By Tom Eastman
PINKHAM NOTCH — Locals were victorious in several classes of the five-part Friends of Tuckerman Ravine Tuckerman Pentathlon April 11, which ended with a ski leg down the U.S. Forest Service's Sherburne Trail Saturday due to icy conditions in Tuckerman's Ravine.
The event brought 38 teams, 31 solo men competitors and five female solo competitors from all over New England.
Held on the 84th anniversary of the first descent over the Tuckerman Ravine headwall by Dartmouth alums John Carleton and Charley Proctor, the 16th annual Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon started at 7 a.m. Saturday with an 8.3-mile run departing from Story Land in Glen that went over Glen Ledge Road and then west on U.S. Route 302 to Attitash.
It continued with a 6-mile kayak race down the chilly Saco River to Glen Ellis Campground. Competitors then completed an 18-mile bike race north on Route 16 through Pinkham Notch, followed by a hike up the Tuckerman Trail to the top of the Sherburne Trail, just below the U.S. Forest Service's shelter at Hermit Lake below Tuckerman Ravine.
The ravine was icy, leading to organizers to switch to Plan B regarding the ski leg. Wind played a factor all day on the course, with cyclists forced to ride into a cold and blustery headwind as they raced north on Route 16 through Pinkham Notch.
USFS Snow Ranger Frank Carus' description forsnow bulletin summed it up best: "As you can imagine, skiing conditions are currently abysmal and are unlikely to improve today … In short, the dry, powder snow skiing party that people have been enjoying lately appears to be over and there is a huge mess in the house."
The first-place team was All Stove Up, whose members were from towns across Mount Washington Valley like Albany, Jackson and North Conway. First-place women's team were the local Wildthings, who also placed third overall.
Jessica Marion, 28, of Brunswick, Maine, and Andrew Drummond, 33, of Conway were this year's Tuckerman Inferno solo elite TuckerWoman and TuckerMan winners.
Marion's time was 4 hours, 20 minutes, 23.54 seconds, while Drummond's was 3:40:52.62. Wildthings' time was 3:41:42.90.
Each solo winner received $1,000 from Friends of Tuckerman. Marion will also gets a custom-made pair of RAMP skis, and Drummond will receive a pair of custom-made Parlor skis.
Solo athletes were competing side-by-side with the team competitors.
Top TuckerMan Drummond was sixth in the run (53:23.93). The top time in the run was 43:21.4, charted by Ryan Place of Edward's Van. Drummond was 17th in kayak (49:57.10). Robert Flanagan of Wayland, Mass., of the Mothertuckers came in first in that event with a time of 43:07.78. Drummond came in seventh in the bike portion with a time of 1:06:36.20, compared with Erik Nelson of the local All Stove Up/Tucked Out's top time of 1:02:34.66. He was 13th in the hike portion in 46:22.86, compared to the top time of 28:07:63 placed by All Stove Up's Triston Williams, and second in the ski leg with a time of 4:26.53, behind top finisher Steve Genereaux of the Sandbaggers' top time of 4:26.24. Placing third was Carrie (McLane) Burkett of the local Valley Girls in 4:42.38.
Marion, an engineer in Portland, came in 25th in the run with a time of 1:01:56.72. Her kayak time of 52:32.26 placed her 30th. She was 31st in the bike leg in 1:20:32.85. In the hike, she was 43rdwith her time of 57:22.14. In the ski leg, she was 50th in 7:59.57.
Drummond, who skinned up the Sherburne Trail, said: "I just missed having the best time on the ski leg by 3/10ths of a second, and that sort of bummed me out."
He, Marion and others agreed that the bike portion was toughest portion of the race. "My legs were so cold by the end of the bike event that, believe me, I was very glad that the ski leg was only from the top of the Sherburne and not in the bowl, which would have required more of a hike," Marion said.
Drummond is the son of Jeanne and Jim Drummond of Conway. His cousin, Ben Drummond of Wilmot and Freedom, won this year's Red Parka Pub Challenge Cup, held last month at Attitash.
All Stove Up/Tucked Out of North Conway — consisting of runner Leslie O'Dell, kayaker Mike Malkin, top biker Erik Nelson, hiker Triston Williams and snowboarder Matt Burkett — put in the teams' top time of 3 hours, 22 minutes, 41.10 seconds, Edward's Van and the Athletic Heroes (3:23:52.16), composed of runner Ryan Place, kayaker Julia Rogers, biker Genaro Ameno, and hiker and skier Edward Warren — came in second.
Nelson of the All Stove/Tucked Out team was the top cyclist in 1:02:34.66. The team's O'Dell was ninth in the run with a time of 55:37.44. Team member Malkin — a member of the local group Chasing Asia, a member of the MWV Hogs mud football team, and head of the Cranmore Ski Patrol — was 22nd in the kayak portion in 50:44.82. All Stove Up/Tucked Out's Triston Williams was the top hiker with a time of 28:07.63. Burkett — a popular bartender at Zip's Pub and SeaDog Brewing — came in 18th in the ski/snowboard leg with a time of 5:36.55.
The Wildthings of North Conway defended their all-women crown with their time of 3:41:42.90. Members are runner Kelsey Allen (eighth in 55:09.06), kayaker Liz Stockinger (14th in 49:07.90), biker Meredith Piotrow (15th in 1:11:54.57), former U.S. Ski Team member and Cranmore Mountain Meisters female champion Hilary McCloy, who served as the team's hiker (fifth in 38:29.54); and skier Susie Carrier (38th in 6:42.71).
"I skinned up, and it was so icy in places I was sliding backwards near the top," said Carrier.
Placing second in the all-women class was Team Broads — runner Kim Sekera of Methuen, Mass.; kayaker Elaine Campbell of Readsboro, Vt.; biker Nicole Vassar of Framingham, Mass.; and skier Lauren McMullen of Portsmouth — with a time of 3:23:52.16.
Placing third with 4:19:29.08 were the Gone Girls, consisting of runner Eleni Peterson of Bethlehem, kayaker JeanMarie Miller of Pleasant Valley, Conn., biker Tricia Dowcett, hiker Summer Galecki of Heshire, Conn., and skier Julie Rodriquez.
The other local all-women team of the Valley Girls placed fourth in that five-team class in 4:23:16.77. It consists of runner Cathleen Livingston, kayaker Amanda Wirling, biker Lynn Lyman, hiker Emily Wirling and skier Carrie (McLane) Burkett, wife of Matt Burkett of the overall winning All Stove Up/Tucked Out team.
Taking top honors in the Sport class (fewer than five members) and first for the class with a time of 3:46:25.40 (good for fourth overall) was Ludicrous 3, consisting of runner and hiker Chris Pietrocarlo of Brighton, Mass., kayaker/biker Jacob Knowles of Belmont. Mass., and skier Martha Hanright.
Teams were awarded raffle tickets that were placed in the buckets for the evening's raffle, featuring kayaks and paddle boards donated by Saco Bound and Kittery Trading Post, ski racks, ski tunings and much more.
Rain on Friday helped to raise the water level of the Saco slightly, which was a plus, as the river had been running low. A few competitors dunked in the cold water. On hand to provide assistance were members of the Swift River Whitewater Rescue Team, Conway Fire Department, the Mountain Rescue Service and off-duty members of the Attitash Ski Patrol.
Jake Risch, head of the non-profit Friends of Tuckerman Ravine organization, said he and brother Matt Risch hiked in the rain with U.S. Forest Service snow rangers on Friday to check out conditions in the ravine, the glacial cirque on Mount Washington's eastern flank.
"That told us that no way were we going to run the ski leg up there. It was cold and rainy, and then it iced up, so the decision was made to hold it on the Sherburne Trail," said Jake Risch.
"Safety is always our primary concern," added FOTR executive director Peter Nelson.
Nelson said the day was a resounding success for the nonprofit organization.
"We had over 200 competitors and everything went smoothly," said Nelson. "Membership is strong, and we've got several projects lined up. Now we need to continue to build sponsorship support."
At Saturday's awards ceremony and dinner at Wildcat Mountain, founding former executive director Al Risch of Madison, father of Jake and Matt, was recognized for his years of service to the organization.
Friends of Tuckerman Ravine is a locally based, member-supported, non-profit organization that seeks to preserve and protect the unique alpine and sub-alpine eastern slopes of Mount Washington. Since 2000, it has helped create a potable water supply at Hermit Lake shelter, aided the U.S. Forest Service’s communications system, resupplied first aid caches in Tuckerman Ravine, helped fund a foot bridge at the base of the mountain and recently helped replace three avalanche condition slat boards for Huntington and Tuckerman ravines.
This year, Friends of Tuckerman Ravine is contributing toward the rebuilding of the iconic outdoor deck structure at Hermit Lake Shelter located just below Tuckerman Ravine. The deteriorating deck at “HoJo’s,” as it is affectionately called, is a gathering point for thousands of spring skiing fans and is badly in need of repair.
revised 4-16-15 by TEE