North Country
4:00 pm
Sun May 29, 2011

New (And Weird) Mount Washington Auto Road Ascents

Several new records were set Saturday for first ascents of the Mount Washington Auto Road involving roller skis, a unicycle and driving backwards.

 “I felt quite comfortable to four-mile but from there up it was getting hard,” said Sue Wemyss, 51, of Randolph. She arrived first, skiing up the 7.6 miles in two hours and 15 seconds.

 While the weather was mostly clear the last few miles were in windy, foggy conditions.

 “I really didn’t know where I was the last mile or so,” she said. “When I came to where the service road cuts off I knew I was close.”

 Meghan Skidmore of Pinkham Notch reached the top on a unicycle.

 “My knees are shaking pretty good,” she said.

 One of the hardest parts, she said, was a dirt section where the uneven surface made it hard to stay on the single-wheel bike.

 Steve Caming drove up backwards in a Toyota FJ Cruiser, a vehicle known for having incredibly lousy rearward vision. He said some turns required several tries and once dropping a wheel into a ditch was somewhat alarming.

John Pensak, who lives near Boston, became the first man to use roller skis to reach the top, arriving after Wemyss.

“It was a lot more fun than I thought in a sense you could actually get a skiing motion on the paved section,” he said.

The ascents were part of Alton Weagle Day. Weagle was known for a number of odd ascents including walking backwards and pushing a wheelbarrow filled with sugar.

Alton Weagle Day is part of the summer-long celebration of the 150th birthday of the road. More information on the celebration is listed here: http://mtwashingtonautoroad.com/events/mt-washington-auto-roads-150th-anniversary/