Skiing Tuckerman Ravine

February 17, 2014

Skiing Tuckerman Ravine. Photos courtesy of AMC Library & Archives.

Snow, whipped off Mount Washington by violent winds, collects in the glacial cirque of Tuckerman Ravine all winter. The eastward-facing bowl captures drifts that can reach 100 feet deep. The snow buries trees and jagged rocks, creating a winter playground that can last into the late spring or even early summer.

The first known skiers in the ravine were a group of six from the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC). On March 9, 1913, they skied the Mount Washington Carriage Road to the Raymond Path and cut over to Hermit Lake. Though a blizzard raged around them, they climbed into the ravine and partway up the bowl. Some opted to sit and slide back to the ravine’s floor, but DOC President Carl Shumway skied down.

AMC Huts Manager Joe Dodge was another early skier in the ravine, climbing up from his post in Pinkham Notch. Few others followed, at first. Not until the 1920s was the road through Pinkham Notch plowed in winter, so more than a decade passed between the DOC trip and the arrival of a steady stream of skiers to the ravine.

By the early 1930s, downhill skiing was booming in popularity. Gradually, skiers established new routes with colorful names in the ravine: The Chute, The Icefall, The Duchess, Dodge’s Drop. Some include slopes approaching 50 degrees and require great skill to climb and descend.

AMC and the U.S. Forest Service built the Tuckerman Ravine Trail between Pinkham Notch and Hermit Lake in 1932, and the Civilian Conservation Corps built the Sherburne Trail leading down to Pinkham Notch soon after. Most skiers making this springtime pilgrimage today still use these trails for skiing Tuckerman Ravine.

WATCH THIS!

Watch a video of archival film footage taken in Tuckerman Ravine.

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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, contributes to the trail-running blog Running Wild.