I knew in advance it would be the first Saturday since November when I wouldn’t ski. Saturday was the Run of the Charles and I wasn’t going to miss that. But Sunday I got up early and drove to Pinkham Notch. It was going to be a beautiful day and I wanted to ski up and see the Gulf of Slides on the side of Mount Washington, a place I’d never been. The Visitor Center was jammed with Tuckerman Ravine skiers, but as soon as I turned onto the Gulf of Slides ski trail it was much more peaceful.
Since last week a lot of snow is gone. The Gulf of Slides ski trail climbs from about 2000 feet at route 16 in Pinkham Notch to 4200 at the base of the slides. Maintained specifically as a ski trail, it is about 20 feet wide but yesterday only about a third of the width was snow covered and that strip wove excitingly through rocks, stream crossings and numerous vertical challenges. I was climbing on my 160cm metal-edged back-country waxless skis and had a huge uphill advantage over the people with heavy telemark gear but all the way up I kept thinking how difficult the descent would be. Didn’t matter I thought, get up there and see the slides then worry about it.
I spent about 30 minutes at the base the of Main Slide in glorious sunshine, watching the snowboarders and skiers, then turned to go down. I wanted to have plenty of time and was glad there’d be a couple dozen coming behind me in case I needed someone to notice I was lying there injured. The 2000 foot trip down though seemed far less difficult than I’d expected. Some of the telemarkers had expressed wonder than I’d be going down on my light backcountry equipment but with snowplowing and some slide slipping I had no trouble at all. All too soon I was back at route 16 and driving home in time for a nice bike ride with Terry.
Unless Terry can coax me out once more for a Mother’s Day weekend trip, I think I’m done until October. I broke the 270 ski hour barrier for the first time this season and set another personal record by skiing 175 times.
From Rte 16
Tele Skiers with Wildcat in background