About a month ago, I got a call from some friends to go hike & ski Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Without hesitation, I accepted the invite. Over the next few weeks we hammered out details regarding flights, lodging, and itineraries. Accompanying us on this trip would be my friend Matt, his girlfriend Mallory, Ursula, and her boyfriend Josh. This would be the first I would be meeting Josh.
When the day finally arrived to go, work could not go any slower; I couldn’t wait to get my ass out of there! After some minor traffic on I-79 I arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) with a lot of time to spare.
My final destination was Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) in New Hampshire, with a brief layover consisting of a mediocre sandwich from Potbelly Sandwich Works in Reagan International (DCA). Besides that, my flights were just the way I like them. Uneventful.
After gathering my luggage and acquiring my rental car from MHT, I was ready to begin my two or so hour drive north towards Jackson, NH. I stopped for a quick bite to eat at a Seven Eleven a few miles before my destination, the Jackson Covered Bridge Hotel.
After leaving the Seven Eleven, I shot Mal a text saying I’d be there in a few minutes. Once I got to the hotel, I didn’t see any of the Subaru cars I expected to be in the lot. I circled the lot twice and then called Mallory only to find out that we changed our accommodation to the Attiash Mountain Village. I completely skimmed over that in the email. Fuck! Luckily for me, the new hotel was only a few minutes down the road.
Once I got to the new place, I met Mal at the door and quickly got ready for bed. Two or three hours of “sleep” passed before I was awoken by this direct quote, “Is he dead?” Great way to start the day. Once I came to I introduced myself to Josh, and we all proceeded to get ready for Tuckerman Ravine!
We grabbed breakfast at a local gas station and drove 45 minutes to base of Tuckerman. Shit! It was cold as hell when we got there! The extra layers I packed were definitely going to come in handy today. We finished eating, emptying our bladders (and bowels), and packed our bags before meeting up in Pinkham Notch.
Once everyone was ready to go, we made our way to the Tuckerman Ravine trail and started our hike. Five minutes into the hike I had to strip a ton of layers off! It got hot really fast. Everyone else followed suit and stripped down. People hiked, skinned and attached a sled behind them to get their gear up the trail. I think most people would classify this as a “strenuous hike.”
Evidently, Josh and I are very strong hikers because flew up that trail. I think we made it HoJos (Tuckerman Ravine caretaker’s hut) in an unofficial time of 45 minutes. Once we got there, we dropped our gear off and went back down the trail to wait for everyone else. Everyone was up with an hour and fifteen minutes of so.
Once we got back to HoJos, the weather took a turn for the worse. It got cold! Like brutally, fucking cold. Top make things worse, my gloves I took off on the hike up were now basically frozen. Sweet! At least I had few extra layers in my pack. For the next forty five minutes or so we snapped photos, ate snacks, watched others already on Tuckerman, and complained about how fucking cold it was.
After complaining about the cold, it was time to hike from HoJos to the base of Tuckerman Ravine. This was one hell of hike. Mount Washington showed us why it has one of the highest recorded wind speeds on planet Earth as the wind picked up dramatically. I still don’t know Matt’s snowboard didn’t cause him to fly backwards because it was like a huge sail. We hiked through deep snow, climbed over rocks, navigated narrow walkways until we got the unofficial ski patrol’s hangout.
At the hangout, it was time to put on our boots. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to put on ice cold boots? It was fifteen minutes of pure hell! After we got our boots on, Mal struck up conversation with the ski patrol. I’m not exactly sure what they said to her, but she was convinced there was going to be an avalanche. Needless to say, her day was effectively over.
After snapping a few more pictures, we made our way to the base of Tuckerman Ravine. We took a few group photos here before deciding on what trail to hike and ski. It was decided that we would ski Lobster Claw in the Right Gulley (#10 on the trail photo above). Well, we as in Matt, Josh, and myself. The girls decided to back out due to avy fears. Instead they would just ski down the Sherburne Ski Trail. Little did we know that we’d find them drunk off a few bottles of wine when we returned a few hours later. We assured the girls we’d check the snowpack for any avy danger (and we did), and they took off. The only thing separating us from the ride of our lifetimes was one final, steep-ass hike. It was now or never.
We started the final hike (well more of a bear crawl) up Tuckerman. This was easily going to be one of the steepest runs of my life. Only a few trails in Jackson Hole were steeper rides. I could feel my heart beating harder and harder the further we crawled up. Granted this was a strenuous hike up, but the shear anxiety and fear of what awaited also played on my mind. After about twenty or thirty minutes, we made it to the top.
At the top, we got into our bindings and watched as others dropped in to see what lines were the best. Josh was the first to drop in and he got through with little trouble. I dropped in next and one my first turn my foot ejected from my binding sending me into a barrel roll through the air. I dug my ski out of the powder and made my way down. After that, Matt dropped in and met us at the base of Tuckerman. We did it! We shred Tuckerman Ravine!
All we had left was to ski down the Sherburne Trail back to our vehicles. If you’ve never skied this before, its pretty shitty early April. It was basically hardback and icy bumps all the way to the base. Factor in the little sleep I got the night before and the long hike in and my legs were J-E-L-L-O. They were shot. No strength left whatsoever. I made my way to the base with as good of form as possible (read: I sucked). At the cars we had some celebritory beers before making our way to Josh’s grandfather’s place in Vermont. Oh yeah, we also picked up some beers to celebrate with that night.
Josh’s grandfather was quite the character. You never would have guessed the man was in his early ninety’s! He was extremely mobile, prepared us a (much needed) six course meal, and chatted with us most of the night. It bothered him that he had to quit cross country skiing a year or so ago. How many people can do that at that age? The rest of the night is a little bit of blur but I remember us drinking the beers we bought on the way over, reminiscing, and playing darts before retiring in the late hours of the night.
We awoke refreshed the next morning to an amazing Vermont breakfast. After that we bid good bye to Josh’s grandfather and made our to Killington to meet up with Ursula’s brother, Pete. The original plan was to ski that day, but flights home and muddy conditions at the resort made us nix those plans. After bullshitting with Pete and his friends, we got some lunch in town and went a local ski shop before saying our goodbyes.
Everyone was driving back to Philly while I had a solo road trip back to Manchester to return my car and catch a flight at MHT back to PIT with another brief layover in DCA. Everyone on MHT asked me where I was coming back from with my ski gear and I explained I just shred Tuckerman for the first time. A few of the people had done it in their younger years and we exchanged stories. Soon it was time to board my flight back home. Once again, they were exactly how I like them. Uneventful.