Mt. Washington, NH 5/15-16/99

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in eastern US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Mt. Washington, NH 5/15-16/99

Postby Jerm » Mon Apr 17, 2000 11:56 am

<I>(Note from the Administrator: This report was originally posted on 5/18/99. Due to our move to new servers, the date and time attributed to this post is incorrect.)</I> <BR> <BR>What a weekend... you couldnt ask for better conditions. <BR>My adventure started on Friday night as I careened north through the <BR>dark New Hampshire countryside. I had a close call with a deer on I-93 . <BR>He/she was just sitting down in the breakdown lane, with its nose on the <BR>white line. Weird, it looked stuffed, and spooky -- kinda like it had no <BR>legs (maybe that's why it was sitting down?). Anyway, after a fun ride <BR>over the Pinkham B road (Dolly Copp) I made it to the Wildcat parking <BR>lot where my friend Matt had already set up camp and was sucking back <BR>beers. I joined him and after some stargazing (incredible, no moon and <BR>perfectly clear) I headed off towards a field to go to sleep. Woke up at <BR>530 AM with birds chirping and dew all over my face.... damn birds made <BR>it a short night. We met Mark Renson in the parking lot at 730 to drop off <BR>Matt's car and then headed down to Gorham for some supplies where I <BR>bought a really nice pot and some even better kielbasa. We were back up <BR>to Pinkham by 830 but my usual slowness kept us there till 915 or so. <BR> <BR>The hike up was pretty nice. Less rocky than the Tucks trail, but a <BR>little muddy in places. It looks like a really fun ski trail, very <BR>windy and loaded with fun fall-away turns. Matt postholed on a big <BR>snowpatch and fell on his back, his heavy pack anchoring him ther like a <BR>turtle. We made it to the main slides in about 1 hr 50min and marveled <BR>at the destruction of this years slides. The lefthand chute must have <BR>gone big this winter, as acres of trees were flattened just past the <BR>avalance cache. It looked liek a tornado came through. We wondered why <BR>more of the snow wasnt left cause it looked liek branches on the few <BR>trees left standing were clipped up to about 20ft, is it snow that does <BR>most of this kind of damage or the air blast in front of it? <BR> <BR>The rest of the gang showed up about 15 min later. Matt and I <BR>headed up the first gully and skied about 4-500 verts of good corn. The <BR>gully zigged around a rock in the middle, and the snow was getting <BR>really undermined there, I punched through twice. Other than that it was <BR>great. We heaed over to the lefthand gully next and cought up with the <BR>others who were most of the way up the chute. Somehow we all avoided a <BR>major pileup in the narrows, but Kathleen had a great pileup of her own <BR>a bit farther down. <BR> <BR>After lunch everyone headed up the first chute. Jim and I kept going <BR>past the top of the snow and linked together a steep series of patches <BR>above. One of them was above a waterfall and felt a bit exposed. The <BR>snow was really soft though so you didnt have to worry too much about <BR>sliding. I continued up over the top to get a look into Oakes Gulf. I <BR>liked what I saw. The run down was a long one, with an interesting <BR>bushwhack in the middle where Jim had made a real man-eater of a hole <BR>for me. <BR> <BR>I got down just as the contingent was preparing to leave. There <BR>was still a lot of light left so I was gung-ho to climb up over the top <BR>and camp out on a big snow patch I found up ther. Matt, however, had <BR>reservations about skiing down on teles with a heavy pack.. so we stayed <BR>put for the night. It cooled down a bit but never got cold. We cooked <BR>some mean kielbasa on a little fire we built on one of the debris piles <BR>(it melted out a pretty big hole by the time we were done) and went to <BR>bed around 10:30. I slept under the stars again and had a very restful <BR>night. Matt forgot a sleeping pad though and was pretty uncomfortable in <BR>his tent on the snow (I love my Deluxe Therma-rest :) <BR> <BR>Sunday dawned bright and beautiful. Matt had to be down by 2 so he just <BR>planned on taking 2 or 3 runs and breaking camp. I still wanted to <BR>explore so we split up and I headed up the first gully to the ridge. I <BR>hit the Davis Path about 10 min south of Boott Spur. It was really <BR>amazing up there. Totally quiet except for some buzzing insects and the <BR>distant toot of the cog. There were a number of people on the East <BR>Snowfields and I thought I could see cars in the parking lot up top, di <BR>you guys ever end up taking the Auto Rd up? <BR> <BR>My plan was to take the Davis Path to the Lawn Cutoff and then strike <BR>south into the Gulf. This worked out ok and I hit snow within about 10 <BR>min. The snow in Oakes Gulf was absolutely sublime. Thjere was only one <BR>set of tracks that were probably a week old. The skiing basically <BR>consisted of a series of 400' long snowfields that got progressively <BR>longer and steeper as I headed to skiers right. The last one was right <BR>up against the rocks of the headwall and had a nice steep rollover at <BR>the top. It was silky smooth and I was able to make big fat loopy turns <BR>all the way down. It took 700 steps to get back up, so I figure that's <BR>about 450 vertical feet that were all mine. Across the way I could see <BR>the Double Barrel chutes. The one on skiers right looked good, though <BR>the snow ended about 200 vertical feet from the top. The other route <BR>Goodman mentions (coming from near Lakes of the Clouds) was pretty much <BR>shot. <BR>I could see consistant snowpack in the floor of the Gulf down to the <BR>pond. Things were melting fast though, and I'd bet next weekend Oakes <BR>wont be worth it... I may have had the last tracks of the season. I was <BR>satisfied with 4 runs and started the hike back to may pack. <BR> <BR>After a quick lunch I headed off for my 3 o'clock date with Hillman's. <BR>It took about 20 min to get there from the top of the snow in Oakes. <BR>Pretty close really. Hillmans was loaded with people (the first I saw <BR>that day) but in great condition. I took the middle chute and had fun <BR>despite struggling with a heavy pack. The middle was bumped up, my quads <BR>were screaming and I could barely get up outta my teles. The snow ended <BR>a bit short of the very bottom (but well into the trees). It was one <BR>long run (1600 vert'?) I was beat. The bowl looked beautiful, and I had <BR>to stop myself from hiking in to ski some more (needed to save energy <BR>for the hike down). I promised myself at least one more day in the <BR>ravine. I think it'll still be good in June, there's alot of snow in <BR>there.
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