 22%! Sprint that to the finish! For more information on the Mt Washington Auto Road click here.

Anyone else interested?


The race is cruel, grueling, and difficult. It costs a lot of money too. I would think it near impossible for a unicycle to make it up Mt. Washington. The emergency rodes are open for cyclists on one day a year and only on that day. I do not know if they’d allow a unicycle for safety reasons. Mt. Washington is the windiest place on the east coast. They only let the cyclists go up, and are forced to ride the transit down (this is for safety reasons caused by a few too many deaths).

Here’s the unconfirmed thread that refers to a unicyclist climbing Mt Washington:

The Mt. Washington records page has John Waters on a unicycle in 1991 with the time of 2:18:50


Re: Anyone wanna climb Mount Washington?

“… We will stop the race if conditions are deemed unsafe for the riders in the race or cars returning down. We will not cancel the race for “uncomfortable” conditions.”

I remember one year in the 70’s when they raced from 80 deg F and sunny at the base to 28 deg F at the top with 40 mph gusts and snow. In August. The locals considered this to be merely “uncomfortable” and didn’t stop the race.

Mt Washington holds the record for the worst weather on the planet. Something like -100 deg F with steady winds over 180 mph and at least one gust over 230 mph!! Yow! It gets that kind of weather when the jet stream hits the top.

I’ve been at the top in the summer when it was a very nice 70 degF with sun. Quite a few buzzing clouds of mosquitoes, though. Best to be prepared.

Good luck,


Didn’t mean to suggest that it wouldn’t be fun or worthwhile. “The old rock-pile” is a beautiful and magestic mountain. If I were in shape and/or competent on a 22% grade I’d seriously consider it.

If you’re into botany there is quite a bit to see, too. The mountain is a climate-island with plants stranded from the last ice age. It’s a Galapagos of sorts with it’s own species of plants. Their nearest relatives grow up near the arctic circle. I like the stunted trees. Just below the treeline there are forests of 500 year old pine trees barely 4’ tall. It’s a cool place.

Coincidently, I was just discussing this race with Joey. According to a magazine article about it, there is one practice day before the race. So we may have a chance to try give it a try first.

I’m certainly up for seeing what it’s like. Anyone know how this compares to the Mt Diablo challange?


Mt. Diablo would seem to be a piece of cake by comparison. I have done that ride once, and made it without dying, which means mere mortals can do it. Though I do well in hill-climbing sprints, I am by no means an uphill specialist. Diablo is about 10.5 miles, with 3300’ vertical. And the weather is nice! Mt. Washington sounds like an awesome challenge. I expect Nathan Hoover to say something about it within 24 hours, unless he’s out of town…

I’d love to see it, but I don’t think I’ll be racing. I hate to admit it, but even though I’m a NH native, I’ve never actually been to Mt. Washington. I have done Tuckerman Ravine a few times, and you have to be prepared for extreme winds and cold. The 1st time I went I skiied down in the morning (we’d stayed for 3 nights at the shelters) and it was normal coldness, at Pinkham notch we changed into shorts, and back in Quebec I was playing Volleyball with girls in bikinis… It was late April. In short, the climate change can be extreme :slight_smile:
Having said that, I think the uni thing will be on my to-do list someday. Maybe forever :wink:

Oh, and Mt Washington doesn’t have the wind speed record for the east-coast, it has the world record, period.

Re: Anyone wanna climb Mount Washington?

On Mon, 11 Oct 2004 22:58:45 -0500, “johnfoss” wrote:

>I made it without dying, which means mere mortals can
>do it.

I’m confused but I don’t know why. Immortals can always do it without
dying. :slight_smile:

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“I (…) made it without dying, which means mere mortals can do it. - John Foss”

Re: Anyone wanna climb Mount Washington?

Sounds like fun. I’d be interested if it wasn’t so far away. That’s as steep as some of the streets near Baldwin St (The Worlds Steepest) in Dunedin, NZ. But it certainly sounds brutal- 7.6miles/12.2km- ouch! Looks like the fastest average speed is just under 15km/h, on road bikes by top TDF riders. That’s got to be tough.

Good luck,


p/s Whilst we are on the topic of the Tour De France, would anyone be interested in a race up the Alpe D’Huez after Unicon 13?

The practice ride (free) is in July and is limited to 300 riders. The cost is of the race is $300 but if you collect enough pledges it can be free. It would be cool to have a bunch of unicyclists. Joe


In any case, count me in as part of the support crew.

– Dave

P.S. Registration is really aggressive.

P.P.S. There are some good training hills here in NE Connecticut.

That is one sick climb, averaging 600+ feet vertical gained per mile. Having climbed many roads in the Rockies, the only one that compares at all is Mt Evans. But just the top 1000’ feet of climbing, and it only averages over 450’ per mile. What makes Mt. Evans epic is it tops out at 14,000’. Most of the paved Passes in Colorado are around 7% grade and average 300’ per mile elevation gain, so this would be the most painful 7.6 miles ever. I would love to have a go at it.

I been hiking all over the US
(out east … Acadia comes to mind)

This is one of my favs … a good hike also … El Yunque

hiking map
(click the links at the top of the map / mountain)

Forest Topography
Elevations in the Forest range from 100 feet at the northern boundary to 3,533 feet at El Toro Peak. Terrain ranges from gentle slopes at lower elevations to rugged mountain slopes exceeding 60% at higher elevations, where vertical rock-faced cliffs are numerous.

I figured that many of us wouldnt be able to go on your trip …
So … why not show this one also … :smiley:

I did this … took all day … got to the top in the clouds …
wierd dwarfed trees … and got soaking wet :slight_smile:


I just spoke to the organizer of the Mt. Washington race and unicycles are a definite yes!

Registration opens Feb 1. Cost is $300. This fee can be reduced dollar for dollar by the amount you collect in pledges toward the Tin Mountain Conservation group.

Fees go down to $200 in March, but when this happens, the spots disappear within minutes, so it’s not advisable to wait.

There is a practice ride on July 17th from 5am to 7 am.


What do you guys recommend for a climbing machine for this race? I’m thinking 170s with maybe a 26" wheel, skinny-ish tire, lightish uni, and a good handle.

It seems to me that with an average 12% grade and the last 50 yards at 22% that a wheel bigger than 26 would be tough. Thoughts?

I’d assume the lightest thing you can ride… Ultimate wheel? :wink: Prolly a skinny-ish tire… Anyone know how rough the road is up there? 7 miles up hill on a skinny tire inflated enough to not pop would seem rather… bumpy… Granted it’s been a while since I rode on a skinny tire…

If you do this Merrill, you are the MAN!!! I shall bow before your awesomness!

The Coker afficionados will say Coker. They like riding 'em uphill more than I do, but I learned something interesting on my Mt. Diablo ride. As the road got steeper, it basically boiled down to one pedal “step” at a time, at whatever slow speed you could manage to do while not falling off. I was on a 29" and Mike Scalisi was on a Coker. He couldn’t help going faster than me. Then we switched cycles, and it was the other way around. Simply put, the Coker goes farther with each step.

The difference is, your road will be significantly steeper, so the step-size advantage may wear off at some point.

I would use my 29", probably with 160 or 170mm cranks. Big Apple tire for wheel size, though it’s a bit heavier. Unicycles aren’t particularly heavy (unless it’s a Coker), so I’ll take the larger diameter over the slight weight savings of a skinny tire.

And dress in layers, I guess!