I had the opportunity to do this about 10 years ago. It's definitely some of the steepest backcountry in New England, and its quite a scene as well. Alot of it is dependent upon the amount of snow that falls during the winter. The amount of snow determines when it's rideable and how long of a window there is for it to remain open. When I went in 2001, there was alot of snowfall that year so they opened it up in late April and it remained open till mid June! However, the window is typically shorter due to avalanche danger. It's an all day event. You have to hike about 2-3 hours up to the base of the bowl, and then another hour to the top of the head wall. You have to hike up with all your gear as well as food and extra clothing which makes for a grueling hike. The hike up the head wall is very sketchy at times as there are some areas with 45-50 degree slopes plus your going up your ski or snowboard boots. And then strapping in is another battle. Before you go down you get a nice view of Wildcat Mountain. Then head down into steep wide open snowfields. But steep and sketchy at times so this isn't for beginners, lol. There is a serious crevasse danger as well if you're riding later in the season, think like mid May. But the ride down is worth it. Like I said I don't think there is anything else like it on the east coast. Once you make it down to the bowl it's a very cool atmosphere. Post up on a rock and crack upon a sixer of Tuckerman's Ravine brews (very good stuff) and watch the other daredevils come down the mountain. And even if you don't ski or board, there are many locals that hike up to the bowl just to watch the entertainment. If you go on a weekend plan for some serious crowds. And then don't forget that you have to hike back down to the notch, another 1 - 1.5 hour hike. It's an all day event, but definitely worth it. Unfortunately if you don't live in the area it's a very difficult thing "to plan" beacuse the weather up there is highly variable and you could drive 6-9 hours and get skunked. It's better to do as a spur of the moment kind of adventure.
Right on man. A friend told me about this a few years ago. We both thought are pretty heavy into the mountains, lots of experience in the Sierras, but neither of us has done much back this way. I finally went to the Whites a few weeks ago for a backpacking trip and finally got a glimpse of the ravine itself. I couldn't believe it. Damn!! That place just looks incredible. The hikes were difficult enough in the summer. It's hard to imagine tromping through that place in the snow. I have serious respect for the guys that climb to the summit in the winter. As for the ravine, like you said, I think just watching the madmen would be a fun experience, even if it looks to sketchy to do myself. Thanks for sharing!
I have been boarding for a couple years now and decided to head up there in last spring with a kid who is much more experienced. Once we got to the ravine I realized there was no way in hell I would make it out alive so I chilled out in the bowl and watched. It was a great time, everyone cheering for eachother and hanging out. As for the steepness, I have hiked it in late May with limited snow gear (just a good pair of hiking boots and gloves). Probably one of the more sketchier experiences I have had, with the crevasses, rock outcroppings and steep slopes. Bottom line is without the proper equipment I can see it getting very dangerous. But I can't wait to get a few more years of boarding experience so I can shred it!
It's worth the trip live aloha. I've done it many times since the 80's. The weather is your biggest variable. Mt.Washington is nuts. Crazy lines to choose if you want. The hike is a killer. The vibe is awesome. If you've done time in the Sierras, you'll be fine. It's the only backcountry in the east that compares to anything out west.(minus a few secret spots) It does get sketchy, but that's what makes fun.
Man just reading the responses takes me back to some good times. Weather is number one. If you hit it right it can be some of the best lines you may ever get. I think someone else mentioned experience. I have seen a few guys get up there and freak out a bit. If you have rode bowls before its not any different than out west. Great times though.