Tuckerman Inferno Course Description

RACE OVERVIEW

The Tuckerman Inferno adventure race started in 2000 as the primary annual fundraiser for Friends of Tuckerman Ravine. The race pays homage to the original American Inferno ski races of the 1930’s. While the original American Infernos were top to bottom ski races on Mount Washington, the current Tuckerman Inferno includes running, kayaking, biking and hiking to create a pentathlon that is one of the most challenging adventure races in the country. Individuals and relay teams of two or five people compete to see who will be the fastest to cover an approximately 36 mile course that starts in the Mount Washington Valley and finishes in Tuckerman Ravine.   

The race has been run continually since 2000 in all types of weather, and would not be possible without the efforts of many dedicated volunteers and partners including with the support and generosity of the following organizations and local businesses – the United States Forest Service, Wildcat Ski Area, Attitash Ski Area, Mountain Rescue Service, White Mountain Swift Water Rescue Team, New Hampshire State Parks, Mount Washington Observatory, Appalachian Mountain Club, Glen Ellis Campground, The Flatbread Company, New Hampshire Army National Guard, New Hampshire State Police, Storyland, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, the Mount Washington Avalanche Center, AbilityPLUS and P1 Race Timing

THE FIVE LEGS OF THE INFERNO PENTATHLON

The Inferno Pentathlon starts at Story Land in Glen, NH and finishes in Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington.  The race consists of five legs -- Run, Kayak, Bike, Hike and Ski.  The transition zones are at the following locations: 

  1. Start (Run):  Story Land, Route 16, Glen, NH
  2. Run / Kayak:  Thorne Pond, Bartlett, NH which is next to the Saco River
  3. Kayak / BikeGlen Ellis Campground, Glen, NH
  4. Bike / Hike:  Direttissma Trail Head Parking Lot, Pinkham Notch, NH (just before the AMC Visitor Center)
  5. Hike / Ski: Tuckerman Ravine trail to Tuckerman Ravine ski course (TBD), Mount Washington, NH

    See Full Course Map Here


INFERNO RUN

Total distance, 8.3 miles, 600 feet total climb

  1. Run start is at the Story Land parking lot on Route 16 (850 New Hampshire Route 16, Glen).
  2. Stay on left side of Route 16 for 0.9 of a mile to the Glen Ledge Store.
  3. Take a left on Glen Ledge Road.
  4. There is a slight uphill grade for 0.6 of a mile.
  5. Steeper S turns for the next 0.5 of a mile continue to gradual uphill curves to height of land.  Then it’s all downhill to Jericho Road.
  6. Go left on Jericho Road to Route 302
  7. Take a right on Route 302 and continue past Attitash to Bear Peak.
  8. Take right across from the Bear Peak entrance to Thorne Pond.
  9. Go left around Thorne Pond on the gravel road to the run/kayak transition zone.

2017 Start Location and Notes:

The traditional Inferno start is on the west side of Rt 16 directly across from StoryLand. From there runners proceed up the left side of the highway and take the left onto Glen Ledge Road. This year, 2017, the Storyland lot on the west side of the highway will not likely be plowed or accessible, so the race start is currently expected to begin on the EAST side of Rt 16 in the Storyland parking area with runners immediately crossing the road in front of stopped traffic and then proceeding north up the west side of Rt 16 to Glen Ledge Rd where runners take a left.


INFERNO KAYAK

Total distance, 5.5 miles, approximately 200 feet total vertical drop (36 ft/mile)

Run / Kayak Transition at Thorne Pond The Run/Kayak transition zone is at Thorne Pond Conservation Area, located directly across Route 302 from the Attitash Bear Peak Ski Area. The gate to the pond will be open only on race day. A parking lot and porta-potty facilities will be available there for racers and spectators. 

River Description:

  1. This whitewater course along the Saco River requires technical boating skills with total vertical drop over the 5.5 miles of approximately 200 feet or about 36 feet/mile. The river is mostly moving water with 2-3 Class II Rapids.
  2. Following a short run from the run / kayak transition zone, kayakers will enter their boats on river right. Inferno Racers regularly tackle the course in both whitewater, recreational and sea kayaks.
  3. Note that the river is narrow with many sharp bends, often containing fallen trees and obstacles; the current is strong and the river is sometimes divided into several channels.
  4. There is a strong rapid about 200 yards above the Gift Shop Covered Bridge (mile 3.5), followed by a rapid just below the Route 302 Bridge; another strong rapid follows immediately.
    2017: THIS YEAR THE KAYAK TAKE OUT WILL BE JUST AFTER THE RT 302 BRIDGE
  5. The river then widens and soon passes under a railroad trestle (mile 4.2).  
  6. The Kayak Leg traditionally ends on the sandy beach at the Glen Ellis Campground on river left at mile 5.5.
  7. Drag the boat out of the water, and then run to kayak/bike transition zone.
  8. The best spectator spots and team support crew sites are between mile 3.5 and 4.0 as well as over the final 300 yards.
  9. If you need to rent a kayak we recommend contacting one of our sponsors like Saco Bound

2017 River Conditions and Notes on Kayak Transition points:

The Thorne Pond area is snowed in. Runners will enter the gate area near the pump house to tag the boater who will then run to their boat at the staging area around the pond toward the river. Racers will circle the pond to the left, transitioning to kayak mode at the entrance to the woods leading to the put-in area on the Saco River. Paddlers should be prepared for cold water and should be wearing thermal protection. An updated map of the Thorne Pond run-to-kayak transition point can be found here.

Racers who want to drop off a kayak in order to have it staged and ready for race day should note that the drop off point is usually across the street on the Attitash Bear Peak side of the road. Our host Attitash Mountain prefers that all spectator and extra support team parking be in/at the Bear Peak parking lot on the other side of Rt 302. Your cooperation in making this happen is appreciated. Be careful crossing the road after you park! All parking is at the Attitash Bear Peak parking lot. We are guests on this property, respect their decisions please.

The kayak take-out point this year will be the Route 302 bridge on river left. The Glen Ellis camping area is snowed in and is not plowed so the kayak course is shortened up a bit this year. Kayakers will exit their boats after going under the Rt 302 bridge and run a short distance to the bike transition point on the road above the river. Expect wet, slippery conditions here. Kayakers will tag bikers here and bike traffic will leave and head up Rt 302 to the Jericho Rd intersection and will proceed from there on the normal inferno bike route.

Volunteers and race event staff will transport all kayaks from the take out point to a kayak staging point nearby. Racer support teams will be able to use the parking lot at Joseph's Spaghetti Shed as the nearest parking and rendezvous spot.

Once the last bicyclist has left the transition area, racer support teams will be let back in to pick up their team member's kayaks and gear. Cars will come down the short access road and will proceed with one way traffic, existing back out into the Joseph's Spaghetti Shed lot.

To facilitate this process, we are asking every kayaker to clearly mark the bow of their boat with their bib number. We will have some duct tape and a marker available for this purpose on registration night. All kayakers should take personal responsibility for marking their bow with their bib number. If you are a racer who has signed up for gear transport support, in addition to marking your boat's bow with your bib number, add a "W" to signify that your kayak should be transported for you all the way back to the Wildcat Ski Area where the race banquet is being held.

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INFERNO BIKE

Total distance, 18.2 miles, approximately 2,000 feet total climb

  1. 2017: Bikes will Depart from the Route 302 bridge transition zone!!
  2. Travel by bike on Rt 302 and take LEFT onto Jericho Road to Glen Ledge Road.
  3. Go right on Glen Ledge Road.
  4. Go right on Birch Ledge Road.
  5. Go right on South Ledge Road.
  6. Go right on Glen Ledge Road.
  7. The downhill section on Glen Ledge Road is steep with sharp curves so caution is advised!
  8. At junction of Route 16, go left toward Jackson. Race staff and volunteers will be manning this point to insure a smooth entrance onto and across the highway.
  9. Go right at the covered bridge and follow Village Road (Route16A loop) through Jackson Village back to Route 16.
  10. Go right on Route 16 and continue to the Appalachian Mountain Club Pinkham Notch Visitor Center area.
  11. The bike / hike transition zone is in the dirt parking lot for the Deritissma Trail, which is on the left, just before the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Race staff and volunteers will be manning this point to insure a smooth entrance and highway crossing. 
  12. Note - there are three road crossings manned with FOTR volunteers, Bartlett Police and State Police:
    1. Rte 302 / Jericho Road;
    2. Glen Ledge Road / Route 16;
    3. Route 16 / to Bike/Hike transition at Deritissma Trailhead parking lot (just before the AMC).

2017 Road Conditions and Notes on Bike Transition points:

Since this year the kayak take out is different, support teams will access the boating gear drop off and pick up zone at the Josephs' Spaghetti Shed parking lot on Rt 302. This is the only authorized place to stop and park to drop off gear. Please do not block the flow of traffic on Rt 302 anywhere near the drop off zone. Vehicles will not be allowed onto the gravel road near the bridge until after the last bicyclist has left the transition zone. Cyclists will have to ride up Rt 302 a short distance before crossing left onto Jericho Rd and back onto the traditional Inferno bike route..

Sections of road you will be biking on could still contain sand and winter debris. Always use caution and be aware of road conditions.

The bike-to-hike transition point is still at Pinkham Notch and requires crossing Rt 16 from the right shoulder to the left shoulder into the Deritissma parking lot. Racers and support teams will have limited parking here and if you do park there, once the first bikers come into the transition point, no cars will be allowed in or out of this parking area until the bike leg is complete. If you park here and expect to leave earlier, park somewhere else. Volunteers and race staff will be on-site to guide you to the AMC Pinkham Notch parking area.


INFERNO HIKE

Total distance, approximately 3 miles, 2,268 feet total climb

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  1. The hiker will be tagged by the biker at the transition zone at the Deritissma Trailhead parking lot.
  2. The hiker will proceed across the foot bridge and around the perimeter of the south end of the AMC parking lot to the Blanchard Loop Ski Trail.
  3. The hiker will continue up the Blanchard Loop Trail to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.
  4. Hikers follow the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the transition zone located either in Tuckerman Ravine or at Hillman’s Highway.  The location is condition dependent and will be established by 7am on race day.
    1. At Hermit Lake Shelter, hikers are to follow a course marked by traffic cones around the perimeter of the courtyard.  This is a public, busy spot on the course and competitors must make efforts to minimize impact on other public users of the area.
    2. Note that the actual location of ski course will be determined in the week leading up to race day based on snow conditions and weather.  This could change on race day due to weather and safety conditions.
    3. The hiker must arrive at the Hike / Ski transition zone by 1PM or the skier may be disqualified.

2017 Hiking Conditions and Notes on Hike Transition points:

The tuckerman ravine trail currently has full winter conditions. The trail is packed snow and ice, but post-holing may be possible as conditions are very dynamic right now.

We strongly recommend that hikers have traction devices like micro-spikes, nano spikes or yak tracks for this leg or consider using snowshoes or skis to hike up.

 



INFERNO SKI/SNOWBOARD

  1. The skier will hike up the mountain from the designated hike-to-ski  transition zone at Hermit Lake to the start of a giant slalom course set somewhere in Tuckerman Ravine and/or that general vicinity. 
  2. The exact course will be determined the day prior to the race based on snow conditions and safety requirements.  

SKI/SNOWBOARD COURSE CONSIDERATIONS

  1. Equipment used for the ski leg must be carried by the skier from the transition zone; no pre-established ski caches will be allowed.
  2. Neutral party assistance is allowed for equipment, mechanical or terrain encountered difficulties.
  3. No team assistance is allowed.
  4. Actual course will be established by 7am day of the race as a function of prevailing conditions.
  5. Transition zone will be established by 7am day of race as a function of prevailing conditions.
  6. Course will consist of control gates and piste markers as set by chief of course. 

2017 Ski Conditions and Notes on Ski Transition points:

The ski course is being set on Friday. Check back for further updates that will be made here.
Snow conditions are still mid-winter and avalanches have been frequent in the alpine zone. A complete set of avy gear is recommended for travel above treeline. It is most likely that the ski course, wherever it is set for the start, will continue all the way down the Sherburne Ski Trail to the base of Pinkham Notch.


RACE SAFETY NOTES 

Road Safety

  1. The race course runs along several busy state highways.  Crossing zones have been identified and staffed by volunteers, state and local police.  Competitors should be aware of the traffic and are responsible for choosing a safe time and location to cross these highways to minimize interaction with local road traffic
  2. There will be no chase vehicles allowed on the road portion of the course.  Several of the roads have high traffic on narrow roads and chase vehicles impede local traffic.  In order to secure permission to run the race from the local community we have to minimize the impact on the flow of traffic over these roads. Your cooperation is appreciated.

River Safety

  1. Natural hazards such as rocks, trees and strong currents exist in the river race course on the Saco River.  Kayakers should familiarize themselves with the course and the hazards prior to race day. 
  2. Kayakers are responsible for choosing the safest route on the river that avoids the natural hazards.
  3. Volunteers organized by the White Mountain Swift Water Rescue Team will be present to provide safety coverage along the river course on race day.
  4. Kayakers who observe fellow racers in trouble are obligated to provide assistance if no safety personnel are nearby.
  5. Kayakers should dress for the water temperature. Dry Tops and/or wet suits are recommended.  Extra fleece layers under a rain shell will keep you warm when they get wet.

Mountain Safety

  1. Competitors should be prepared for winter travel in hazardous terrain on the hike and ski legs of the race.  There is the possibility of dramatic change in temperature and weather from the start of the hike leg to the finish of the ski leg.
  2. Tuckerman Ravine is avalanche prone terrain. Competitors should be familiar with the normal precautions necessary for safe travel in avalanche terrain. Always check the latest avalanche report from the USFS Avalanche Center at Hermit Lake can be found at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org
  3. Pay attention to the weather and latest avalanche forecast and take the necessary precautions. 
  4. Falling ice is a significant hazard in the spring. Competitors and spectators should be aware of hanging ice and the areas in Tuckerman Ravine where ice is likely to end up when and if it breaks loose from the wall. Competitors and spectators should position themselves in protected areas to minimize their risk. 
  5. Crevasses are a major risk in the ravine. The race course will be set in a location that avoids the major known crevasses.  Competitors and spectators should be current on the locations of the crevasses and avoid travel in those areas.
  6. Undermined snow is a hazard in the floor of the ravine and lower portions of the Little Headwall. Melt water running under the snow can cause sink holes to develop.
  7. The Little Headwall is an open waterfall. Skiing from Tuckerman Ravine to Hermit Lake is not recommended and may not be possible.  
  8. Competitors should be prepared for winter conditions in the ravine. Temperatures may not warm enough for soft corn skiing.  Pay attention to the weather forecast and have the equipment necessary for safe winter travel (ie, avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, crampons and an ice axe) available.
  9. The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is open to the public during the race. Be aware of the general public and share the trail with them. FOTR will have an information booth at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to inform other users of the race. Be courteous and let other hikers know you are passing. 

Parking

  1. Parking is limited at all transition zones. Most of the transition zones are located on private land or in lots designated for NH Department of Transportation operations.  Please be respectful of the private property so that we can continue to enjoy access for future races.
  2. All transition zones will have designated drop off and pickup areas. Support teams will have 5 minutes to load and unload gear in these zones. Teams will be issued drop off/pick up passes at registration.

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