MWAC Spring Operations

During this challenging time, we know that backcountry skiing, climbing and hiking will offer needed opportunities for recreation and escape. We will continue to forecast avalanches and other mountain hazards through it all, but with some changes to our operations that are designed to protect snow rangers, ski patrollers and the public. The changes are based on current recommendations from public health professionals. 

  • Social distancing – we’ll gladly offer information in person in the courtyard at Hermit Lake, or anywhere else you find us, but help us keep our distance. We’ll try to be positioned so we aren’t surrounded by a crowd to maintain our 6’ spacing. CDC recommends no groups larger than 10 people, fewer is even better.
  • Rescue – the team will follow best practices for EMS providers. In our case, this includes having a smaller staff of ski patrollers and possibly snow rangers, available to assist you. As always, be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to perform your own first aid and rescue and count on being enlisted to assist in a litter carry. 
  • Risk – consider the added consequences of a trip to the hospital as you make your decisions in the backcountry. Now is a good time to dial it back.

This is the time of year when large crowds begin to arrive in Tuckerman Ravine. Many experienced skiers choose to AVOID Tuckerman Ravine on busy days (read Saturday and Sunday) due to the hazards created by the increased number of inexperienced or unlucky skiers and riders falling or dropping things onto them. This season, there are plenty of hazards to manage including rapidly changing snow and weather conditions, long sliding falls, icefall, avalanches, crevasses, moats and undermined snow.  

Limited services are available in the backcountry with many huts and facilities closed or limited in services. If you choose to go into the backcountry, you need, more than ever, to be self-sufficient.

2020-3-18 A view of Tuckerman Ravine from Lionhead showing the mosaic pattern of refrozen, bulletproof ice crusts and firm, stubborn wind slabs. Less apparent is the older crown line high in Left Gully from an avalanche cycle a few weeks ago. Multiple hazards exist in the dynamic conditions that spring weather brings.