Tuckerman's Ravine, Training Hike

On the weekend of 8-10 of December, I went on a training hike with Robert. We would later be joined by Pat and Amanda. Robert and I drove up on Friday night, and go to Pinkham Notch at 11pm. Robert really wanted to test his new tent, so there was no discussion of what tent to take.

It took us about 1:40 to get to the Lake Hermit Shelter, where we requested a tentsite. For the cost of $8, you get a wooden platform, access to a outhouse, and access to a drain. No shower, no continental breakfast, no newspaper!!.

The next day, we went to check out Huntington Ravine. When we got there after about an hour of hiking, the alpine garden and most of the routes were obscured by a cloud. We decided to wait 20 minutes to see what the weather was up to. It turn out that the weather was just hanging around.

Deciding that it would be a bad idea to go up, we looked on our left at some ice that we could top rope. It looked very close. It turned out to be farther than it looked and the bushwack was very sucky (when isn't it?). The top roping was a bit short, but not bad, considering all the variations: With one technical tool and one alpine ice axe, with backpack, with two technical tools...

Afterwards we went back to Tuckerman's Ravine. The weather was also crappy there, so we scratched our plans of climbing the ravine, and hanged around (inside) our sleeping bags for a while. Robert grew impatient, since it was still pretty early, 2pm. After some prodding, he made us, at least, walk up to the ravine. I gave in.

We walked up there, and effectively everyone was coming down, and most of it was covered with a cloud. Amanda caught site of Pat's nose as it was white, and almost got frostnip. We should always check on each other.

We went back to our tents to cook up dinner. Our dinner plans turned out to be excellent, we made pasta with sauce, with raman, with Tuna. For the record, always carry tune diped in oil as oppose to water, it will take longer to freeze. It turned out to be a nice big mass of consistent power meal. We went to eat it inside Pat's and Amanda's Steam house. The only thing missing was the heat.

The next day was beautiful. We went back to the ravine. It was all cleared and shinning. The temperatures were more reasonable, a balmy 15 degrees (as oppose to the previous day 0 degrees). Pat and I went off to practice crevasse rescue, and Amanda and Robert went up hiking ("Morning Warmup Climb").

The snow was thick, and I had just lost the two pickets I brought. Ingenuity was called. The first anchor would be a bollard. It probably was not big enough and did not have anything to prevent the rope from cutting through the bollard, because it did. I big chunk of snow 2 feet by 3 feet went sliding down, I jelled "Snow!!, Snow!!." Ok scratch that idea. I decided that a deadman and an equalized buried axe might do the trick, and it did. I ended up putting the pack upright, and clipping to the strap on top of the shoulder straps. In retrospect I should have laid the pack sideways, and wrap a piece of webbing around it.

The first thing to test is how hard is it to stop someone else's fall. Pat let some slack between the anchor and him. And I put some slack between me and Pat. When he was ready, I walked a bit and slid down. The rope pulled taut, and pat came down. Few seconds later he arrested us both without weighting the anchor. Then he went up to setup a pulley system. We learned that it is easier to carry two prussiks IN ADDITION to two ascenders to setup the hauling system.

Next we would try a little more realistic test, i.e. with less warning and perhaps a little more speed. Pat was a little hesistant, he wanted to progress more slowly. I told him to look the other way before I jumped so he would not know when I did it. He was saying something, when I noticed that he was not looking, and I dashed for it. Before he knew it he was sliding, we were going very fast...He made efforts to stop, but the axe just sheared through the snow. The anchor (albeit good anchor) brought us to a halt. Interesting experience.

It was my turn to try the self arrest. Pat was a bit cold, so I just decided to try it by myself. So I walked about 20 feet higher than Pat, up to a rock. Looked down. Took a deep breath, and started running down, next thing I know I am going very fast, tumbling (Pat even says I was cartwheeling), quickly I regained posture, turned around and did a combat self arrest, making good use of the axe and feet. I stopped in about 8 feet from where I got control. Unfortunately there would be no cameras to catch the moment, Pat really thought I would be going down.

We walked across the ravine to meet up with Robert and Amanda, who had already come down, and were sitting on a boulder in the middle of the ravine. We got some hot gatorade. Amanda was set for the day, Robert needed a nice climb to be satisfied. So Pat and Amanda Took off, while me and Robert climbed up the ravine. We left our packs there, and as a safety precaution, we brought a rope with us. Robert had one alpine ice axe, and a technical tool, and I had two technical tools. We took off for some steep snow climbing and easy ice climbing. We went up the Robert Sanity Line. We went up and down in about 40 minutes. We even caught up with Pat and Amanda as they were heading down (they had taken down their camp while we climbed). We took our own camp down and got down tuckerman tr in one hour.

A good choice of dinner was had at the Zee's Place, about 10 miles on your left in Rte 16 after the Rte 25 Jct in Ossipee.