Boarding in Tuckerman Ravine


The Chute is in center photo between the two encroaching ledges!

This past Sunday I decided to take a stab at snowboarding in Tuckerman Ravine. Earlier in the week I scoped out the weather, which was going to be glorious! I am up at Hermit Lake Shelters on a regular basis visiting my partner in crime and Tux Caretaker, Patrick, but this was the first time that my days off had linked up with nice, warm weather, which in this case meant softer conditions. I am an intermediate snowboarder and with the lack of snow this year came a lack of being on my board. I was a little nervous but also super excited!

About two years ago I went up with my friend Bill, a skier, to ride in the Ravine for the first time and we ended up riding Lobster Claw. That year I learned it is not pleasant to hike up in snowboard boots. If you're a boarder without an alpine set up, I would recommend hiking up in your hiking/mountain boots and swap them out when you reach the top or your desired location. Snowboard boots are squishy and have a rounded toe, which is not ideal for hiking up steep snow or ice. You most likely will need to wear crampons or micro-spikes which don't work well with typical snowboard boots. All in all that first day in Tucks was great and an important learning experience. Don't forget your ice axe and helmet!
Skiers getting ready to head down

On Sunday I started up the trail around 10am. The Tuckerman Ravine trail is bare for about the first mile and then becomes icy! I was passing people who didn't have micro spikes on, and they were quite jealous of mine. I hiked up in shorts and a tank top since it was such a warm day. I brought long pants and a long sleeve shirt to change into and ride in. It’s a good idea to have your skin covered in case of a fall so you have some protection from getting abrasions (basically road rash but from the snow and ice). I made it to the cabin, ate, drank, and unloaded my pack full of pizza fixin's, a dinner treat I like to bring to my boyfriend Patrick. Then we headed for the Ravine.
Me with my Snowboard at the edge of the Bowl

I'm all about being independent and doing things alone, but Tuckerman Ravine is steep, ever changing, and no joke. It's always good to go with someone who has been before and knows the ravine. When we got to the bowl it was lively with skiers, boarders, and spectators! Patrick, decided we should head halfway up the Chute to just below the narrow choke-point where there was a large snow ledge. After a run down that, he said we could decide if we felt like going further up a different run. It sounded good to me!

I must say, the Chute is steep and its hard to really tell how steep it is until you're on it. Once we made it to the snow ledge, I could change my boots and get ready to board down. It was pretty neat looking down at the Ravine floor from up above, the people down below were looking like ants. We waited a while for the line of people coming up to pass, and for an ever so hesitant dog named Clancy to descend with his master before dropping into our run. There's a lot to watch out for and its important to be aware and alert. Just before our run a snowboard came flying down the chute at highway speeds because it had gotten away from a boarder.
Looking out from the snow ledge

Over all I was pleased with how I did considering it was probably the steepest terrain I'd ever ridden. Afterwards, we lounged in the sun at Leavy Rock at the entrance to the ravine floor, (a safe distance from ice falling off the headwall), watching the whole ski scene. It was a beautiful day and I just enjoyed being there. For more detailed and up-to-date information about the snow conditions in Tuckerman Ravine, visit the Mount Washington Avalanche Center website at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org

Hiking in general continues to be icy...6 to 8 inches thick in o so many places! Don't underestimate it! A few days ago my colleague Joyce went in to Diana's Baths (a universal access trail) down out of North Conway and just beyond the Falls just 1/2 mile in...Boom! 6 to 8 inches of ice with a nice rivulet straight down the center! Bring your Microspikes or even consider Trail Crampons!

As always you can check AMC conditions for the latest report and/or call us here at Pinkham Notch Joe Dodge Lodge to see what we’re seeing out our windows and for the best trail advice we can give you! We are available by phone at (603)466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm.

Happy Adventuring!
Becky Huncilman
Backcountry Information Specialist






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