Spring Skiing: The Scene at Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington
You've probably heard of Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington, also referred to as “Tuck’s”, located in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. You may have hiked it in summer or early fall. If you're an avid, advanced skier, you may be among those who dare to make the trek up to the ravine and ski it in early spring. If so, you know the amount of preparation required to ski the area safely, but if not, here's the inside scoop from our very own Eric Wasson, who skis the famous ravine every year.
When to Ski Tuckerman Ravine
The best window of time to ski Tuck’s is between mid-April and mid-May, although some years, the season begins in March and extends into June. The earlier in the season you go, the icier conditions may be, and the higher the avalanche risk is, so if you're not an expert skier or rider, going later in the season is best.
Where to Park
You'll park at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on Route 16 between Gotham and Jackson, where you'll find access to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The parking lot fills up fast on the weekends, but there is an overflow lot nearby, just south of the Visitor Center.
What to Bring With You
Just as you would for any challenging hike, you'll want to pack plenty of water, a solid lunch, and some energizing snacks. There's nothing worse than running out of food or water when you're exhausted and in the mountains. And, just because it's spring, that doesn't mean the weather will be mild.
No matter what the weather is like at the bottom of the mountain, you'll definitely want grippy hiking boots for the later part of the trip, as it will get icy and slippery. The weather on Mount Washington can change quickly and is quite unpredictable, so it's a good idea to bring extra warm layers and waterproof clothing just in case.
And, if you have avalanche gear, bring it along; otherwise, you'll need to be extra cautious about watching the slopes for loose snow, especially as the day goes on. Before heading out for the day, Check out the Mount Washington Avalanche Center for updates.
Be sure your backpack is sturdy and comfortable on your back before heading out on the trail, as the hike up to Hojo's, the caretaker cabin and outpost below the base of the ravine, is 2.4 miles and will take about 2 hours, give or take.
The scene at Hojo's is unlike anything you've likely seen before. Be sure to give yourself a moment to take it all in. There may be thousands of people hanging out in t-shirts, shorts, and other festive attire on any given day who are just there for the party.
From here, the base area is an additional 0.6 miles and 30-45 minutes farther, where many people grab a spot at the Lunch Rocks. It's a great place to watch all the action, but you also have to be aware of your surroundings, as there will be skiers and riders coming at you from all directions.
There are multiple options for trails to ski within the bowl from the base area. It just depends on your comfort level and what you have left for energy. Depending on which one you choose, it will take about an hour of serious climbing (with all of your ski gear) to reach the top of the bowl – the final destination.
It's definitely not a trip for casually enjoying the outdoors. Unless you're just there to observe, you will have your work cut out for you. You may only get in one or two runs, but it will be well worth the effort – and the bragging rights! Hike back down the way you came, or try skiing all the way down to the parking lot via the Sherburne Ski Trail, also known as “Sherbie”.
As for the rest of us at AZTEC Financial Group, we're more into other spring activities that don't involve wild weather or very steep slopes.