Skiing Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington

Tuckerman Ravine is not a trek for the newbie skier

Snow ranger looking into Tuckerman Ravine.
••• Joe Klementovich/Getty Images

A so-called glacial cirque on Mount. Washington in New Hampshire, Tuckerman Ravine provides unique spring skiing and snowboarding opportunities. It's open year-round to hikers, skiers, and other winter sports enthusiasts, but since there's a significant risk of an avalanche during prime skiing months, Tuckerman Ravine is not a good choice for the novice skier in the winter time.

This is the definition of extreme skiing, but if you're up for the challenge, Tuckerman Ravine and Mount Washington will definitely give you the experience to remember.

Tuckerman Ravine Perfect for Spring 

Tuckerman Ravine is a vast open bowl perched on the east slope of Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast. Every spring, expert, and extreme skiers and snowboarders make a pilgrimage there. The journey begins in your hiking shoes, as you walk up the 3.1-mile well-worn trail to the base of the ravine. Once there, you put on the skis or snowboard boots you've been carrying, hook the skis or board on a backpack, and start climbing up the steep slope toward the rim. 

Basic first-aid kits are cached near the rocks by the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, but you certainly don't ever want to use them if you don't need to. 

Prepare for Mount Washington Weather

The weather on Mount Washington is notoriously variable, and as mentioned above, avalanche danger is constant. There's a reason Mount Washington is said to have some of the worst weather in the world: For decades, it held the record for the strongest wind gust on the Earth's surface.

 On April 12, 1934, a wind gust of 231 miles per hour was recorded at Mount Washington's peak, a record that stood until 2010.

So if you're a novice climber or skier, either wait until you have more experience before attempting Mount Washington or go with a very experienced guide. And listen to what your guide tells you to do at all times.

How to Prepare for Tuckerman Ravine

Tuckerman Ravine is extreme skiing and riding, so you need to know what you're getting yourself into before you head up the mountain. It's easy to get hurt there, and there's limited or no help if you end up having a problem.

If you intend to ski or ride in Tuckerman Ravine, start by visiting tuckerman.org, the Mount Washington Avalanche Center Web site. On this site, you'll find weather and snow reports, weekend updates, photos, trip planning suggestions, and avalanche data. Any warnings will be posted here as well. 

Another popular site for people who ski Tuckerman is the Time for Tuckerman Community Forum. Also visit the U.S. Forest Service office in the White Mountains National Forest, where Mount Washington is located.

Climbing up Mount Washington and skiing Tuckerman Ravine doesn't cost anything (except wear and tear on your body). If you want to stay in the area overnight, the Appalachian Mountain Club has the Hermit Lake Shelters and deals at Joe Dodge Lodge. For details, visit AMC lodging in Pinkham Notch.