Plans came together for Jonathan, Josh and I to get in a midweek tour of Mt Washington before the snow completely disappeared. An agreed upon departure time of 7AM from the cog railway base meant a 4:15 departure from home.
Snow depths this year have been well below average and conditions are at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the usual spring melt. This meant there would likely be a lot of walking in ski boots. We started on dry ground and skinning was off and on on the first 2800ft climb up to Great Gulf. The snow surface on our decent was sun cupped but was still nice and soft due to extended exposure to above freezing temperatures.
The climb out of Great Gulf went rather smoothly for the first 800 vertical as we were able to keep our skins on with only a few tricky sections over small streams and undermined snow. The snow quickly vanished and travel was mostly on rock (Jonathan did spot a few trail blazes on the rock confirming that we were somewhat on the trail but the Great Gulf Trail is pretty much just a rock scramble). Near the top of the gulf, we diverted from the trail back onto a snowfield. I tried following in Jonathan’s footprints but this caused me to occasionally sink up to my waist. I found the travel easier if I just set a fresh track.
More off-snow travel got us to the NE Snowfields. Soft snow was the theme of the day and it skied a little heavy. We were able to ski all the way into Tuckerman Ravine with just a short portage to gain a better angle to traverse to our desired decent of Chute. After a little hangup at the top, the skiing above and below the constriction was more soft but heavy snow. At the funnel point, one had to negotiate deep slough runnels.
A quick changeover to skins for a short distance up the apron of Left Gully then out came the ice ax and a chance to test out my CAMP Tour 350 crampons. I hardly noticed the weight and they were plenty secure when I veered out of the boot ladder to get around a group of slower climbers.
From the top of top of Tuckerman Ravine we headed towards Oakes Gulf. It took three tries to get into a line that wasn’t melted out at the crux. The decent here was short as the brush at the bottom was getting thick. Jonathan kept going for some extra vertical as Josh and I headed up towards Lakes hut.
From the col we were able to traverse almost entirely on skis into the top of Monroe Brook. The top third was narrow but held the best snow of the day. The good skiing quickly vanished and turns were relegated to side slipping and avoiding undermined snow. Once on the Ammo Ravine Trail, it was a glide out to within a half mile of the cog base. One last section of hiking brought us to the car over 9 hours later.