Tuckerman Ravine Report
May 17th, 1998

by Dave McGrath, dmcgrath@skicentral.com

Time for Tuckerman

Photo: Dave McGrath   Date: May 17, 1998

Last Snow - View of the Bowl from the Little Headwall

Check out more pictures taken May 17th.

Just back from a weekend in the White Mountains over the Canadian Victoria Day weekend. Beautiful weather, partly cloudy and quite warm.

Hiked up to Madison Hut as well as summit of Mount Madison on Saturday still in shorts and t-shirts and enjoyed some fantastic views. Only the odd patch of snow can be seen on the summits. Indeed this year El Nino has really shortened the length of Winter in the White Mountains.

Sunday we headed up to Tuckerman Ravine, ditching our skis at the last minute due to reports of marginal snow in the ravine. The weather cleared up by 11 am after some early morning rain and we enjoyed a great hike up to Tucks. Amazingly only one overflow park lot was in use (much more busy on Saturday).

Hillman's Highway (far left side of photo) was either closed or extremely marginal by the looks of it (didn't notice anyone on it).

No snow at all below the ravine. Hike out from lunch rocks is your only option.

In the ravine skiing was available in left gully (no snow at the bottom of the chute), traverse to get back to lunch rocks. Decent coverage across a good portion below the headwall but nothing higher than that. Right Gully was also pretty good but not higher than the headwall. Only one 20 foot wide strip of snow existed into the bottom of the bowl which made skiing dangerous in the case of a fall. Naturally undermined snow from the melt water and crevasses were also a danger. Sliding on inner tubes or other sliding devices is not an option!

Danger!

Speaking of the dangers of skiing Tuckerman at this time of the year, a crowd of about 70 people watched in horror as Kevin Sullivan from Boston fell after his binding broke on his first turn in the center of the bowl below the headwall at about 3:30pm. Losing both skis and his poles he had no chance to stop himself as he picked up speed and slid down towards the bottom of the bowl where the snow ran out. We watched in horror as he slid head first backwards and tumbled 30 feet into the rocks and shrubs below, sure we were witnesses to his death. Amazingly he sat up and raised his hands to indicate he was still with us. We caught up with Kevin back at HoJo's (his brother Chris can be see in the background). He was a bit shaky, but still able to hike back down to Pinkham under his own steam.

The volunteer ski patrol went to his aid quickly and after 20 minutes of attending to Kevin and bandaging his head, he got up and walked on his own down to the bottom of the bowl. Indeed this was more than his lucky day. Obviously his brothers Mike and Chris were also relieved, especially Mike who was only several yards away as he watched Kevin cartwheel across the rocks.

Please consider the dangers seriously before skiing under these conditions! A helmet and spare body are highly recommended.

I received this email from Kevin the next day...

Dave

My name is Kevin Sullivan. I believe we met under some suspenseful circumstances this past Sunday (5-17-98).

I'm more than happy to report that except for multiple contusions I'm generally in good health.

My brothers Mike and Chris, my good friend Dan Finn and I would like to thank:

the Patrol, in particular, Les & Kevin the National Forest Service guy -who's name I did not get (he knows who he is)

Monsieur Renoir de Montreal -Merci beaucoup mon ami.

All the skiers and on-lookers for their kindness and support.

If you could do me the favor of posting the above thanks on "Time for Tuckerman," I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks very much to yourself as well,

Kevin

Check out more pictures taken May 17th.

Time for Tuckerman

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