(Editors Note: Jeff Rogers utilized 8kpeak staff to prepare for his attempt at skiing the Messnar Couloir, Denali last May. He utilized the harsh winter conditions out east to reach his peak. Being based out of the Rockies, we sheepishly admit we had no idea the Presidential range provided such incredible backcountry skiing. We will head out there soon!)
East Coast Steep! Photo, Jeff Rogers
While out West is known for its exceptional backcountry skiing and deep powder, the East Coast is known as the “Ice Coast” rarely getting enough snow to cover up the snowmaking at the resort. But when you dive a little deeper and leave the chairlift behind, there lies a hidden gem, where the snow is still as firm as a chalkboard and the weather is more often than not low visibility.
Mt. Washington from Gulf of Slides. Photo, Jeff Rogers
The Range’s biggest attraction is Tuckerman’s Ravine, however that is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s nothing quite like making the pilgrimage to “Tucks”, or going to some of the less popular areas in the Presidential Range, such as the Gulf of Slides, Ammo Ravine, Great Gulf, Huntington’s Ravine or the Cog Railway. The 40-‐55+ degree slopes, with often-‐bad snow conditions (i.e. ICE) and sub-‐zero temperatures, are a great training ground for high altitude skiing in exposed terrain. No matter what aspect you decide to skin up, you’ll find steep skiing everywhere you look. I was fortunate to be an East Coast skier when the wood met the snow on Denali!
Skiing the East Coast Steeps with a pack in preparation for skiing Denali. Photo, Alex Calder
The Presidential Range also holds the last snow you’ll find in New England, allowing you to ski up till the Fourth of July on a good year. This is because of how much snow is naturally deposited by the wind into various drainages that coat the Presidential Range. If we look at Tuckerman’s Ravine for example, a whopping 50ft of snow is blown in over the course of the winter and covers all of the stuff that ruins your p-‐tex.
Low visibility, icy, steep skiing. A typical East Coast Day. Photo, Alex Calder
While I always wish we had the vast amount of terrain and altitude that some of the other states out west have, the East Coast certainly makes a perfect training ground for difficult skiing conditions and bad weather. The only problem is the thick air. Now to get back into my hypobaric chamber to acclimate….