Since the Mt. Washington Auto Road first opened in 1861, it was been a proving ground for all types of adventurers. The honor of driving the first horse-drawn vehicle to the summit went to Col. Joseph Thompson, then proprietor of the Glen House. To be sure of beating out his friendly rival, Col. John Hitchcock, landlord of the Alpine House in Gorham, Thompson drove his horse and carriage to the summit three weeks before the official opening. The last few yards were still so strewn with boulders that help was needed to keep the carriage upright, but he made it.
Throughout the years, many have made a point of securing their place in the history of the Auto Road. In 1875, Harlen Amen ran down the Road in 54 minutes. The first round trip on skis was made in 1907. In 1924, a Harley Davidson motorcycle ascended the Auto Road in 15 minutes. Florence Clark became the first woman to drive a dog team solo to the summit in 1932. In the 1950’s, Alton Weagle made several memorable trips up the Auto Road – barefoot and blindfolded, then backwards, then pushing a wheelbarrow with a 100-pound sack of sugar in it, without putting it down.
Other more traditional ascents have taken place as well. During the 2021 automobile race, Climb to the Clouds, Travis Pastrana set the record for the fastest automobile ascent at 5 minutes, 28 seconds. Each year the Auto Road hosts a world class cycling race the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in August. And every June 1300 runners register to challenge the Auto Road during the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race.
The spirit that drove Col. Thompson and each adventurer since is the same that has pushed people to drive, run and cycle up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. And now skiers, snowshoers and fatbikers have the same opportunity to challenge themselves on Mt. Washington.
Ski to the Clouds was first held in 1996 as a new and unique challenge entirely on the Mt. Washington Auto Road and for Nordic skiers only. Later it was modified to make it a 10 km race utilizing the Great Glen Trails Nordic system for 4 kilometers before beginning the steep ascent up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The race finishes just before the halfway point of the Mt. Washington Auto Road at about 3,800 feet above sea level.
In 2013 a separate snowshoe category was added to entice more snowshoe racers to take up the challenge, this was so successful that in 2014 the event was renamed the Ski & Shoe to the Clouds.
In 2016 a new fatbike catagory was added that quickly became the largest group of racers – sadly the 2016 event was cancelled due to lack of snow; however, 2017 was a HUGE success!
The Ski, Shoe and Fatbike to the Clouds awaits your challenge!