So where is Tuckerman?
Tuckerman is located on the east face of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Tuckerman is accessible from Pinkham Notch which is located on Route 16. Wildcat Mountain, a well known ski resort is located facing Mount Washington on the other side of Route 16.
What's all the fuss about?
Tuckerman is pretty unique. It's a bit elusive considering you have to hike up the mountain for a few hours with all your equipment to get there. The mountain setting is moving, the weather forbidding, and the sight of the wall pumps some adrenalin. It has snow long after all the area ski resorts are green. It also attracts a particular cult of free spirits... much like the hiking community. Tuckerman is known for its 45-55 degree pitches so the challenge to ski it is certainly a factor. During the spring as many as 3,000 skiers and hikers may visit the ravine in just one day!
Is this the place with bad weather?
Mount Washington is situated at the intersection of three major storm patterns, resulting in some extreme and often dramatic weather. Considering Tuckerman is also on the east shoulder of the mountain, it collects an abundance of snow blown in from the expansive rock plateau above. On the summit above Tuckerman, wind of 100 mph or more are quite common. Snow in the ravine can last well into June and snow fall in May is quite common. Mount Washington holds the record for highest recorded wind speed on the globe at 231 mph.
Do I need special equipment?
The main requirement is a decent backpack or frame to transport skis, ski boots, poles, clothing and food during your hike up to the Ravine. If you don't have one, you can always rent one at your local outfitter. Good hiking boots with support are also a necessity. You may be hiking in deep snow so gaiters come in handy also.
Remember there are NO facilities up on the mountain; no food and no toilets. Be sure to pack adequate food and liquids before you leave and remember, what ever you bring up, you must bring back down yourself, including your left over banana peels from lunch.
Is it dangerous?
There is certainly avalanche danger at times, one of the reasons the season doesn't really start till April. The AMC, however, posts avalanche conditions and warnings. Many accidents (and the occasional death) result from the risks of skiing up at the lip of the ravine where rock chutes and cliffs pose the greatest threat. Exposure due to extreme and rapid weather changes can also be risky for those not adequately prepared for the mountain. This is especially true for any ascents above the ravine. Caution and common sense will make a trip safe and enjoyable. Be sure to visit the Mt Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol site for more on the potential dangers of skiing Tuckerman Ravine. Over 130 people have died in the vicinity of Mt. Washington including Tuckerman Ravine.
Do I really have to hike up there?
You bet! I've seen a few people using dogs as porters for some equipment which helps, however either way your going to sweat your way up. There is a Cog Railway up to the summit of Mount Washington on the other side of the mountain, and there was talk of opening it for transport of skiers but it never happened. This, in my opinion, is a REAL bad idea and I'm glad that idea fell through. Tuckerman is a place where you do not want to ski down from the summit, look over the edge of the ravine, then make a decision whether or not you can ski it. There's only one way down after all.
When should I go?
Best bet is mid April through mid May, although some years the season starts early March and ends as late as June. Early season, avalanche danger is higher. Hiking up in powder before the spring melt is also a lot of work. Too late in the spring, the upper portion of the bowl becomes unskiable and dangerous. If you go in early mid April, you'll have the benefit of being able to hike up the ravine up onto the vast snowfields of Mount Washington's summit at 6,288 ft. You'll also enjoy skiing out on the Sherburne ski trail below Tuckerman Ravine, all the way to the bottom at the end of the day.
I love to schuss! Can I schuss Tuckerman?
Good luck! It's only been done a few times, and that was back in the 1930's. In those days a great race called The Inferno used to take place on Mount Washington in the spring. In one of the greatest moments in skiing history, Toni Matt skied from the summit of Mount Washington, straight over the lip and down Tuckerman Ravine to the bottom at Pinkham Notch in 6 minutes, 30 seconds reaching speeds up to 85 mph. Wish I could have been one of the 4,000 spectators to witness that! The race no longer takes place by the way. You can find out more about the Great Inferno and Toni Matt.
Login or Sign Up
- Log in with