It is early May and it is still peak ski season at Tuckerman’s Ravine – a glacial cirque shaped like a bowl with near vertical drops on Mt. Washington. It is popular among skiers to make the annual pilgrimage to ski its amazing natural dare devil slopes. April/ May is peak because the snow settles in and the risk of avalanche is significantly lower than during the winter months of January – March.
So on May 7, 2014, we started the hike to the summit via Tuckerman’s trail. Once at the base, we went up Right Gully – the right most side from the base of the bowl. The views were filled with glittering fresh snow from over the weekend under blue skies. There were a few skiers on this beautiful day that gave us company up the gully. We kept going up in a stair case fashion using the boot marks from skiers ahead of us. Towards the top, as it got steeper, we stopped to put on our crampons as a precaution – it certainly won’t be a pleasant fall to go down the ravine! The view was simply transcendental – snow covered black rocks all around with ice falls along various sections of the bowl, protruding over rocks, they looked ready to break loose and come tumbling down without any notice, creating a surreal effect. It is during these moments that one can appreciate the true meaning of “living in the moment” as we soaked up the views and sounds of the mountain with every other thought melting away.
As we cut across small pines towards the top of the gully, the air was filled with an amazing pine scent that added another dimension to the already trance like experience. Once up the ravine, we came across wind swept and heavenly alpine garden and two hours later, we reached the summit. Last few times that I have climbed this section, it was a blizzard-like whiteout conditions with strong winds. But on this spring day, the wind gods were nowhere to be found.
A spring climb via Tuckerman’s is a very different experience indeed – the views of the ravine and the surrounding mountain ranges are beyond what words can describe. If you are someone not up for a true winter hike but want to experience the winter wonders of Mt. Washington, this is a must try in April/ May when the avalanche risk is low and the weather forecast calls for sunny skies.
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