Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:30a.m., Sunday, April 10, 2011

All forecast areas in the Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

 Today is the tale of two days.  The first is the day that you hoped for—blue skies, light winds and snow in all the right places.  The second is the day that you always try to avoid—raw New England weather with mixed precipitation changing to rain.  Luckily we’re starting the day with the first set of conditions and they should remain in place until the afternoon when the junk show arrives.  The past couple of days have been our first solid taste of spring conditions and I’d estimate that yesterday’s crowds were a bit over 2000 people.  Snow stability was good and that trend will continue through today’s daylight hours.  Springtime hazards are just starting to awaken so it’s time to begin keeping your eyes open for the usual suspects.  Crevasses haven’t been spotted yet but open water has gotten the better of a few folks using the riverbed to connect the Bowl to the Sherburne (more info below).  Icefall danger is a concern but only to a minor degree at this point as most of the ice looming in the steeps is still well-bonded to the cliffs behind it.  Nonetheless keep those eyes and ears open and don’t linger underneath ice cooking in the sun.  The biggest issue for folks today will probably be the lack of softening in some areas.  Despite the crowds yesterday very few visitors decided to make their turns in Left Gully.  With great coverage and sun all day what was the issue?  Yesterday’s temperatures hung just below freezing and solar gain was the key factor in providing soft snow.  Slopes with a strong southern component to their aspect benefitted the most and the right side of Tucks was the place to be.  Without the same strong direct sun easterly aspects had a much harder time softening and I expect the same to hold true for the morning hours today. 


As we approach the second half of the day the mountain will slowly change face and several clues will make you want to run and hide.  Temperatures will rise as a warm front bullies its way in and covers our bluebird skies with high clouds.  This change in sky condition may have a negative effect on the soft snow you’ve been enjoying and things may begin to get a little crusty.  Timing is everything so if the mercury is high enough when the clouds roll in this might not be a widespread problem.  Later in the afternoon mixed precipitation will begin and eventually give way to straight rain.  We’ll be entering a period of rain and warm temperatures with no overnight freezing over the next couple days so strike the hammer while the iron is hot!


When it’s time to wave goodbye and head back to the surreal world you’ll need to exercise a little caution leaving the Bowl.  There is open water near the point where the river leaves the floor of the ravine.  Avoid the plunge by staying high on the left bank.  With warm temps and lots of traffic this connection should be deteriorating over the course of the day.  Check with the Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC Hermit Lake Caretakers for an update before trying to link up with the Sherburne for the ride or ski out to the parking lot.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast. For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Justin Preisendorfer, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713  TTY (603) 466-2856

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