The Burton Blog

Steep Learning Curves: Our Annual Pilgrimage to Tuckerman Ravine

Each spring, a crew from Burton HQ makes an annual pilgrimage to an infamous East Coast backcountry spot called Tuckerman Ravine.

See, Tuckerman Ravine has a special place in our hearts. We've been heading up there, not just to have fun, but to test product, for over thirty years. Legendary riders like Craig Kelly have graced its lines alongside everyday riders like us, the office jockeys filling the cubicles at Burton HQ. Knowing that a crew will always be down for the trip is just one of the little things that makes Burton what it is.

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A moody, overcast view of the bowl at Tuckerman Ravine.

Perched below the peak of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire (and New England’s) tallest mountain, it’s one of the biggest backcountry zones in the Northeast. The main bowl boasts an array of untamed lines, all sloped at a gut-busting 40 to 55-degree pitch. Climbing up the bootpack can be just as scary as the ride down. One slip could lead to a tomahawking world of hurt, or worse. On top of that, there are cliffs, ice falls, open crevasses leading to subterranean water flows, boulders, narrow chutes, sluffed-out runnels… It’s the perfect playground for New England’s most devoted go-hards. When the conditions are right and people start going full-send, it’s one of the best shows the East Coast has to offer.

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First thing's first: cheer up and gear up.

Spring in New England is notoriously unpredictable. We spent a month watching the Mt. Washington Avalanche Center’s reports and cross-referencing weather forecasts. When things finally looked good, we piled into a few Toyotas and hit the road. 

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Conditions check, gear check, communication check, and we're off!
               
  • The obligatory weigh-your-pack stop. The average weight among our group was about 28 pounds.

    The obligatory weigh-your-pack stop. The average weight among our group was about 28 pounds.

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  • Everybody loves a power mule. This guy put every strap and board-carry option to use.

    Everybody loves a power mule. This guy put every strap and board-carry option to use.

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  • Getting into our rhythm. Enjoying a few fart jokes... er, trail talk.

    Getting into our rhythm. Enjoying a few fart jokes... er, trail talk.

 

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The infamous Hojo's, a cabin for caretakers, memorabilia, and a great place to catch your breath before the last push up to the bowl.
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Always good to chat with the caretakers and get the lowdown on what's happening up top. How fast is this wind blowing, anyway?
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Overnight windspeeds of 120mph mellowed out to a calm 70mph by the time we made it up to the bowl.

Coordinating carpools for 17 of us from Burton HQ was easy enough. Hiking up and practicing the Leave No Trace policy was standard. The trail up to Tuckerman sees over 3000 visitors on the average busy weekend. When your hike is finally over, you're rewarded with the towering view of the bowl. Everyone's excited, and buzzed off of one thing or another. The natural high alone is enough to inspire some to huck themselves over the headwall, either to the glory of a high-speed runout, or the tomahawking wipeout of a lifetime. Either way, the spectators meet every full-send run with an eruption of applause. Each day creates its own little micro-community. The riding is great, but this is what springtime at Tuck's is all about.

No, this photo was not staged. When you finally arrive at the base of the bowl, you can't help but gawk at it.
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If that's not a perfect 45 degree pitch...
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The sun finally broke, and people began to file in. Believe it or not, this is a small crowd by spring-Tuck's standards. Still, it was a scene.

 

 

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Sun's out. Time to go up and get another.
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Deep runnels developed as the bowl saw more traffic. Sluff rivers were considerable, but the turns were good.
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Nothing sheds the office cobwebs like a weekend spent in mountain mode.

Working at Burton comes with many perks. We're blessed with season passes at Stowe Resort, which offers some of the best riding in Vermont. When the lifts shut down, our minds turn to Tuck's, and the annual tradition. 

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Corny turns, and sore legs on our last run of the day. See you next year!

Feel like joining us, and creating a Tuckerman tradition of your own?


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