A buddy placed in the top 50 in their hill climb race in 1995. A couple of us joined him in 1996. Unfortunately the race got cancelled due to high winds. The race officials let us drive to the top, since we already paid the Auto Road fee.
Back then the Auto Road was almost all unpaved. Today there’s only a short stretch that’s not (yet?) paved. Given the extreme weather up there, the ground supporting the pavement can erode, so if you aren’t paying attention, your tire might drive a few inches or a few feet, and you’ll be stuck, or worse.
Headlights are required in both directions, and the speed limit is 10MPH. Going uphill is best done in low gear, and the same goes for coming downhill. Luckily I’m in a Jeep, even if it is automatic, I put it in 4L and manually shifted to control my speed. I didn’t have to use the brakes more than a few times.
Luckily the wind on Sunday was only 20MPH, the temperature was about 55°F, and it was raining lightly. I had a raincoat on, so it wasn’t too bad. I had to carry paper towels to keep the iPhone lens dry. I managed to get some pictures at the summit and on the way down.
Tip Top House is amazing, the walls are made of rock, and the door is very strong. Not sure about the windows though, they seem a little on the flimsy side, but who knows, maybe they put shutters when they expect extreme weather. From the videos they have in their information center, the groups that stay at the summit do one week rotations. Doesn’t sound like fun.
The fee per vehicle was $39, plus a few dollars more for passengers. Having been here before, it was a lot more fun this time around. If you’ve never gone there, its worth the trip.