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The Empress

The most complex and exposed line in Tuckerman Ravine

Ski Touring Extreme

348 m
0 m
236 m
0-1 hrs
Low Point
1.2 km
High Point
1.5 km
The Empress Map

The Empress is much better to look at than to actually ski. In fact, most people don’t even consider it. The Empress is the hanging snowfield to lookers right of The Duchess. Unlike The Duchess, The Empress actually does drop straight off a cliff after the blind roll. Don’t even think about a fall anywhere on this line. Although this line is already sounding impossible, it has been skied a number of times. To access The Empress, ascend via Hillman’s Highway and hike across to skiers left, first you will pass The Duchess, continue walking down a skree field until you reach another hanging snowfield. The route finding is difficult and high consequence, requiring steep down climbing on loose rock that can tumble out from under you at any time. Once you you’re out of the alpine bushes and rocks, This is the top of The Empress. Chances are there will be no tracks. You’ll have this open face chalked full of fresh snow all the yourself. After you finish shredding freshies and enjoying panoramic views of the Presidentials, Most years a hike out is required. But on big snow years, you can ski through a crux onto an open ramp. This is all above a MASSIVE cliff band. It’s is extremely exposed and there is very little room for a self arrest. The best way is, slide into a choke to skiers right of the first cliff, then billygoat through some trees. This takes you into a small hanging chute, which allows for a handful of turns before a traverse to skiers left above a substantial cliff. This may require hacking through some little spruces. Traverse into another pocket of snow above a small choke, this is your exit. This is the part that requires the most snow to be skiable. The Empress ends on the Lower Snowfields, where you can enjoy some more mellow turns before exiting to Hillman’s Highway. Do not ski The Empress If you even think you're going to fall.



Extreme skiing terrain above 45 degrees. These routes are reserved for experienced experts.

Extreme Exposure (E4)

4 out of 4

In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between March and April


  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Couloir
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Guidebooks in this area