Entries by fongemie

Help preserve alpine vegetation

If you use the Mt. Washington Auto Road to access backcountry ski terrain this spring, please realize that you are heading up to one of the most fragile alpine areas on the east coast. You can help preserve this unique habitat by how you park your vehicle and how you access the ski routes. Please […]

Close call: Fall into deep waterfall hole

As winter turns rapidly to spring, a number of hazards become prevalent in the steep terrain of the Presidential Range and particularly the Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine. Waterfall holes, glide cracks or crevasses, moats around cliffs and rocks, and other deep holes open as the thick snowpack melts. A fall into these holes, which often […]

April 11, 2019 Avalanche Fatality, Raymond Cataract

Around lunchtime on Thursday, April 11, 2019, two hikers took a break on the summit of Lion Head. This ridge separates Tuckerman Ravine from a stream drainage to the north known as Raymond Cataract. While on Lion Head, they noted a skier descending into Raymond Cataract, an ephemeral, but recently popular ski descent only possible during winters with a deep snowpack.

The hikers remarked on the solid and skillful turns the skier was making and watched him descend out of view. At the same time, two skiers skinning up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail watched a solo skier make a couple of turns in upper Raymond Cataract and then returned their focus to skinning. Unknown to anyone, within a few turns of both sightings, Nicholas Benedix would ski over a convex 39 degree bulge and trigger a fatal avalanche.

Search for Missing Hiker

On Sunday March 17, Snow Ranger staff from the Mount Washington Avalanche Center participated in a search for a missing hiker. Agencies involved included the NH Fish & Game, Mountain Rescue Service and  Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue.  Teams searched areas of “last known location”. The search was discontinued at the day’s end pending additional information.

THE EVOLUTION OF AVALANCHE FORECASTING ON MOUNT WASHINGTON

Intrepid backcountry skiers and snowboarders now regularly ski in avalanche terrain across the Presidential Range over the entirety of the winter season. Ice climbers, winter hikers, and mountaineers continue to climb and travel in avalanche paths outside of Huntington and Tuckerman ravines. To meet this increased use and support informed decision making, the U.S. Forest Service’s Mount Washington Avalanche Center (MWAC) is expanding avalanche forecasting to nearly the entire northern Presidential Range for the 2018-19 season.

Gulf of Slides Ski Trail

Some rocks, almost worth skiing.  As always, the upper portion of the trail crosses active avalanche paths. Assess conditions carefully and travel one at a time. Avoid upper Trail in periods of elevated danger or active wind loading.

Winter Lion Head Trail

The summer Lion Head Trail remains a preferred east side route to the summit over the Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine Trails, though watch for our recommendation towards the Winter Route that will come with additional snowpack development.

The Evolution of Mount Washington Avalanche Center Forecasts

As those who attended ESAW and recent MWAC outreach events have heard, our forecast zones are changing this year. The primary drivers of this change are changing use patterns, a desire to be consist with the use of North American avalanche danger scale (and other forecast center messaging), and a desire to provide information to folks venturing into other aspects and elevations around the area. Beginning this year, we will provide an avalanche forecast for most of the Northern Presidential Range.