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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.
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.
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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.
Packed powder from Hermit Lake to parking lot
Forest Order Closure in effect. Subject to penalty – CFR 12-63
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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INCIDENTS & ACCIDENTS
This website is provided through a partnership between the White Mountain National Forest and the White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation. The avalanche forecast applies only to backcountry areas, not operating ski areas, and describes general avalanche conditions which vary locally. The avalanche information provided is the sole responsibility of the USDA Forest Service.