The Mount Washington Observatory held its annual Seek the Peak fundraiser at the base of Mount Washington at Great Glen Trails Saturday. (COURTESY PHOTO)

PINKHAM NOTCH — The non-profit Mount Washington Observatory was thrilled with the success of its 21st annual Seek the Peak that took place last Saturday and raised more than $125,000 in pledges. A little rain did not dampen the spirits of the participants and vendors who gathered at the field at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

“We can’t thank our participants and sponsors enough for their continued commitment to making this event successful,” said the Obs' interim executive director, Donna Dunn.

“We didn’t know what to expect for turnout both onsite and in the fundraising arena as we are all still feeling the impact of the pandemic, but we are just amazed at the physical turnout and for the funds raised. We are so thankful for the support and dedication of everyone involved in this event," she said.

Seek the Peak is a critical fundraiser for the Obs, with all proceeds going toward its work in weather observation, education and climate research atop Mount Washington.

Chris Nichols was the top fundraiser at $10,630, followed by Lee Eckhart with $6,288, and Brad Griswold raising $5,000. Fearless felines also proved to be successful, with Nimbus the Cat, the Obs' summit cat, raising over $4,000, and Mel Elam and her hiking cat Floki raising over $3,000 for the cause.

The latter duo recently did all 48 4,000 footers in the White Mountains.

According to Obs Marketing and Communications Director Krissy Fraser: "There was a great team effort as well with the top 10 teams collectively raising nearly $50,000, including many that participate annually — The Nichols Clan, Team Dodge, Kilted Hikers, Team Monahan, The Seekers/The Seekers Too, Lily Goats, Peak Potential, Sunny Salisbury, and the Meowtaineers — made of up MWO’s summit staff, including observers and interns."

Building off 20 successful years as a hike-a-thon, she said Seek the Peak 2021 took incorporated a multi-sport concep,t including hiking, biking, trail running, rock climbing, kayaking, yoga and fly fishing.

Many participants still opted to hike Mount Washington, while others took advantage of the many guided options or the 5 km trail race at Great Glen Trails.

“Coming off of such a wild year, we are thrilled with the event and the enthusiasm behind the expanded concept incorporating many guided options in a variety of outdoor sports,” said Fraser.

Guided options helped participants reach various fundraising goals. Avid Seek the Peaker Johanna Vienneau opted to do her hike earlier in the week and took advantage of the half-day wildlife paddle led by Great Glen Trails expert paddler Nate Harvey.

Longtime participants the Nowicki family embraced the multi-sport concept, taking advantage of the area attractions with bike rides, hikes and ultimately participating in the STP 5k trail run at Great Glen Trails. The course was mapped out and the race executed by volunteer Frank Holmes representing the White Mountain Milers along with the support of North Conway’s EMS store manager Tracy Marnich.

Despite a rainy forecast, the culminating event of Seek the Peak — the after-party celebrating its participants — was a tremendous success, with participants meandering through the vendor village and enjoying live music and food from local food trucks.

Several event sponsors were onsite to showcase goods, services, clinics and friendly expertise. Anchored by Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out Tour, Eastern Mountain Sports, and Oboz Footwear, the exhibitors had lots of amazing gear to give away to participants. Granite Outdoor Alliance (GOA) had a large presence as they launched their Rock City featuring many NH companies such as NEMO, Ragged Mountain Equipment, Burgeon and more. Many nonprofits supporting outdoor recreation were also onsite to share their expertise.

Participants were rewarded for their fundraising efforts with a gear giveaway, thanks to supporting sponsors including Big Agnes, Cotopaxi, Garmin, FarBank Fly Fishing, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and Smartwool to name a few.

Seek the Peak is made possible with support from additional sponsors including GOA, Garmin, Smartwool, The Mt. Washington Auto Road., Martini Northern, First Light, White Mountain Oil, Eastern Slope Inn, Northway Bank, Melcher Prescott Insurance, Settlers Green, Delta Dental, and WMWV 93.5.

Mount Washington Observatory is a private, non-profit, member-supported institution with a mission to advance understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate.  For more information, call (800) 706-0432 or visit MountWashington.org.

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