Spring Skiing on Mt. Washington: Neccessary Equipment
Skiing on Mt. Washington inuolves extensive climbing, sometimes on extremely
steep terrain. The equipment should be such that it is both efficient to
use and designed for safety. A' frame type backpack to carry the
skis with the boots attached to them is preferable to trying to hike up
with the skis on the shoulders. When skiing, as on the Headwall,
the. skis may be carried up on the shoulders but they should be fastened
together by t£e straps or a padded shoulder harness so that if they
are dropped they will not slide down the slope endangering skiers below.
Jn the long gullies, such as llillman's Highway or the Left Gulley, where
the climb is about a hal! a mile in length, a pack is an advantage with
both arms being free to use poles for help in climbing and for safe footing.
If snow conditions are very firm or icy, crampons are advisable.
In some locations a loss of footing may result in a sliding fall down to
brush or jagged rocks. Footware on the trail up from the highway
may vary with conditions but should 'be reasonably waterproof and with
The skis used during the winter season are satisfactory. Since conirpl usually results in slower speeds Q.nd Tn.ore frq.quent turns of shorter radius than. at ski areas in winter, somewhat shorter skis may be an advantage as they are more maneuverable, not to mention lighter to carry. Control on steep pitches requires effective setting of the edges in the end~ phase of each turn, so both the skis and boots must meet this need. The binding release setting should be such that the skis will not release under ha~d, edge-setting turns.
Climbing on ski slopes:
The steep pitches require kicking steps in the snow for footing, usually with a number of skiers using the same route up. Generally it is best to climb the slope fall-line or in ascend~ng the gullies to climb the edge used by.other skiers. By looking back down occasionally on the first trip up any new run to be skied the decision may be made if you will be confident to ski it. Jt is better to ski from a little higher each time than to go so high that the run is an ordeal rather than fun. Locate a reasonably flat and convenient perch on which to get into your bindings, usualLy putting the downhill ski on first. Some gullies should not be climbed due to the danger of falling when unsecured on a slope so steep that the fall cannot be stopped. In this case these gullies must be skied only from the top and over terrain which has not been climbed previously. This requires ability, control, and courage.
Although some gifted athletes may ski the ileadwall with reckless abandon and speed which is bery impress ive, the narrow chutes and gullies require linked turns, often very close together,
from a traverse to a traverse, Skiing the fall-line results in increasing speed and loss of control in a matter of seconds. Some chutes are so narrow, barely twenty feet in width, that a turn must be made every ski length of travel, planting the pole beside the downhill foot rather than near the ski tip. The upper body should always face down the fall-line in turns; otherwise overturning will result which can cause falling downhill from the skis. If the body is downhill from the skis in a fall' on a steep slope, it is very difficult to stop the slide which can be a long one. I once followed a' falling skier down llillman's Highway where he slid for 1800' due in part to wearing nylon clothing but mainly because he could not get his skis below_his b9~y,~on the slope. The unweighting to start turns varies with the condition of the snow and the steepness, and in some situations a jump christy is the answer. To finish a turn a positive edge set is needed to carve out into 'the traverse rather than making a side-slipping type arc,
Ice and Rocks:
Hanging ice and chunk& of ledge loosened by frost are a hazard if they fall from above. 'The climber should look up the slope for this potential threat. It is best to avoid skiing where massive amounts of snow or ice hang off the ledges above. The gullies' are usually safer in this respect. There have been many injuries, some very sezious, from falling ice and rocks which often are hard to avoid. A~valanche warnings should be heeded.
Return to SpicedCider.Com
PO Box 172
New Ipswich NH 03071
Bill Currier's Mount Washington Ski Info
Mount Washington Ski Areas and Rating of
Degree of Difficulty
Spring Skiing on Mt. Washington:
Mt.Washington Ski Area Map