General Bulletin for Tuckerman Ravine

This is the final bulletin issued by the Mount Washington Avalanche Center for the 2017-18 season. It will remain in effect until complete melt out. Travel in the backcountry requires careful snow evaluation and mountain sense. Hazards due to snow and ice will persist until both are all gone. Summer snowstorms on Mount Washington are uncommon, but not unheard of. If venturing into the mountains, be sure to use all available resources to help plan your trip and make safe travel decisions.

MOUNTAIN HAZARDS

  • Falling Ice and Rocks: While the largest pieces of ice have already fallen this spring, smaller areas of ice linger and will continue to present a threat until fully melted out. Rocks can also become dislodged and fall as melting ice and snow recedes. Overhead assessment and safe travel techniques will help to manage this hazard.
  • Crevasses (glide cracks): Gravity slowly pulls our deep snowpack downhill as it melts, causing large cracks to open. These cracks present a significant fall hazard. Widespread in the Lip, they develop in much of our terrain and can be surprisingly large and deep.
  • Holes and Undermined Snow: Flowing meltwater can melt the snowpack from beneath. As this hollowing takes place, unpredictable collapses will occur. Some are more obvious like the famous snow arch near Lunch Rocks but others are less so, like a sudden hole appearing in the floor of the Ravine.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

  • The summer Lion Head Trail is open and provides the most direct route to the summit of Mount Washington from Pinkham Notch.
  • A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed. This section extends from Lunch Rocks in the ravine to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail above the ravine. The closure is due to severe and possibly fatal consequences of a fall into deep crevasses and holes in the snow. Skiing or riding this area, which includes the Lip, is also not allowed. This section of trail will remain closed until the snow melts from the trail. Check with the visitor’s center or the caretaker at Hermit Lake for the current status.
  • The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed for the season. You will need to hike all the way from the Bowl or Hillman’s Highway back to Pinkham. The Sherburne Ski Trail is especially muddy this year and needs time to grow the grass and plants that will control erosion.

ATTENTION AUX RANDONNEURS! Une section du sentier du Tuckerman Ravine est présentement fermé à toutes les activités.  Cette section est située entre Lunch Rocks et le sommet du Headwall jusqu’où ce dernier rejoint le sentier du Alpine Garden. Cette fermeture inclut également toute activité de descente dans le secteur du Lip. Seulement cette section du sentier est fermé. Cette fermeture annuelle est due à l’ampleur des crevasses et à la gravité qu’occasionnerait une chute dans ce secteur.

Thank you to all of our partners and volunteers, including the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC and the caretakers at Hermit Lake and the Harvard Cabin, the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation, and many others. Thanks to all of you who have volunteered your time or your money to help with projects and rescues. Our mission is to serve the public and we count on support from the community to make that happen. Also, we look forward to seeing you on November 3rd at the Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop held again this year at the Performing Arts Center in Fryeburg, Maine. Stay tuned to our social media channels and this website for news, upcoming talks in your region and of course, for avalanche bulletins next 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. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Androscoggin Ranger District, the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:00 am on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

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

2018-05-20_General

Annual Tuckerman Ravine Trail Closure in the Lip

Annual spring snow melt creates significant glide cracks, or crevasses, and undermined snow in the Lip area of Tuckerman Ravine. We close a section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail where it passes through the Lip as a safety measure. This relatively short section stretches from Lunch Rocks in the Ravine to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail just above the Ravine. Ascending or descending through this area now has numerous hazards which greatly elevate risk to travelers. The closure also pertains to skiers and riders. The closure only pertains to this section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and will remain in effect until melt out eliminates these specific hazards.

Forest Supervisor Order 2008-19

General Bulletin for Tuckerman Ravine

We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories for Tuckerman Ravine this season. However, we will continue to provide snowpack and weather information when conditions change. Avalanches, falling ice and rock, snow undermined by water, large glide cracks, and icy refrozen surfaces all remain potential threats until melt out is complete. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine, but similar hazards will also persist until snow and ice is gone.

The beginning of this week comes with warming weather. Summit temperatures should remain above freezing for the next few days. A weather disturbance could bring clouds, rain, and thunderstorms on Tuesday, with a potential return to sunnier skies by Wednesday. Cooler temperatures are possible later in the week, keeping all of the classic spring hazards listed below relevant this week.

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 following hazards have all caused fatalities and should influence your terrain choices:

  •  Long sliding falls: The melt/freeze cycles of spring can make good corn snow when the snow is not frozen. When frozen, the icy snow is makes travel more difficult and can virtually eliminate your ability to arrest a fall. This refreeze can occur remarkably fast, potentially turning a good ski descent into a conditions better served by crampon and ice axe travel.
  • Glide cracks and waterfall holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity, the slow creep downhill leaves cracks, sometimes called crevasses, in much of our terrain. This is especially prevalent in the Lip, where a large waterfall hole is also present and growing. These cracks and holes will continue to grow. The waterfall area of the Lip has spawned large and destructive wet slab avalanches in the past during periods of heavy rain.
  • Icefall: All ice in the ravines will fall down at some point due to warm weather, often in large chunks that travel at high rates of speed. The center and looker’s right portions of Tuckerman Ravine are most exposed to icefall due to the ice in Sluice and Center Bowl. Lunch rocks is a particularly inappropriate place to linger. Consider than speed is safety when passing under any ice flow.
  • Undermined snow: In addition to melting on the surface, the snowpack is eroded by meltwater flowing beneath. This creates thin snow bridges that will collapse and are most common over streams and in upper portions of south facing gullies. The sound of running water can sometimes be heard under the snow and is a good indicator of this hazard.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed between Lunch Rocks in the ravine and the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail above the ravine. The significant fall hazard of large glide cracks and waterfall holes result in this annual closure. The Lion Head Summer Trail is now open. Be prepared for a range of conditions including a steep snow slope above a significant fall hazard. Crampons and an ice axe are recommended in firm snow conditions. The Sherburne Ski Trail is now closed due to lack of snow. Plan to hike up and down from Tuckerman Ravine. Skinning is not the option preferred by most any longer.

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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
• Posted  8:40 AM, Monday, May 14, 2018. 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

2018-05-14-General

Lion Head Summer Trail open

Hiking this time of year can be especially challenging as warm temperatures make shorts and lightweight hikers more comfortable than soft shell pants and mountaineering boots. Trails can change from knee deep rotten snow to bullet-proof ice is a matter minutes in cool temperatures and shade. Currently, the Lion Head summer trail and winter route are equally challenging but for different reasons. The Summer route has stretches of ice remaining and a long traverse through a snowfield at tree-line that has been the seen of some pretty bad falls. The winter route is generally steeper and the steepest section now is exposed rock and frozen mud. While never technically closed, the summer route is exposed to significant avalanche hazard and only becomes the recommended route to the summit from the east side of the mountain when avalanche hazard subsides. We have reached the point in time when the summer route becomes a good alternative. That said, there is still ice along with that steep and potentially icy slope near treeline. Be prepared and equipped for icy conditions on the summer trail when it’s cold at that elevation, along with rotten and deep snow as it warms up.

The Tuckerman Ravine trail through Tuckerman Ravine is nearing the point where a closure makes sense. If you plan to ski the Lip, understand that the waterfall holes are open below you and create the potential for a fatal fall into a 70′ deep or more hole.

 

General Bulletin for Tuckerman Ravine

We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories for Tuckerman Ravine this season. We will continue to provide snowpack and weather information as conditions change. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine, but similar hazards will persist there until snow and ice is gone.

Temperatures at night will dip below freezing with daytimes temps into the 30’s on Saturday and near 40 on Sunday. Generally sunny skies with some clouds will allow snow to soften for skiing but also loosen up ice and weaken snow bridges. Watch the temperatures and clouds carefully to be sure your corn skiing won’t turn into a potential slide-for-life situation. As always, don’t linger under ice cliffs. A warming trend this week will continue to melt our remaining snow which is holding up pretty well in the Bowl for this time of year. As temperatures warm, remember to manage your sluffs. The Lip is nearing closure with open waterfall holes, which have been the scene of a number of fatalities, in the fall line.

All of the following hazards have caused fatalities and should influence your terrain choices:

  • Long sliding falls: The melt/freeze cycles of spring can make good corn snow when the snow is not frozen. When frozen, the icy snow is makes travel more difficult and can virtually eliminate your ability to arrest a fall. This refreeze can occur remarkably fast, potentially turning a good ski descent into conditions better served by crampon and ice axe travel.
  • Glide cracks and waterfall holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity, the slow creep downhill leaves cracks, sometimes called crevasses, in much of our terrain. This is especially prevalent in the Lip, where a large waterfall hole is also present and growing. These cracks and holes will continue to grow. The waterfall area of the Lip has spawned large and destructive wet slab avalanches in the past during periods of heavy rain.
  • Icefall: All ice in the ravines will fall down at some point due to warm weather, often in large chunks that travel at high rates of speed. The center and looker’s right portions of Tuckerman Ravine are most exposed to icefall due to the ice in Sluice and Center Bowl. Lunch rocks is a particularly inappropriate place to linger. Consider than speed is safety when passing under any ice flow.
  • Undermined snow: In addition to melting on the surface, the snowpack is eroded by meltwater flowing beneath. This creates thin snow bridges that will collapse and are most common over streams and in upper portions of south facing gullies. The sound of running water can sometimes be heard under the snow and is a good indicator of this hazard.

 The Sherburne Ski Trail is now closed due to lack of snow. Plan to hike up and down from Tuckerman Ravine. Skinning is not the option preferred by most any longer. The Lion Head Summer Trail is now open. Be prepared for a range of conditions including a steep snow slope above a significant fall hazard. Crampons and an ice axe are recommended in firm snow conditions.

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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
• Posted  8:40 AM, Saturday, May 12, 2018. 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

2018-05-12 General Bulletin

General Bulletin for Tuckerman Ravine

We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories for Tuckerman Ravine this season. However, we will continue to provide snowpack and weather information when conditions change. Avalanches, falling ice and rock, snow undermined by water, large glide cracks, and icy refrozen surfaces all remain potential threats until melt out is complete. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine, but similar hazards will also persist until snow and ice is gone.

Cool weather will give way to an approaching warm front, though temperatures should remain somewhat cold through the weekend. The summit is forecast to remain below freezing today. Intermittent and partial cloud cover is forecast to continue through tomorrow. Saturday will also bring a chance of rain showers as temperatures warm by a few degrees. Wind today will gust to 90 mph but diminish by afternoon. Warming temperatures on Sunday may allow loose wet sluffing to again become a concern, but until then, the potential for icy refrozen snow makes long sliding falls a primary hazard. Cloud cover and a chance of showers makes Saturday not ideal for skiing. Sunday looks like a sunny day with soft snow. Glide cracks continue to grow and will soon result in closure of the Lip area.

The following hazards have all caused fatalities and should influence your terrain choices:

  • Long sliding falls: The melt/freeze cycles of spring can make good corn snow when the snow is not frozen. When frozen, the icy snow is makes travel more difficult and can virtually eliminate your ability to arrest a fall. This refreeze can occur remarkably fast, potentially turning a good ski descent into a conditions better served by crampon and ice axe travel.
  • Glide cracks and waterfall holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity, the slow creep downhill leaves cracks, sometimes called crevasses, in much of our terrain. This is especially prevalent in the Lip, where a large waterfall hole is also present and growing. These cracks and holes will continue to grow. The waterfall area of the Lip has spawned large and destructive wet slab avalanches in the past during periods of heavy rain.
  • Icefall: All ice in the ravines will fall down at some point due to warm weather, often in large chunks that travel at high rates of speed. The center and looker’s right portions of Tuckerman Ravine are most exposed to icefall due to the ice in Sluice and Center Bowl. Lunch rocks is a particularly inappropriate place to linger. Consider than speed is safety when passing under any ice flow.
  • Undermined snow: In addition to melting on the surface, the snowpack is eroded by meltwater flowing beneath. This creates thin snow bridges that will collapse and are most common over streams and in upper portions of south facing gullies. The sound of running water can sometimes be heard under the snow and is a good indicator of this hazard.

 The Sherburne Ski Trail is now closed due to lack of snow. Plan to hike both up and down from Tuckerman Ravine. The Winter Lion Head Route is still open due to the amount of snow remaining on the summer 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.
• 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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
• Posted  8:40 AM, Friday, May 11, 2018. 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

2018-05-11-General

General Bulletin for Tuckerman Ravine

We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories this season for Tuckerman Ravine, however, we will continue to provide snowpack and weather information when conditions change. Avalanches, falling rocks and ice, undermined snow, large glide cracks, and icy refrozen surfaces will remain a threat in and below steep terrain as long as snow remains in the mountains. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine, but hazards will persist until all the snow and ice disappears.

High pressure will build into the region from Canada on Monday, keeping clear conditions until late in the week.  Temperatures during the days will reach into the 40sF and nighttime lows will drop into the 30sF. Low pressure will move into the area late in the week bringing unsettled weather. Our springtime isothermal snowpack has generally reduced avalanche concerns to sluff management in steep terrain.

The following hazards have all caused fatalities and should factor into your decision-making process:

  • Icefall: All visible ice will fall down at some point, often in large chunks that travel at high rates of speed. The most hazardous locations are in the center and looker’s 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. Speed is safety when passing under any ice flow.
  • Glide Cracks and Waterfall Holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity, it pulls away from cliffs and leaves cracks that are most visible in extreme terrain, particularly the Lip. These glide cracks will grow larger and increase in number. The large waterfall hole in the Lip has spawned large and destructive wet slab avalanches in the past during times of heavy rain.
  • Undermined Snow: In addition to melting on the surface, the snowpack is eroded by running water beneath. This creates thin snow bridges that will collapse and are most prevalent in areas that have streams and at the tops of south-facing gullies. The sound of running water can sometimes be heard under the snow and is a good indicator of this hazard.
  • Long, Sliding Falls: Spring corn snow comes from the melt/freeze cycles on warm days and cold nights. The freeze portion of this cycle can turn a gully full of corn snow into an icy slope remarkably fast, possibly turning what would be a great ski descent into a down climb that requires crampons and an ice axe.

The Winter Lion Head Route is still open due to the amount of snow on the Summer Trail. The Sherburne Ski Trail is open down to crossover #7, allowing about ¾ mile of skiing below Hermit Lake.  Please respect the rope, cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, and hike down to Pinkham.

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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
• Posted  2:30pm., Sunday, May 6, 2018. A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2018-05-06 General

General Bulletin for Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines

We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories this season for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine. However, we will continue to provide snowpack and weather information for these areas when conditions change drastically and in time to help you make, or change, weekend plans. Avalanches, falling rocks and ice, undermined snow, large glide cracks, and icy refrozen surfaces will remain a threat in and below steep terrain as long as snow remains in the mountains.

Rain and possibly thunderstorms on Friday will set up a clearing pattern for Saturday. Temperatures close to the freezing mark to start Saturday combined with wind speeds over 100mph on the summit may make a late start the right choice as winds may drop to a more reasonable speed later in the afternoon. Rain on Sunday will be followed by what looks like a good corn cycle next week with sunny skies, warm days and colder nights. An isothermal snowpack has reduced the concerns for large avalanches, though history has shown that intense periods of heavy rain can make the waterfall hole in the Lip do strange things no matter what the snowpack is. Sluff management should be a priority for skiers, in particular the first several of the day on each slope.

The following hazards have all caused fatalities and should factor in when planning your route:

  • Icefall: All visible ice will fall down at some point, often in large chunks that travel at high rates of speed. The most hazardous locations are in the center and looker’s 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.  Speed is safety when passing under any ice flow.
  • Glide cracks and waterfall holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity and creeps downhill, it pulls away from cliffs and leaves cracks that are most visible in the extreme terrain, particularly the Lip. These glide cracks will grow larger and increase in number. The large waterfall hole in the Lip has spawned large and destructive wet slab avalanches in the past in times of heavy rain.
  • Undermined snow: In addition to melting on the surface, the snowpack is eroded by running water beneath. This creates thin snow bridges that will collapse and are most prevalent in areas that have streams (Little Headwall) and the tops of south-facing gullies. The sound of running water can sometimes be heard under the snow and is a good indicator of this hazard.
  • Long, sliding falls: Spring corn snow comes from the melt/freeze cycles on warm days and cold nights. The freeze portion of this cycle can turn a gully full of corn snow into sheet of concrete remarkably fast, turning what would be a great ski descent into a down climb that requires crampons and an ice axe.

The Winter Lion Head Route is still open due to the amount of snow on the Summer Trail. The Sherburne Ski Trail is open down to crossover #3, or where the rope is across the trail. Expect this closure to move uphill as the weekend progresses. Please respect the rope, cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, and hike down to Pinkham.

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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
• Posted  8:30 a.m., Friday, May 4, 2018. A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2018-05-04