Annual Tuckerman Ravine Trail Closure in the Lip

 

Each year around this time, Lip becomes laced with crevasses and undermined snow. We close the section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Lunch Rocks to its junction with the Alpine Garden Trail as a safety measure. Ascending or descending through this area now has numerous hazards that make travel through this area not worth the risk. This closure also pertains to skiers and riders. This closure only pertains to this section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and will remain in effect until the snow disappears.

General Bulletin for Saturday, April 29, 2017

Unless updated this bulletin expires at Midnight, Monday, May 1.

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

Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and its junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This closure includes the Lip area, which presents numerous hazards to the recreating public and potential rescuers alike.

The past 3 days have been quite warm on the mountain, with summit temperatures remaining above 40F. This theme will remain through much of today, with freezing temperatures returning briefly tonight. A warmer and wetter system will approach Sunday afternoon and into Monday. Loose, wet sluffs remain a key issue for skiers and snowboarders. The potential refreeze tonight could improve riding conditions and slightly lessen this sluff issue for tomorrow, but spring hazards continue to demand your respect:

  • CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. These are growing larger in many locations. The most dangerous locations are in the Lip and Center Bowl. They are often larger beneath the surface than what you can see from above and can be much deeper than you might expect. Breaking through weak snow into one of these could be fatal for you or someone in your group. Give these hazards a wide berth when hiking up or skiing down.
  • 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 beware that the snow may be bridging a thin area over a significant drop. When in doubt probe aggressively with a ski pole or ice axe. If you see small holes in the snow or near large rocks, realize there may be large open spaces under the surface.
  • 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. Avoid spending time in the fall line of the ice in these areas.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS. A potential refreeze tonight could provide ideal conditions for a long sliding fall that is difficult to arrest on Sunday morning. Crampons, ice axe, and your ability to use them should not be left at home if you plan to travel in the Ravines.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at the #7 crossover. Beware of construction debris at this crossover. Plan to hike over to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail at the rope and hike to Pinkham Notch. Please do not ski or ride on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin 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, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:40am on Saturday, April 29, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-04-29

 

General Bulletin for Wednesday, April 26, 2017

This bulletin expires at Midnight, Friday, April 28.

A General Bulletin 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 bulletin for Tuckerman will be in effect until complete melt out later this spring/summer. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

Temperatures have only dipped below freezing briefly since last Saturday’s solid overnight freeze. Warm temperatures penetrating the snowpack increase the risk of loose, wet sluffs large enough to push a skier downhill and possibly into a crevasse, a waterfall hole, into rocks or over a cliff. Continued warm temperatures are on tap until the weekend when summit temperatures may once again drop, allowing a refreeze. Until then, count on record setting warm temperatures along with meltwater runoff to make the following hazards worse:

  • 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 in the fall line of 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 and can be much deeper than you might expect. Breaking through weak snow into one of these could be fatal for you or someone in your group. Give these areas a wide berth when hiking up or skiing down.
  • 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 beware that the snow may be bridging a thin area over a significant drop. When in doubt probe aggressively with a ski pole or ice axe. 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 rapidly becoming a “no fall zone,” where the consequences of a slip can be dire. Soon, we will be closing the Lip to skiing as well as the section of the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden. This is an annual closure due to the unique and significant hazards posed to hikers, skiers and their potential rescuers.

Exiting the Bowl is best done by hiking the trail back to the courtyard at Hermit Lake and skiing or riding from there. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at #3 crossover. Plan to hike over to the Tuckerman Ravine trail at the rope and hike to Pinkham Notch. Please do not ski or ride on the Tuckerman Ravine trail.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin 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, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:30am on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-04-26

 

General Bulletin for Monday, April 24, 2017

This bulletin expries at midnight, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

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

The melt/freeze cycle that creates great spring skiing also stabilizes our snowpack. Deeper instabilities have mostly been eliminated due to a few weeks of this cycle. Heavy skier traffic created large moguls, runnels, and sluff piles under the most popular descents. Areas that have seen less traffic will require good sluff management techniques.

WEATHER: Today, Monday, looks like another good spring-skiing day with temperatures rising above freezing following a night of the snowpack locking up. Tonight, temperatures should drop below freezing again with clouds moving in by Tuesday morning. Over the next few days, a low pressure system developing in the south will move up the eastern seaboard. It looks like Tuesday will see rain develop later in the day and overnight with heavy rain arriving overnight into Wednesday morning. By Thursday, rain totals could equal up to 2” of liquid.

BEWARE OF THE ANNUAL SPRINGTIME HAZARDS

  • Icefall: Most of the ice that history has shown to create problems in the Cutler River Drainage has yet to fall down. Some of the biggest pieces of this reside in the Sluice and threaten the area known as Lunch Rocks. At some point, all the ice still in place will fall down. Warm weather and rain will increase the likelihood of this taking place sooner, both of which are forecast over the next 72 hours. The best tactic for playing it safe in regards to this hazard is to spend as little time as possible below these chunks of ice.
  • Glide cracks and waterfall holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity and creeps downhill, it pulls away from cliffs and leaves gaps. These gaps are the horizontal cracks that are appearing in the steep terrain, most noticeably in the Lip. These can be surprisingly deep and are a place you don’t want to be. The waterfall hole in the Lip is a unique hazard. If planning on skiing the Lip, place a mental red flag on this hazard during your ascent as it can be hard to identify from above the rollover. In addition to being a large hole that nobody wants to find their self in, this hazard has been the site of wet slab avalanches in the past. Any number of natural events can plug this hole or heavy rain can surge the water flow. If the water is directed into the snowpack rather than behind it, a layer in the snowpack may become lubricated, creating the recipe for a wet slab avalanche.
  • Undermined snow: Meltwater flowing under the snowpack can carve away the snow above, creating thin bridges of snow that can collapse. These are largely found now at the tops of gullies (particularly on south-facing slopes) and in areas that have streams running, like the Little Headwall. Sometimes the sounds of running water can be heard under the snow which is a good indicator of this hazard.
  • Long, sliding falls: Part of what makes spring skiing so great is the melt/freeze cycle creating corn snow. In order for this to occur, the snowpack freezes at night, creating a hard surface that is nearly impossible to self-arrest on. This often causes trouble for those looking to get “just one more run” at the end of the day and trying to ski down when a slope flash freezes due to shade.

The Lion Head Winter Route remains open. The Little Headwall is no longer passable and descending from the Bowl should be done via the hiking trail. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed near the bottom. Please respect the rope and cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine Hiking Trail rather than trying to ski rocks and mud.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin 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, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:00am on Monday, April 24, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

Helon Hoffer, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713

2017-04-24

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, April 23, 2017

This advisory expires at Midnight.

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Generally safe avalanche conditions exist. Use caution to avoid other spring hazards, particularly icefall. Lunch Rocks is in the direct fall line of significant ice and is not a safe place to linger.

 AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Our primary stability concern today will be loose wet sluff avalanches. These will be increasingly easy to initiate from beneath your skis or snowboard as the surface snow warms and softens through late afternoon. This heavy loose snow moving quickly downhill can easily knock you off your feet and cause an unexpected fall, so consider hazards that are below you when choosing your descent line. Thin wind slab exists in many areas from last night’s snow, but they should be small enough to not pose a problem to travelers. Additionally, the remote possibility of a large deep slab avalanche, with a sliding surface lubricated by flowing meltwater, will remain through much of spring. Of non-avalanche hazards, rapid warming makes increased likelihood of icefall a significant concern today.

WEATHER: It looks like a beautiful, warm day on the mountain. Light rain transitioned to snow yesterday evening, with less than one inch total at Hermit Lake and two inches recorded on the summit. Wind up to 50 mph blew out of the NW last night and will slacken to nearly calm conditions by late afternoon. Temperatures will rise all day, with a high in the mid 40’sF forecast on the summit. We will likely see temperatures in the 50’sF in the ravines.

 ADDITIONAL HAZARDS:

  • Icefall: A significant amount of ice exists high in our terrain, and it will fall down in very large chunks sooner or later with continued above-freezing temperatures. Particularly warm spring ski days like today are prime conditions for a person, or many people, to be caught in the path of massive icefall. Lingering below ice formations is definitely not a good plan. Lunch Rocks is in the direct fall line a large amount of ice that the sun will warm and weaken today, making it a particularly poor choice for a place to lounge.
  • Glide cracks (crevasses), moats and waterfall holes: These various types of deep cracks and holes are present and growing in our snowpack. Falls into these holes have claimed multiple lives in Tuckerman Ravine and command respect. While mostly visible, snow bridges likely exist as well over these features, of which the weight of a person could break easily. Give areas with obvious signs of open holes, like the Lip, a wide berth. Similarly, thin and weak snow exists in many areas undermined by flowing meltwater.
  • Long sliding falls: While this hazard will diminish slightly as snow softens through the day, a sliding fall that is difficult to arrest will be possible all day on our steeper slopes. The consequence of these falls continues to increase with increasing rocks and glide cracks present in our terrain. Don’t leave the ice axe and crampons at home.

If skiing or riding in the Bowl and heading down, please walk down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake where you can then get on the Sherburne Ski Trail. The rope is up at crossover #3, about a half mile from Pinkham. Please respect the rope and move over to the hiking trail to avoid wallowing in mud.

The Lion Head Winter Route is still open.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.

Posted  8:00 a.m., Sunday April 23, 2017. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2017-04-23

Smarter, Safer Spring Skiing: Part 4

It’s late April, low elevation snow is melting fast, and ski areas are closed, or closing soon. For many, this means that it’s Tuckerman Ravine ski season! While weather has been mixed, recently we’ve seen excellent conditions on certain days. Informed decision making remains crucial for enjoyment and relatively safety while scoring big rewards on one of these sweet days. Welcome back to The Pit and our spring decision making series!

This week, the Expert Halo heuristic trap is the focus of our series on what is known as the “human factors” To review, F.A.C.E.T.S. is the acronym which represent the heuristic traps which most commonly contribute to events that lead to an accident. Heuristic traps are the common mental shortcuts which diminish our risk perception and adversely affect associated decision making. The Expert Halo trap is simple. Most of us humans really like to place responsibility somewhere else, so what could be better than having an expert make decisions for you? Therefore, we tend to blindly trust these folks.

The Expert Halo is NOT the reluctance to voice a concern – that’s a symptom of our desire for Acceptance, a separate heuristic trap we’ll discuss in coming weeks. The Expert Halo is the reluctance to think for yourself. Allowing someone else to make decisions for you is obviously a mental shortcut, especially if your expert is providing that “Go” answer, which a backcountry skier inherently wants.

What or who is this expert? They’re usually the group leader, but not necessarily. It could be someone helping you plan a trip, a social media personality, or even an MWAC Snow Ranger. An “expert” in this case can be anyone you rely on to make decisions for you. Unfortunately, true experts are pretty hard to come by, if you can find one at all, since not one of us has a crystal ball which can make clear the outcome of your choices. We all know that no one is perfect, so ignoring your inner voice and trusting your life to the decisions of another person often seems silly in the 20/20 hindsight which follows an incident.

As skiers and riders, we’re used to decisions being handed to us, particularly here in the Northeast. Ski areas make many decisions for us. Runs are closed due to icy conditions, thin cover, rocks, cliffs, and other naturally occurring conditions. This would otherwise provide an opportunity for decision making. Particularly out west, runs are opened and closed in response to avalanche hazard and associated mitigation efforts. It’s normal for us to have some of the most consequential terrain and conditions closed to our travel.

With a few exceptions, you’re free to take limitless risk on Mount Washington. Yes, the Lion Head Summer Trail and the Tuckerman Ravine Trail high in the ravine have seasonal closure signs posted in response to present hazards, but we largely DO NOT make risk-related decisions for you. You’re free to ski and climb any snow, ice, or rock. Remember, “Low” avalanche danger does not mean “No” avalanche danger! Our Avalanche Advisories and the other conditions information we make available are valuable resources to inform the decisions YOU make.

One way the Snow Ranger team sees the Expert Halo manifested is in the questions visitors ask us. A question like, “I should be OK skiing Left Gully today, right?” is not uncommon. We can’t make this decision for you of course. If you’re asking such questions, it’s OK! You’re making an effort to better inform yourself. While we can’t and won’t make decisions for you, we’re happy to help you understand current hazards and their consequences.

Actively seeking to inform yourself is crucial to countering the Expert Halo heuristic trap. As always, acknowledge that you probably can’t turn this flaw off, but increasing your awareness of significant risks should turn your critical decision making brain on. If you have any sense of self-preservation, that is.

To further counter this heuristic trap, identify who YOUR expert or experts are. Who do you trust completely? There’s almost certainly someone in this category. If your expert is a trusted backcountry partner, they should appreciate your efforts to think for yourself. If they don’t, get a new partner. Accordingly, don’t be the expert, no matter how good it makes you feel to be held in this esteem! If you think you might be your group’s expert or de facto leader, actively voice skepticism of your own ideas. Even better, draw out the rest of your group to voice their perception of present risk.

The bottom line: Everyone’s opinion is valuable, and that includes you!

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, April 22, 2017

This advisory expires at Midnight.

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Generally safe avalanche conditions exist.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Surface loose wet sluff avalanches remain our primary stability concern, with recent precipitation and temperatures just above freezing allowing continued development of uniformity deep in the snowpack. Upper elevations of our forecast areas may have seen a refreeze overnight, but we do not expect particularly firm snow conditions for much if any of Tuckerman or Huntington Ravines today. The wet sluffs that a skier or rider may initiate on steep slopes could be heavy and may be difficult to escape; be mindful of terrain hazards in the fall line below you. Additionally, the remote possibility of a large deep slab avalanche, with a sliding surface lubricated by flowing meltwater, will remain through much of spring.

WEATHER: Precipitation fell for the majority of the day yesterday in the form of ice pellets and freezing drizzle, totaling 0.27” of water. Current weather on the Summit is 31F with a W wind of 30mph. Low pressure lingering over the region for the day will prevent clearing and continue light mixed precipitation for the day. Temperatures will hover around the freezing mark for the morning and eventually drop in the afternoon to the 20sF, allowing precipitation to turn to snow by evening. By day’s end, 1-3” of sleet and snow may accumulate. Tonight, high pressure will push the dreary weather out, creating a bluebird day tomorrow, perfect for spring skiing.

ADDITIONAL HAZARDS:

  • Long sliding falls While there is the feeling of spring in the air, winter gear is still essential for climbing and skiing on the mountain. Snowshoes and microspikes are no substitute for crampons and an ice axe. Arresting a fall on an icy 30+ degree slope can be practically impossible. Keep in mind what is below you when moving around.
  • Crevasses or glide cracks, moats and waterfall holes – Glide cracks, our version of crevasses, form when the snowpack gradually creeps downhill. As the snow pulls away from a cliff, this creates a gap that could swallow a person. Several slopes in our terrain are becoming crisscrossed with these and glacier travel techniques could be helpful. Large holes are also forming due to undermining by meltwater. Falling into the waterfall hole in the Lip or even one of the holes in the Little Headwall area can have dire consequences.
  • Icefall: This hazard is unpredictable but above freezing temperatures certainly increase the risk of ice releasing from a cliff. Ice will fall, roll and slide with surprising speed at times. Don’t count on your ability to dodge this hazard. It is best to reduce your risk by reducing time spent beneath frozen waterfalls. As we move forward, remember that Lunch Rocks is in the bullseye of the massive ice in Sluice which makes hanging out there a high stakes game of roulette.

The Lion Head Winter Route is still open. If skiing or riding in the Bowl and heading down, please walk down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake where you can then get on the Sherburne Ski Trail. The rope is up at crossover #3, about a half mile from Pinkham. Please respect the rope and move over to the hiking trail to avoid wallowing in mud.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.

Posted  7:40 a.m., Saturday, April 22, 2017. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Ryan Matz / Helon Hoffer, Snow Rangers
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

2017-04-22

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, April 21, 2017

This advisory expires at Midnight.

 

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Generally safe avalanche conditions exist.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: As precipitation continues today with 1-3” of snow and sleet arriving, skier-induced loose-wet sluffs will need to be managed appropriately. These sluffs may be capable of pulling people to an undesired location, particularly in steeper terrain. Our snowpack has absorbed a lot of water through melt over the past week and seems relatively stable. That being said, with unique hazards like the waterfall hole in the Lip, our snowpack can do unexpected things. At times, this area has become plugged due to collapsing snow or a dislodged ice chunk, sending a large amount of water into the snowpack and released a deep wet slab avalanche.

WEATHER: Low pressure moving across New England will create continuous precipitation today. The current temperature on the Summit is 24F with a SE wind of 34mph and light snow showers. As the wind shifts to the S and increases to 35-50mph, warmer air will arrive from the seacoast, transitioning the snow into mixed precipitation and possibly rain. Precipitation will be heaviest in the morning with up 1-3” of snow and sleet by dark. Tonight, wind will shift to the W, decrease slightly with another possible 1-3” of snow and sleet.

ADDITIONAL HAZARDS:

  • Long sliding falls Crampons are highly recommended in steep terrain. Snowshoes and microspikes are no substitute. Arresting a fall on an icy 30+ degree slope can be practically impossible, even with an ice axe. As the temperature drops this afternoon, the snowpack will lock up and provide a fast sliding surface. Keep in mind what is below you when moving around.
  • Crevasses or glide cracks, moats and waterfall holes – Water flowing under the snow pack creates holes and thin spots in surface that are deep enough to injure or kill you. New snow can drift and obscure the openings. Glide cracks, our version of crevasses, form when the snowpack gradually creeps downhill. As the snow pulls away from a cliff, this creates a gap that could swallow a person. The glide cracks are becoming more widespread and a number of them are now big enough that someone could disappear into one. The waterfall hole in the Lip is growing each day as well as the glide cracks that criss-cross this slope. If ascending or descending this particular route, glacier-travel techniques may be useful.
  • Icefall: This hazard is unpredictable but above freezing temperatures certainly increase the risk of ice releasing from a cliff. Ice will fall, roll and slide with surprising speed at times. Don’t count on your ability to dodge this hazard. It is best to reduce your risk by reducing time spent beneath frozen waterfalls. As we move forward, remember that Lunch Rocks is in the bullseye of the massive ice in Sluice which makes hanging out there a high stakes game of roulette.

The Lion Head Winter Route is still open. If skiing or riding in the Bowl and heading down, please walk down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake where you can then get on the Sherburne Ski Trail. The rope is up at crossover #3, about a half mile from Pinkham. Please respect the rope and move over to the hiking trail to avoid wallowing in mud.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.

Posted  8:00 a.m., Friday, April 21, 2017. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2017-04-21

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, April 20, 2017

This advisory expires at Midnight.

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Generally safe avalanche conditions exist. The Little Headwall is now a waterfall with open holes and thin snow bridges above.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Loose wet sluffs may be a problem for those seeking out turns in the sloppy snow today but recent freeze/thaw cycles have reduced more significant avalanche concerns. The one outlier is always the areas around running waterfalls which sometimes spill water into the snowpack and release a deeper wet slab. It’s a good idea to keep that hazard in the back of your mind, particularly beneath the growing waterfall hole in the Lip/Headwall area.

WEATHER: Temperatures climbed above freezing in the Ravines yesterday which continued to melt the copious stockpile of snow that we have squirreled away over the winter, though a quarter inch or so of ice pellets made a contribution yesterday afternoon. There was 80” at the snow stake at Hermit Lake on April 1. As of yesterday morning, we were down to 57”. Temperatures will remain above freezing again today with fog, clouds and some more showers of mixed precipitation early and then again after 5pm. West winds in the 30-40 mph range will calm and shift southwest at 20-30 mph. Overall, a pretty gloomy day is on tap.

Be aware of the following hazards today:

  • Long sliding falls – Crampons are highly recommended in steep terrain. Snowshoes and microspikes are no substitute. Arresting a fall on an icy 30+ degree slope can be practically impossible, even with an ice axe. Any slip could potentially turn into a slide for life and could put you into a glide crack or waterfall hole.
  • Crevasses or glide cracks, moats and waterfall holes – Water flowing under the snow pack creates holes and thin spots in surface that are deep enough to injure or kill you. New snow can drift and obscure the openings. Glide cracks, our version of crevasses, form when the snowpack gradually creeps downhill. As the snow pulls away from a cliff, this creates a gap that could swallow a person. The glide cracks are becoming more widespread and a number of them are now big enough that someone could disappear into one. The waterfall hole in the Lip is growing each day and has a long history of acting in unpredictable ways.
  • Icefall: This hazard is unpredictable but above freezing temperatures certainly increase the risk of ice releasing from a cliff. Ice falls, rolls and slides with surprising speed at times. Don’t count on your ability to dodge this hazard. It is best to reduce your risk by reducing time spent beneath frozen waterfalls. As we move forward, remember that Lunch Rocks is in the bullseye of the massive ice in Sluice which makes hanging out there a high stakes game of roulette.

The Little Headwall is now more water than snow and is no longer recommended as a descent from The Bowl. The easiest and fastest descent is to hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake before skiing or riding. The Sherburne Ski Trail is melting fast and much of the trail close to Pinkham is mostly dirt and grass. In order to prevent erosion problems, please remove your skis and walk back to the Tuckerman Ravine trail from the rope placed across the trail. It is currently at crossover #3 but will likely move uphill by the weekend as warm temperatures at lower elevations melt the snow up the hill.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.

Posted  7:10 a.m., Thursday, April 20, 2017. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2017-04-20

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This advisory expires at Midnight.

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Generally safe avalanche conditions exist. The Little Headwall is now a waterfall with open holes and thin snow bridges above.

 AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Continued freeze/thaw cycles have reduced avalanche concerns today. Freezing conditions overnight have frozen the snow surface which will create a different set of concerns for safe travel today that will replace the more typical skier-generated wet-loose sluff problem. Long, sliding falls will be more of a concern due to the hard surface conditions that exist this morning. Snow may soften later in the day but thick cloud cover will delay this process.

 WEATHER: The current temperature on the summit is 20F with a west wind in the mid-30’s mph, gusting to 40. Winds will shift to the southwest and increase to 45-60 mph. Clouds will increase with an approaching warm front which could generate some snow showers this afternoon before turning to rain or mixed precipitation later in the day. Temperatures will rise to the low 30’s F on the summit, warmer at Ravine elevations, which will allow continued melting this afternoon and overnight. Rain shower activity will continue overnight.

Be aware of the following hazards today:

  • Long sliding falls – Crampons are highly recommended in steep terrain. Snowshoes and microspikes are no substitute. Arresting a fall on an icy 30+ degree slope can be practically impossible, even with an ice axe. Any slip could potentially turn into a slide for life and could put you into a glide crack or waterfall hole.
  • Crevasses or glide cracks, moats and waterfall holes – Warm water flowing under the snow pack creates holes and thin spots in surface that are deep enough to injure or kill you. New snow can drift and obscure the openings. Glide cracks, our version of crevasses, form when the snowpack gradually creeps downhill. As the snow pulls away from a cliff, this creates a gap that could swallow a person. The glide cracks are becoming more widespread and a number of them are now big enough that someone could disappear into one. The waterfall hole in the Lip is growing each day and has a long history of acting in unpredictable ways. This particular hazard is best given a wide berth.
  • Icefall: This hazard is unpredictable but above freezing temperatures certainly increase the risk of ice releasing from a cliff. Ice falls, rolls and slides with surprising speed at times. Don’t count on your ability to dodge this hazard. It is best to reduce your risk by reducing time spent beneath frozen waterfalls. As we move forward, remember that Lunch Rocks is in the bullseye of the massive ice in Sluice which makes hanging out there a high stakes game of roulette.

The Little Headwall is now more water than snow and is no longer recommended as a descent from The Bowl. The easiest and fastest descent is to hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake before skiing or riding. The Sherburne Ski Trail is melting fast and much of the trail close to Pinkham is mostly dirt and grass. In order to prevent erosion problems, please remove your skis and walk from the rope at crossover #3.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.

Posted  8:20 a.m., Wednesday, April 19, 2017. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2017-04-19