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Let's Talk Tucks!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
The weekend of March 12-13, I'm participating in an AMC-sponsored "Tuckerman Skiing Adventure" and I am extremely excited. We will be staying in one of the cabins overnight and skiing for two days, getting guidance and instruction on various backcountry topics along the way. (All for $199--a pretty good deal I thought. I'm very keen on the AMC workshops, they're great especially if you're like me and don't have experienced friends you can go and do this stuff with.)

I have hiked into Tucks as far as lunch rocks and skied down the Sherburne Trail, but never actually skied in the ravine itself. I regularly read the avalanche reports and have read up on the place in my backcountry skiing guide, so I do have an idea of what to expect, but I'm interested in hearing any of your first hand stories about your experiences in Tucks and what it is like.
post #2 of 21
In a word - Changeable. I haven;t been in several years, but the last time I was was in mid-May. We hiked up Saturday AM and there were blizzard conditions. Strong winds, probably 40 mph. And although it was snowing pretty hard, none of it was sticking and the slopes were frozen solid. Not too many people there that day. They had ski patrollers there who were not letting us climb and ski the headwall. This was probably a good thing.

Sunday morning spring had come back. It was sunny, warm, the snow was nicely corned. We had a great time, but because we were kind of beat from the previous day we only got in one run from the top.

Skiing it when you are it should be mid-winter conditions, but the moral of my story is be ready for any kind of weather. Have fun!
post #3 of 21
Mar 12 is way too early for the typical Tuckerman's experience. The steep slopes will be frozen rock hard or there most like will be avalanched hazard. On the other hand conditions are famously changeable. You are more likely to find mid winter conditions than Spring conditions. The Sherburne trail will likely be skiable all the way down, unlike what is usual later in the season. There will be many places in the woods and probably Hillman's and the lower snowfields to ski. The Bowl may be skiable in the lower sections, probably as powder, but I would be very surprised if you could ski it all the way over the lip. The East Snowfields on the summit cone would probably be good but a long slog up Lion's Head to get there. I spent March school vacation up there once as a kid and enjoyed it, especially the relative lack of crowds but it was very cold! The Harvard Cabin in Huntington's Ravine will likely still be open. That would be my choice by far over the open front shelters in the Ravine.
post #4 of 21

I have been many times. While at UVM I spent a mounth each season in the lean-to's. You mentioned cabin - there is no cabin at Howard Johnson's, except for the people in charge.

I would never recommend a ski trip to Tucks that early in the season. First of all, you are going to freeze your butt off. Especially if you stay in a lean-to. We used to set up tents right in the lean-to, but they would come by and tell us to take em down.

Chances are the headwall will be closed. I'd bet on avalanch conditions. Oh did I mention freezing your @s$ off. I like an adventure but I'd pass on Tucks mid March.
post #5 of 21
Look up Chauvin Guides on the net. They have a web page on skiing Mount Washington. Unfortunately the last time I checked the site (and when I climbed a month ago) there was very little snow this year. That could change, but the season started off very slow. The AMC will be very cautious on were they will take you skiing. People ski throughout the winter in good years.
post #6 of 21
I checked the AMC website and it doesn't mention staying at a cabin, but it does say you'll be setting up camp at Hermit Lake. Which of course means you'll be in tents and it might get pretty cold. What everyone else said is absolutely true. Additionally, fog is really common, both wet fog in warmer weather and ice fog when its cold. AMC trips are always a lot of fun, you'll freeze but you'll have a great time. I was on the Sherburne trail 2 weeks ago and someone had been running a cat up & down it and it was nothing but knobby frozen crap and cat tracks. Right now Mt Wash is getting dumped on with intermittent squalls forecast for the next few days. Tucks will be good in early April and your workshop experience will put you in good position to enjoy!
post #7 of 21
There are open-front leantos at Hermit Lake. There is also a visitor center run by AMC on the site of the old HOJOs but except for a tiny area accessible to visitors, the enclosed heated area is for the caretaker staff. There is also a cabin used by the Avalanche Ranger and the Ski Patrol. There is a cabin not far away over in Huntington Ravine which is open in winter and used mainly by people climbing in Huntington. Seriously, it will be cold! Be sure you are equipped for winter conditions.
post #8 of 21
That time of year is completely hit or miss on Mt. W - you could have a bluebird day in the mid-20s, good snow, with no wind and low-moderate avy danger (like this past Sat), and the next day (like this past Sun) considerable-high danger with 85 mph winds, bulletproof snow, squalls, and wind chills well into the negatives. With that being said, some of the best skiing I've ever had has been at Tucks and GOS. I'd go prepared for anything! I'd stick to Right Gully, depending on snow conditions, winds and avy danger, for your first run. Very mellow gully with the right snow. My intro to Tucks was at Right Gully...very memorable run! Have fun.
post #9 of 21
hey stryder can you post a link so I can get more information on your particular class? I'm very interested as well in doing more backcountry stuff esp. at Tuckermans

Are you doing alpine, tele, or snowboard?
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter

That's the link. It's an AMC thing. I spoke to a woman about it yesterday and she said so far only 3 people including myself have signed up. We are staying overnight Saturday March 12 at Hermit Lake Shelter and skiing on the 12th and 13th. It's probably not too late to sign up if you want to go. Are you an AMC member?

I will be using AT gear. The workshop description talks about tele stuff but I assume this will be fine as I have done other backcountry stuff with people who were primarily on tele gear. It seems that AT is still not on a lot of people's radar screens.

I have hiked Mt Washington in winter and am pretty familiar with how changeable and often harsh the conditions will be. There has been quite a bit of snow in the area recently so hopefully the conditions will be decent. It is definitely not as much as in years past though. I just hope the avy danger is not too bad over that particular weekend.
post #11 of 21
I signed up for the Backcountry Ski Camp on Mar 18-20 in the Gulf of Slides. I think Marc Chauvin will be guiding this one.
It sounds like this one is more focused on AT stuff.

I have been seeing an increase in AT skiers in the NE area. I was up at Cardigan a couple weekends ago and ran into 4 or 5 other ATers there. Maybe it is time we are coming into our own.

post #12 of 21
yeah i think soon we'll need our own at website (like ttips but we'll just call it attips!)
post #13 of 21
I think you're going to have quite an experience. You might have a bluebird day and incredible skiing or you may be in blowing snow and whiteout but it will probably be a great adventure!
post #14 of 21
One thing I know about Mt Washington is, "you won't know if you don't go". I do it an average of 15 times a year and if I backed off because of weather reports or even conditions at the base I would have missed 100's of the best skis days of my life. Whoever said early March is too early hasn't been up there much in early season because I've seen plenty absolutely PRIME days even before Christmas. February is a great month up there because it's not a zoo and it's still mid-winter conditions instead of deep into the freeze/thaw cycle. On the otherhand I've seen plenty days in April and May that's just too cold and solid to do anything. Just do it and stop worrying about the weather.
post #15 of 21
I just went to the AMC page you put the link for and it says the trip has been cancelled
post #16 of 21
Go anyway!
post #17 of 21
>> I just went to the AMC page you put the link for and it says the trip has been cancelled

Yeah I know. Appearantly having one person (me) sign up wasn't enough for them to hold the trip. I tried arguing that my multiple personalities would be coming along as well but that didn't have any effect.

It is getting around to that time to get in the Tuckermans trip though. I might just do a day trip over that weekend.

post #18 of 21
The Sherburne trail should be good after this storm. Other BC possibilities like to backside of Wildcat and the Doublehead trail would be possible I imagine the avalanche potential in the Bowl could be fearsome but, as someone pointed out, you never know.
post #19 of 21

More Tucks!

Originally Posted by oisin
The Sherburne trail should be good after this storm. Other BC possibilities like to backside of Wildcat and the Doublehead trail would be possible I imagine the avalanche potential in the Bowl could be fearsome but, as someone pointed out, you never know.

As everyone no knows, Tuckerman was absolutely fantastic over Easter weekend! Snow conditions excellent, sunshine, mid-thirties temps. We really lucked out for our first ski trip to the ravine. I summitted and then skied the entire length, up and over the headwall lip, down the bowl and all the way to the parking lot on the Sherburne Trail. What a ride!

Even if you have doubts about the weather, go and have a good time hiking. And if you can ski that day, you'll have one of the most intense experiences of your skiing career.
post #20 of 21
Congratulations! I absolutely agree with you about the weather. If I had planned my trips according to the weather I'd have missed out on some of the most incredible skiing experiences ever. Tuckerman's can be absolutely incredible or terrible almost any day during the season. There's a big difference though between the probability of great Spring skiing in mid March and the end of March/beginning of April. I think you have the right philosophy for Tucks. I used to get so tired of listening to the whiney "what about the weather forecast? " types. I've often returned from a fabulous weekend up there to hear the "I'll bet it was awful" comments. My advice: say nothing. If they can't detect the ear to ear grin or the glowing sunburn, they just don't get it.
post #21 of 21
I skied it one time in late March when we were wearing t-shirts in the bowl b/c the sun just heated up the whole thing. It snowed at my house that day in Mass. You never know.
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