Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 3-26-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, March 26, 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.

If you were hoping to find warm sunny skies on Mt. Washington today, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. It’s a very wintery day up here, much more reminiscent of December than of the warmth that happened just last week. In fact, a small amount of new snow has even fallen (~1cm), with light flurries in the air as I type. Temperatures will fall through the day to around 0°F (-19°C) and winds will be quite strong, blowing from the NW at 70-90mph (113-145kph). You don’t need to be a math major to know that adds up to tough, unforgiving conditions above treeline. If you’re coming up today, leave the blue jeans and trail sneakers behind and pack your best winter gear instead. My personal recommendation would be to leave the skis behind. It’ll be poor skiing conditions with some high consequences if you have a mishap.

Long sliding falls are a significant threat to mountain travelers for a handful of reasons. First is the slick icy surface allowing rapid acceleration downslope. Second is what might lie below, in the path of your fall. Lots of rocks have melted out, chunks of ice and rock litter the slopes, trees are exposed, moguls are frozen solid…these all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. An ice axe, crampons, and real mountaineering boots are very, very helpful in these conditions, but even these tools can’t protect you 100%. It’s your responsibility to climb within your ability level! Don’t put yourself into a situation where you can’t turn back or downclimb.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Today’s cloud cover and dusting of new snow will only make these hazards more difficult to assess regardless of your vantage point. The worst of the crevasses can be found in the center headwall, Lip, and Sluice areas. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully.

Falling ice should be in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures  generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout. Again, poor visibility will limit your ability to assess the hazard, so avoidance becomes the best bet for mitigation.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down. Expect dust on crust to just barely cover the exposed rocks. There are a couple patches of bare ground and a stream crossing to negotiate before you get to the closure rope.

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 caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  
  • 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

2012-03-26 print friendly