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Mt. Washington Auto Road Opens 160th Season with a Celebration of First Ascents

Mt. Washington Auto Road Opens 160th Season  with a Celebration of First Ascents

Pinkham Notch, NH — On Saturday, May 29th, the Mt. Washington Auto Road kicked off its 160th summer season of operation with the 10th anniversary of Alton Weagle Day, a tribute to unique ascents up the historic and iconic road.

This year felt like a homecoming for several “Weaglers” who participate each year and a return to normalcy for the full line-up of summer events at the Auto Road and Great Glen Trails.

Alton Weagle (1911 - 1984) had a passion for Mount Washington which was simply unmatched. During the 1950s, Weagle climbed the mountain in a variety of “first ascents,” including backwards, blindfolded, and pushing a wheelbarrow full of 100 pounds of sugar—without putting it down. Since those days there have been many unique ascents of the Auto Road to Mount Washington’s 6,288-foot summit. Since Alton Weagle Day became an annual event, there have been well over 100 “firsts”, and a growing community of “Weaglers” who participate each year.

The event drew 17 people, all who were undeterred by the possibility that cold temperatures coupled with ice would prevent them from reaching the summit. But as the Weaglers ascended, the Mt. Washington Road Crew was able to work to prepare the road for ascent and all were cleared to venture to the highest peak in the northeast.

Erik Kondo returned with friend Greg Durso to complete the first tandem hand-cycle ascent, arguably the most physically challenging feat of the day. Levi Steele conquered the mountain on a OneWheel, an electric skateboard, while Dylan Pearse-Theroux demonstrated the agility of an electric unicycle. Michelle McElroy danced a limberjack to the summit alongside her husband Ethan, dressed perfectly as George Washington. David McPhail was “Digging for Clams,” and was the only participant to walk up and down the mountain road. Craig Newton and David Mastroianni played several games of chess on a wheeled board made to withstand the wind and weather, and even invited passing tourists to join in. Everest Newton, a very brave knight in shining armor, was the youngest participant at 5 years old. He was joined by his mom Leanne Lovell, a princess, and their trusty dragon. Linda Hindle ran “Alton''—an 8-foot rabbit—up in a cart while her husband Jim Pac walked forward and backward for the entire 7.8 mile trek (without getting dizzy). Jesse Lyman, the only participant who has joined every Alton Weagle Day since 2011, coached the first NHL play with his students Charlotte Goldberg and Collin Reeder, who made the first NHL assist and goal, respectively, on Mt. Washington.

Hans Bauer, who also works at the Auto Road giving guided tours, led the participants in the opening ceremonies of the event which included noisemakers of all kinds. He maintained a theme of recent years of walking up on stilts to deliver an infamous Shannon Door pizza to the summit.

Any prospective Weagler needs to submit their idea for a first ascent to for approval before participating. Alton Weagle Day is held on the first Saturday of Memorial Day weekend at 6:00 am, signaling a start of summer with a nod to history, creativity, and a celebration of the freedom to do “whatever silly or serious” thing we choose to do with our day.

View the full photo album from Alton Weagle Day on Flickr:

Full summer lineup for events at the Auto Road and Great Glen, for athletes, families, and everyone in between:

Mt. Washington Auto Road

• Bicknell’s Thrush Tours: June 1, 2, and 7

• Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race: June 19 & 20

• New Hampshire ATV Day (tickets sold out): June 26

• Sunrise Drives: July 25 & August 29

• Seek Your Peak Mt. Washington Adventure Expo: July 16 & 17

• Adaptive Sunrise Ascent: August 1

• Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb presented by Yokohama Tire: August 13, 14 & 15

• Mt. Washington Bicycle Hillclimb: August 21

• Muster In The Mountains: September 10, 11 & 12

Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center

• Salomon Spring Trail Running/Walking Series: Thursdays, May 13 - June 12

• There’s a Black Fly in My Eye 10-Mile Trail Run & Relay: June 12

• Summer Mountain Bike Series: Tuesdays, June 29 - August 3

• Moat Mountain 24 Hours of Great Glen: August 7 & 8

• Cotopaxi Fall Trail Running/Walking Series: Thursdays, September 2 - October 7

• Paul Letarte Memorial XC Invitational: September 11


Lisa McCoy

Events and Marketing Director

Mt. Washington Auto Road

Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center

(603) 466-3988