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If you're looking to stay in the East and want a fun graduate
school experience as well as the best skiing that can be offered
east of the mississippi -- then there really isn't any better place
to be than Burlington.  Both Outside and the Utne Reader have
recenetly ranked Burlington one of the top five livable cities in
the country...I don't recall any cities from Colorado mentioned ;).
Not only that, but you've got a bunch of
techno-internet-jaugernaut-dorks around here who spend as much time
on the computer talking about skiing as they do on the slopes
actually doing it (the hipocrasy is so thick you could cut it -- yes I
am as guilty as the rest of youz).


        On to another subject -- I drove to North Conway Friday
evening to meet up with some college buddies, drink some
brew-hau-huas and watch game five before getting up early saturday
to tackle Tuckermans for a mid-June session.  After sufficiently
soaking our brains in EtoH, we swerved our way to Wildcat at 2:00
am and set up camp in the Wildcat parking lot.  Five hours later we
were packed up, fueled up, hiking up the Tucks trail and incredibly
hungover.  Torrential rains Friday night seemed to keep the crowds
to a minimum -- a nice contrast to one month before when we needed
traffic cops and cattle prods to navigate our way up the Tucks
trail.  Overcast skies kept things fairly cool.  We didn't
encounter any snow until about 500 yards before HO JO's, and even
then it was packed and sparse.
        At Ho Jo's we had a great view of Hillmans and into the
Ravine which kept poking it's head'wall' out from behind some FAST
moving clouds and mist.  Very creepy and eeire (sp?) feeling up
there -- probably because I wasn't used to seeing that few people
up there.  The occasional blast of sun patch would warm things up
before the next wall of clouds moved in to obscure the life giving
warmth.  Hillmamns looked AWESOME!  Great coverage top to bottom.
The Headwall on the other hand looked like it was getting
significantly undermined by water runoff.  Giant fissures (sp?)
have opened up in right gully and basically everywhere under the
lip and in the headwall with the exception of right gully.  There
were also two VW bug size rocks that had broke free the night
before from the rain and left an impressive scar in the snow
extending from the upper part of right gully to just below the left
of the lunch rocks.  No one was foolish enough to be skiing the
right side of the ravine.  I really wanted to ski Hillmans, but one
of my buddies had never been to Tucks and insisted that we ski the
ravine.  Like I said, left gully was in fine shape so we set camp
at the rocks on the left side of the ravine and made our way up.
Total hiking time from teh AMC lodge to the top of left gully with
skis and boards on feet was two 1/2 hours.  Not bad -- and a
virtual impossibility any early in the year considering hiking in
snow and avoiding people.  There were only about six other skiers
in left gully when we dropped in and they were still hiking up --
it was nice having that trail all to ourselves.  The snow was
set-up incredibly nice...nice and soft on top with just enough
firmness underneath to hold an edge and not be like a
seven-eleven-slurpee.  There was still plenty of snow and the steep
drop in up top was as I remembered it one month ago.
        I can assure anyone making the trip this week-end that
there will be plenty of snow.  I highly recommend skiing Hillmans
though -- I know I will when I go back in July.  Laterz for youz!!!!!

                                Shank