Avalanche Advisory for Monday, January 22, 2018

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.  The Little Headwall is mostly open water or frozen waterfall ice.

Due to the open waterfall hole and a 20’ high avalanche crown line, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. Please use the Winter Lion Head Route if going to the summit from Pinkham. Other routes to the summit from the east side are significant mountaineering challenges.

 AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Winter weather is inbound though the small amount of snowfall forecast today has minimal potential to elevate our avalanche danger. More isolated pockets of wind slab may develop from new snow on moderate winds today and tonight remain our primary avalanche problem. Small in size, if triggered these slabs aren’t likely to bury you but could cause a long sliding fall on our largely rock hard snow surface. Until more significant accumulation of snow and mixed precipitation late tonight and into tomorrow, sliding falls above numerous hazards remain a primary concern for travelers in steep terrain.

 WEATHER: A relatively warm low pressure system is moving in from the west, though we’re unlikely to see more than an inch of new snow before dark today. Summit temperature should peak in the lower 20’s F and wind will be out of the SW in the 15-30 mph range. Precipitation is forecast to continue tonight and tomorrow, transitioning to a mix of sleet, freezing rain, and rain as summit temperature pushes towards the freezing point by Tuesday morning. The few inches of snow that will likely fall tonight should see some amount of transport by southwesterly wind before warmer temperatures and wetter precipitation limits the wind’s ability to move snow on the ground.

SNOWPACK: The precipitation forecast to begin as snow today and transition to a wintry mix or possibly rain by tomorrow will fall on a largely rock hard surface. We don’t expect sufficient snow during daylight hours today to warrant new stability concerns. Depending on timing of more significant snowfall tonight as well as the forecast changeover to wetter precipitation, we could see greater wind slab development around the time this advisory expires at midnight tonight. The robust surface crust limits our concern for deeper instabilities, with one exception. Snow above the crown line at the top of the massive wet snow avalanche out of the Lip late last week is unsupported and could become unstable with wet and warm conditions tomorrow. We don’t expect this to occur today, with below freezing forecast temperatures that should keep our existing snow very firm. Long sliding falls should remain a key concern for travelers in the alpine.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 7:30 a.m., Monday, January 22, 2018. 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

2018-1-22

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, January 21, 2018

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely in all forecast areas.  Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.  The Little Headwall is mostly open water or frozen waterfall ice.

Due to the open waterfall hole and 20’ crown line, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. Please use the Winter Lion Head Route if going to the summit from Pinkham. Other routes to the summit from the east side are significant mountaineering challenges.

 AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Isolated pockets of wind slab exist in our terrain, though much of the snow surface is very hard and refrozen following the warm-up that occurred late last week. This very hard, icy snow will likely be your primary travel concern today for its potential to allow a long sliding fall. If you did trigger a small wind slab avalanche, it could easily knock you off your feet and cause such a fall. Realize that even those who are highly skilled in steep snow climbing with crampons and ice axe would have little chance of effectively self-arresting to stop this kind of slide. Additionally, melt out of rocks, trees, stream beds, and other hazards in the fall line of steep terrain make a traumatic outcome of a long sliding fall likely.

 WEATHER: It’s currently 13F on the summit and 22F at the Hermit Lake snow plot with a trace of new snow that has fallen early this morning. Yesterday was partially cloudy in the alpine with peak westerly wind near 100 mph. Temperatures pushed over 20F on the summit and just exceeded the freezing point at Hermit Lake. Today should be similar in temperature and cloud cover though slightly less windy, with current NW wind near 70 mph decreasing through the day. Despite the few flakes currently falling at Hermit Lake, we won’t see measurable snowfall. Tomorrow is forecast to be a few degrees warmer with wintry though possibly mixed precipitation beginning roughly in the middle of the day.

SNOWPACK: As you might already know, very hard refrozen snow dominates our terrain. Scattered pockets of wind slab do exist and should be respected, but avalanches are probably a secondary concern to long sliding falls today. The several inches of rain and prolonged warm temperatures that ultimately resulted in this hard surface “crust” of several inches to a foot or more in thickness also produced a massive wet snow avalanche out of the Lip. The crown line at the top of where this avalanche pulled out is up to 20 feet tall and vertical. Warmer temperatures forecast early this coming week could allow instabilities to develop in the unsupported snow above the vertical wall of this crown, creating potential to significantly increase overhead hazard in an area that has been stable over the past week. We don’t expect temperatures to warm to this degree today, but rather keep much or all of our snow a cold, hard surface that necessitates a high level of caution and skill in steep terrain to avoid a slide for life kind of fall.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 8:20 a.m., Sunday, January 21, 2018. 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

2018-1-21

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, January 20, 2018

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely in all forecast areas.  Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.  The Little Headwall is mostly open water or frozen waterfall ice.

Due to the open waterfall hole and 20’ crown line, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. Please use the Winter Lion Head Route if going to the summit from Pinkham. Other routes to the summit from the east side are significant mountaineering routes.

 AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Very widely scattered areas of wind slab may be found in avalanche terrain today though the majority of our forecast area is scoured down to a hard icy crust. This icy surface, combined with strong winds, will present significant travel challenges today. This surface creates the opportunity for long, sliding falls which can end in a pile of rocks, melted holes in stream beds or trees if not arrested immediately. Our snowpack took a beating in last week’s rain storm and what’s left in its wake requires crampons and careful footing in steep terrain. Some snow showers this afternoon will not likely create significant avalanche problems though may challenge visibility a bit and further obscure refrozen footprints and other trip hazards.

 WEATHER: The current temperature on the summit is 23F with a west wind blowing at 82 mph. It is just below freezing at the Hermit Lake with no new snow on the board.  Two tenths of an inch of snow fell on the summit during snow showers early yesterday but otherwise the dry spell and warmup continues this morning.  Early this afternoon, a cold front swings through and drops the mercury to the mid-teens. A bit of mixed precipitation associated with the frontal passage may occur this morning, though the strong winds will be the most notable weather factor today. Anticipate west winds around 80 mph to continue through the day with gusts over 100 mph. Snow showers seem likely this afternoon as a secondary cold front passes with up to an inch falling by dark. The wind will moderate overnight with temperatures in the mid-teens and a decreasing west wind in the 50 mph range tomorrow.

SNOWPACK: At the Hermit Lake snow plot, there is 86 cm of hard, refrozen snow at the stake. A prolonged warming spell with rain late last week turned the upper portion of the snowpack into a knife hardness crust. That warmup ended with a period of freezing rain that glazed trees and snow surfaces at our elevation with ice which created little bonding opportunities for the several inches of snow which has fallen since. Most of that snow has been scoured out of our avalanche terrain and redeposited at lower elevations or in a few scattered and sheltered pockets. What didn’t blow out of the terrain already will be scoured out today as winds reach 100 mph. The blown out portion of the Lip below the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and the hard, refrozen debris pile remain visible in Tucks. Overall, surface conditions are hard and icy, making crampons, an ice axe and careful movement in steep terrain necessary.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 8:15 a.m., Saturday, January 20, 2018. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2018-1-20

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, January 19, 2018

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. The Little Headwall is an open stream and is not rated.

 AVALANCHE PROBLEM: New snow in the last 48 hours has been pushed around by wind, leaving isolated pockets of wind slab where scouring to the old refrozen surface did not occur. Small avalanches in isolated areas might not have the potential to bury a person in the absence of a terrain trap, but such an avalanche could easily cause a long sliding fall. The hard surface that is still prevalent in our terrain would be difficult for even the most skilled to arrest a fall.

Potential for and consequences of a long sliding fall may be a greater concern as you travel in our terrain today. Microspikes are no substitute for crampons and ice axe. Your ability to travel in a controlled manner on steep snow using crampons and ice axe is a necessity in current conditions. A high speed slide towards rocks, cliffs, or other exposed hazards can easily have dire consequences.

 WEATHER: Temperatures pushed into the 20’s F on the summit yesterday under partial clouds and wind in the 20-40 mph range. Today looks largely the same regarding temperature and cloud cover, with wind that will increase to around 40 mph late today. We might see a trace of new snow. Wind will increase tonight and tomorrow, ultimately approaching 100 mph. Air temperature should approach 30F on the summit tomorrow, though the extreme wind will make it feel much colder.

SNOWPACK: New snow earlier this week struggled to stick to the hard refrozen surface as it was transported by wind. Pockets of new wind slab do exist but are largely small and avoidable. If you’ve tried to dig in our snow lately, you’ve noticed that the hard surface snow is tough to penetrate with any tool. Instability will be limited to snow above this refrozen layer for the foreseeable future. We’ve said it already today and have all week, but we continue to stress the hardness of the refrozen snow surface. It provides good purchase for crampons but is smooth enough to easily accelerate a small fall to a slide for life in steep terrain. You would be hard pressed to arrest such a fall.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail holds similarly hard conditions under a thin veil of newer snow and will only provide an enjoyable ski option for the most desperate skiers and riders.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 7:45 a.m., Friday, January 19, 2018. 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

2018-1-19

Avalanche Talk, Saturday, January 20

The White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation, along with the Mount Washington Avalanche Center, is bringing back the Avalanche Education Continuing Ed Series at IME this winter. They will take place the 3rd Saturday of January (20th), February (17th) and March (17th). Come by IME at 5 pm to hear the MWAC Snow Rangers share the state of the snowpack, avalanche center and different topics each month. As you’re heading back from the mountains, stop by IME and feel free to bring your own beverages and food. MWAC Director and Lead Snow Ranger, Frank Carus, will be leading the first presentation on January 20th. He will discuss Avalanche Problems and Terrain Management as well as aprovide an Avalanche Center and Forecasting Update. We’ll see you there!

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, January 18, 2018

Huntington Ravine has MODERATE avalanche danger. All forecast areas have Moderate avalanche danger. Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. All forecast areas have Moderate avalanche danger. Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully. Lobster Claw, Right Gully and Lower Snowfields have Low avalanche danger. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features like the top of Lobster Claw and the choke of Right Gully.  The Little Headwall is mostly open water or a frozen waterfall.

 

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Wind slab may develop today when gusty winds blow available snow into avalanche terrain. Limited amounts of new snow in the past 48 hours, along with moderate winds should limit wind slab development but stay tuned in to what’s happening at the ridge tops. As of this writing, upper start zones are mostly old surface with new snow generally pushed down to midslope through wind action or sluffing. Human triggering of these wind slabs is possible today though the resulting avalanche would be on the smaller side. Of equal or greater concern to avalanche issues today is the slide-for-life conditions camouflaged by the thin blanket of new snow. Any stumble or fall is likely to have serious consequences in any steep terrain due to the hard surface. Roping up early and not falling are your best protection on steep slopes.

  

WEATHER: In the past 24 hours, just 2” of new snow fell on the summit while 3cm (1.25”) fell at Hermit Lake. Roughly 3” of light density snow is lingering in the alpine fetch zone upwind of our terrain since the recent storm passed to our south. Yesterday, peak wind speed on the summit was just 42 mph out of the west though a 70 mph reading was taken at 7:00am this morning with winds expected to shift to the northwest. Today’s wind forecast holds the possibility for some transport of this snow but between moderate wind speeds, calming to the 40 mph range, and lots of nooks and crannies in the fetch to shelter the snow, sustained wind transport seems unlikely. Gusts from the northwest may move some snow around and create our primary avalanche concern today. Temperatures under clear skies will be in the 10-15F range on the summit through the day. Good visibility should remain through the day.

 

SNOWPACK: As mentioned above, the snowpack is hard. A prolonged warming spell with rain late last week turned the upper portion of the snowpack into a knife hardness crust. The recent warmup ended with a period of freezing rain that glazed trees and snow surfaces at our elevation with ice. While weaker snow exists deeper in the snowpack, it is not at all a player in current avalanche concerns. The blown out portion of the Lip below the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and the hard, refrozen debris pile remain visible in Tucks. Crampons and sure footedness are needed for travel any steep terrain today.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 8:00 a.m., Thursday, January 18, 2018. 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

2018-1-18

The costs of rescue

In 1978, a prolonged search for two missing climbers led to disaster. One of the rescuers involved recently told his story to an audience in Portsmouth on the radio show, “The Moth”. Great advancements in snow and avalanche science as well as avalanche rescue gear have been made since that tragic day, but mountain rescuers are exposed to a high risk environment on almost every rescue. Joe Lentini’s powerful story serves as a great reminder of the potential outcomes involved while recreating, working, or volunteering as a rescuer in avalanche terrain. Check it out:

https://themoth.org/stories/backside-of-the-storm

If you’d like to find out more about search and rescue in New Hampshire or contribute to the efforts of the volunteer mountain rescue community, check out the New Hampshire Outdoor Council.

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Huntington Ravine has CONSIDERABLE and MODERATE avalanche danger. Central Gully has Considerable avalanche danger. Dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Cautious route-finding, conservative decision-making are essential today. All other forecast areas have Moderate avalanche danger. Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.

Tuckerman Ravine has CONSIDERABLE and MODERATE avalanche danger. Lip, Center Bowl, Chute, Left and Hillmans Highway have Considerable avalanche danger. Dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Cautious route-finding, conservative decision-making are essential today. Lobster Claw and Right Gully have Moderate avalanche danger. Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully. Lower Snowfields has Low avalanche danger due to lack of snowcover.  The Little Headwall is mostly open water or waterfall ice. 

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Wind slab may develop this afternoon as light density snow is blown on westerly and southwesterly winds. Though on the smaller side, these avalanches will likely be sensitive to human triggers. Dry loose avalanches or sluffs are also likely to occur today and could entrain enough snow to knock you off a stance in steep terrain. Both avalanche types are developing on top of a hard, icy crust that will be not only a slippery bed surface but will also create slide-for-life conditions. Due to the light snowfall today, the size and distribution of these avalanche types will grow through the day and depend on receiving the forecast amount of snow. The most imminent threat that will remain constant throughout the day is the icy crust and the potential for a long sliding fall into rocks, stout bushes and holes melted into the snowpack.

WEATHER: Light snow continues this morning after about 2” of snow fell on the summit in the past 24 hours. Down lower at Hermit Lake, 3.5 cm of snow was recorded on the storm board at 6:30 this morning. West-southwest winds are currently light at around 25 mph but are expected to increase later in the day. 2-4” more snow is forecast today with 2” more tonight. The size and distribution of the wind slab avalanche problem depends upon the today’s snowfall totals and wind speeds. Timing of the increase in wind speeds later in the day is unclear, though a minor increase will disproportionately increase avalanche danger level. Anticipate low visibility today due to summit fog and snow.

SNOWPACK: As mentioned above, our snowpack is hard. A prolonged warming spell with rain turned the upper portion of the snowpack into a knife hardness crust with the bridging power of structural steel. The recent warmup ended with a period of freezing rain that glazed trees and snow surfaces at our elevation with ice. While weaker snow exists deeper in the snowpack, it is not at all a player in any instabilities developing today. The blown out portion of the Lip and the hard, refrozen debris pile remain dominant features in Tucks. The recent rain and return of cold temperatures has been a boon to ice climbers. The Sherburne Ski Trail remains an icy mess, complete with a wall-to-wall field of frozen boot tracks in one section.  It will likely need more than today’s snowfall to create softer snow conditions. Crampons are needed for any steep terrain today.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 8:15 a.m., Wednesday, January 17, 2018. 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

2018-1-17

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. The Little Headwall is an open stream and is not rated.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Today’s limited snow showers falling on a very hard refrozen upper snowpack keep our avalanche concerns to a minimum. The timing of the incoming snowstorm looks as though insufficient snow will fall to merit new stability problems before this advisory expires at midnight. Other hazards should play a greater role in your travel decisions today, which include but are not limited to:

  • Long sliding falls are all but certain if you lose your footing high on a steep slope. Crampons, ice axe, and your ability to use them are essential for travel on snow slopes today. Microspikes are an effective tool on icy trails but are no substitute for crampons on firm snow slopes. Realize that the hardness of surface snow will make arresting a fall with an ice axe very challenging and that recently exposed rocks elevate the consequences of such a fall.
  • Ice dams blowouts are common on our ice climbs in conditions like this when significant water flows under ice. These can cause a myriad of problems and have been the source of fatal accidents.

WEATHER: A trace of snow early this morning is bringing a wintry look to the area but has not altered our firm surface snow conditions. Today will become increasingly cloudy as snow showers develop that could bring up to an inch of new snow. Temperature should remain around 10F on the summit, dropping slightly later today. West wind is forecast to increase towards 50 mph before shifting SW and decreasing tonight. Tomorrow will bring a handful in inches of snow with continued moderate SW wind.

SNOWPACK: A thick layer of hard refrozen snow encapsulates our remaining snowpack. Thickness of this layer varies spatially with the degree to which recent rain saturated the upper snowpack, but seems to be at least a few inches to over a foot. Needless to say, this is a supportable crust in the alpine and requires good crampon and ice axe skills to travel in steep terrain. Snow today should not accumulate enough to warrant new stability issues with potential to harm a person. This could change tomorrow following more snowfall. As discussed above, other mountain hazards are quite relevant today. Though disappointing for snow lovers, the weather of the past week illustrated the mountain’s ability to produce extraordinary avalanche events, as evidenced by Friday’s massive wet snow avalanche. It’s an important reminder of the power of snow on a steep slope.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail has a large area where flowing water melted all snow. Combined with firm conditions and a rough refrozen snow surface in places, it’s not a great ski option. For travel on foot, areas of water flowing across and down the trails had similar though less drastic effects. The Lion Head Winter Route remains open with varied conditions including snow, ice, dirt, and rock.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 7:30 a.m., Tuesday, January 16, 2018. 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

2018-1-16

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, January 15, 2018

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. The Little Headwall has again become a waterfall and is not rated.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: The significant melt freeze event of the past few days coupled with continued cold temperatures greatly reduced instability in our snowpack. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely today, with other hazards currently of greater concern for those travelling in our terrain. The following hazards are particularly noteworthy today:

  • Long sliding falls are all but certain if you lose your footing high on a steep slope. Crampons, ice axe, and your ability to use them are essential for travel on snow slopes today. Microspikes are an effective tool on icy trails but are no substitute for crampons on firm snow slopes. Realize that the hardness of surface snow will make arresting a fall with an ice axe very challenging and that recently exposed rocks elevate the consequences of such a fall.
  • Undermined snow and water running under snow and ice is a concern with water continuing to flow despite cold temperatures. Watch for low areas that could be draining water, listen for water flowing under the snow and ice, and remember that significant water flows down our ice climbs.
  • Ice dams and blowouts of ice are common on our ice climbs in conditions like this when significant water flows under ice. These can cause a myriad of problems and have been the source of fatal accidents. Be particularly cautious of screw, tool, and foot placements in regards to this issue.

WEATHER: It’s a colder morning at Pinkham than at the summit, with a temperature inversion holding air just below 0F at low elevations. It’s currently 11F on the summit. Temperature is forecast to increase by just a few degrees on the summit today and decrease to around 0F tonight. Southerly wind approaching 30 mph at the top of the mountain should feel relatively calm in the ravines. Partially cloudy skies should become mostly cloudy tonight. Tomorrow brings increased cloud cover as a system approaches late in the day with potential to give us a few inches of new snow by Wednesday morning.

SNOWPACK: The strong temperature swing Saturday that followed our significant rainstorm resulted in hard refrozen surface snow and generally stable conditions throughout our snowpack. As mentioned above, this means full on slide for life conditions in our steep terrain. Snow depth and coverage has decreased significantly. North, Damnation, Yale, South, and Escape Hatch gullies in Huntington Ravine do not hold continuous top to bottom snow. The same is of course true for the open stream that is the Little Headwall. Snow in other areas has become quite narrow, and the tops of a number of gullies have melted to rock. In Tuckerman, Right Gully was hit particularly hard while other areas faired reasonably well and continue to hold top to bottom snow. It’s a drastic shift from the plentiful dry snow of early last week and from the conditions which produced Friday’s massive wet avalanche in the Lip of Tuckerman Ravine.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail has a large area where flowing water melted all snow. Combined with firm conditions and a rough refrozen snow surface in places, it’s not a great ski option. For travel on foot, areas of water flowing across and down the trails had similar though less drastic effects. The Lion Head Winter Route remains open with varied conditions including snow, ice, dirt, and rock.

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.
• 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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted 7:30 a.m., Monday, January 15, 2018. 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

2018-1-15