“Yes, there really is snow up there.” “No, I am not carrying my skis to train for next season.” “Yes, I really am going skiing today!” At one point while hiking down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, I was so sick of answering questions that I told the next hikers I saw “yes, I really just skied” before they could ask. It was funny answering all the questions at first but it got old pretty quick.
Nearly a month after making my first ever turns in June, I returned to Tuckerman Ravine to make my first ever July turns. Recent reports online had very impressive amounts of snow remaining in the Ravine. Recent rains and high temperatures had washed much of the snow away but more than enough was left for July turns!
Chute sported a small patch of snow remaining below the choke but was hardly worth the effort for the four or five possible turns. Two other skiers decided to try the Chute snow patch and had great difficulty ascending the patch. At one point, one of the slides fell and took a slide but managed to recover before falling off the patch.
The preferred option with the most vertical was the long but narrow snow patch under the waterfall. The run paralleled the Tuckerman Ravine Trail for approximately 150 vertical feet. Up to twenty turns could be had if you really milked the run and even less if you opened things up a bit. Those twenty or so turns were heaven! Wow!
My first ever June turns were had at Tuckerman Ravine. The big news in the Ravine today was a car sized rock falling off the headwall and nearly decapitating a skier. I was just clicking into my skis in Left Gully when a commotion of yelling and screaming could be heard from the Ravine proper. I could not see the action due to the gully, but when I reached Lunch Rocks, I was told that a car sized rock fell off the headwall and split into two pieces. The two pieces tracked in various directions with one hunk gunning for a person climbing up Chute. The rock looked to be heading straight down at first, but then started turning towards the bottom of the chute. word was the guy jumped at the last second and saved his life by two feet! The ravine cleared out pretty fast after that humbling experience was witnessed by most of the people up there.
The heat today was oppressive. The hike up to the bowl was easy enough. But once in the bowl, the sun came out and started baking everyone and everything. Even with minimal acceptable clothing for skiing the ravine for my standards, I was over heating. Having decided a warm up on the bottom part of Chute was in order first, I booted up below Lunch Rocks and began my ascent. While hiking up, a “river of snow” started sliding down the bowl next to me. How weird, cool, and concerning all at the same time! I only hiked up to the chock of the Chute as I wanted to conserve my energy for the hike up Left Gully. I clicked in and began making turns on the ridiculously wet snow. Making turns and stopping became a minor issue because the ski edges were cutting and sliding rather than digging in. It was okay skiing but left something to be desired.
Saturday May 29th found me running all over New England for Memorial Day Weekend festivities and moving errands. At 10 P.M., I found myself in my old apartment in Salem, Massachusetts cleaning the place up and dropping off the keys to the landlord. I was looking at a late night three hour drive home to Vermont which was not very appealing. Also, I was planning a run at Killington’s Superstar the following day. Killington being two hours away from St. Johnsbury had me doing over 12 hours of driving in a 24 hour window which was very unappealing. Fortunately, I had planned for the dilemma by already packing my gear and sleeping bag in my car. I saved a four hour round trip from St. Johnsbury by driving straight up to Killington that night and doing some car camping at Hotel Mobil.
Says the cashier when I walk into the store the next morning looking for breakfast: “Was that you sleeping in the car?” Says I: “Yes it was!”
Killington claimed that this past Sunday marked the end of the ski season for New England. Perhaps for lift serviced it was, but for the dedicated turn earning enthusiast, there is still much more skiing to be had this season.
It was a toss up between skinning up Killington or hiking up The Jet at Jay. With Killington twice as far away as Jay, Jay Peak seemed like the better option since this would be the last week snow would be remaining on The Jet. Got a late start leaving work at 4:30 P.M. despite planning on leaving 3:30 P.M. No worries though due to the late afternoon day light allowing for late evening turns.
Recent reports indicated that Can Am was decent and had linkable turns down to the terrain park. Warm and damp weather washed much of Can Am’s snow away. Can Am was still doable with a few brakes in the cover but given my late start and desire for continuous vertical, I opted for longest continuous vertical under the Jet triple. The Jet patch also looked rather elegant and aesthetically pleasing.
My first day of May skiing ever brought my season total up to 34 days which is just one shy the goal made months ago. My gear must have weighed in around fifty pounds in the morning. I did not have the heart to weigh it in the morning to verify but everything weighed in at 42 pounds at the end of the day (sans 3 liters of water, lots of food, my hat, my gloves, ski pants, and a fleece). Hiked up through the long switch backs before seeing some snow around the one third mark. After the second time seeing a long stretch of snow, I got the skins out and went for it. Not a bad decision as I only had to take the skis off about a half dozen times during the ascent. There were a few areas that I barely managed to navigate that will not be passable next weekend. Always glad when I do not have to lug gear up the entire way. I figured more of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail would be bare by now so I lucked out.
While I was set on going into the bowl, various factors at HoJo’s suggested alternative plans. A misty rain and occasional sprinkle was developing with wetter weather not entirely out of the question. Ski patrol was suggesting limiting skiing to the left side of the bowl. Due to the questionable weather, I opted for Hillman’s as it allowed for the quickest descent without need of down hiking. If weather turned foul, Hillman’s allowed an easy ski onto the Shurburne without hiking.
Hillman’s was still covered with exception of a small open stream near the bottom of the gully which required some careful foot placement and a lot of luck to cross high and dry. I managed the crossing on the ascent but ended up with a submerged boot on the way down but no leaks thankfully!
The climb up Hillman’s was a lot easier for me this time around compared to my ascent the previous month. I think the combination of not having skied the day before and better steps kicked into the boot ladder both helped. When i got tired, I made the observation that I had the tendency to try to climb faster which was ironic and amusing, including the implications of creating additional fatigue. Got nearly to the top of the gully when the steps became progressively smaller. My legs were fatiguing due to the extra effort of double kicking in each step, so I bailed just shy of the top. The weather was starting to turn foul as I faced more wind and rain, so just as well.