MT. WASHINGTON – Like everywhere else in New England, Tuckerman Ravine did not seem much like winter the past four months.

But this is Mt. Washington.

So just when the majority of powder hounds had packed away their skis and snowboards, the Northeast’s tallest mountain brought a dumping of snow the first two weeks of April. And those who can’t get enough hiked up to this backcountry playground to fly down it.

But last Saturday the crowd was small by Tuckerman standards, with a few hundred compared to the few thousand who normally hike, climb and ski here in April. And snow rangers in the national forest think winter fun is all but over on the 6,288-foot mountain.

“It was a slow start to winter. Then the record-breaking heat we had in March accelerated spring, and took what thin snow pack we had,” said White Mountain National Forest Ranger Jeff Lane.

The second week of April, the ravine got two feet of snow. But when the average for the month is 42 inches, skiers expect it. Still, Lane said, relatively few came to enjoy it.

“I’m feeling like people have thrown in the towel on skiing this year. There are only a few hundred here today. Not at all what I expect on a Saturday in April,” he said.

Those who came traveled from as far as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York. And they got a rare Tuckerman experience with no crowds.

Former Sunday River manager Chip Seamans drove from Windham, N.Y., where he runs a ski mountain. But his friend from New Hampshire was the real Alpine hero.

“He’s skied Tuckerman every year for 50 years,” Seamans said of his buddy, Bo Adams.

And true to his enthusiasm, Adams was cheering after his turns in the ravine.

“This is the best I can remember. The snow is perfect. There are no crowds,” said Adams, of Rochester, N.H.

But to local skiers, they felt cheated out of winter.

“In March we lost all our snow. People were thinking it was pretty much done. A lot of people in the (Mt. Washington) Valley said it’s over,” said Jeff Smallcomb of Bartlett, N.H.

The ravine is just one place skiers hike to find powder on Mt. Washington, but it’s by far the most popular despite the dangers that exist here.

The website run by the White Mountain National Forest has indicated a high danger of falling ice, avalanches and crevasses in the ravine’s ever-changing conditions.

Rangers still have not found a man who fell and died in a softened crevasse two weeks ago.

And while the dump of snow in early April promised more skiing, warm temperatures last week put Tuckerman Ravine back to near-summer conditions for this Alpine landscape.

There was so little snow in Tuckerman the past month, Lane said, that questions swirled around the Tuckerman Inferno, Saturday’s race on and around the mountain. Competitors in the annual spring fundraiser for the Friends of Tuckerman run, kayak, bike, hike up to the ravine, and ski down. But once again, this is Mt. Washington. And Tuckerman Inferno race director Al Risch knows it. Though the course changed this year, the race went on.

“You can never predict the weather on Mt. Washington. But I’ve been running the Inferno 12 years and only had to switch it by a day once. And that was because there was snow piled on the highway. I never gave (canceling it) a thought,” said Risch, the Friends’ executive director. 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: Flemingpph