Mount Washington is the premier spot in the East for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. When conditions are right it's possible to ski practically right from the summit all the way back to your car at the AMC Pinkham Notch Hut, a vertical run of over 4,000 feet. While all the runs on Mount Washington aren't nearly as steep and scary as the famous runs down the Headwall in Tuckerman Ravine, skiers and riders wanting to experience these tours should be able to ski most runs at a lift serviced ski area.
During our ski tours and courses all participants carry avalanche transceivers, shovels and avalanche probes. As always, our prime concern is safety and so emphasis is on learning how to use these items and how to travel safely through the mountains on skis. We encourage skiers and riders on any kind of equipment to experience the thrill of skiing away from the crowds on Mount Washington. We can accommodate people on telemark gear, alpine touring gear, downhill gear and snowboards. Inserts are provided for skiers wishing to use their own downhill gear which allow them to skin uphill, there's no need to be carrying skis uphill during most of our ascents. Riders on snowboards may need snowshoes or short skis with skins for the uphill sections which we can help them to find. Through our tours and ski camps you can learn how to ski safely off-piste, evaluate snow conditions and stability,and how to move efficiently through variable terrain, both uphill and downhill. Ski tours can be arranged anytime the conditions on Mt. Washington are good.
On Mount Washington there's a great deal of skiing in a number of ravines. Everyone probably knows about the skiing in Tuckerman Ravine, but there is skiing that's just as good in a number of other areas as well. There's excellent skiing that's not quite as "extreme" as the skiing in Tucks in The Gulf of Slides, Oakes Gulf and The Great Gulf. The Gulf of Slides is accessed by a narrow winding ski trail which gives us a really fun run on our way back down. The bottom of the Gulf has some excellent camping possibilities and we usually do our overnight ski tours here. The Gulf of Slides has some of the lower angled chutes and slopes available on the mountain. Therefore it is a good place for people to go to learn new techniques or to start working their way up to the steeper runs. The Gulf of Slides also has some longer and steeper runs for those who are up to it. A big advantage to skiing in the Gulf of Slides is that with proper route finding and the right technique it's possible to get to the very top of your downhill run without ever having to take your skis off. No walking at all!
There are a number of fantastic downhill runs in Oakes Gulf. It's a bit more remote than places like Tucks and the Gulf of Slides and so you'll be well away from the crowds here. This remoteness has a lot to do with the unique nature of the skiing in this gulf. One of the runs here begins with a mini headwall which is not as steep as the one in Tuckerman Ravine and it is therefore more forgiving and leads into a narrow run which winds steeply down into the trees. Both sides of this chute are banked and so it's a little like skiing down a bobsled run. It's not like anything you've ever seen at a ski area unless you've been riding half -pipes.
The Great Gulf is another isolated ravine which has some excellent skiing. Due to the north facing aspect of this ravine it holds snow till late in the season. Many of the memorable runs here starts off curving through steep rock walls on both sides before opening up into a beautiful wider run that goes almost down to Spaulding Lake. In the late season this ravine can be accessed by driving up the Mount Washington Auto Road and walking a short mile over to the top of the runs.
From the summit Mount Washington’s East Snowfields are broad snow slopes that take you down 1,000 feet to the Alpine Garden. From here you can access gullies in Tuckerman Ravine creating a link up that allows you to ski from the summit to the car.
Tuckerman Ravine is the place everyone thinks of when they think of skiing Mount Washington. It has a large number of steep and exciting runs which can challenge even the best of skiers. Runs such as Hillman's Highway, Left Gully, Right Gully and The Headwall have been drawing and challenging skiers from the Northeast for years. Tuckerman Ravine besides being a great place to ski is also a great place to watch the show. Lots of people ski here and it's possible to see some of the best skiers and riders around doing some pretty amazing things. Sometimes you may even see them not quite doing amazing things, hopefully without getting hurt! All the ski runs here funnel into the John Sherburne Ski Trail which provides a great run back down to the car with great views all the way.
Skiing Mount Washington isn't for everybody. It can be quite challenging both physically and mentally. But for those who feel they are up to the challenge the rewards for having "earned your turns" are great. The experience is totally different from that of skiing or riding at a lift serviced area. Let Chauvin Guides International introduce you to the world of backcountry skiing. Skiing Mount Washington is an experience you'll never forget.
© Chauvin Guides International, P.O. Box 2151, North Conway, NH 03860 Voice: 603-356-8919