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AMC ready for start of 2014 season in NH's outdoors

PINKHAM NOTCH — With the start of spring skiing in nearby Tuckerman Ravine, the Appalachian Mountain Club has entered its 2014 season, albeit with less fanfare than last year when it observed the 125th anniversary of its White Mountain huts, but with the same commitment to conservation, recreation and education.

Founded in 1876 and headquartered in Boston, the AMC’s activities are concentrated in New Hampshire, where the organization maintains eight huts and 14 campsites/shelters in the White Mountains in addition to other facilities such as a camp on Lake Winnipesaukee, a lodge and reservation on Cardigan Mountain in Alexandria and the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center/Joe Dodge Lodge. The AMC, in its own words, also has “destinations” in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Rob Burbank, who is the AMC’s director of media and public affairs, said you don’t have to join to enjoy the club’s offerings.

In addition to welcoming people to the outdoors, the AMC is also a leading publisher of a variety of books, maps and journals, among them “Appalachia,” which at 138 years old this year is North America’s longest-running journal of mountaineering and conservation.

Burbank, who has been with the AMC for 22 years, recently said the skiing in Tuckerman will typically last into June, although in 1997 he recalled that it lasted into August, thanks to the many feet of snow that accumulates in the ravine’s natural amphitheater-shaped depression.

“It looks like somebody took an ice cream scoop out of it,” Burbank said, adding that Tuckerman has a long and colorful history that includes a stay there by Henry David Thoreau.

The history of Tuckerman Ravine is alive and well at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, which since the start of April has held a free, weekly film series celebrating it, beginning on April 5 with “Fire on the Mountain,” which told the tale of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division; and on April 12, with a showing of “Legends of American Skiing — Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Inferno,” whose 1939 iteration, according to the AMC, marked “the last big-mountain downhill race in America.”

This Friday at 8 p.m., the film series will present “Intrepid Descent” which is a documentary that the AMC bills as an homage to Tuckerman Ravine and the people who work and play there. The series concludes on April 26 with the 1940 classic “Dr. Quackenbush Skis the Headwall,” a comedy that follows the adventures of Dr. Erasmus B. Quackenbush from Mount Cranmore, to the Wildcat Race Trail, and ultimately, to Tuckerman Ravine.

In addition to celebrating the celluloid history of Tuckerman Ravine in 2014, Burbank said the AMC will also observe a quieter milestone this year: the 100th anniversary of the Carter Notch Hut.

Located between Wildcat Mountain and Carter Dome, the hut is the oldest structure in the AMC’s system still in use.


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