Early Season Hazards, Saturday, November 9, 2019

This information was published 11/09/2019 at 12:52 PM.


This is an archived avalanche forecast.

The Bottom Line

If you are venturing into the high country be prepared for winter weather and challenging trail conditions as new snow hides loose rock, patches of ice and barely covered vegetation all intent on spraining a knee or ankle. Many a skier has suffered a season ending injury when a submerged rock or root grabs your ski or snowboard. A fall into shallow snow where rocks lurk beneath the surface can more than ruin your day.  As snowfields begin to grow with incoming snow and wind, remember that even small avalanches can hurt, bury or kill you, particularly if you get pushed into a terrain trap or off a cliff.

Mountain Weather

After a warm and general dry October, winter conditions have arrived in the Presidential Range and may be here to stay for the season. Ice climbs are growing and snowfields are beginning to develop and along with them, all the usual hazards that winter brings. If you aren’t thinking about avalanches yet, it’s time to start. Pull out your beacon and put in fresh batteries. There are no signs of corrosion, right? Assemble your probe and shovel to be sure the sections aren’t damaged and everything locks into place. What about your first aid kit and other essential gear? Do you have the skills and gear needed to handle an injury in the backcountry? Treating and transporting an injured member of you party is usually your best option when help from a rescue team is hours away. Take a first aid or first responder class along with an avalanche awareness or Level One avalanche class if you haven’t already. If you have already, stay current in your skills with some sort of continuing education.

Forecast Discussion

Hollow sounding snow on slopes 30 degrees or steeper are a warning sign that you may have found a wind slab. Remember that any recent new snowfall or wind loaded snow in the past 24-48 hours is suspect and may avalanche in the 30-45+ degree gullies and adjacent, connected slopes that comprise our avalanche terrain. Solo travel comes with great risks so think twice if you can’t round up a partner. It might be better to wait until you can find one. You and your partners(s) should always wear a beacon, and carry a probe and shovel. If your friends don’t own, and practice with, the gear, don’t climb or ski with them in avalanche terrain. The most important thing that you can bring into the backcountry is sound judgement. Avalanches and other mountain hazards don’t know how good you are or the importance of that photo session you had planned. 90 percent of all people killed by avalanches triggered the avalanche that killed them. Don’t be that person.

Don’t forget to submit observations through our observation form. It’s a great place to share info with public and the forecast team. Photos, a brief video and a quick description of what you observed go a long way to paint a clear picture of what’s going on in the backcountry.

Please Remember:

Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This forecast 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.

Avalanche danger may change when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.

For more information contact the US Forest Service Snow Rangers, AMC visitor services staff at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or seasonally at the Harvard Cabin (generally December 1 through March 31). The Mount Washington Ski Patrol is also available on spring weekends.

Posted 11/09/2019 at 12:52 PM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest