Met up with Patrick for some July desperation turns on this fine Canada Day, Eh?
This is my third season in a row skiing the Ravine as late as I think can safely be done without excessive stupidity (only moderate stupidity was required today). Despite there being more snow at the patch than the previous two years, the overall safety level was much less which resulted in Patrick and I only skiing half of the snow patch.
We made a late leaving Pinkham around 9 A.M. and made steady time. We incurred the normal barrage of questions and comments but not as many as experienced in prior years. The doubters were incorrect as always displaying amazing ignorance, on occasion even claiming superior knowledge of the Ravine in that they knew
no snow was left
Halfway up the TRT, the sun was shinning and I dared remark that "What was up with that 30% chance of rain?"
Fortunately we made it to HoJo's and cover before it started coming down heavy. The two other skiers that passed us did not fair as well having already pressed on to the ravine.
After the rain showers passed, we made our way up to the Bowl. En route, Patrick got a little sarcastic and told a passerby that there was snow in a cave up there. A short while later, we caught up to the same hikers and they asked "is there really a cave up there you guys are going to ski through?"
The skiers that passed us on the way up had assessed the situation with a no-go decision and passed on some beta near the Connection Cache. Having already seen the impressive size of the snow patch, I reserved a healthy dose of optimism that these two gentleman were being rather cautious. Fine example of deciding to turn around due to conditions, bravo.
But approaching the patch, despite the impressive amount of snow (especially compared to my previous two seasons of June 28th and July 2nd), I understood the grave nature of the patch. There was a clean separation from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and a six foot drop off the edge. In past seasons, the lower portion connected to a landing for an exit but not this season. There was a small exit near the bottom of the patch but it was extremely undermined. I estimated it could be skied with precision but it was much too dangerous to ski near the bottom third of the patch. After having inspected the upper sections of the patch, we decided everything above the waterfall was 100% solid and in great shape. Our plan of attack was to click in to our skis at the top of the patch, ski down halfway, and side step back up the patch for repeat runs and exit.
This strategy was excellent and very safe. We were able to link between 5-10 turns depending on turn distance and style for a total of approximately 60 vertical feet of descent. Slide slip and repeat. I took four laps while Patrick went for six. Every run got progressively worse as we skied off a thin layer of excellent corn which yielded icy conditions underneath. This in combination with the weather being in the upper 30s and raining did not help conditions. When we started skiing it was just cloudy but things got wet quickly with encroaching fog and moderate rain. Back down in Pinkham Notch, it looked like hardly a drop fell all day but the Ravine was socked in and raining off and on throughout.
As per usual, the skiing was certainly not worth the effort. But after two months off skis due to various medical issues including having four wisdom teeth pulled and an in grown toe nail, it was mighty fun to click in and make some turns. This was not about skiing, it was about a fun day out and having an adventure. It was about sharing some turns with a fellow skier and having an awesome afternoon. On the descent, I remarked to Patrick that I always seem to forget that last half of descending the Tuckerman Ravine Trail the next year. My legs and shoulders are still very sore, but I am already falling into forgetfulness. And I will surely be back for more July action next year.
Full Photo Gallery
Been excessively busy lately... some news coming soon.
Last edited by riverc0il
on Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.