Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 4-27-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 27, 2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. 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.

Brrrr. It feels cold and raw this morning. That shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re reading this from one of the many locations where it’s posted on the mountain. Last night, upper elevations did drop below freezing and just over an inch of snow has fallen. A bit more is expected today and tonight. The accumulations aren’t enough for us to bump up the avalanche danger rating, but they are worth paying attention to if you’re near the top of the ravines. What’s more worthy of your attention today is the low visibility, temperatures, and wind speeds. Traveling above treeline in the fog is challenging enough, but to do so with blowing snow, winds gusting over 85mph and temperatures well below freezing is a different game altogether. Be prepared for full winter conditions, including goggles, facemask, good winter boots, ice axe, crampons, etc., and be conservative in your decision making.

The cold weather will hang on through the weekend, which should allow the Headwall area to hold onto the large chunks of ice that were loosened earlier in the week. The heavy rain on Monday did bring down a lot of icefall, including most of what was in the Sluice area. Currently the greatest icefall hazard comes from the Center Bowl. Be aware that this ice can easily crash all the way through the floor of the ravine. If you have reached the snow line in the bottom, you are within striking distance of falling ice. It also crosses sideways into Lunch Rocks. Be head’s up, and always be thinking about your “safe zones” and “escape routes.”

Crevasses and undermined snow will be prominent hazards through this weekend. The largest crevasses have opened up in the Chute through Sluice areas, with the Lip area acting as the center of the bulls-eye. Crevasses are often larger than they appear from the surface, so give these areas wide berth. The farther you stay from them, the lower your likelihood of collapsing a snow bridge.

Long sliding falls will also be an easy way to hurt yourself through the weekend. Cold temperatures will keep surfaces pretty darned icy. As a snowboarder, I can sympathize with people who want to climb up while wearing soft round boots, but these are not the conditions for that! Really you ought to be using hard boots with crampons, and an ice axe for self-arresting. But, beware of overconfidence in your self–arrest skills; you’ll need lightning fast reflexes to arrest the fall before reaching terminal velocity. Once you gain a little speed, you’ll stand little chance of being able to stop yourself. With limited visibility and a variety of obstacles in your fall line, this isn’t something you want to learn about firsthand.

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 to the floor of the ravine is open, 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 now 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, 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

2012-04-27 Print Friendly