Avalanche Advisory for 05-01-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, May 1, 2012.

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

A thick fog and cold rain is making for some very inhospitable conditions this morning. Temperatures in the ravine will be inching up above the freezing mark, turning the current mixed precipitation into rain. Overall, about 1/3” to 1/2” of rain and mixed precipitation can be expected. Conditions like this are where the phrase “cotton kills” comes from. Leave the blue jeans and cotton hoody behind today. On a day like this, the best thing to be wearing is a house. But if you must go outside, good quality rain gear, extra layers, and plenty of food and water are key components to increasing your margin for safety.

As far as avalanches go, the danger rating today is Low for all areas of Tuckerman. However, this is not all the information you need to know. I can envision a scenario where the small pockets of relatively new snow sluff off of steep terrain. These are a different animal than the larger slab avalanches we’re often concerned about. In this case the likely outcome isn’t necessarily burial, it’s simply the fact that you could get swept off your feet and carried downhill. Depending on what is in your runout below, this could be a very painful experience. The greatest potential for this scenario to play out is in the Chute and Center Bowl area. I expect the old surfaces to easily handle the amount of rain we’re getting today. The relatively newer snow should also be able to handle it, but this is the snow that might create these loose wet snow avalanches.

Other springtime hazards will be lurking in the fog today, such as icefall, crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes. You won’t be able to see any of these before it’s too late, so your best bet is to altogether avoid the areas where you can find them. Warmth and rain will create ideal conditions for falling ice! For the most continuous snow coverage and the fewest objective hazards, head to Left Gully. From the Chute across to the Sluice you’ll be dealing with a lot of icefall potential and crevasses. Hillman’s Highway also has decent snow coverage, but the lowest portion has become discontinuous due to melt out and undermining.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. The trail is open to the floor of the ravine, as is the section from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

 2012-05-01 Print Friendly