Sunday, August 21, 2016

A quest to see Tuckerman Ravine skiers


Welcome to the world of Outdoorsteve and friends. In early May my son Tim, and our friend Mike hiked the Tuckerman Ravine Trail in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire.  Our quest was to see downhill skiers ski the Tuckerman Ravine headwall.

Tuckerman Ravine is one of New Hampshire’s unique natural resources.  Tuckerman Ravine is a vast open bowl perched on the southeast slope of Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast at 6,288 feet. In the spring snow depths in the Ravine can reach 100 feet .  

Needless to say, Tuckerman Ravine is a very dangerous area subject to avalanches and falling massive blocks of ice the size of automobiles. It also is very exciting and challenging for skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. The open porch of the Hermit Hut shelter is a great place to watch the skiers.

How do I get to ski Tuckerman Ravine?
Tuckerman Ravine can only be reached by hiking uphill for two plus hours - there is no ski lift, road, or method of access - other  than to hike.  

We start our hike (if we were skiing the Ravine we would be carrying our ski equipment) at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pinkham Notch Hut on Route 16. The uphill 2.5 mile hike starts with a boulder laden path that turns into a snow and ice packed trail to Hermit Hut at the base of Tuckerman Ravine.

Once reaching the Hermit Hut Shelter, extreme alpine, snowboard, and telemark skiers continue to climb another hour or so up to the headwall of the Ravine’s various self-made ski lanes.

Skiing the Ravine is definitely not for the novice or intermediate skier.  Taking the wrong trail down, or falling on the ski, can lead to disaster – read this as serious injury or death.

To see a graphic of Tuckerman Ravine ski routes go to Time for Tuckerman.  These ski routes from the top of the ravine can reach 40 - 55 degrees at their steeper sections.

Seeing these talented skiers on Tuckerman Ravine is a bucket list item.  Hermit Hut is a place to talk to these local “skier celebrities” and hear their personal conquests is worth the 4 to 5 hour round trip hike. 

Pinkham Notch (el 2,032 ft) on Route 16, via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail ascends to Hermit Lake (el 3,875 ft). Approximate hiking time is 2 ½ hours in most books, however this hiking time depends on the physical condition of the slowest hiker to handle jumping boulder to boulder, weather, and time of year (read snow and ice in winter, and running streams down the Trail in spring).

Our hike was in early May with snow melt of small streams frequently crossing the Trail for the first half of the trip (1 ½ hours), and then ice and snow for the second half (1 1/4 hours. All in all this trip took nearly 3 hours for us to reach Hermit Hut Shelter.

Our hike back to Pinkham Notch Hut via the same trail was about 2 hours.

Enjoy the below video of our hike.

 
Microspikes or Crampons?
My video says we used "crampons" on the trail. In fact we used "microspikes".  To learn the difference go to Microspikes or Crampons?  For most hikers today in the Whites microspikes have replaced crampons - but some of the older hikers still refer to crampons when they indeed wear microspikes.
Ski runs in Tuckerman Ravine are steeper than routes at nearby developed ski areas. Adding to the challenge, as noted, Tuckerman Ravine skiers must work for their runs by hiking uphill for 2-1/2 miles or so to reach the ravine. There is no ski lift, no snow grooming, and no indoor shelter at Tuckerman Ravine. But “Skiing Tuckerman” does boast some of the most challenging terrain in the eastern U.S., making it a magnet for accomplished skiers and snowboarders, and legions of spectators who also make the climb to take in the scene.

Weather and trail conditions at Tuckerman and the Tuckerman Ravine Trail can also be found by clicking on the "Conditions" tab at outdoors.org."

Additional Trips to Tuckerman Ravine
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    "Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve's fifth book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available (2016). Order here by clicking OutdoorSteve.comOutdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book will motivate friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. If you want 5 or more books signed, send me an email and we can work out the logistics. Order at

2 comments:

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