Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mt. Washington via Tuckerman Ravine 1/16/12

After some sweet hikes lately, I've been feeling rather adventurous. If I'm going to be a hardcore mountain climber, I have to start somewhere! jk Having done Lion's Head three months in a row, I've had Tuckerman Ravine on my to-do for several weeks. It's always a must to take advantage of a long weekend when you have it. My adventure was chosen, and the weather gods provided me with the best weather I could have asked for.
Looking up to the ravine from near Hermit Lake 
At the base of Tuckerman Ravine
The lower Tuckerman Ravine trail is becoming like the Lincoln Woods trail to me. Its all packed out nicely. I was at the base of the Ravine in about two hours. It was quiet as a mouse there, and I peered up above me to be overcome with a very quick thought and feeling of HOLY SHIT! After about 30 seconds that was gone, and then I was taking my time, enjoying the view from lunch rocks as I put on my crampons. There is truly nothing like standing at the base of the Ravine and looking up with no one around.
Close-up at the base of Tuckerman Ravine
Right-middle of Tuckerman Ravine
For several minutes, I watched the rangers and realized they were going up to do some testing. I looked for the safest looking route on the right side, and I believe it was the sluice section that I was climbing or climbing near. I started up. After that, it was go time for the craziest thing I've ever done. Rather than have me explain the most real and intense all-or-nothing moments I have ever experienced, you can watch below, and re-climb it with me.
Looking down at the two snow rangers
Yup, follow the footstep

The adrenaline of climbing it lasted for the rest of the hike. When I reached the trail and saw the cairns leading the rest of the way to the summit, I was filled with excitement. The day was perfect, and with still a half mile to go,  I had witnessed and experienced the pure magnitude of the impressive, breathtaking, and no doubt about it, dangerous Tuckerman Ravine.
Looking down while climbing
Glove in the way, but no time for a re-take
From the spot where I finally reached a cairn on the trail
The views were endless as I ascended the summit cone. When I reached the end of the trail, the summit and every apparatus was rimed beautifully in a coating of bright white. Other groups walked nearby the summit. Several people were enjoying the summit and the Lions Head route.
Lion Head & Tuckerman junction
Wildcat ski area from before the start of summit cone
Wildcat and beyond
I reached the summit for the 7th time, and this one required pure effort, adrenaline, will, and guts. Another feat off my to-do list.
My 7th successful climb to Mt. Washington
Views from the Top
The stairs don't actually look bad in this picture!
After a solid break in the sheltered corner near the building entrance, I geared up for a increasingly windy descent. It was very gusty all of the way to Lions Head. I descended rather quickly, and took a break at Lion's Head to de-layer. I was sweating from skipping down the trail quickly. Below Lion's Head the trail is completely packed out and was a walk in the park. I got several nice glissades in again, and others were doing it too. I descended to Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in approximately 1hr and 30 min.
Along the Lion Head Trail while descending
A break at Lion's Head with gusty winds
This was the most dangerous, yet exciting thing I have ever done. I don't recommend anyone go out and do this solo. It's not the best decision, but I was content with it, and felt that my prior experience was sufficient enough to do it. I feel that it was, minus the avalanche training, which I want to do. I do not undertake any hike, especially one like this or above tree-line without a lot of thinking, reading, researching, and route planning. The next holiday I'm thinking about is Presidential day, oops I mean Presidents Day.

Hike Stats
Trails: Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Sluice (I think), Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Lions Head Trail (summer), Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Distance: 8.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,300 ft
Book Time: 5hrs 50min

Spot Adventures Trip Link


  1. That is a most epic climb! What do you have planned next?

  2. It sure was epic to me! I'm actually not sure. I'm looking to get a NE Hundred Highest in real soon, and at this point, I'm thinking of possibly trying the Ammo and another trail to complete Washington in all of the winter months this year, may as well, but we'll see. Thanks for reading Grant!

  3. Great pics and TR! I'm diggin the mountaineering ax!


    1. Karl thanks! It would have been completely impossible without it. That's the scary part. The axe sure looks good on video though.

  4. Dan,
    Great write-up and pics!
    My gf and I took the same route this summer the day after I did the mt washinton bike race.
    We had a beautiful day for our hike and hope the weather cooperates this coming Saturday as we doing essentially the same hike as you with an overnight stay at the observatory.
    Dave J.

    1. Thanks Dave, Tuckerman is mighty impressive with or without snow. I certainly do hope you get the same weather that I had. I can't imagine doing what I did even with a little bit of wind or weather. Please be careful, and good luck!

      As I was taking my break at the summit, a bunch of people jumped in the back of the tractor to head down the auto road. My guess was they had done an obs overnight. Thanks for checking in!

    2. im totally amazed at videos ive seen of people skiing in the ravine. People that think there great skiers but are simply not. Ive seen some vids stating awww we ripped it up.. lol what a joke. they look like novices coming down thru there. Im an extreme skier and have lauched from the very top, baled of the top cornice catching 60 ft of air and short turned down thru the rocks. There should be a certain criteria of people they let up there for sure. Its a place to rip and tear not wonder if your gonna make it down. im sorry but this is no place for the meek at heart and the ones that are unsure of themselves........