“I’ve got another confession to make, I’m your fool” Dave Grohl screams into my ear. Your fool looks at his phone; it reads 3:00 AM, a minute ago it was 1:59 AM. I stumble around crusty eyed pulling on baselayers and gathering my personal affects. Thirty minutes disappear by the time I hit the road. It’s quiet, but not empty, most of these people are likely on their way home ending there night still many hours from cursing that annual evaporation of time. By 5Am I had passed through Andover, and Mike was now in the co-pilot seat. I gather we drifted between mission planning & blank road gazes until we made a coffee stop on rte 16. Driving through conway we were treated to a brilliant red sunrise and view of our objective basking in the alpen glow.
We hit the skin track by 8 and made it to Hojo’s just as they were putting up the Avy Report. At the same time we got our first visual report of the various options.
The duchess has been on my list, but the cruxes looked a little too brushy & ice bulgey for my tastes.
Skinning through the little headwall we reached a surprisingly very empty Tuckerman Ravine. With a hard freeze overnight we were confident in stablility of Right Gulley, one of the easier ascent routes. With only a light wind on the ridge we decided to venture over to the east snow fields and let the top of the steeper ravine routes soften up as they were still borderline bulletproof.
We traversed an ocean of sastrugi; waves frozen in time.
I kept my skins on my skis for the climb up and easily started skinning up, getting some good kick turn practice in. Mike regretting sticking to booting and thus we found a nice switch over spot about halfway up the summit cone.
Knuckle dragger dragging knuckles.
Navigating the sharks.
Back at the Ravine. Visualizing the steep turns ahead; mental preparation is paramount.
Nothing left to do but shred!
So you’re saying the sun won’t set till 7pm? I think I’ll have another. We headed up the lip where we saw a lone skier making some fantastic turns early in the morning. I didn’t feel comfortable going up through the crux without an axe so I changed over early and enjoyed some STEEP soft turns down while Mike kept going to the top. There is certainly some serious exposure to navigate.
Did I say steep?
Racing out on the gentler slopes
as the shadows take over an hour late.