"A ski tour into King Ravine is a trip on the wild side. Enjoy going where few others go and enjoy this majestic place."
After a month of rescheduling Tuck's trips I decided it was now or never. I was set to head up to New Hampshire with my buddy on Wednesday and head into Tuck's on Thursday to attempt what remained of Left Gully. It was his first time snowboarding outside the resorts and I was familiar with the area so it would be a good intro.
Unfortunately on Wednesday morning, he had to bail. With my hotel already booked and knowing there was no way enough snow would be left the following week I decided to head up solo. When speaking to my buddy Jared Heath the day prior he recommended going into King Ravine since it was north facing but that it was a bit out there and probably not best for a first timer.
But now I was heading up alone and I remembered reading something about King Ravine in my AMC Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast book. So I read up on it again and was liking what I was seeing. It was much less traveled than Tuck's, with a technical line called King Gully and it even stated that it held snow into June most years. The only thing was that I had no recent data on the zone. I knew from Instagram that Left Gully was still pretty filled in and a sure thing and that if I chose to head into King's that it would be gamble.
Being that a lot of the appeal of backcountry snowboarding for me is the adventure, I was game. I pulled up to the trailhead at 6:30 and reviewed my plan for the day as I geared up. I would take Valley Way to Randolph Path to Short Line to King Ravine Trail to Great Gully Trail which would leave me a few hundred feet shy of the Mt. Adams summit. From there I figured I'd tag the summit and explore and take in the views before turning back down and riding down Great Gully and hiking out in reverse.
With the plan in place, I set off at 7:05 am into a dense green forest. It was a weird feeling as it must have been in the mid to high 60s and I had a snowboard on my back. Before long I came up on the first of a few waterfalls along Valley Way which were worth the additional few minutes the trail adds to the trip. I stopped at one in particular and set up my tripod and Bluetooth remote to get a few shots before continuing on my way.
The initial approach was fairly mellow and I made good time. By 8:55 am I was at the junction of Short Line and King Ravine Trail. This is where the trail gets interesting. It narrows drastically and starts to gain elevation. It felt more like maneuvering through an obstacle course than hiking. When it did flatten out, you had to tip toe and be extra careful not to fall into the labyrinth of rack caves below. With a snowboard on my back I had to become a contortionist from here on.
Along this trail you start to get glimpses of King Ravine itself. It really is a sight to see. Rather than Tuckerman Ravine which impresses with how it towers over the floor below, King Ravine astonishes with it's sheer size. Although amazed by the beauty of the ravine, these initial views were a bit disheartening. The snow that I was hoping for just wasn't there. Aside from a few large patches there wasn't much.
At this point I could have easily turned around and gone home satisfied and in time to make it back to Yonkers for Thursday night trivia at The Heritage. But that's just not my style. I was determined to make the best of the situation and keep pushing forward. I figured that the worst case scenario was that I would get to summit Mt. Adams before billy goating down Great Gully and hiking back out. So upwards and onwards it was.
Although I felt like my pace had slowed while trying to get through the Aggro Crag I was still making pretty good time and reached the bottom end of the first major snow patch of Great Gully by 11:05 am. There were no tracks to follow but I figured I had two options to continue my ascent. Follow the snow to the left or to the right of the rock outcropping. Seeing that the snow to the right looked very undermined and sketchy I decided to continue left which looked a bit better. In retrospect, I am pretty sure going right would have followed the actual Great Gully and I was heading around it.
Knowing the snow conditions weren't too safe, I carefully planned my path and took my time on the way up. About 300 feet further up I came to a point where the snow had opened up and had a waterfall gushing thorough it. It was here that I decided that it was time to pull the plug. There was no reason to risk it any further so at 11:40 am I turned around and down climbed to the first snow patch where I decided I would get a couple of turns in.
I dropped in on 40 ft of vert and can now officially say June 7th is the latest I've ever extended my season! From there I simply hiked back out retracing my steps but not before stopping to snap a few more pictures. The only difference on the way out was that I skipped over Valley Way and continued on Short Line/Air Line back to the trailhead to make it a bit quicker. I was back at the car at 2:35 pm and at Delaney's grabbing a bite to eat by 3:30 pm. After a solid meal and lots of water I was on my way back to Yonkers happy that I had decided to take the road less traveled.