Climbers and Conservationists Band Together to Oppose Hotel on Mt Washington

New Hampshire climbers and conservation groups are organizing to oppose the construction of a proposed 25,000 square foot hotel in the fragile alpine zone of Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Late last year, the Mount Washington Railway Company (MWRC) met with the Coös County Planning Board to investigate and review the possibility of constructing a hotel along the rail line at a location known as Skyline Switch. The Railway Company is actively working through the requirements for obtaining permits from Coös County, whose zoning laws govern the 99-foot wide swath of land owned by MWRC, which bisects public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Alpine habitats are limited in the Northeast region, and construction of a hotel in this fragile alpine zone of Mount Washington would have significant environmental impact. Furthermore, it would degrade the visitor experience, as the hotel would be visible from numerous points in the iconic Presidential Range.

Classic routes in Huntington ravine draw climbers in both winter and summer months, and many New England alpinists undertake a winter traverse of the Presidential Range. The "Rock Pile" (as it's known by local climbers) holds a special place of reverence and respect due to its unique alpine environment and famously brutal weather.

Access Fund has been working with local climbers to formalize a New Hampshire non-profit organization called Keep the Whites Wild. The new organization launched the Protect Mount Washington campaign to bring public awareness to this issue and put pressure on the county to oppose the hotel. Coös County zoning laws pertaining to steep slopes and high elevations were enacted to preserve mountain areas for their scenic values and recreational opportunities, and locals want to make sure these laws are being followed.

“We’re concerned that unless pressed, the local county government will make way for the proposed hotel and this fragile alpine environment will be damaged beyond repair,” says Mike Morin, Northeast Regional Director for Access Fund.

Keep the Whites Wild is actively working to sign local conservation groups onto the Protect Mount Washington campaign in order to draw attention to the environmental concerns surrounding the construction of a hotel high in the alpine tundra.

For more information and to learn how you can help, visit Protect Mount Washington campaign.

Photo courtesy of © David Govatski