Vertical, Extreme, Motion.

Big Air On The Headwall, Tuckerman Ravine

In order to freeze the motion of this skier as he flys through the air, I used a fast shutter speed.

Camera settings – 100 ISO, F/5.6, 200mm @ 1/1600 sec.

Tuckerman Ravine.

On the shoulders of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington rests one of my favorite places in all of the Granite State. For the past five years I’ve made a pilgrimage into Tuckerman Ravine to photograph the immense head wall of the ravine bathed in the pink-orange of alpenglow.

Looking out over frozen, snow covered Hermit Lake, the headwall and surrounding mountains of Tuckerman Ravine glow in the pink alpenglow as the first rays of the sun hit the snow covered slopes. In the foreground is the weathered cedar fence on the shore of the small lake.

 

This year I wanted to capture something a little different.

Tucks is a must visit destination for extreme skiers from throughout New England. People will drive great distances to ski the infamous runs, The Ice Fall, Hillmans Highway, and Lobster Claw to name but a few. All of the routes are steep, with some sections as steep as 55°, skiing the head wall of Tuckerman is not for the faint of heart or the novice.

This is no lift serviced ski resort either, for that there is Wildcat just up the road from the trail head. To ski Tuckerman Ravine requires dedication and a lot of effort. All skiers must carry their gear up the Tuckerman Ravine trail, with the first stop the Hermit Lake shelter, and then another .7 miles into the base of the bowl, for a total of about 3 miles.

Spring Crowds, Tuckerman Ravine

Once in the bowl is when the real work begins.

Skiers must then climb up the very steep walls of the ravine, often climbing the very run they will ski down, in order to earn their turns.

Climbing For Their Turns

 

 

 

As for the skier in the first photo? Six skiers flung themselves off The Ice Fall while I was there enjoying the sun and the action. Two stuck the landing, skiing down to the roar of the crowd.

The rest, well for them it went something more like this…

skier_face_plant_1414-Edit

 

For all the face plants, yard sales, and ass over tea kettle cartwheeling action, all those with less than perfect landings skied away with nothing but bruised egos and the adoration and cheers of the crowd below.

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29 thoughts on “Vertical, Extreme, Motion.

    • You have no idea. The route I took to get a shot overlooking the ravine is longer, steeper, and in the winter much less traveled. It was a hell of a morning getting to where I photographed the skier from. On top of that I forgot sunscreen and burned the hell out of my face and neck. Won’t make that mistake again.

  1. These shots remind me so much of the Alaska Goldrush hopefuls who had to lug (literally) tons of stuff up the Whitepass in the Yukon to get to the gold in Alaska. These skiiers got off easy, with just their gear. Also, my father used to tell me stories of growing up in Vancouver and going skiing on the local mountains before there were any ski lifts. He had to literally climb the mountain before he skied down. I doubt our local mountains are quite the same as these ones, but I now have an even better appreciation of what he went through, and what the modern extreme skiiers do to get in their rides. I’ve always assumed that most of them get flown in to remote areas to ski, and that they have the runs to themselves. These photos and the accompanying stories have shown otherwise. I’m so glad you included the information on the survival rate of at least those 6 skiiers.

  2. Great capture, Jeff and glad the others were able to ski away. Amazed at the conga line of people walking up the mountain, looks like a huge ego trip for those involved 🙂 and always it’s the photographer who carts his/her gear up there to take the shot who is also in an extreme position and no-one gets their photo do they? Would love to have seen where you were 🙂

    • Thanks! I’ll have to see if I have a photo that shows where I was sitting. You’re right, I was hauling a ton of gear, including a new lens I was dying to try out. When it comes to hiking and backpacking I’m definitely not a weight weeny obsessed with carrying the lightest possible load.

    • Jane, you’re not the only one! I used to be an avid skier, and at my best I would t have the bravery to throw myself off that ice fall. The pictures don’t come close to conveying how high that drop and how steep the slope. You really have to be there.

      >

    • Mine too, Paula! I wish I were half as adventurous as these guys. As for the camera, no problems at all with it in the cold. In fact, compared to some of the temperatures I’ve photographed in the day I made these photos was warm by comparison.

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