Climbing Mt. Washington in New Hampshire's Presidential Range to ski or ride Tuckerman Ravine or the East Snowfields is a New England thing to do.

It's a regional rite of spring, when the season winds down at the downhill resorts, the days lengthen, the weather warms, and the winter's snows settle.

The mountain should offer fabulous conditions well into May once the winter's snows settle into the firm and stable cover that affords safe surface for climbing and sliding.

Weather on the region's highest peak must be the primary concern of all who travel there. The Mt. Washington Avalanche Center's offers up-to-date reports on conditions, weather forecasts, history, and excellent advice on planning a trip there.

Tuckerman Ravine is 2.4 miles from the trailhead at the Appalachian Mountain Club lodge in Pinkham Notch, so just getting to the base of the ravine requires significant effort. It's another 800 or so feet up the steep sides of the ravine to where one steps into skis or board. The East Snowfields are another 1,000 feet or so uphill and northward.

Each downhill run is earned by an uphill climb, fueled by food carried in packs.

Weather changes constantly in this setting, so visitors should be prepared for the worst, with layers of warm clothing, topped off by windproof parka and pants, hat, and goggles.

Why do people do it?

Dick Dorworth, a noted climber and skier who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, said he asked that question of famous Austrian skier Pepi Stiegler, who ran the ski school at Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Stiegler replied, "Ah, it is as it used to be. It is as it used to be."