While hiking back up for my third run, I overheard a descending hiker mention that “you only see snow in July so many times in your life.” That is true for hikers and die hard skiers alike. Having now skied in July four times, I almost started to think of it as a regular occurrence. Something to be expected as normal and just another part of my season. Which it is. But that comment in passing reminded me that no ski day should be taken for granted, especially a July ski day.
The lifts have long since stopped turning but the east coast ski season is still far from over. After two years on the late season disabled list, it is with great pleasure that I am able to extend my season through spring and into summer.
I often wonder why I do it. Why punish myself for a few short runs totaling less vertical than that hiked to and from the skiing? Some might answer for the love of skiing or the passion of earning turns. But that rings hollow to me. There is something much more primal at work in this regard.
The truth is that there is no reason nor logic. There is no concrete premeditated thought process driving me to ski to the bitter end. There is something unconscious and primal pushing me towards such things. I do it because it’s there. And because I can.
Another season comes to a close with the annual suffer fest to Tuckerman Ravine. This year finds the Ravine with more snow than usual with the Sluice patch extending nearly to the ravine floor for almost two hundred vertical feet per run. Snow conditions were a sensational spring corn quality and turns were buttery compared to the usual teeth rattling glacial ice.
En route to the Ravine on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, I came within spitting distance of a large moose. While hiking up the trail, I noticed a group up ahead pull off to the side of the trail and started taking pictures where the Raymond Path splits from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. I assumed I was about to pass some tourists taking pictures of a trail sign. But as I rounded the bend, I came up short and noticed the cow was walking straight down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. I side stepped to the edge of the trail and let her pass.
Met up with Rog and his friend who were already making turns in the bowl. The usual crowd of stunned and surprised hikers gathered along the snow patch to watch us make our July turns. After taking six laps, I called it a day and called it a season.
The Author Skiing the Tuckerman Ravine Snow Patch on July 6th:
For the second week in a row, weather forecasts showed sensational blue bird days during the week and colder rainy weather for the weekend. Not to be skunked two weekends in a row during some of the best skiing conditions of the season, I requested Wednesday off from work and hooked up with the Sledhauler for an epic day in Tuckerman Ravine.
We got a late start arriving at Pinkham shortly before nine o’clock. Temperatures were warmer than expected which meant the long slog up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to HoJo’s would be a sweaty affair which proved to be true. Touring with new boots for the first time, Sled had some discomfort on the skin up but fought through the pain. Views upon arriving at HoJo’s were stellar with gullies (both with and without names) filled in sensationally for this late in the season. We watched on as a boarder and skier slip slided and butt slided their way down Dodge’s Drop.
After a bit to eat and some quick refreshment, we were ascending towards the Bowl on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Sled opted to hike but I decided to continue skinning as long as possible. I skinned the entire trail to the bowl and only removed my skis once for a rock crossing. Coverage was simply sensational on the trail.
Met up with Patrick for some July desperation turns on this fine Canada Day, eh? This is my third season in a row skiing the Ravine as late as I think can safely be done without excessive stupidity (only moderate stupidity was required today). Despite there being more snow at the patch than the previous two years, the overall safety level was much less which resulted in Patrick and I only skiing half of the snow patch.
We made a late start leaving Pinkham around 9 A.M. and made steady time. We incurred the normal barrage of questions and comments but not as many as experienced in prior years. The doubters were incorrect as always displaying amazing ignorance, on occasion even claiming superior knowledge of the Ravine in that they knew no snow was left. Halfway up the TRT, the sun was shinning and I dared remark that “What was up with that 30% chance of rain?” Fortunately we made it to HoJo’s and cover before it started coming down heavy. The two other skiers that passed us did not fair as well having already pressed on to the ravine.
After the rain showers passed, we made our way up to the Bowl. En route, Patrick got a little sarcastic and told a passerby that there was snow in a cave up there. A short while later, we caught up to the same hikers and they asked “is there really a cave up there you guys are going to ski through?”