For extreme skiers and snowboarders, Tuckerman Ravine (also known as “Tucks”) is a mecca you must visit once in your lifetime. With no lodge, no terrain parks, or lifts, and the occasional avalanche and falling ice, Tuckerman Ravine is not an operating ski area. So, why are we writing about it? Because it has become known as the best place for extreme skiing in the eastern U.S. Located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Tuckerman Ravine is a backcountry bowl with some of the steepest backcountry terrain in the country sometimes reaching 55 degrees. Snow depth can reach 75 feet in some areas.
People will venture to Tuckerman Ravine in spring (late March to May). Without any lifts, people need to not just figure out how to get down, but also how to get up the 2.4-mile hike carrying skis as well as hiking equipment. Not only do you have to deal with the steepness of Tuckerman Ravine, but also with the weather which can be very erratic. So, it’s fair to say that this is not only a ski adventure but also an extreme hiking experience that requires everyone to be prepared to prevent injury.
If you are interested in this challenge up Tuckerman Ravine, check AMC’s website for all of their recommendations. When you begin your day, you will want to start at AMC's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center where they will help with any information and preparations up Tuckerman Ravine. Be sure to have proper hiking equipment and go as a group. Also, check any avalanche reports before heading out.
When you are ready to head down, there are roughly 20 different routes to take in Tuckerman Ravine, but their conditions vary with the weather. The Headwall on Tuckerman Ravine is an 800-foot vertical drop from the lip to the bottom. The ravine can also get icy in the afternoon. Try to ski down earlier then 2:30pm.
Tuckerman Ravine Tips:
- Unless you are an expert skier in tremendous shape and have the necessary equipment to hike up and survive grueling weather, don’t do it. Just enjoy watching videos of others doing it.
- Avalanches, crevasses, and other hazards make these ungroomed slopes a challenge even for expert skiers.