An 8-mile run, a 6-mile kayak, an 18-mile bicycle, a 3-mile hike and a 1-mile ski. This is the Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon.
8:30AM, Saturday, April 11- The Mount Washington Avalanche report was released just as I pulled into the Pinkham Notch parking lot. All avalanche danger was rated at “low” but this wasn’t an average day of spring skiing. Yes, we were already into April but the snowpack for the past few weeks looked a little more like February in Tuckerman Ravine with several avalanches coming down in this famous backcountry ski spot on Mount Washington. However, avalanches weren’t the main concern for the Inferno race. Instead, the snowpack resembled more of an ice sheet and the mountain was engulfed in a thick cloud stirring in harsh winds.
The racecourse was modified from the planned ski down Tuckerman Ravine to a run down the Sherburne ski trail, protected from the elements below the tree cover. Still, the racers put it all on the line, pushing their comfort levels and braving the freezing kayak waters, the slippery sprint up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and the bump covered ski down the Sherburne ski trail. Groups of spectators stood in the cold clouds and local skiers climbed into the base of the Ravine only to be turned back by the elements. Somehow, all had grins on their faces and high spirits as they cheered on the racers. As I hiked past a ski patroller volunteering for the race I asked, “How’s the race going? Everyone having a blast?” He laughed and answered, “They’re all smiling! I don’t know why they’re smiling!”
There always seems to be a sort of sarcasm on these kinds of New England days. We all knew the weather was crap but somehow we couldn’t stop loving it. These are the types of people who’ll trek up a mountain into the least ideal conditions only to have a chance of sliding down a thick sheet of ice. This is the New England energy that I truly admire. It’s the attitude that any conditions are good conditions. Every day is a good day.
Congratulations to the winners, Andrew Drummond and Jessica Marion, and to all the finishers of the Tuckerman Inferno Race.
Go big or go home.
Click here to find more info on the results of the Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon.