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It has already been twenty years since that memorable May trip at Tuckerman Ravine. A trip significantly edged in my brain due to the new friendship, love and commandery.

It was my 7th season of racing with Les Carabins de l’Université de Montréal, after another season of skiing small hills and race courses, training two-nights a week and racing and training on alternating weekends, it was time to ski bigger hills and verticals. Between time on the ski team, my thesis and dealing with students and papers, I had little time or money to escape from the Laurentians and ski on my own time and dime during the Winter. I didn’t mind the routine, but my university days as a student and racer were coming to an end.

A number of fellow racers generally had enough once the gates were gone, however I always looked for some May turns after a busy April on campus. This year’s team included a group of younger racers which, like myself, didn’t spend their youth ski racing and were motivated on getting any type of turns. Skiing at Whiteface and Tremblant late April turns was great.

One of those skiers was someone who would eventually be known as Lucky Luke. We had skied together at Whiteface and Tremblant. I believe it might have been at the Ski Circuit party at Chez Swan (I believe it’s now the location of Café Campus on Prince Arthur which used to be at the corner Queen Mary where the Second Cup is and next to the university back then), a few of us got talking making it to Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington. In the end, only three of us would make the trip. After looking at the weather and avalanche forecast, we circled on Thursday on the calendar with a departure from Montreal that Wednesday night.

Party Music heard in parties during my university years. Ski team parties were sometimes out of control – RIP MCA

The group consisted of JF, Luc and myself. I was the only one that had skied Tuckerman before, back in late May 1990 on the Victoria Day weekend. At that time I had stayed in the shelters at Hermit Lake. This time we drove overnight to Gorham to sleep at the Hikers’ Paradise. Driving in the dark, we talked about stuff, skiing, plus I had a girl on my mind.

Once in Gorham, we went to a now lost local bar. A fun evening mixed with brews and stoked about the following day. Forecast was warm and bluebird skies. At one point Lucky went to the washroom and didn’t come back, JF and I hadn’t really noticed as people were talking, playing pool and listening to music. All of sudden we heard Lucky yelling and banging on the washroom door. The washroom door was jammed – as someone let him out, we were all laughing.

Cool and bright the next morning. It was still fairly cold when we started the hike. I had my old yellow ski team jacket on and was carrying my skis on my shoulders. I had found the hike up the TRT with 205cm skis on my backpack to be a pain in the calves calfs hiking steeper part of trail or over boulders. Lucky was also carrying his skis on his shoulders. I believe he had created shoulders pads with foam that he ducktaped directly on his shoulders. JF was the only that used the conventional way with ski mounted on his backpack.

The Skis:
Madpat: 207cm long Rossignol 4S.
Lucky Luke: K2’s KVC 200cm strait as a 2X4.
JF: probably some 205 or 210cm Kneissl White Star.


Picture by Lucky Luke – JF and Pat


Picture by Lucky Luke – Pat looking at the Bowl


Picture by Lucky Luke – Hillman May 1992


Picture by Lucky Luke – Snow advisory

The stoke level increase as we started getting a glimpse of Boot Spur and Lion’s Head and a cool breeze. The excitement raised a notch once we arrived at Hermit Lake, I was having a stomach cramps and wasn’t feeling too good. It might have been the excitement, but probably more to do with the breakfast. After a short break at Hojo’s and continued on to the Bowl. Once we reached the amphitheatre, we had the places almost to ourselves. I was feeling a bit woozy. I told JF and Lucky to take one run without me. They climbed straight up the Lip until I lost sight of them. After a long wait, they weren’t coming down, I started up as I wanted to ski. Stomach was still unset, but not enough to stop me from skiing. I climbed the lip. Although this wasn’t my first visit, this was my definitely the steepest climb. The slope was steep enough to have the tips of my skis hit the slope. At one point I had to take them off my shoulder and dig them horizontally as I climb every step of the steep bootpack, especially when a few steps didn’t have much snow and was more on less on ice near the crux of the slope.


Picture by Lucky Luke – Luke and the Bowl


Picture by Lucky Luke – Tuckerman ahead, Wildcat behind

This was my second climb out of Tuckerman Ravine, however the previous visit was during on a snowy white out day on Canadian Thanksgiving in mid-October 1991. Looking toward the summit, I could see two small dots, I wasn’t sure that if it was JF and Lucky. I waited until I managed to recognized them. We traversed above Tuckerman Ravine to drop into Left Gully. Lucky and I were somewhat impressed by the intimidating entry, although I had been out to West and skied Saudan Couloir (now named Couloir Extreme) at Blackcomb in June 1988. JF who had spent a Summer in New Zealand charged in if he was entry an intermediate slope.

One thing about JF, not much got him stressed even when his backwindshield shattered on the Autoroute at -25c, he continued on after asking the backpassenger with was myself, to clear the window at 70 mph. I had known him a few years on the ski team. He wasn’t part of the ‘A’ team and also they didn’t take himself too seriously. He left the team for a few years with the plan to drive down to South America with no itinerary or timeline in a beaten up Toyota Corrosion. This seemed to be an issue at one US border crossing and he was refused entry. On that trip, after an odd job in California, he bordered a plane for NZ where he thought skiing down under. When he came back a few months later, he found his car where he left it. Got in and continued his way south until he had everything in his car stolen in front of a police station somewhere in Mexico or Central America. He also mentioned that odd jobs weren’t enough to continue on his drive. Eventually started driving back and we back to the University and the ski team after being done for maybe one year or two?


Picture by Lucky Luke – JF and Pat


Picture by Lucky Luke – Summit

So after JF dropped in, Lucky and I looked at ourselves and said ”Hell, we’re better skiers, we can do this”. After dropping in the 45-50 degree steep entrance, the rest seemed pretty mellow even if it was steeper than anything I had skied at a ski area. We stopped at the exit of LG in order to climb back up The Chute. I clicked off my skis on the steep slope and started going up the bootpack. Luke wasn’t so Lucky. I could hear a huge “Tabarn@k” echoing in the Bowl. As he clicked out of one ski to get set to climb, he lost control of his ski at it slide down the entire Bowl, so instead of climbing he had to ski down on one ski to fetch his other ski.


Picture by Lucky Luke – Our turns


Picture by Lucky Luke – Bootlatter

I just climbed the bottom half of Chute and skied towards Lunch Rocks as we decided to eat lunch. At this time, there were maybe two dozen skiers and hikers in Tuckerman Ravine. We were relaxing, eating, enjoying the scenery, the skiing, ours and the others making turns. I remember being in “ahhh” with our day and this place. A perfect bluebird and warm weather, the White Bowl and Sun increased the sun warmth. We heard ice falls crashing echoing the Bowl. All of sudden, someone yell “ICE” as rocks came crashing down towards Lunch Rocks. I remember leaping down onto the snow, piece of sandwich in my hand or the side and almost cartwheeling down. Lucky and JF had taken cover in the boulders. As I looked at my peanut butter sandwich, half of it had torn off when I ran away. A 12-18” rock landed we were having lunch. Note to self, Lunch rocks!!! 😕


Picture by Lucky Luke – JF about to disappear in Chute

After lunch, we climbed back the Lip and we decided to traverse towards Left Gully again. I wasn’t the easier way of going it, but we didn’t know any better back then as we didn’t see anyone climbing LG. Most of the skiers were skiing the bottom of the lower Bowl and climbing the bootpack all the way to the tiny crevasse. As we traversing, JF wanted to turn down before LG, in what is called “Chute”. We couldn’t see the bottom. We could see him skiing away as it was getting steeper and steeper. After that run, JF mentioned that it was really really steep. “Like skiing on the edge on a pool cue”. Lucky and I charged Left Gully, taking pictures at the same time with Luc’s camera. He was the only that hadn’t forgotten it.


Picture by Lucky Luke – MadPat in LG


Picture by Lucky Luke – MadPat in LG


Picture by Lucky Luke – Lucky Kickass jumpturn in LG


Picture by Lucky Luke

We climbed up our backpacked at Lunch Rock for one last run out. We decided only to climb the bottom of the Bowl. As JF was coming down fast, he was slightly out of balance with his centre of gravity near one of the tips of his 205cm long skis. All of sudden, he just went over his skis and cartwheeled with his backpack. We could see this coming so much. After he got back up, we managed to ski down out of the Bowl via the Little Headwall. Skiing down the Sherburne Trail was a faster way down than hiking back down the TRT, however it didn’t make it easy as it was bumped out and my legs would have been toasted like my face and top of my head. A Sunscreen didn’t have the PSF level they do know…if I used some. There was snow 3/4 down. We rejoined the TRT hiking trail near the bottom switch backs.


Picture by Lucky Luke

You could stick a fork in us, we were done. A long drive to Montreal, once I got back home and left on a date with that girl. That was twenty years ago and JF is the only one I haven’t seem in years.

MadPat’s Gallery:
Tuckerman – 7 mai 1992

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Back close to where my season started 191 days ago, back on October 28th at Wildcat.

Back to Tuckerman Ravine after a few years of missed opportunities. Four weekends of rain in May 2005, car accident in late April 2004. It had been already 5 years since my last visit.

The April 29th 2001 visit when the snow never soften up with the exception of Right Gully.

This trip was initially planned for the Saturday, however the forecast of rain made us want to take a chance for the Sunday, even if the temps were suppose to cool down.

Sunday morning at Pinkham Notch. We were freezing, did we have enough clothes for the hike up? Temps at the summit was 16F that morning.

We started hiking up at 8am sharp, the hike to Hermit took us 1:45. It was a quiet hike for a Spring weekend, I guess we weren’t the only ones concerned about the snow not softening up. It was a quiet walk with the exception of my old time buddy (aka Lucky Luke on Zoneski) singing roughly translated Red Hot Chili Peppers songs in French (you don’t want to know). 🙄

So we got to Hojo at 9:45am and we literally chilled for a while, because temps was 31F and stuff wasn’t going to soften up with this wind. The last part of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail was snow covered, hard and slippery. Not a good sign. Up at Hojo we talked to Porter Fox and Scott Markewitz who were doing a story for next year’s Powder mag. There was also another person doing a story for Associated Press.

After 45 minutes of talking and adding another layer, we headed toward the Bowl. Who was there to meet us? I heard “Hi Patrick” from Mark Renson which I meet at MRG and is also part of the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol. The Bowl looked is terrible shape for early May, crevasses were numerous on the Lip side, the runout under the shorten Right Gully was very short. There was a crevasse also in the middle of Chute and the top of Left Gully. The last week weather really didn’t help.

Lower Chute:

After putting our boots and eating a quick lunch we choose Chute for our first run. It was 12:10pm. The climb lasted 25 minutes and we stopped just under the crevasses. I think that I was able to measure the slope at between 47-52 degrees. The snow was sweet, however the skier-right was still frozen as expected. The Vertical of our descent was 340ft.

Left Gully:

Right after, we started climbing the longer Left Gully. This time it took us 45 minutes which included some chatting. The snow was undermined at some places halfway near the rocks. We stopped maybe 50ft from the top Left side which seemed very hard for a climb. There was also a minor crevasse just under the top right corniche. This was probably the best and longest descent possible (without taking to many risks) in Tuckerman Ravine area, even Hillman looked in bad shape. The vertical descent was 660ft.

Lower Headwall:

After a small break, we went for another run. Lower Headwall as high still possible without running into crevasses. 15 minutes and 280′ vert. Lucky Luke decided on a repeat while I skied all the way to the bottom of the Bowl (429 ft vert)

3 runs and 1465 ft vertical for the day. A great day which looked more like my May 7th 1992 visit (except for the snow) – 14 years to the day earlier with the same Lucky Luke. I always said it was always Quality over Quantity. This being said, Sunday was Day 51 in my season – beating last year’s record of 50 set on my last day at Mammoth. 8)

I felt like doing another run, but we had long hike out of the Bowl all the way to Pinkham. Yes, Sherburne is all gone. Followed by a loooong drive back home in Ottawa.

We started our Bowl-Pinkham hike at 3:15pm with pit-stop at Hojo. The hike down lasted 2:15

Drive from Gorham-Lucky Luke’s home in Bromont, QC: 2:45
Then my solo drive from Bromont-Ottawa: 3h.
Arrival at home: 1am

Lines indicate what we skied.

May 5th Picture from http://www.tuckerman.org.
May 7th ski routes. (Left Gully, lower Chute, Lower Headwall)

Picture by : Lucky Luke
HappyPat (picture by Lucky Luke)


Lucky, Scott and Porter (picture by MadPat)

Picture by : Lucky Luke
Tuckerman (picture by Lucky Luke)


(picture by MadPat)


(picture by MadPat)

Picture by : Lucky Luke
Dashen [censored] Steepen in the Chute (picture by Lucky Luke)

Picture by : Lucky Luke
Myself climbing Left Gully (picture by Lucky Luke)

Picture by : Lucky Luke
Near Top of Left Gully (picture by Lucky Luke)

Picture by : Lucky Luke
Skier in Left Gully (picture by Lucky Luke)

Picture by : Lucky Luke
Lucky Luke ready for the showdown (picture by Lucky Luke)


(picture by MadPat)


The bowl (picture by MadPat)


One last picture of our playground: Left Gully and Chute (picture by MadPat).


Back at the car. Lucky Luke and myself totally Stoke from our day (picture by MadPat).


Hike up


Skiing Chute and Left Gully


Hike down

MadPat’s Gallery:
Tuckerman – 7 mai 2006

Originally posted on Tue May 09, 2006 11:52 pm on firsttracksonline

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