Originally Posted by NorSkiRuns
I skied Hillman's Highway in June of about 1996, I believe. Hillman's is a less avalanche-prone chute to the left of Tuckerman's as you look up from below. I was scared away from Tuckerman's proper by the signs on the trail warning of falling ice hazards!!!
Hillman's looked like an equally fun, if less scary, option. The hike up to the shelter/camping area at the base of Tuckerman's was about 2 hours. The hike up from the base to the top of Hillman's was about another hour - 1500 vertical feet at about 40 degrees straight up in ski boots. There was a constant line of skiers going up - and going down. It looked kind of like the pictures of the lines of climbers near the top of Everest. I was feeling fairly adventurous and athletic until this 75 year old guy came hiking down the trail from the top - he claimed to have hiked up to the top and climbed down just about every day for the past 40 years.
Hillman's has a vertical drop of about 1500 feet, is narrower than Tuckerman's and has a more consistent pitch - 45 steepest near the top http://www.firstchairmag.com/bc/tucks/routes-hill.html
. It does not flatten out at the bottom as does Tuckerman's - but does not get as steep as Tuckerman's does up toward the top. Since it was June, there was alot of slush sliding down with each turn - gave the feeling of being caught up in an avalanche - on a small scale - with each turn.
It's been awhile since I skied there but your observations are correct. Hillman's is quite a bit easier than the other side of the place. Even so it comps to most expert runs anywhere in the country for length and pitch. Here is the rest of the story from the other side of the mtn.
There are areas in the headwalls and beyond that are steep enough that you can loose your footing if not careful because your knee and foot are touching the hill at the same time when you walk up. Then...don't y'all think you just come to the flat spot to put your skis on, that ain't happening. You may be lucky enough to fine a little ledge somebody build in the snow. Place your skis on the ledge and then try to figure out how to get into them.
Assuming you survive all that you can go skiing....if you can find the guts to start the first turn. Assume you do, you are almost at your normal top speed on turn 1 or 2. Now the steep terrain (well into the 50 degree range in areas) is the relatively easy part. There are many crevasses large enough to fall into while you are motoring along at your top speed and deep enough that you won't get out on your own, but that won't be a concern if you fell in anyway. No need to stop though....just upunweight a bit and you'll fly right over it ....litterally.
You really don't need to worry too much about the ice chuncks. You can hear them when they break off. It sounds like a firing a shotgun blast when you decide to let a round off while you are in your garage. They are the size of cars usually, so you can see them pretty clearly. Not too much worry about being hit by one though. They go by so fast that the law of averages are pretty much in your favor.
For those of you that just can't see the picture, head over to the "testing the bullet proof turn" thread and look at the picture of the boarder. That's pretty much what it looks like there.
I do like the MA about how to turn on terrain like this above
Pure rotary and hopefully some edge engagement.
I didn't mention all the plaques mounted on the rocks at the bottom of Lower Headwall. Those are a partial list of those that didn't have a good day there.