For many New England skiers, Tuckerman Ravine is a rite of passage every Spring. It marks the end of weekly powder chases and the beginning of the corn harvest. As is standard every April, the YPWGP set off to Pinkham Notch on what was shaping up to be a classic Spring day in the bowl. Although this season in the Whites has proven to be volatile in terms of weather, we were hoping Ullr would pump the brakes a bit and provide us with a warm morning so we could let loose on some fresh corn snow.
Around 8:30 we arrived to the parking lot and found temps to still be a bit chilly – but the sun was shining bright and the clouds were quickly clearing out of Huntington and Tuckerman. We had a different game plan of sorts as the Millers of the West were on the East Coast for the week and, naturally, already on their way up to Hermit Lake. Early reports were telling us that the floor of the ravine still lingered around 10 degrees with a -25 wind chill. Not optimal, but hopefully doable; especially with the glaring sun looming large over the Whites. We made it to HoJo’s a little after 10 a.m. and gathered some know-how from the rangers. Common opinion was that the day prior held bulletproof conditions and this sunny spring day was presenting even better – bombproof conditions. However displeasing this was, we had places to go and people to meet and were still holding out hope that the snow would improve. Like powder days in the prime of winter, corn snow waits for no man and you only get so many chances to ski it when it’s good. We saddled up and made a quick trek to the floor of the ravine.
We met up with the others on the floor and exchanged discussion about the conditions, powder days past, routes to take, etc. – classic lingo among fellow powderhounds. Among the discussions was one regarding the heroic efforts put forth to capture the remaining suspect from the Boston Marathon bombings. If you couldn’t tell by the photo, the American spirit was thriving among us and we felt it very appropriate to bring along Old Glory with us for the day. Powder Moose had the honor of touting the flag, hiking fast and skiing hard with it all day.
As we discussed our game plan, it became evident that both the Millers of the West and the Sawyers (lawful relatives to the Millers) wouldn’t be joining us for the rest of the day. They had seen enough and were not optimistic about improving conditions. This left doubt in our minds as well, as snow quality at that time was nothing short of boilerplate ice. So the others made their way down to HoJo’s and eventually to Moat Mountain for some aprés brews. At this point, us YPWGP were left with a decision to make: go big or go home.
Admittedly, beers at Moat Mountain didn’t seem like such a bad idea at the time. We had come 3 hours from Boston and 2 hours from Pinkham Notch and arrived upon conditions that would make an Olympic slalom racer cringe. Giving this some thought, we realized the decision we were making not only had implications on our 2013 adventure goals, but also on America. We were carrying the flag that day, and dammit we had an obligation to the flag that day. We knew there would be corn in that ravine – we just had to play the waiting game.
So, needless to say, we made the ascent up Lobster Claw in good time and found ourselves at another decision point. The East Snowfields, from a distance, appeared tasty – and beyond them lied the summit of George himself. So, putting two and two together, we sacked up and continued hiking. As we made our way through the terrain, it remained promising. Nothing was perfect corn yet, but it was getting there. As the three of us stood atop a cusp right before the summit, Easy E called it for the hike, fearing that his ailing back may limit his charge-ability on the down. Powder Moose and G. Falcon powdered on through the loose rocks on the way to the peak, eventually standing atop the 6,288 ft. summit with the banner of America in hand. It was a new accomplishment for the some of the YPWGP crew, ascending Washington via the Tuckerman Ravine trail, Lobster Claw, and East Snowfields.
The ride down was supremely enjoyable, to say the least. We caught the snowfields at a good time, arcing some firm corn turns and gliding down to the top of Right Gully. Once there, we conversed with the masses, discussed our lines, and commenced shredding the line with a patriotic purpose. Easy E led the way, followed by G. Falcon and P. Moose, railing turn after turn and airing bumps along the way. We found the perfect corn snow we were looking for – “the kind you write home about.” It was loose, but not too loose that it sloughed. It was wet, but not too wet that it was manky. It was the kind of corn Tux enthusiasts dream about.
At the start of the day, we questioned our game plan and whether it was worth it to be in the ravine. Conditions were iffy at best, and nothing was certain in terms of snow quality improving. However, we made a decision, stuck to our guns, and it ultimately paid off in a big way. It was some of the finest corn we had skied, and we may not have had the pleasure of enjoying it if it weren’t for the American spirit pushing us along.