Avalanche Advisory for Friday, May 8, 2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

 AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Continue to manage your sluff, especially if you are above terrain hazards like cliffs and crevasses. That said, wet sluffs are small potatoes compared to the following hazards:

FALLING ICE: Falling ice remains a big potential problem. Massive blocks still sit on the center headwall cliffs and in the Sluice, directly above Lunch Rocks. Reduce time spent in areas with ice above and you will reduce this threat. Don’t underestimate the speed and random trajectory of chunks of falling ice. Many people have been seriously injured or killed from falling ice in Tuckerman Ravine.

CREVASSES: The number of crevasses is greatest in the Lip and Sluice, but other locations may have cracks opening up as well. These can be covered by breakable snow bridges. Some of these are wide enough to fall into and they are probably much deeper than you think due to the turn downslope that they make at the bottom. The largest concentration of these slots in Lip and Sluice is best avoided, especially when traveling on foot.

UNDERMINED SNOW: This hazard develops where the snowpack has a stream of meltwater running beneath. Typical areas include Hillman’s Highway, Right Gully, Lobster Claw, and the exit from the bowl. In general, areas where you might expect the largest volume of flowing water will create the most undermining with a thinning snow bridge above. The main waterfall hole left of the Lip has grown considerably with the increasing flow due to melting. Give a wide berth to this and other holes in the snowpack!

The Little Headwall has fully collapsed and is unskiable. Many people try to find their way toward the Lower Snowfields in hopes of keeping their boards on as long as possible. While it may be possible to do this, it is not easy nor without hazards. We recommend walking down the trail to Hermit Lake from the floor of the Ravine. From there, the Sherburne Ski Trail is open for skiing to the uppermost crossover. There you will need to walk the Tuckerman Ravine Trail back down to Pinkham Notch.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Expect warm and sunny conditions today to continue making heavy, wet and slushy skiing. Shadier aspects on the left will offer drier, firmer snow that’s better for riding. They also have fewer and less severe hazards from icefall, undermining and crevasses. Among the left side options, Hillman’s Highway and Left Gully are also the longest runs and are probably your best bet for good riding as well as avoiding a grim outcome due to an encounter with one of the hazards listed above.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 6:55 a.m., Friday, May 8, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2015-05-08 print friendly