The backcountry scene is exploding in the Mt. Washington Valley. The parking lots for the Granite Backcountry Alliance (GBA) glades are full most weekends, and gear is flying off the shelves at local shops like Ski the Whites and Ragged Mountain Equipment. So now that you’ve bought your gear and tested out uphilling at your local ski resort, what’s next? Where can you meet like-minded individuals and get integrated into the Mt. Washington Valley backcountry scene? Well, luckily for you, we have a vibrant event schedule with fun, inclusive community-building activities for everyone from newbies to seasoned mountain explorers. 

The season kicks off on New Year’s Eve with the first of the community-oriented weekly Friday Night Lights citizens uphilling race series at Black Mountain. Next up, at the end of January, is the GBA fundraiser, the M.W Otto Rhode Memorial Skin and Ski event, on the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Participants can race up the road or just enjoy a day in the mountains on the only day of the year where alpine touring or split boarding is allowed on the road. 

The main event of the season is the Mt Washington Backcountry Ski Festival in February. The festival includes guided tours, demos, parties, speakers, and friendly competition around the Valley. March brings the re-imagined Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon, a five-leg adventure race that includes a giant slalom course in Tuckerman Ravine, supporting the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine (FOTR).  

GBA closes out the season by taking over King Pine Ski area in April to celebrate the spring harvest of “Wild Corn,” with demos, live music, and revelry.

Check out the event details below the news.


Backcountry Community
Non-Profits in the NEWS


Granite Backcountry Alliance was hard at work this past fall expanding its glade zone and historic ski trail network known as “Graniteland” to 14 locations across New Hampshire and western Maine. With a 120-mile footprint from Pike, New Hampshire to Rumford, Maine, Granite Backcountry has developed 40,000 vertical feet of skiing since 2017 in 10 glade zones and maintains four historic ski trails of 10,000 vertical feet in the White Mountain National Forest. New this year includes the Pike Glades near Haverhill, NH in partnership with the Upper Valley Stewardship Center, a new glade zone in Bartlett, NH on private land known as the West Side Glades, a new section known as the “Gammon Chutes” within the Black & White Glade in Andover, Maine, and a new line on Pine Hill section of the Maple Villa Glade. Over 400 Quarry Dogs (volunteers) came out this fall, investing over 3,200 hours.

Friends of Tuckerman Ravine/White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation

The boards of directors for the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine (FOTR) and White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation (WMAEF) have agreed to join forces under a new combined mission statement.

The Friends of Tuckerman Ravine—a private, not-for-profit, 501c3—seeks to promote sustainable recreation that preserves and protects the unique alpine environment of the White Mountains, support and provide avalanche education around the region, and advocate for responsible backcountry travel.

FOTR partners with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to support the mission areas of the USFS Mount Washington Avalanche Center as well as associated projects and facilities.

The mission of the WMAEF will continue as a dedicated education committee within the friends group. The newly merged organization will begin a rebranding process to capture the newly expanded mission statement.

FOTR has also entered into a cost-sharing agreement with the USFS to fund an additional snow ranger position for the 2022 season (and beyond) to expand capacity for avalanche forecasting and search and rescue across the Presidential Range.

Pinkham Notch Beacon Park

Finally, working with residents from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Wilderness and Austere Medicine Fellowship and Eastern Mountain Sports, FOTR is fundraising to install a fixed avalanche beacon and probe practice park at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. This park will enable backcountry users to practice with their lifesaving avalanche rescue gear before heading up into the Avalanche Terrain of the Presidentials.

More information


Backcountry Events – 2021/22

Friday Night Lights | Friday Nights December 31, 21 – March 18, 2022 | Black Mountain

The Friday Night Lights community ski mountaineering (skimo) race series kicks off its fifth season on New Year’s Eve 2021. Organized by the crew from the Ski The Whites shop in Jackson NH, and hosted by the Black Mountain Ski Area, Friday Night Lights is a welcoming uphill racing experience for all abilities. Demo and rental equipment is available for folks interested in trying out uphilling/backcountry skiing. 

Every Friday night (with one Saturday evening), racers compete to see who will be the fastest to complete one or two laps of the course up and down Jackson’s Black Mountain. The course is marked by lanterns along the uphill route, and racers descend by headlamp. Racers can log their laps at any time between 6 and 9 p.m., with a group start at 7 p.m. Pizza is available for racers and the Lostbo Pub is serving drinks. 

The season finale and overall championship will be held on Friday March 18, 2022. 

Race dates: 12/31, 1/7, 1/14, 1/21, 1/28, 2/4, 2/12 (SAT), 2/18, 2/25 (bonfire & music), 3/4, 3/11, 3/18 (finale)


Race Day Schedule

6:00 p.m. Course opens

7:00 p.m. Group start

7:30 – 8 p.m. Pizza 

For more information and to register, check out

M. W. OTTO Rhode Memorial Skin & Ski | January 29, 2022 | Mt. Washington Auto Road

The Mt. Washington Auto Road has a long history of racing to the summit of Mount Washington. In the warmer months, intrepid souls race on foot, bicycle, and in cars. There is even a day dedicated to being the first to ascend the mountain in a peculiar way. The M.W. Otto Rhode Memorial Skin & Ski event continues to expand this tradition to the uphill skiing community; the “Otto” racers and participants skin up the Auto Road using backcountry alpine touring, split board, or telemark equipment. The event will proceed as far up the road as weather and conditions allow, potentially offering a 4,618-vertical-foot climb. This event is a fundraiser for the 501(c)3 non-profit Granite Backcountry Alliance.   


Day-of-Event Schedule

11:30 a.m. Registration open

12 p.m. Pre-race Safety briefing for all participants

12-1 p.m. Event begins—schedule and course, weather dependent. Stay tuned for updates and potential format changes, such as staggered start. COVID regulations will evolve as we approach event day.

3:30 p.m. All skiers still on the mountain head to the bottom

4 p.m. Refreshments and laughs at the Hideaway House (base of the Auto Road)


This event sells out! For more information and registration, visit

Note that this is the only day of the year that skiing is allowed on the Auto Road with alpine or snowboard equipment.


Last Skier Standing | February 12, 2022 | Black Mountain

There can be only one! This event, organized by the Ski The Whites crew, is one of the most unique uphilling events in the country. Racers compete to see how long they can go. Competitors step off at the top of each hour for a lap of Black Mountains 1.1-mile-long, 1,000-vertical-foot uphill route. The race is over when the “last skier standing” shows up at the start line. Last year, the title went to Ben Eck who climbed 61,000 feet over 61 continuous hours. 

“This event is for everyone—set a personal record for vertical; see if you can make it six, 12, or 24 hours. Meet a ton of great people all working towards getting the most out of their performance,” says event organizer Andrew Drummond. 


Event Schedule

Check-in: 8 – 9:30 a.m.

Group photo 9:55 a.m.

Event start 10 a.m.

Registration is open; check out for more details.



Mt. Washington Backcountry Ski Festival | February 24 – 27, 2022 | Various Locations

The main event for the backcountry skiing community in the Northeast is the Mt. Washington Backcountry Ski Festival. The festival offers guided ski tours, skill-building clinics, yoga sessions, gear and equipment demos, friendly competitions, live music, speakers, and vibrant parties. Entering its fifth year, the festival is hosted by Synnott Mountain Guides and Backyard Concept, LLC. 

The event kicks off with a special presentation and kick-off party on Thursday evening. Friday evening, Ski The Whites hosts a bonfire and pizza party with live music and demos at the weekly Friday Night Lights event. Saturday evening, the party moves to Theater in the Woods where festival goers can sample local craft beer from the New Hampshire Brewers Association, and check out the latest and greatest in new backcountry gear at the High George Beer and Gear Explosion.  

Frontside Grind serves up coffee each morning at Ledge Brewing, starting at 8 a.m., where folks can link up with their guide or group, demo equipment, and make plans for the day. The party returns to Ledge Brewing for après ski and stoke sharing each afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. 


Event Schedule

Thursday 2/24 

8 a.m. Frontside Coffee at Ledge Brewing 

8:30 – 9 a.m. Demos & guided groups meet at Ledge Brewing

4 – 6 p.m. Après ski party with live music at Ledge Brewing

7 – 9 p.m. Special presentation


Friday 2/25 

8 a.m. Frontside Coffee at Ledge Brewing 

8:30 – 9 a.m. Demos & guided groups meet at Ledge Brewing

4 – 6 p.m. Après ski party at Ledge Brewing

6 – 10P p.m. Friday Night Lights, demos, bonfire, live music, and pizza


Saturday 2/26 

8 a.m. Frontside Coffee at Ledge Brewing 

8:30 – 9 a.m. Demos & guided groups meet at Ledge Brewing

10 a.m. Yoga & ski party

4 – 6 p.m. Après ski party at Ledge Brewing
7 – 9 p.m. High George Beer & Gear Expo at Theater in the Woods 


Sunday 2/27

8 a.m. Frontside Coffee at Ledge Brewing 

8:30 – 9 a.m. Demos & guided groups meet at Ledge Brewing

10 a.m. Yoga & ski party

4 – 6 p.m. Après ski party at Ledge Brewing


Check out the latest schedule changes at and to learn more about guided skiing, friendly competitions, live music, professional athletes, and socials.

Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon | March 19, 2022 | Great Glen Trails / Tuckerman Ravine

Entering its third decade, the Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon is the Northeast’s premier single-day adventure race. Re-imagined for the 2021 season, it now consists of fat bike, XC ski, snowshoe, mountain run/skin, and skimo legs. Racers compete as individuals or relay teams to complete the course that starts at Great Glen Trails and finishes on the western flank of Tuckerman Ravine. Paying homage to the original American Infernos of the 1930s, the skimo leg of the race includes a section of giant slalom ski racing set in the alpine zone above treeline on Mount Washington. 

Proceeds from the event support the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine working to support the Mount Washington Avalanche Center, promote avalanche education and outreach across the white mountains, and to promote responsible sustainable use of the high Presidentials to protect the “Tuckerman experience” for generations to come.


Event Schedule

Friday 3/18/21

6 – 9 p.m. Welcome party and bib draw


Saturday 3/19/21

8 a.m. Race start; fat bike leg at Great Glen Trails

~8:30 a.m. UTC fat bike to XC ski transition at Great Glen Trails

~9:00 a.m. UTC XC ski to snowshoe transition at Great Glen Trails

~9:45 a.m. UTC snowshoe to mountain run/skin transition at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center

~10:15 a.m. UTC mountain run/skin to skimo transition at Tuckerman Ravine

~10:45 a.m. UTC race finish at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center


 For more information and registration, visit

Wild Corn Backcountry Shindig | April 1 & 2, 2022 | King Pine Ski Area

The season finale is the Wild Corn Backcountry Shindig. The crew from the Granite Backcountry Alliance lead a mountain takeover, shutting down all lifts and creating a backcountry ski resort for the weekend. Bring out your best Hawaiian shirt, tutu, or other creative costume, demo next year’s backcountry gear, and celebrate the transition from winter to spring by shredding sweet corn bumps and listening to great live local bands. Ski The Whites organizes a fun, friendly skimo race, Mamut sets up a beacon and probe park, live local bands keep the party going on the sound stage, and BBQ and beer is flowing all day.


Event Schedule

Saturday 4/1/22 9 a.m. – sunset

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Demos

11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. BBQ and beer

10 a.m. – Sunset live music on the sound stage

4 – 5 p.m. Wild Corn Ski Mo Race hosted by Ski The Whites


For more information and to register, tune into

Local Non-profit Organizations Supporting Backcountry Skiing and Search and Rescue

Want to give back? These local nonprofits support gathering and broadcasting critical weather and safety information, develop and maintain the backcountry zones, and support search and rescue efforts in the region.


Mount Washington Avalanche Center

Granite Backcountry Alliance

Friends of Tuckerman Ravine

White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation

Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol

Mountain Rescue Service

Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue

Appalachian Mountain Club NH Chapter Ski Committee

Mount Washington Observatory

Catch this article in the Winter 2021/22 print edition of Mt Washington Valley Vibe!