Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 4-29-2013

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.

Good corn skiing conditions continue with warm days and cool nights.  Hopefully, clouds will clear overnight to allow for radiational cooling to freeze the snowpack and help preserve our snow through the warm week ahead and keep things from getting slushy. Skiing and riding traffic created some moguls in Left Gully and sluff channels or runnels in the Sluice and Chute. These may grow in size and number if warming becomes intense. Yesterday, a basketball sized rock narrowly missed several dozen people in the conga line in Left Gully. This hazard can be reduced by not climbing on steep sections of rock which are being exposed and loosened by further melting, especially at the tops of gullies where the snowpack is thinner and loose rocks more abundant. Always assume people may be below you and climb carefully.

Cloud cover, which is forecast for today, will most likely reduce the heating which spawns slushy snow and sluff channels but ambient temperatures in the 40’s F ( 5-10 C) will continue to raise the concern for icefall, continued undermining of the snow near rocks and flowing water as well as weakened edges near developing crevasses. Think hard about how to avoid all these issues by picking your hiking, sitting, and skiing/riding locations very carefully. Large cracks and potential icefall hazards are much more prevalent as you move towards the center of the Ravine from either side. “The Lip” is in the bullseye for having the most dangerous conditions, because of this it is strongly encouraged to avoid this area. We recommend Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway as locations with less overall risk from objective mountain hazards than others. The Chute can also be approached in such a way to avoid those hazards though the route is about as steep as it gets in Tuckerman and is not recommended for those inexperienced in steep off-piste skiing. We also highly suggest bringing an ice axe and crampons for travel in steep terrain.  Lightweight aluminum points and ice axes can make a climb much more secure and weigh only a pound or so each.  Many people swear by self-arrest ski poles to help slow a fall or to assist in getting your feet below you in a sliding fall.

Today will be warm with a high potential for falling ice. Falling ice is an increasingly common occurrence at this point in the season. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. It’s hard to truly appreciate the seemingly random, unpredictable power of this hazard until you’ve seen it firsthand. Take our advice: Minimize the time you spend in 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. A T-Shirt slogan comes to mind when I see groups gathered at Lunch Rocks or booting together in a line directly beneath a teetering frozen waterfall…something about “never underestimate the stupidity of smart people in large groups”. Make your own travel decisions carefully!

Crevasses are opening up in many areas. The worst of these can be found in the Lip area and Center Bowl. Some are very deep resulting in dire consequences if you fall in.  Many have icy running water  splashing through them, and some are hidden from view by rollovers or a thin bridge of snow. Hillman’s Highway has some undermined snow and an open hole to watch out for. 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 Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at the half way point. 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. The Lion Head Winter Route remains open and offers the most direct access to the summit of Mt. Washington from the east. This is a very steep route and is often more challenging in spring conditions. An ice axe and crampons are highly recommended for this route. The Lion Head summer trail is still closed.

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.
  • Posted at 7:40 a.m., April 29, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-04-29 Print friendly