The White Mountains in Winter: Splitboarding Tuckerman Ravine

It was just before 9AM and the temperature dial on my JEEP read 0 degrees. Ethan and I decided that splitboarding Tuckerman Ravine, Mount Washington’s premier and the East Coast’s most infamous backcountry ski basin, would be a solid Saturday objective.

A big nor’easter just before New Years had dumped a whole bunch of snow in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and then we watched excitedly as the snowpack stabilized over the last week. Our original plan on the drive North was to climb a more technical alpine route, up Huntington Ravine’s Central Gully, but with the snowpack now looking so perfect, we shifted destinations. Temperatures were going to range from -10 to a cozy 1 degree, but we brought the right layers for the adventure. Ethan and I unpacked the car, gathered our gear, and began skinning the 2 miles out to the basin of Tucks!

It’s a pretty easy go for this part of the trek because the stretch between the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center trailhead to the Tuckerman Ravine Ranger Station sees a lot of foot and paw traffic. Once getting to the bottom of the headwall, we pulled off and packed away the skins, tossed the splitboards on the packs, took out our crampons and axes, and started our climb up Tuckerman’s Right Gully.

The ascent was certainly ominous, given the full on whiteout fog that had rolled in and blanketed the face of the entire ravine. We knew we were literally standing a couple hundred feet from the 50-90 degree walls of snow, rock, and waterfall ice bulges, but couldn’t see any of it! Still, in the immediate sightline, we were ok to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep ascending the gully.

Near the top, we stomped down a small platform big enough to put our packs down and safely transition into snowboard mode. We were just below a giant face of ice with picture perfect step-up bulges that would have made for some more than excellent ice climbing, for another day.

The dropping temperatures and fickle visibility had narrowed our objective to snowboarding the ravine and getting back out. Around this time, the fog was breaking in the valley so we seized the moment of being able to see and gleefully dropped into a 40 to 50-degree powder face!

In late Winter or Spring, you can typically ride Tucks and continue straight down the central funnel of snow that blankets a frozen river. This day, we soon learned, the river was not completely frozen nor covered with enough snow! We had to unstrap and posthole, punching through both thin ice and deep tree wells to climb through the fluffy stuff and back onto the trail that led to the ranger station.

From there, just a nice 2-mile calf burner over trail-packed chop all the way back to the car. Not a bad little Saturday in the Northeast!

Find our full setup, from hardware to layering, for this adventure below.

My Gear:

  • Jones Solution Splitboard
  • Jones Splitboard Skins
  • Karakoram Prime Straightline Bindings
  • La Sportiva Baruntse Boots
  • Petzl Lynx Leverlock Crampons
  • Patagonia Super Alpine Bibs
  • Black Diamond Couloir Harness
  • Patagonia Merino Air Hoody
  • Eddie Bauer Microtherm Stormdown Jacket
  • Black Diamond Front Point Shell
  • Outdoor Research Contact Gloves & BioSensor Liners
  • Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Ski Pole
  • Petzl Quark Ice Tools
  • Julbo Photochromatic Goggles
  • Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
  • BCA Tracker 2 Beacon, with Shovel/Probe
  • Garmin eTrex 30 GPS
  • Black Diamond Express Ice Screws
  • Trango Phase Quickdraws
  • Edelweiss Discover 8mm 30m Rope
  • Patagonia Ascensionist Pack 35L

Ethan’s Gear:

  • Osprey Packs Kamber 32 Backpack
  • Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
  • Smith Vice Goggles
  • Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket
  • Outdoor Research Mentor Bib Pants
  • Outdoor Research ExtraVert Gloves
  • Jones Explorer Splitboard
  • Karakoram Prime Splitboard Bindings
  • Black Diamond Viper Ice Tools
  • Black Diamond Couloir Harness
  • Backcountry Splitboard Skins
  • Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons
  • BCA Tracker 2 Beacon
  • Patagonia Down Shirt
  • La Sportiva Baruntse Boots
Jonathan Ronzio
Jonathan Ronzio

Founder & Host

Founder, Explore Inspired | CMO, Trainual | Co-Host of The Stokecast Podcast | Mountain Athlete | Award-Winning Adventure Filmmaker | Keynote Speaker

    1. Sure did! Riding in the Sportiva Baruntses isn’t half bad. That’s all I used for a couple of years with my split for the ease of blending mountaineering objectives with a descent and the sake of using boots I already had. I’ve since switched to Fitwell backcountry boots for bigger objectives when I need something versatile for climbing with semi-auto crampons and riding. But these worked alright!

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