General Advisory for Tuckerman Ravine

A General Advisory is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. A general advisory for Tuckerman will be in effect until complete melt out later this spring/summer. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

The long stretch of beautiful weather will continue for the next few days. General Advisories are valid for 3 days at most, so we’ll update it either when conditions warrant, or by Thursday morning this week. Keep your eyes on the weather forecast, and as usual…

BE AWARE OF THE ANNUAL SPRINGTIME HAZARDS IN TUCKERMAN RAVINE:

  • FALLING ICE. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by falling ice in Tuckerman. The most hazardous locations are in the center and right side of the ravine, including Lunch Rocks, the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl. Warm weather and rain increase the potential for icefall to occur. There is still a lot of ice hanging on the cliffs in the Sluice and headwall. Avoid spending time in high risk areas such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks.
  • CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. These are growing larger in many locations, the most dangerous locations are in the Lip and Center Bowl. Give them plenty of room, since they are often much larger beneath the surface than what you can see from above. Breaking through weak snow into one of these could be fatal for you or someone in your group. The best way to avoid the hazard is by climbing up what you plan to descend and giving these areas plenty of space.
  • UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, this problem gets worse. It is most prominent in places where there is flowing water beneath the snowpack, which includes most of the gullies. While the snow may appear thick and strong on top, you won’t really know how strong or weak until you cause it to collapse underneath you. If you see small holes in the snow or near large rocks, realize there may be large open spaces under the surface.

The Lip area has all of the hazards listed above, as well as the main waterfall holes. Travel in this area is not recommended. This terrain is a “no fall zone,” where the consequences of a slip at any point can be dire. We expect to be closing this area and this section of the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail through the ravine very soon. This is an annual closure due to the unique hazards posed to hikers and skiers. When the closure happens, we will let you know through signage and in the advisory.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed for the season. Plan to hike down from Hermit Lake.

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.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.

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

2013-05-06 General

Avalanche Advisory for May 5, 2013

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

FALLING ICE. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by this hazard. The warm weather is increasing the potential for icefall to occur in the ravine. There is still a lot of ice hanging on the cliffs in the Sluice and headwall. Minimize the time you spend in high risk areas such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks. Remember, Lunch Rocks is not a safe place to sit due to its position in the fall line of ice from both of these locations.

CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. These have become a serious threat in the Lip and Center Bowl. Breaking through a weak snow bridge into one of these could be fatal for you or someone in your group. The best way to avoid the hazard is by climbing up what you plan to descend. Be knowledgeable about where they are and keep clear of these areas.

UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge. While the snow may appear thick and strong on top, you won’t really know how strong or weak until you cause it to collapse underneath you. If you see small holes in the snow or near large rocks, realize there may be large open spaces under the surface. Hillman’s Highway has some undermined snow and open holes in the lower portion.

The Lip area has all of the hazards listed above, as well as the main waterfall holes. It is highly recommended that you avoid this area entirely. This terrain is a “no fall zone,” where the consequences of a slip at any point can be dire. We expect to be closing this area and this section of the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail through the ravine very soon. This is an annual closure due to the unique hazards posed to hikers and skiers. When the closure happens, we will let you know through signage and in the advisory.

The Sherburne is still open from the top to the #7 crossover, just under a mile downhill. There are several melted out sections that require walking. If you’ve already taken off your ski boots, it will probably by quicker to just walk down the hiking trail.

The Lion Head summer trail is now open. There is a lot of snow still on this trail, including some steep snow traverses just below treeline. The potential for a long fall exists in this area, especially when the trail is frozen such as late afternoons or early in the morning.

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 or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:45 a.m., May 5, 2013. 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

2013-05-05 printable

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday May 4th 2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche dangerNatural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington this season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Well there’s not much to say about the weather besides bring your suncreen because the sun will dominate the weekend.  Low wind speeds with very few clouds will add to the glory.  So let’s cut to the chase and dive right into some hazards to be aware of followed by some recommendations.

FALLING ICE. All the recent heat and around the clock melting this weekend has us very concerned about falling ice.  Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by this hazard.  Minimize the time you spend in high risk areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks.  Stay vigilant to avoid these most likely areas for ice fall and remain disciplined to give these locations plenty of room even if the snow looks tempting.   DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION.  Sitting on the Left/South side of the Ravine will reduce your risk.   

CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. The best way to avoid this hazard is by climbing up what you plan to descend. The most prominent area where crevasses have become a serious threat is in the Lip and Center Bowl.  To a lesser extent a hole also exists in Lower Hillman’s Highway, but can be more easily avoided.  Falling into one of these holes or breaking through a weak snow bridge could be fatal for you or someone in your group.

UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge.   While it may look thick and strong on top, you don’t really know until you step through which can result in a very undesirable outcome.  If you see a small hole in the snow or are near large rocks realize there maybe large open spaces beneath.  A common practice is to use a collapsible probe in questionable areas to evaluate snow depth and help locate problem areas.

“THE LIP” HAS ALL OF THESE HAZARDS THEREFORE IS NOT RECOMMENDED AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED.  THIS AREA HAS NUMEROUS RISKS, ALSO INCLUDING DEEP RUNNELS, AND THE MAIN WATERFALL HOLE.  MANY LOCATIONS IN THE TYPICAL LIP RUN IS NO FALL SKIING/RIDING/ AND CLIMBING DUE TO THE DIRE CONSEQUENCES.  We except this area to be closed along with the Tuckerman Ravine Trail through the Ravine very soon.  This closure occurs annually due to unique and high crevasse hazards.

THE GOOD- Some of the best skiing right now exists in Left Gully due to lower objective hazards and it being the longest run.  Right gully is getting shorter, but is also a reasonable choice. This is followed by Hillman’s Highway although a hole about one third from the bottom must be avoided.   THE BAD- The Chute is in very challenging condition due to steep bumps and a deep channel down the center that is very difficult to avoid (not fun). …AND THE UGLY-The Sluice and Center Bowl have a high degree of icefall risk, some crevasses and deep channels and should be avoided.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed one third the way down from Hermit Lake at crossover #7. At the rope, you need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. Do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope.  The Lion Head summer trail is now open and the winter route is closed.  Some steep snow traverses still exist just below treeline on the summer trail so mountaineering skills, ice ax and crampons are important to travel safely through this area.  All other routes/trails accessing treeline also require mountaineering equipment to travel through them safely.

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 or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:35 a.m., May 4, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-05-04 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, May 3, 2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche dangerNatural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington this season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Yesterday afternoon cooler air glided into the region as a gentle cold front passed through the mountains.  A few drops of rain here and there made it to the ground, but the thickening clouds were generally more bark than bite. Over the past several hours a high pressure system has once again nudged out the short lived clouds to bring back clearing conditions and sun.  What is left behind however is a brisk air mass bringing the Ravines very close to the freezing mark.  Expect snow surfaces to begin a bit firm this morning taking some time to soften. But with a dropping east wind and summit temperatures reaching an expected 40F degrees snow should soften on all aspects today.   As discussed all week our concern for icefall remains elevated.  Although ice will fall whether it’s busy or not, the increased visitors over Friday, Saturday and Sunday raises the probability that someone will be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Stay vigilant to avoid the most likely areas for ice fall discussed below and remain disciplined to give these locations plenty of room even if the snow looks tempting.  Realize that even though you skied there last time you were here hazards change and are a dynamic moving target that do not stay consistent from week to week or year to year.

Objective mountain hazards should be figured prominently into your travel plans today. These include:

1. POTENTIAL FOR FALLING ICE.  Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. Minimize the time you spend in high risk areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION.  Sitting on the Left/South side of the Ravine will reduce your risk.   

2. CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend. The most prominent area where crevasses have become a serious threat is in the Lip and Center Bowl. Falling into one of these holes or breaking through a weak snow bridge could be fatal for you or someone in your group.

3. UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge. Many gullies have running water in them, which melts away the snow from below. While it may look thick and strong on top, you don’t really know until you step through. The consequences could range from minor annoyance to being swept into an icy water channel. If you see a small hole in the snow, realize it’s larger beneath the surface. A common practice is to probe the depth of snow to help locate problem areas.  It’s another good reason to carry a collapsible avalanche probe.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed one third the way down from Hermit Lake at crossover #7. At the rope, you need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. Do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope.

We are switching signs back to the The Lion Head summer trail today and closing the Winter Route.  Some steep snow traverses still exist just below treeline on the summer trail so mountaineering skills, ice ax and crampons are important to travel safely through this area.  Chuck Taylor sneakers and a broken stick for an alpinstock will fall short as the right tools on these slopes so think through your risk and actions before heading into this area.  All other routes/trails accessing treeline also require mountaineering equipment to travel through them safely. Look for the Weekend Update this afternoon on www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org

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 or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:10 a.m., May 3, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-05-03 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche dangerNatural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington this season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Yesterday was likely the warmest day at Hermit Lake this season, hitting about 62 degrees F in the afternoon!  This morning we have an inversion on the mountain with the summit at 44F  while the base sits at 41F.  Sandwiched between these, at the mid elevations, is even warmer air, according to sensors on the Auto road.  The Ravines seem to be hovering around 50F if you average the temperatures from the 3800, 4000, and 4300 foot levels.  Therefore, snow surfaces will start out soft and should remain that way even though a back door cold front is heading our way, likely to move in this afternoon.  This will bring clouds to the summits and probably a little rain, so as always bring some rain gear.  As I discussed yesterday the greatest concern continues to be the lack of freezing temperatures and the weakening of ice that remains across the Ravines.  The vast majority of this annual threat still remains and has been above the freezing  level for almost 6 days in a row.  Because of this we are very aware that we are currently in a high potential icefall period.

Objective mountain hazards should be figured prominently into your travel plans today. These include:

1. POTENTIAL FOR FALLING ICE. I mentioned it already but it’s worth stating again that icefall leads as the main issue to be aware of in the Ravine.  Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. Minimize the time you spend in high risk areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION.  Sitting on the Left/South side of the Ravine will reduce your risk.   

2. CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend. The most prominent area where crevasses have become a serious threat is in the Lip and Center Bowl. Falling into one of these holes or breaking through a weak snow bridge could be fatal for you or someone in your group.

3. UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge. Many gullies have running water in them, which melts away the snow from below. While it may look thick and strong on top, you don’t really know until you step through. The consequences could range from minor annoyance to being swept into an icy water channel. If you see a small hole in the snow, realize it’s larger beneath the surface. A common practice is to probe the depth of snow to help locate problem areas.  It’s another good reason to carry a collapsible avalanche probe.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed one third the way down from Hermit Lake at crossover #7. At the rope, you need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. Do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope.

The Lion Head Winter Route remains open and offers the most direct access to the summit of Mt. Washington from the east. This is a very steep route and is often more challenging in spring conditions. An ice axe and crampons are highly recommended for this route. The Lion Head summer trail is still closed. Other routes exist and might be good options with weather like today, but realize summer trails are still deeply buried under snowfields of snow.  All routes still need mountaineering equipment to safely travel on them.

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 or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 6:400 a.m., May 2, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-05-02 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday May 1st, 2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche dangerNatural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington this season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

The month of May is starting off with continued glorious weather in the hills with mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures forecasted.   This week of sun and clear conditions will begin to fall apart a bit tomorrow with some precipitation ending quite a stretch of pleasant weather.  For those who have made it to upper elevations over the past 5-6 days you have timed it well!  The down side of these warm conditions is a rapidly evolving spring hazards situation.  The main Headwall and Sluice ice have been above freezing around the clock since Saturday.  This fact doubles to triples the deterioration rate compared to nightly refreezing so we are acutely aware that we are currently in a high icefall potential window.  You have heard us discuss this issue many times as the hazard has been increasing over the past couple of weeks, but right now we are in the timing bulls-eye of the blue beast.

Objective mountain hazards should be figured prominently into your travel plans today. These include:

  1. POTENTIAL FOR FALLING ICE. I mentioned it already but it’s worth stating again that icefall leads the hazards pack as the main issue to be aware of in the Ravine.  Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. Minimize the time you spend in high risk areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION.  Sitting on the Left/South side of the Ravine will reduce your risk.   
  2. CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend. The most prominent area where crevasses have become a serious threat is in the Lip and Center Bowl. Falling into one of these holes or breaking through a weak snow bridge could be fatal for you or your friends. To borrow a slogan from a more familiar hazard, friends don’t let friends ski the Lip.
  3. UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge. Many gullies have running water in them, which melts away the snow from below. While it may look thick and strong on top, you don’t really know until you step through. The consequences could range from minor annoyance to being swept into an icy water channel. If you see a small hole in the snow, understand that it likely gets larger beneath the surface. A common practice in other mountain ranges is to probe the depth of snow to help locate problem areas.  It’s another good reason to carry a collapsible avalanche probe.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed one third the way down from Hermit Lake at crossover #7. At the rope, you need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. Do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope.

The Lion Head Winter Route remains open and offers the most direct access to the summit of Mt. Washington from the east. This is a very steep route and is often more challenging in spring conditions. An ice axe and crampons are highly recommended for this route. The Lion Head summer trail is still closed. Other routes exist and might be good options with weather like today, but realize summer trails are still deeply buried under snowfields of snow.  All routes still need mountaineering equipment to safely travel on them.

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 or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:10 a.m., May 1st, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-05-01 Print Friendly