Tuckerman Ravine—A Bucket List Ride

Alright, I know. I’ve already mentioned this one in my “Top Ten Favorite, Fastest, Steepest Ski Runs.” But honestly, it deserves its own post. I’ve been skiing for a long time, and I hope to devote more time to the skill in retirement. However, I want to celebrate my eventual retirement with a run down this guy: Tuckerman Ravine, the Skier’s Mecca. (I made up that nickname, but trust me: everybody wants to ski this thing.)

Tuckerman Ravine is a glacial cirque on the southeast face of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. I guess I should start this with a little bit of information on Mt. Washington. This is one of the world’s most dangerous mountains, and that’s not hyperbole. At just 6.288 feet, the mountain pales in comparison to the fourteen-footers out west, but it comes with some pretty frightening stats: the highest wind velocity ever recorded was logged here, coming in at 231mphh; 137 fatalities have occurred since 1849, two of which were in 2017; several weather patterns collide on the mountain, producing some of the foulest weather on Earth. Around half of the ascent is above tree line, and when windspeeds pick up to 60mph (as they often do), hiking becomes impossible. Hikers are routinely blown off course by powerful winds, eventually landing in the Great Gulf or Dry River Valley.

So, why would anyone want to ski this thing? Because it’s awesome. Really, Mt. Washington draws hundreds of hikers throughout the year, but the skiing at Tuckerman Ravine is where it’s at. Known best for its spring skiing, visitors must ascend on foot. The trail includes a 2.5-mile moderate but relentless climb within tree line, then a very steep, vertigo-inducing couple of miles up and into the bowl. The weather up here is so crazy that hikers can ski well into July, but you might need special avalanche training if you plan to do it in February, March, or April.

Now, skiing the ravine isn’t as easy as hiking four miles in terrible weather and strapping on a pair of skis. No, it takes a lot of skill, planning, and patience. The Ravine has several runs that span the bowl, all as steep as 40 to 55 degrees. I personally would like to ski Left Gully, the route farthest to the left and, to be honest, the easiest. I’ve heard of people skiing the Icefall, which is around 55 degrees in steepness and requires skiers to go off cliffs as tall as 25 feet. These people are not messing around.

There you have it. The thrill, the prestige, the adrenaline. What more could you want from a ski run? If you’ve skied the Ravine, shoot me an email to tell me about the experience.