Rick Wilcox and Joe Klementovich were recently interviewed by German Public Radio.

Listen to original interview



“If Rick Wilcox and his colleague Joe Klementovich handle with radios, then it usually means nothing good. The two are part of the Mountain Rescue Service , the mountain rescue on Mt Washington , the highest peak in the northeastern United States and therefore meeting point for millions of tourists and recreationists .

Rick Wilcox:
40 percent of the U.S. population can reach Washington Mt in one day. New York, the people of New Jersey all the way down to Washington DC, come here to relax here . Get in the car on Friday up the mountain on Saturday.

The problem, however: the later the arrival, the unprepared make many on the way to the summit. Then, if the hike is not going according to plan and it will be uncomfortable, the call on the mobile phone is quickly made. Often too fast, complains Joe Klementovich.

Joe Klementovich:
Very often is not about life and death. We of the Mountain Rescue have all been spent an uncomfortable night on a ledge and the next morning you can find a solution. But this kind of independence is unfortunately increasingly rare.

When a call comes and Joe, Rick and their team-mates must disengage to get an unprepared from the mountain, then their job is, they operate a voluntary basis, even frustrating at times.

Rick, who, when he’s not bringing people from the mountain, operates a climbing school and an outdoor shop, loves what he does. And he loves this mountain. Even if it Mt Washington has shown more than once his brutal side.

Rick Wilcox:
My buddy Albert Dow was killed in the search for two young ice climbers of an avalanche. It was a beautiful day, then the two got lost and a storm moved on. And yet, the search must go on. The two ice climbers were found days later, alive but with severe frostbite on his arms and legs. Mountain Rescue and the team working on the weather observatory on the summit of Mount Washington hand in hand in such situations. Since 1932, the weather station is continuously manned by meteorologists.

Brian Fitzgerald is one of them. His work is shrouded in fog 60 % of the year and prides itself to be the place with the worst weather in the world.

Brian Fitzgerald:
Part of our job here is to record weather data, clouds , and distant view for example. Once I had at 200 km / h Wind speed out to replace the tank for precipitation measurements. That was fantastic and terrible at the same.

With snow and ice Brian must expect throughout the year , even though Mount Washington is located on the same latitude as the French Riviera. The local Mistral wind is compared , however, a gentle breeze . With over 370 kilometers per hour, the team of Mt.Washington weather station recorded 1934, the highest ever measured wind speed of the earth . Only in the 90s the record in Australia was broken. But really want Brian the title does not give off as the Australian weather station was not manned at the time.

Brian Fitzgerald:
We had as it were eyewitnesses who have continued with this storm here on Mt Washington in a small wooden hut. The cottage they had screwed with an iron chain on the rock . And one of the team is even climbed up on the roof and has the equipment de-iced!”