Avalanche Advisory for Friday, May 3, 2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche dangerNatural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington this season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Yesterday afternoon cooler air glided into the region as a gentle cold front passed through the mountains.  A few drops of rain here and there made it to the ground, but the thickening clouds were generally more bark than bite. Over the past several hours a high pressure system has once again nudged out the short lived clouds to bring back clearing conditions and sun.  What is left behind however is a brisk air mass bringing the Ravines very close to the freezing mark.  Expect snow surfaces to begin a bit firm this morning taking some time to soften. But with a dropping east wind and summit temperatures reaching an expected 40F degrees snow should soften on all aspects today.   As discussed all week our concern for icefall remains elevated.  Although ice will fall whether it’s busy or not, the increased visitors over Friday, Saturday and Sunday raises the probability that someone will be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Stay vigilant to avoid the most likely areas for ice fall discussed below and remain disciplined to give these locations plenty of room even if the snow looks tempting.  Realize that even though you skied there last time you were here hazards change and are a dynamic moving target that do not stay consistent from week to week or year to year.

Objective mountain hazards should be figured prominently into your travel plans today. These include:

1. POTENTIAL FOR FALLING ICE.  Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. Minimize the time you spend in high risk areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION.  Sitting on the Left/South side of the Ravine will reduce your risk.   

2. CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend. The most prominent area where crevasses have become a serious threat is in the Lip and Center Bowl. Falling into one of these holes or breaking through a weak snow bridge could be fatal for you or someone in your group.

3. UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge. Many gullies have running water in them, which melts away the snow from below. While it may look thick and strong on top, you don’t really know until you step through. The consequences could range from minor annoyance to being swept into an icy water channel. If you see a small hole in the snow, realize it’s larger beneath the surface. A common practice is to probe the depth of snow to help locate problem areas.  It’s another good reason to carry a collapsible avalanche probe.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed one third the way down from Hermit Lake at crossover #7. At the rope, you need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. Do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope.

We are switching signs back to the The Lion Head summer trail today and closing the Winter Route.  Some steep snow traverses still exist just below treeline on the summer trail so mountaineering skills, ice ax and crampons are important to travel safely through this area.  Chuck Taylor sneakers and a broken stick for an alpinstock will fall short as the right tools on these slopes so think through your risk and actions before heading into this area.  All other routes/trails accessing treeline also require mountaineering equipment to travel through them safely. Look for the Weekend Update this afternoon on www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org

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 or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:10 a.m., May 3, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-05-03 Print Friendly