Besides having some of the most vicious weather in the world, New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington is the East Coast’s big-mountain mecca, a proving ground for ambitious New Englanders. It’s also home to some of the continent’s oldest ski history, and when four locals return to circumnavigate the mountain in a day they find that culture very much alive and well.
Words: Ernie Catino
Austrian Toni Matt was 20 years old when he straight-lined off the summit of Mt. Washington, NH, pointing it into the bowl of Tuckerman Ravine below. He arced smooth, hard turns over the dramatic edge of The Lip and past features barely visible under the year’s record snowfall.
Six-and-a-half minutes and four miles later, he pulled up to the base of the Sherburne Ski Trail, at a sharp mountain pass called Pinkham Notch. It was 1939 and the third-running of the American Inferno race, and Matt had cut the previous winning time in half. It earned him a slew of media attention and forever linked his name to one of North America’s most historic ski locales. But despite the press, Matt is just one figure in Mt. Washington’s century-plus of ski pioneers…