10 years ago, when Jake Inger was in high school, he had big dreams of skiing Mount Washington. It’s the highest peak in New England—6,288 feet above sea level—and a rite of passage for any East Coast skier. But it’s also famous for some of the worst weather on Earth, with 200-mile-an-hour winds and unbearable fog.
So on a clear New England day, his friend, Jack, called in to the principal, pretended to be Jake’s dad, and got him out of school to go skiing. The principal, feeling suspicious, immediately called Jake’s real dad to confirm. Jake’s dad said, “No, that wasn’t me. But yes, Jake can go skiing today.”
Over the past decade, Jake has developed a deep connection with the mountains, and the outdoors in general. He’s now an accomplished endurance athlete spending nearly all of his time on bikes and skis. And last winter, those passions collided into one big idea—much crazier than skipping school.
Part 1: Bike from Portland, Maine to Mountain Washington, New Hampshire with all of his ski gear. (84 miles + 4,704 vertical feet.)
Part 2: Climb and ski Mount Washington. (6.5 miles and 3,222 vertical feet.)
Part 3: Bike back to Portland (84 miles and 2,703 vertical feet).
On Mar 2, 2022Jake set out to give this idea a try, and create a film documenting the entire adventure. To him, it was an obvious thing to do.
“In the past, it was already a big day trip with a bunch of planning to go ski Washington,” he says. “Driving there and back was tiring enough. So I thought, why not do it fully human-powered from home instead and just see what happens?”
When Jake left Portland at about 5 a.m.—with the Atlantic Ocean in his dark rear view—a few inches of snow had already fallen, leaving the roads in slippery, unplowed conditions. Right away, the adventure was proving to be as difficult as expected.
“At first, the roads were so bad. So, so bad. I can't stress that enough,” he recalls. “I tried to put shower caps over the tops of my boots to keep the snow and ice out. One shower cap blew off quickly and the boot was just completely full of water and ice for the rest of the ride.”
As the sun rose, the roads dried and Jake picked up his pace—pushing all the way to Mount Washington. That’s where he met up with two local friends, Pier and Emily, who joined him for the skiing portion of the day—a portion that would prove to bring its own challenges.
“There was definitely some whispering about the weather on top of the mountain,” says Jake. “Washington gets really, really windy. So wind-loading can be really, really dangerous. And that’s exactly what we ran into. Visibility was barely there, too, so we skied a more protected line called Lobster Claw.”
While the crew had to make a safe decision to avoid the summit and any potential avalanche danger, the silver lining was the snow’s condition in this more protected zone.
Feeling energized from the ski tour on Mount Washington, Jake slipped back into his wet bike gear and pedaled another 84 miles back to the coastline of Portland—arriving around 11 p.m. All in all, the adventure included about 176 miles and 10,700 feet of elevation gain over about 18 hours. He also burned over 14,000 calories—offset by bars, sandwiches, pastries, fries, and chicken nuggets.
To some people, an adventure like this might sound downright crazy. And it is. But to Jake, this is his perfect day.
“It’s one thing to go for a quick ski or ride in between a meeting or some project at home—we all do that and it’s always fun,” he says. “But when you commit to something and say, ‘This is what I'm going to do all day,’ to me that feels like a vacation. Like you’re really living. You're just gone. You can just disappear from normal life and go do what you really love to do. It's the best feeling ever.”