This past Friday, Tawny and I headed over to New Hampshire for a trip up Mt. Washington into Tuckerman Ravine. On Wednesday and Thursday the weather report wasn’t looking so optimistic. They had snow and cold temps with high winds. But, knowing that Mt. Washington has rapid weather changes, we decided to risk it and head over anyway.
Boy am I glad we did. We awoke to temps in the 30’s in Pinkham Notch with only a light wind. We headed over for breakfast and to take a look at the daily avalanche report. It hadn’t been updated before or after breakfast, but we decided that there would be something good and stable to ski on so we packed up our gear and waited for our friends to arrive.
About 9:00, the rest of our crowd showed up. Conveniently, the avy report had been updated and things looked good. Low risk in most areas with a moderate risk in the middle part of the bowl. We made some last minute gear adjustments and started up the trail with a few dozen other folks around us. The lower part of the Tuckerman Ravine trail had snow on it, but we all remained on foot for a while with the expectation that we would encounter enough rocky areas that skinning wouldn’t be a good option yet. That proved to be a good call, but after about 45 minutes of hiking two of our members switched over to skins.
Our first views of the ravine were beautiful. It looked almost devoid of people, but plenty of folks were hiking up Hillman’s highway. While snacking, we discussed our options. Hillmans was obviously a popular choice, but more and more people were headed into the ravine so we decided to head up as well to see how things looked in person.
Yep, that’ll do. It’s pretty obvious which snow was expected to be stable and which was considered a moderate risk.
First run: We headed up right gully following a crowd of folks that were headed up to the upper snowfields by way of a bushwhack. We didn’t wand to head up that high, so we kicked off a shelf and started to transition. Did I mention that only two of our group had skied here before? You forget what it’s like to make your first steep slope transition until you do it with a group of people who have never done it before.
The ride down was beautiful. The new snow was thick without being grabby. The old snow was corning up perfectly.
Second run: The left side of center bowl was al old snow and had a good boot pack up it, so we gave it a shot. Most folks were staying out of the new snow in center bowl, but a few had made some big turns and long traverses and it appeared stable. Still, we mostly stuck to the corn off to lookers left of the boot ladder.
Third run, we hiked part way back up right gully for a few final turns before heading down. It was hard to leave on such a perfect day.
The Sherburne trail was well covered at the top. We skied down to turn 5, according to the guide that was putting up the rope, and even that required a little grass skiing.
All in all, it was about as perfect an experience as you can have on Mt. Washington. Great weather, great snow and great company.