Telemark Tips and Instruction
Free Advice Worth Twice the Price By Dana Dorsett
Things to keep in mind while skiing Tuckerman:
Although it may seem crowded, this really is backcountry skiing. Its 12 miles to the nearest medical facilities. Dont let the presence of the Volunteer Ski Patrol and the nearby Hermit Lake AMC hut fool you- its not a ski lodge. The Ski Patrol is understaffed and not equipped for dealing with the size of weekend crowds. Helicopter evacuation is impossible- even in light winds its too dangerous to land.
Be aware of the hazards, human & natural, and watch out for changing weather. The soft snow of your sunny ascent can quickly turn to hard ice with a change of weather and wind.
Ascend via your route of descent- the hazards arent always obvious from across the bowl. Neither are the snow conditions.
Keep in mind both what is above and below you. Ski routes with poor run-outs only in conditions where self-arrest is possible and certain.
Sit on the Lunch Rocks only with your back to a rock, facing down the fall line. When ice releases occur in and around the Right Gully there are often chunks the size of minivans exploding into large-chunk shrapnel on the Lunch Rocks. Theres no running from it, once heard its usually too late! Rarer, large rocks will also fall there, making another nice place for the survivors to sit.
On sunny days when its icy in the bowl, try skiing the south-facing gullies on the north rim of the headwall (to the right of the Right Gully) where the sun has more time to work on the snow.
The snow in the bowl is generally deeper & softer than at the top of the headwall and above. The winds above the headwall are stronger as a rule. Bear this in mind before you decide to head up there.
Dont let your ego kill you. Having just watched someone ski a route convincingly doesnt mean you can ski it as well. Its normal to be nervous, but if you really dont feel good about the route, dont ski it- the mountain will wait, and surviving to ski another day is what counts!
What to bring: Extra layers, first aid kit, space blanket, extra water, brains, avalanche eyes, good humor.
What to leave behind: Alcohol, attitude, ice axe (unless youve been trained and use one often), extra emotional baggage.
When to ski: Sunny days when its above freezing anytime from mid-March on.
When not to ski: Weekends, days less than 2 days after the last decent snowfall, when its cold and windy at the summit.
Have fun, D.D.
Useful Links For Skiing Tuckermans Tuckerman Volunteer Ski Patrol: www.tuckerman.org Avalanche Report: www.rsn.com/cams/conway Summit Weather: www.mountwashington.org/index.html BACK Site Map