June 24, 2013

Hikers' 50th reunion recalls rescue

Three men meet atop Mount Washington where, in a 1963 storm, one man broke the rules to save the other two.

By Billy Baker / The Boston Globe

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Guy Gosselin, left (wearing glasses), makes his way to the summit of Mount Washington June 1, to reunite with Gerry Wright, center, and Harold Addison, right.

Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe

After showshoeing for hours through the woods, Wright, who now lives in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, asked if they were almost there. Addison told him they had just made it to the base of the mountain. By the time they made it above the tree line, Addison said, he told his companion that if the weather didn't kill him, "I knew Gerry would."

A car pulled into the lot, a bearded man at the wheel, and they knew this must be Guy Gosselin.

Gosselin, who is 80, spent 36 years working at the observatory, retiring as the director in 1996. He has seen all sorts of incredible weather -- his personal record is 193-mph winds -- and all sorts of irresponsible hikers. But he remembers Wright and Addison, and said he let them in because they were telling the truth: Even by the standards of Mount Washington, "Home of the World's Worst Weather," the situation was bad.

As Gosselin's car pulled up on the recent Saturday, Wright rushed to his door. "Thank you for forgiving our sins," he shouted at Gosselin, who let out a smile.

When they reached the top of the mountain, they got out of the car and began to make their way to the summit sign, just a few dozen yards past some boulders. Just as in 1963, it was slow going, but it wasn't the wind holding them back this time. It was the years. Addison relied heavily on the assistance of his son, Bruce, to make it over the rocks.

When they reached the summit sign the three men put their arms around each other and posed for photos. On one side of the sign stood the two lifelong friends. On the other, the stranger who had opened the door, the man whose name they will not forget again.

As they stood on the summit, the wind picked up, and it seemed almost a joking reminder of just how unpredictable the mountain can be. Because this time, the weather was not bad. It was a daily temperature record for the summit, a whopping 65 degrees.


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