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THE OUTSIDE LINE

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page E03

SLIP AWAY: There are not many places where in one trip you can spend two days plummeting on Alpine skis on what has been called "the frozen wave" and follow it on the third day with a surfboard for a session of fun rides on the real thing. New Hampshire, especially in April, is near the top of a very short list of places that have both.

Up north, carved into the imposing, 6,288-foot Mount Washington, is Tuckerman Ravine, an expanse of steep slopes (some at pitches up to 55 degrees) without lifts that since the 1930s has been the site of extraordinary spring skiing.

A winter of snow is blown off the higher ridges and collects on Tuckerman Headwall and in the Bowl; last weekend, the cover was several dozen feet deep. You trail-hike up about 2.5 miles to get there, your skis attached to a backpack and your boots, goggles and helmet stuffed in it, and then the fun begins. The climb up the Headwall likely is the steepest you will ever try, and when you stop to put your skis on the view below is unbelievable. It feels like you can fall and slide forever, which many skiers did at very high speeds. But Tuckerman truly is an experience not to be missed.

A day later, moving across the street, you can ski Wildcat, whose lift-served, challenging runs felt tame after the Headwall, and then after that drive a couple of hours downstate to Hampton Beach to luck into good Atlantic Ocean waves with no one on them. The water temperature was in the mid-40s, but with a wetsuit and the sound of white-crested rollers cracking hard and the good rides stacking up, it felt like a bit of paradise, a common feeling among surfers no matter where they live.

Surprising or not, the Washington area has a strong community of surfers, many of whom will be at Dr. Dremo's Taphouse in Arlington on Saturday night starting at 6 p.m. for a benefit to help SurfAid International's humanitarian work on the islands off West Sumatra as well as the Mentawai Islands, popular surfing spots located in tsunami-ravaged Indonesia. The event, hosted by the DC Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, is open to the public and will feature standup comedy, live music and an auction. For details, visit www.surfrider.org/capitol.

GOOD CAST: The Potomac-Patuxent chapter of Trout Unlimited will host its annual Kids' Fishing Day on Saturday at 8 a.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Silver Spring. The free event is for those under 16 who want to fish for trout and panfish. Chapter members will be on hand to help out. For more information, call 301-650-2087.

-- John Mullen

mullenj@washpost.com


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