Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:45a.m., Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Considerable avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely.  We have not begun forecasting for the Escape Hatch, Lobster Claw, Lower Snowfields, or Little Headwall due to a general lack of snow in these areas.  Forecasting will begin for these areas when conditions warrant although avalanche activity may occur before this point.

 Well it finally feels like winter and guess what?  It is!  We all wanted to see last night’s lunar eclipse but if it wasn’t possible I’d personally settle for a little low density powder to ring in the winter.  Snow began falling yesterday around sunset and by midnight the summit had picked up 2.2” (5.5cm) of 6% light density fluff.  Another 2-4” (5-10cm) is expected over the course of the day today.  Winds remained out of the N at around 35mph (56kph) for much of the evening but this was plenty fast enough to send the snow flying.  As the day moves along we expect to see an increase in speed as the Observatory is forecasting winds up to 65mph (105kph) with higher gusts. 

One of the more critical pieces of information that seems a little more difficult to pin down today is the wind direction as we feel the lingering effects of the storm that recently passed us a little too far to the E.  The Observatory’s summit forecast calls for NNE winds today while the National Weather Service is expecting them to come from the NW.  It may not seem like a big deal but the combination of topography above the ravines (Bigelow Lawn and Alpine Garden), forecast area aspect, and existing bed surfaces make this an important piece of information.  NW winds tend to deliver much more snow to the ravines than those from the N or NE. If we were better able to pin down the direction we might be able to drop some forecast areas down to the Moderate rating.  I would expect areas with a southerly aspect to reach the Considerable rating well before other areas make the jump today.  These include the Right Gully, Sluice and Lip in Tuckerman and Yale, Damnation and North in Huntington.  Soft and touchy windslab will likely develop over unconsolidated low-density snow in these lee areas where protection from the wind is highest.  This layering will cover what had been at the surface—a mixture of compacted snow/neve with scattered areas of faceting.  Areas that have an easterly or northerly aspect will still pick up snow but this will be mostly through cross-loading.  Instability issues will be slower to develop in these spots but the layering described does not lend itself well to stabilization.   If you’re out in avalanche terrain today it will be essential to exercise careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making.

 The lower sections of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail have been an icy nightmare and have made all of the Snow Rangers firm believers in lightweight traction footwear.  I rarely wear crampons below Hermit Lake but some of the past days have made me wish that I had ten big spikes on each foot and maybe even a couple of ice tools to run laps on some of the crazy ice flows that have developed off the sides.  Long, nasty sliding falls are possible in a few areas and some snow on top will make these hard to detect.  Be careful out there or you’ll end up broken and tossed in the woods somewhere along the way!

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 

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00a.m., Monday, December 20, 2010

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger.  Avalanches are unlikely but you should watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.  We are not currently forecasting for the Little Headwall, Lower Snowfields, Lobster Claw, or Escape Hatch due to an overall lack of snow in these areas.

This past weekend provided favorable conditions for visiting mountaineers.  A lack of wind made the cold temperatures reasonable and snow stability was good in most areas.  As a result we saw lots of climbers and even a handful of skiers who weren’t afraid to take on the scrappy early season conditions.  A number of avalanche courses were out this weekend poking around and many of the students noted the development of faceted snow.  These facets have developed as the result of high temperature gradients within our relatively thin snowpack.  Facets are currently number one on the stability watch list as their square crystal shape lends itself well to the creation of a persistent weak layer.  Although all areas are posted at Low avalanche danger today you’ll want to watch for locations where cohesive windslab covers this loose sugary snow.  As of this morning these areas of concern can be classified as isolated pockets but you can bet that we’ll be watching how near-surface facets interface with new snow.  An inch or so (2.5cm) of snow is expected overnight and winds are forecasted to finally pick back up.  They shouldn’t find too much snow available for transport until around midnight when they’re expected to push to 50mph (80kph) out of the N to NE.  If the winds crank up earlier than forecasted an alarm should go off in your head as blowing snow is one of several red flags of instability. 

If you plan on heading up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch you should be prepared for about a mile and a half of low angle mixed climbing with long sections of water ice blanketing the entire trail.  The lower part of the trail is quite challenging without crampons or other traction footwear and there is the potential to take a nasty fall.  Over the past couple days we have noticed blood-stained ice and the tracks of sliding bodies where people’s skill and equipment didn’t match the conditions.  Leave a little extra time and energy to navigate this section of trail.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine

Posted 8:20a.m., Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.  Watch for unstable snow in isolated terrain features.  We are not currently forecasting for the Little Headwall, Lower Snowfields, Lobster Claw, or Escape Hatch due to an overall lack of snow in these areas.

The mountain finally showed itself yesterday after being in hiding for several days.  This provided us with an opportunity to safely assess conditions in both Ravines.  Despite below average snowfall, I was impressed with how a number of areas are developing.  Last weekend’s rain event triggered some wet avalanches that pushed several  run-outs  farther down into their path resulting in some well developed slide paths.  Left Gully and the Chute in Tuckerman and Odell and Central in Huntington represent the largest avalanche paths that exist in the Ravines right now.  Others are getting there and I think they will progress well with our next storm system.  As far as stability goes, there is a wide array of snow conditions to be found in the Ravines that combine to give us generally stable snow.  However, there is one case in particular that you should be aware of and use caution if you find it.  In some places I found wind slab sitting over a well developed and weak faceted layer.  This is the combination that could produce isolated avalanche activity if it is disturbed by the additional load of people. Be on the lookout for this undesirable snowpack and avoid traveling on it.  Some upcoming weather events that may change snow stability include increasing winds on Monday into Tuesday and the potential for accumulating snow Monday night through Tuesday night.  We’ll keep you posted on these events in the upcoming advisories.

If you plan on heading up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch you should be prepared for about a mile and a half of low angle mixed climbing with long sections of water ice across the entire trail.  The lower part of the trail is quite challenging without crampons or other traction footwear and there is the potential to take a nasty fall.  On the way down yesterday, Chris and I observed a blood stained site on the trail that marked the location of someone taking the fall that I was afraid of the entire way up and down the trail yesterday.  Leave a little extra time and energy to navigate this section of trail.

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.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

 Printable Advisory

Posted: 9:10a.m., Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.

If you’ve been paying attention to the weather up here, you might have noticed that we haven’t gotten a big storm since the rain event about a week ago. You might also be wondering what change has prompted us to move from General Advisories to the North American 5-scale danger rating system. While the rain from that last storm was a setback, on its heels it left behind 5.6” (14cm) of snow. Since then, light accumulations have continued, bringing the post-rain snowfall totals up to 9.8” (25cm). During this time temperatures have been cold and winds have been rather light.

This pattern has helped further the growth snowfields in the ravines, but more importantly it left behind a fair bit of light density snow in the upper elevations. Winds yesterday topped out at 50mph (80kph) from the NW, the strongest they’ve been since Monday. You can expect that snow that had been sitting above treeline was transported into the ravines late yesterday. Wind speeds forecasted for this weekend are light enough to keep new loading to a minimum. The shift to today’s Moderate rating reflects our concerns about recently developed slabs as well as the continued growth of bed surfaces and avalanche paths. Anticipate some new slab instabilities to be on the upper end of the Moderate rating particularly in some of the larger snowfields in Tuckerman. Sporadic visibility in between extended periods of fog and blowing snow over the past several days has limited our ability for a complete assessment of the terrain. Clearing conditions for the weekend should help us gather additional information for a more complete picture.

As mentioned, the growth of the snowfields in avalanche terrain has been slow but steady. The largest continuous snowfields can be found in places such as Left Gully and the Chute in Tuckerman, and Central and Odell gullies in Huntington. Most other forecast areas also have snowfields large enough to avalanche. However, there are some areas with little or no snow. Getting around in places like the Lower Snowfields or the Escape Hatch would be difficult, to say the least. If you’re heading into avalanche terrain today, you should come ready to assess snow stability carefully. Bring along your beacons, shovels, and probes, but remember rescue gear doesn’t guarantee your safety. Not getting caught in an avalanche in the first place should be your real priority.

Please Remember:
•   Safe  travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This avalanche 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. 
•   Expect a change in the avalanche danger when the actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.  For more information, contact the U.S. 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.
 

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Printable Advisory

Posted: 8:15, Wednesday, December 15, 2010
This is an early season GENERAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY.  Use of the 5-scale danger rating system will begin when conditions warrant.  A General Advisory is issued when instabilities are isolated within the entire forecast area. However, it is important to realize that avalanche activity may occur within these locations before the issuance of a 5-scale forecast. Under a General Advisory you need to make your own snow stability assessments when venturing into avalanche terrain.

Despite a recent soaking, winter weather is the dominant force in the mountains and anyone planning to be up here in the next few days needs to be prepared for cold weather and the potential for unstable snow in the Ravines.  NW winds have brought very cold air to the mountains and the associated upslope flow will provide reasonable hope for accumulating snow between Wednesday and Thursday.  Since last Sunday, the mountain has recorded around 4” (102 mm) of water with at least half of that falling as rain.  The rest was a mixed bag of precipitation with enough snow to allow the mountain to progress further into its winter form than it was before Sunday.  As of Wednesday morning there was 15.5” (40 cm) of snow at the Hermit Lake snow plot.  A brief moment of clearing provided me with views of Tuckerman on Tuesday and I observed that conditions have progressed and we are getting close to switching to a 5-scale advisory.  The areas that have the most well developed avalanche paths right now are Left Gully and the Chute in Tuckerman Ravine and Central Gully in Huntington.  Snowfields through the Headwall and the Lip in Tuckerman continue to grow as well.  On the flip side, a number of our forecast areas have very little snow in them right now.  It is important for you to realize that unstable snow may exist in the Ravines and avalanche activity can occur.  Be on the lookout for new wind slabs that form as new snow accumulates and moderate to light NW winds transport it into the Ravines over the next few days.  We are monitoring conditions closely and will keep you updated as conditions change. 

Cold temperatures coupled with a lot of surface water from the recent rain are working together to make a lot of ice.  This is good news if you are an ice climber but remember that recent weather damaged existing ice and ice dams may be forming in a number of areas.  All of the recent mood swings the mountain has been through should make you skeptical about the overall condition of ice for a little while.  Throw some rock gear on your rack and expect some of these issues along the way.  It should be no surprise to you that mountaineering skills and equipment are needed to travel in the mountains right now.  Along with cold winter weather, I suspect there will be a lot of water ice developing on the trails over the next few days that will add to your adventure. 

Please Remember:
•   Safe  travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This avalanche 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.  
•   Expect a change in the avalanche danger when the actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.  For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
•   A new advisory will be posted when conditions warrant.
 
Brian Johnston, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

 Printable Advisory

Posted: 8:15a.m., Sunday, December 12, 2010

This is an early season GENERAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY. Use of the 5-scale danger rating system will begin when conditions warrant. A General Advisory is issued when instabilities are isolated within the entire forecast area. However, it is important to realize that avalanche activity may occur before the issuance of a 5-scale forecast. Under a General Advisory you need to make your own snow stability assessments when venturing into avalanche terrain.

As is often the case with Mt. Washington, manic weather will dominate the coming days. Conditions will change rapidly and the mountain hazards of concern will switch from those of winter to spring to winter again! We expect temperatures to rise with snow transitioning to rain and freezing rain at the summits by Sunday evening before a return to more seasonable conditions during the workweek. Despite the quickly approaching holidays we have remained under the General Advisory flag because isolated snowfields have yet to connect and form the defined avalanche tracks for which we regularly forecast. Nonetheless we expect that there will be localized avalanche activity during this forecast period with an abundance of precipitation on the horizon. Stability concerns will result from the rain-on-snow event forecasted for Sunday into Monday, as well as from the snow that will accompany the cold front expected to push the warm, wet weather out of town. Be aware that a small avalanche can be very dangerous if it is triggered in the wrong spot. Snow that has been deposited over blue ice often is very poorly bonded at the interface. Ice climbers should consider this ahead of time and place protection before crossing suspect slopes. Spatial distribution of these snow-on-ice conditions will increase when the snow comes in behind the rain and dropping temperatures.

Ice conditions have generally been excellent for climbers and fortunately I don’t believe that the forecasted rain will be enough to hit the reset button. Icefall is likely to occur Sunday into Monday morning around both ravines as smaller and unsupported pieces of ice come crashing down. What doesn’t succumb to the combination of warmth and gravity will need some time to heal before climbers jump back on the horse. I would expect significant undermining to occur from the rush of running water creating detached ice that may also form ice dams as temperatures drop during the workweek. A little extra caution and some rock gear might help for safer, more enjoyable climbing as routes are restored to health by midweek.

We are now in early winter in the high mountains so remember that hiking trails going through steep terrain will require mountaineering equipment and skills.  Don’t wait any longer to refresh your avalanche skills. Practice with your beacon, review your safe travel rules and snow stability tests, and sign up for an avalanche course.

Please Remember:
•   Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This avalanche 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. 
•   Expect a change in the avalanche danger when the actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.  For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin. 
•   A new avalanche advisory will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Printable Advisory

Posted: 8:15a.m., Friday, December 10, 2010

This is an early season GENERAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY. Use of the 5-scale danger rating system will begin when conditions warrant. A General Advisory is issued when instabilities are isolated within the entire forecast area. However, it is important to realize that avalanche activity may occur before the issuance of a 5-scale forecast. Under a General Advisory you need to make your own snow stability assessments when venturing into avalanche terrain.

Winter seems to have settled into the White Mountain region, even if it has been somewhat reluctant to develop a consistent pattern. While north and west of the Presidential Range got over a foot of new snow on the 6th, there isn’t a single snow grain on the ground in Conway. You might expect Mount Washington to have gotten the heavier end of that spectrum, but you’d be wrong. In fact, the summit has measured only 8.7” so far in the entire month of December. What this means for avalanche potential is that snowfields remain relatively small, but they are slowly and steadily growing in size and distribution. As they grow, so does the size of the bed surfaces for future instabilities. Early season is a time characterized by a high degree of spatial variability, so as you move around the ravines you should continually be assessing the snowpack as you go.

The weather pattern for the next couple days looks to include continued cold weather, a chance of snow showers, and a moderate W and SW flow that may move new snow into the ravines. Into Sunday and Monday some weather will be developing and we’re crossing our fingers that it stays frozen before hitting the ground. Remember that conditions change quickly this time of year; don’t expect things to look entirely the same this weekend as they did last weekend.

Be aware that a small avalanche can be very dangerous if it is triggered in the wrong spot. Snow that has been deposited over blue ice often is very poorly bonded at the interface. Ice climbers should consider this ahead of time and place protection before crossing suspect slopes. We are now in early winter in the high mountains so remember that hiking trails going through steep terrain will require mountaineering equipment and skills.

Don’t wait any longer to refresh your avalanche skills. Practice with your beacon, review your safe travel rules and snow stability tests, and sign up for an avalanche course. We now have all the avalanche course providers in the valley this winter on our website, www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

Please Remember:
Safe backcountry travel requires training and experience. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain.
For more information, contact the U.S. 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 Sunday at midnight. A new Advisory will be issued Monday.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Printable advisory

Posted: 7:45 a.m., Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This is an early season GENERAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY. A General Advisory is issued when instabilities are isolated within the entire forecast area. Use of the 5-scale danger rating system will begin when conditions warrant. Until then new advisories will be issued as needed.  However, it is important to realize that avalanche activity may occur before the issuance of a 5-scale forecast. Under a General Advisory you need to make your own snow stability assessments when venturing into avalanche terrain.

It looks like we’ve finally made the turn to winter and snowfields are growing in size.  The summit has picked up 8″(20cm) of snow in December but until recently winds weren’t doing their part to push snow our way.  This has changed as W and NW winds have ramped up and active transport has begun.  The past few snow events have allowed local accumulations to vary widely so expect to find high spatial variability in the early season snowpack.  As an example, Monday’s snowfall left more than a foot (30cm) of snow on the W side of the Presidentials while Hermit Lake received only 1.6″(4cm). At least the recent winds have been out of the W and will be moving snow across Bigelow Lawn and the Alpine Garden.

Through the next few days we expect to see lingering snow showers with cold air continuing to be ushered in from the north.  Isolated pockets of snow will begin to connect and form small snowfields as we go through the dynamic transformation into full winter conditions.  The size and distribution of snowfields changes daily under these patterns so one needs to expect a whole different ravine than when they visited the past weekend.  Under a General Advisory you need to make your own avalanche stability assessments before venturing into any open slopes.   Check www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org frequently as we move through early December and certainly check for the latest avalanche advisory before heading into avalanche terrain.

We are now in early winter in the high mountains so remember that hiking trails going through ravines and gulfs will require mountaineering equipment and skills.  Be aware that a small slab or sluff can be very dangerous if it is triggered in the wrong spot. This is particularly true for early season ice climbers. As a climber picks their way through a route they will usually cross small pockets of snow. Often this snow has been deposited over blue ice, making for a poor bond at the interface. Consider this ahead of time and place protection before crossing suspect slopes. Remember if a snowfield is big enough to recreate on, its big enough to avalanche.

Don’t wait any longer to refresh your avalanche skills. Pull out your beacon, install some fresh high quality alkaline batteries, and practice. Review your safe travel rules, techniques for assessing snow stability, and sign up for an avalanche course. We now have all the avalanche course providers in the valley this winter on our website, mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

Please Remember:
•   Safe backcountry travel requires training and experience. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own informed decisions in avalanche terrain.
 
•   For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
 
•   A new avalanche advisory will be issued when conditions warrant.
 

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

This is the initial GENERAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY for the 2010-2011 season.  Frankly, it’s about time isn’t it!  Use of the 5-scale danger rating system will begin when conditions warrant. Until then new advisories will be issued as needed. A General Advisory is issued when instabilities are isolated within the entire forecast area. However it’s important to realize that avalanche activity may occur within these locations before the issuance of a 5-scale forecast.  This is a critical fact to remember.  Within the General Advisory there are isolated snowfields that are growing in size that should be watched.  Some examples in Tuckerman include Left Gully and the Chute while in Huntington Ravine snow is scant, but can be found in a few locations such as Central Gully.  Realize that snowfields may be developing on existing summer trails. Under a General Advisory you need to make your own avalanche stability assessments before venturing into any open slopes.   Check www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org frequently as we move through early December and certainly check for the latest avalanche advisory before heading into avalanche terrain.

We have been in and out of winter several times over the past 6 weeks, but a consistent Jack Frost is a bit slow in coming.  The recent rain and heavy icing event for the higher elevations caused us to lose a little snow cover and glazed over quite a bit of the Presidential Range summits.  The region is about to enter an unsettled period of weather bringing snow to higher elevations through the weekend and into the beginning of the workweek on a northwesterly flow.  Wind speeds will be moderate but should actively load existing bed surfaces in a number of areas in the Ravines.  Snowfall rates will be most significant on Saturday followed by some modest accumulations into Monday and Tuesday.  Expect some new slab to develop on existing snowfields causing some instabilities, most notably on the larger bed surfaces in Tuckerman’s southern half near the Chute and Left Gully.

OTHER GENERAL EARLY SEASON CONCERNS- We are in early winter in the high mountains so remember trails going through ravines and gulfs require winter gear, equipment, and skills.  Be aware that a small slab or sluff can be very dangerous. This is particularly true for early season ice climbers. As a climber picks their way through a route they will usually cross small pockets of snow. Often this snow has been deposited over blue ice, making for a poor bond at the interface. Consider this ahead of time and place protection before crossing suspect slopes. It doesn’t take much snow to knock you off your feet and depending how high you are this could be a significant problem. Remember if a snowfield is big enough to recreate on, its big enough to avalanche.

Be aware of falling ice if we get back into thaw periods before the real deep winter freeze. Many folks have been injured and killed by falling ice so pay attention to where you are, and don’t linger when under ice. Have a plan in mind about what you will do and where you will go if ice comes down.

Don’t wait any longer to refresh your avalanche skills. Pull out your beacon, install some fresh high quality alkaline batteries, and practice. Review your safe travel rules, techniques for assessing snow stability, and sign up for an avalanche course. We now have all the avalanche course providers in the valley this winter on our website, mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

Thanks in advance to all the groups that will once again be helping us make it through the season successfully. We couldn’t do the job without the many volunteers searching for and carrying injured people down the mountain and the financial support that helps us upgrade our rescue, education and information capabilities. We sincerely appreciate all your help.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin. A new avalanche advisory will be issued when conditions warrant.

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