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.
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:
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?”
“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!