• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

Tusk to Elephant's Head to Unknown Ski Cut

Huck_It_Baby

New member
Joined
Oct 11, 2010
Messages
1,264
Points
0
Location
Colorado
I went into Smuggler's Notch this weekend to climb Tusk from the road. I didn't get a chance to ski it last year so I thought I would do some scouting to know what I'm getting into before hopefully skiing it later this coming season. If you don't know Tusk it is about a 1,000 vertical natural landslide in the notch across the road from Mt. Mansfield and not a trail. You can see it if you are hiking the chin or just skiing @ Stowe.

The slide was a mix of steep creek hiking and in the middle section it was scrambling up a few rocky, exposed areas. There were several places where I had to re-route myself due to the danger of falling. The rocks were very slippery and in some spots a slip would have resulted in me falling off several cliffs to injury or worse. I was pretty nervous for sure more than once during this hike. My photos don't do much justice in conveying any of this I'm sure.

Tusk1.jpg



Once up top I took the long trail out to Elephant's Head to take in the views of the notch and Stowe. The overlook here is awesome and drops straight down to VT 108...maybe less than 1,000 vertical drop but literally it feels like the edge of world. You get no sense of height or depth from the photo but here it is anyway.

Tusk6.jpg

20130824_122159.jpg

After EH I went back down the Long Trail to start descending back to the road and look for a nice sunny spot for lunch. After hiking for a while I went off trail a little ways to go to relieve myself and stumbled upon a hidden gem. As I'm standing there I'm looking around thinking to myself "wow this looks like a decent place to ski". Then I notice several small trees about 2-4 inches in diameter were cut. So I look down hill and sure enough there were more trees cut. I followed the path down to several small rock drops and powder zones. AWESOME!

The trees looked like they had been cut some time ago and while I'm sure there is a name for this run and it's known to others I'm calling it "Carrot Drop" since I had a carrot with me. I would definitely buy a few rounds for those who cut this one.

I celebrated with a Heady Topper.

Tusk2.jpg

I followed the ski cut down several hundred vertical and then either lost the trail or it just ended. I wound up in another drainage which involved more rock scrambling and what might be one of the gnarliest places I have found for skiing.

The photo is looking up after I climbed down.

Tusk3.jpg

The entire notch is amazing for hiking and holds so many hidden skis zones it's unreal!

I'll be hiking more of the slides there in the coming weeks after some time in ADKs.
 

Savemeasammy

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
2,538
Points
0
Location
S. NH
This looks awesome. Is it accessible from one of the resorts, or do you need to hike up from the road? You are lucky to live so close to some of New England's best skiing!
 

Huck_It_Baby

New member
Joined
Oct 11, 2010
Messages
1,264
Points
0
Location
Colorado
This looks awesome. Is it accessible from one of the resorts, or do you need to hike up from the road? You are lucky to live so close to some of New England's best skiing!

I didn't access it from the resort but you could use a lift to get to it either from Stowe or Smuggs. Not an early season line at all. Needs lots of snow to make it possible.

Yes I'm fortunate to live here! It's might be temporary but I hope to get year or two more here so I am out hiking/skiing as much as possible and soaking in the VT love.
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,815
Points
63
Location
Southeast NH
I didn't access it from the resort but you could use a lift to get to it either from Stowe or Smuggs. Not an early season line at all. Needs lots of snow to make it possible.

Yes, easily accessible from Spruce. One of my favorite lines at Stowe. Not only would I recommend skiing it later in the season as it needs a ton of snow, but make sure you are one of the first people down it the day you ski it following a storm. The top of it never develops much of a base as people try and ski it way too early in the season and slough off the snow before it has a chance to develop any base. I've probably skied Tusk a dozen times and the top of it where you enter from the woods is always super boney unless you are one of the first few people down.
 

Huck_It_Baby

New member
Joined
Oct 11, 2010
Messages
1,264
Points
0
Location
Colorado
Yes, easily accessible from Spruce. One of my favorite lines at Stowe. Not only would I recommend skiing it later in the season as it needs a ton of snow, but make sure you are one of the first people down it the day you ski it following a storm. The top of it never develops much of a base as people try and ski it way too early in the season and slough off the snow before it has a chance to develop any base. I've probably skied Tusk a dozen times and the top of it where you enter from the woods is always super boney unless you are one of the first few people down.


Thanks for the tip DeadHead. Seems like a line that won't get hit until 2nd half of the season. When climbing it I was actually questioning the middle section where the big rocks are. It really will take a ton of snow to fill it all in.

Let the cold winds blow that snow into the notch!
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,815
Points
63
Location
Southeast NH
That middle section does fill in. An ice flow develops over those big rocks and it becomes a nice 15 footer. Wish I had a scanner. I've got a nice picture of it during high snow levels.
 

Huck_It_Baby

New member
Joined
Oct 11, 2010
Messages
1,264
Points
0
Location
Colorado
That middle section does fill in. An ice flow develops over those big rocks and it becomes a nice 15 footer. Wish I had a scanner. I've got a nice picture of it during high snow levels.

Very cool. I can't wait!!

You could take a picture of your photo with your camera on your phone...?
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,815
Points
63
Location
Southeast NH
Very cool. I can't wait!!

You could take a picture of your photo with your camera on your phone...?

amazing what snow can do to change the look of a place. This photo was from the epic 2000-2001 season, so it rarely fills in this much, but you get the idea.

 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,815
Points
63
Location
Southeast NH
Found this set of photos from winter on a google search.

http://imgur.com/a/n7lNA#8iQCwpW

the 1st photo shows the bony entrance I discussed. The fourth photo shows why it always remains bony with the idiot sliding and scraping off all the snow. Most times I've skied it, I usually click out and hike around that bone yard and enter 50 feet or so below the true top from the skiers left side. The last picture in the series shows the drop from my photo looking down to it from above. My photo was from 2001 with perhaps record snow depth. This photo is a more accurate portrayal of what it typically looks like.
 

Huck_It_Baby

New member
Joined
Oct 11, 2010
Messages
1,264
Points
0
Location
Colorado
Found this set of photos from winter on a google search.

http://imgur.com/a/n7lNA#8iQCwpW

the 1st photo shows the bony entrance I discussed. The fourth photo shows why it always remains bony with the idiot sliding and scraping off all the snow. Most times I've skied it, I usually click out and hike around that bone yard and enter 50 feet or so below the true top from the skiers left side. The last picture in the series shows the drop from my photo looking down to it from above. My photo was from 2001 with perhaps record snow depth. This photo is a more accurate portrayal of what it typically looks like.

Very cool, thanks for the link. I think I hiked up through that bony section. It's just a narrow creek bed with lots of large stones.

The rest looks very different when compared to summer. It must get blasted with wind and fill in!
 
Top