Return to Mount Washington

This year my wife and I moved back east from Colorado. While I lived in Gunnison, I’d wake up early before work a few days a week and skin 2000 vertical feet before sunrise to ski, sometimes with a headlamp. This winter, back in Pennsylvania, I started skinning a small ski hill that is only 15 minutes from my house — Spring Mountain — to get my exercise and ski fix.

Mount Washington

Getting to Mount Washington was at the top of my list this spring. I hadn’t skied in the Whites since moving west and I was eager to get back. My plan was to arrive midday on Good Friday in hopes of getting a spot in one of the shelters near HoJo’s below the lower headwall of Tuckerman Ravine.

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Return to the Mountains: Back to the MAX

Since my fateful and educational collision with a tree at Stratton in early December, I watched my social media feeds with a mixture of jealousy and anticipation as the east got some good early season snow. Surely, I thought, Ullr’s bloodthirst was slaked due to my offering, and he was preparing the mountains for my return.

Then, right on schedule, came the January thaw. All of that glorious fluff gone thanks to two days of rain and near-60-degree weather. I began to dread the ice that would follow as I now fear ice in a way I hadn’t before. But as I kept an eye on the forecast and saw that some areas were due to get up to eight inches of fresh snow, I grew excited and decided to head up north for the first time in six weeks.

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Mount Washington Season Ender

As the days of spring grow longer and the valleys turn green, east coast skiers are left with two options: ski the man-made glacier on Superstar at Killington, or head to the high alpine terrain of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.

Great Gulf

My plan was to backpack into the Great Gulf, a huge cirque cut by glaciers on the northeast side of Mount Washington. From there I’d set up a base camp which would allow me to access the snow-filled gullies spilling off the flank of the northeast’s highest peak.

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