the latest from Tuckerman'sOkay, I had some of the best, and most terrifying skiing at Tuck's this past Easter weekend. Got a great deal at Joe Dodge Lodge, stayed with a good group of people, met some fantastic skiers.
Everyone said it might be too early for good skiing off the Headwall. Well, the weather and the snow conditions were better than anyone ever expected. I didn't arrive to Pinkham until about 1:30 Saturday afternoon. By 2:00 I had my gear on my back and was hiking the trail uo to HoJo's. There was no time to get up into the bowl, the sun had already fallen behind the mountain, but I did mount my Volkls and ski Lower Headwall and all the way back down the Shreburn Trail (which was nicely covered). Advice: bring a dry, wicking shirt or jersey to change into when you gear up on the trail. The temps drop quickly, and now is the season for hypothermia. I loved skiing the Sherburne directly back to the Lodge!
Easter Sunday was glorious! Sunshine and not too many tourists. We got up to Lunch Rocks about 11:30. I put on my ski boots there, left a cache of gear (including cans of Guiness, important for survival) with friends and kicked my way up the side of the Headwall. Scary stuff: very, very steep. But at the top I saw the Upper Snowfields with remarkably untouched snow, so I climbed to the summit. The Snowfields are like skiing a dream: you are so much higher than everything around you. Wildcat, across Rte. 16, looks like a child's mountain in comparison.
Watch for vertigo. After you climb the Headwall, you cannot see the bottom of the ski area. You can't see Lunch Rocks or your friends and suporters or the few ski rescue heroes that work there. You can look out over everything, yes, but because of the angle of the mountain, you cannot see directly below you to the big bowl.
Coming over the Headwall for the first time is definitely a rush! Don't be timid. I made the mistake of sliding to a perpindicular stop to take in the view and almost fell over. The Wall is that steep! Well, I had been watching skiers descend as I was climbing so thought I might try one of the tight rock-ordered chutes into the bowl. Everything was fine until, while jump turning, my right tip hit a rock and the rear tip hit ice and the combine pressure forced the ski off my boot. Yes, I tumbled halfway down the bowl before I could get on my back and slow and finally stop myself. Great applause from the spectators. But I was pissed because my ski was stuck between two rocks well above my head. So I kicked my boots into the wall and climbed up until a wonderful young woman manged to snag my ski for me and deliver over to the Ladder, where I climbed up again just to ski down more gracefully. Which I did!
Really, don't try to ski the Headwall without knowing how to maneuver on steeps. Pick your line as you are climbing up. Give other skiers some room, for both of your sakes.
If you are not used to hiking, practice carrying your pack or your skis a few days before climbing up to the Bowl. I swaeted a lot during the hike up!
Skiing Tuckerman's is a thrilling and memorable experience. I am headed back out there on April 23!
Be careful, but ski hard, Joe