Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 10:10pm

Racing up Mt. Washington

The Mt. Washington Auto Road is no ordinary ribbon of asphalt and gravel. The road rises more than 4,700 feet to the summit of the Northeast’s highest peak in a scant 7.6 miles. That’s an average grade of 12%, with sustained sections of more than 18%. But it’s no straight shot. All of which makes the Auto Road an irresistible attraction for the internal-combustion crowd. For “Climb to the Clouds” competitors, the road is a launching pad.
The 160-year-old road winds like an enormous wet noodle across the eastern and northern flanks of the 6,288-foot granite knob affectionately nicknamed the Rockpile. It can be as claustrophobic as a mine shaft below treeline, barely two cars wide. Above 4,000 feet, the road doesn’t widen, but the sense of space does. There are sheer drop-offs and spectacular vistas, but no guardrails, no safety net.