Observations

Tucks wet slides, and other safety notes

May 14, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Name: Jonathan Shefftz| NE Rando Race Series
Location: Tuckerman Ravine

Route:
https://www.strava.com/activities/5298427793

Video of the most dramatic wet slide:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHC8wsKtplc

Add’l pics (not really related to safety):
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=NERandoRaceSeries&set=a.5774589125915620

Arrived in Bowl ~11:30 Fri a.m. Had already abandoned plan of extending route up to NE Snowfield given risk of getting caught up there in wind-driven rain. (Ditto for plan rejected even earlier of Cog > Airplane Gully.)
Instead, after transitioning to ski & climbing gear and en route to Right Gully, we encountered the first of a few intense rounds of graupel! (Obs @11:54 reported “Snow Grains” with 33mph wind and 45mph gust.)
The base of the Bowl was already littered with wet slide debris. Video link above shows the aftermath of a more dramatic wet slide, which ran significantly further than the prior slides, as well as a few slides that occurred later. Unfortunately my video missed the snow cascading from up above the cliffs, crashing into the snow at the top of the lower half of the bowl then triggering a wet slide there. The timing with the graupel must have been a coincidence, but I did see a person climbing up above there, apparently taking a traversing route after topping out of the Chute. Most likely he triggered a small slide up there, which in turn triggered the slide in the bottom half of the Bowl.
Picture of my partner shows some of the debris, reflecting slides from Chute Variation North through Sluice.

Other safety concerns as follows.

Right Gully: Top is getting truncating as compared to the prior Friday, but rather predictably. Definitely not the time of the season to try to extend your run by another ~10′ vertical past what anyone else has done recently – lots of undermining danger! Kicked off some roller balls on our first lap, but that meant everything was better behaved for our second lap. While traversing back into the Bowl, even knowing the typical hole locations and being very aware of the new snow to obscure their locations, I still got closer to one than I would prefer.

Left Gully: We ascended this twice and skied it once. About as safe as anything this steep can ever be. As the avy bulletin stated, “Slopes and gullies with a more north or north-easterly aspect will be firmer and easier to ski and also less prone to wet avalanche activity.” Top will start getting increasingly crux-y with additional melting and skier traffic. Be aware of the potential for the bootpack to stray into various non-snow areas, which means climbers up above you can kick off rockfall.

Chute: This saw a lot of skier traffic (both up and down), but we stayed clear given the conditions.

Hillman’s: Still over 1,000′ continuous vertical, but much narrower than the prior Friday, with more emerging hazards, both rocks and holes. After three descents, skied to the HoJo’s bridge with a few short portages. Any more significant melting though and this line will no longer be very attractive.