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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tuckerman's Ravine

I finally put the last jewel in my crown of Eastern U.S. skiing this weekend by tackling Tuckerman's Ravine. I've conquered the front four at Stowe, I've skied Mad River Glen, I've jackhammered the bumps on Outer Limits and White Heat. I've even hiked the Ravine in summer but I've always had trouble rounding up some mates to tackle the Ravine in winter. Finally, I could wait no longer, so I took on Tuckerman's on my own.

March 25 was a sunny day, but overcast once I hit the bowl. I did the hike to HoJo's in a bit over an hour. A short rest on the porch for some "fuel"; I donned crampons and headed into the ravine. There were plenty of people watching, much fewer actually doing any climbing or skiing. I figured I'd stay with the crowd rather than head off to the left on my own, so I made my way to Lunch Rocks and up the kicked steps to take on the Lip. I've hear it compared to a Stair-Master before, but in reality, it's more like ladder-master. The climb is ridiculously steep and never ending; and with skis strapped to my back I wasn't moving all too fast. Finally, I crested the lip and followed the cairns to the trail junction where I stopped for a rest, water and to click on my skis.

I started off heading towards the headwall to make the turn around the rocks and brush at the cornice. A few quick turns opened into larger GS turns to control speed. I was able to stop on the relative safety of the 30 degree or so pitch above the Lip for a quick picture aiming down. It doesn't do justice when compared to actually being there; ready to dive into the abyss.

A few more turns down and I was headed into the 40+ degree steeps of the lip. The snow was packed pretty well but not icy; loose enough to send sloughs down with me as I pedal-turned to control speed before I opened into some GS turns that quickly tightened as the steeps relented.

I took the trail down little headwall with a small group - walking some of the impassible parts where the snow opened up to expose Cutler River. I continued down the Sherburne Ski Trail for a quick exit. The last 100 yards were impassable on skis, so I had to hike it back to the parking lot.

Four and half hours of hiking, skiing and some extreme steeps was well worth the price of admission ... free! Not sure if I'll be returning to lift-serviced ski areas any time soon!

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