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Tuckerman Ravine
April 17, 2008

Route: Tuckerman Ravine Trail, The Bowl,
John Sherborne Ski Trail
Map:
 

Elevation:

Hermit Lake Shelters 3875 ft
Gumdrop Rocks 4500 ft

Vertical Climb:

2554 ft

Distance:

6.2 miles

Who Went:

Paul (solo)

I had been up to Tuckerman Ravine several times, including once in the winter, but never during the spring skiing season, and I was interested in seeing what it was like on a nice day when the ravine is crowded with hundreds of skiers and snowboarders. In addition, I brought my ice axe with the thought of practicing a little self-arrest skills.

The parking lot at Pinkham Notch was already pretty crowded when I arrived around 8 AM. After putting on my pack and gaiters, I walked around to the back of the visitor's center where the Tuckerman Ravine Trail begins. Here, skiers start their long trek up to the ravine with their cumbersome equipment. My pack was a bit heavier than usual, but not as heavy or unwieldy as a pack with a snowboard or pair of skis projecting way above the climbers' heads. In addition, most were carrying heavy telemark or snowboard boots in their packs.

A short hike brought me to the first crossing of the Cutler River, which flows under a wide wooden bridge designed primarily for snowmobile traffic. Snowmobiles are the primary means used to bring search and rescue teams up to the Hermit Lake Ranger Station (also known as Hojo's), and to bring injured persons down.

As usual, the slog up to Hojo's and its associated camping shelters and tentsites seemed to go on forever, although the trail was much smoother on the snowpack than it is in the summer, with its numerous rocks and large drainage ditches.

A large crowd had gathered on and around the outdoor deck at Hojo's, mostly watching the skiers on Hillman's Highway, an area just to the south of the more popular horseshoe-shaped cirque known as the Bowl.

After catching my breath and watching the skiers for a while, I set off up the trail to the upper floor of the ravine, stopping briefly to fill up my water bottles at the nearby hand-pumped well that provides Hermit Lake's main water source. The deep snow had been dug out around the pump, which otherwise would have been buried.

Just past the well, the trail climbs quite steeply, over rock steps in the summer, but on well-packed and slightly slick snow on this trip. Partway up, I stopped to take another picture of Hillman's Highway and Boott Spur Gully.

Lower part of Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Skiers begin the long trek up to the ravine with their  cumbersome equipment.

Cutler River. The river flows both here under the snowpack and under this bridge on the trail, not far from Crystal Cascade.

Hillman's Highway from the Hermit Lake Ranger Station, which is popularly known as HoJo's. The long gully angling down to the left is known as Hillman's Highway to backcountry skiers.

The Bowl from HoJo's. Some of the crowd on the deck at HoJo's are watching skiers on Hillman's Highway. The Tuckerman Ravine headwall (known as the Bowl) is in the distance.

Hillman's Highway closeup. Skiers group near the bottom of Hillman's Highway after making a run.

Well pump. This well is the water source for the Hermit Lake Ranger Station and shelters. The snow has been dug out around it to provide access.

Hillman's Highway and Boott Spur Gully from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail above HoJo's.

Map

Tuckerman Ravine: 

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