Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 4-21-2012

This Advisory expires at midnight Saturday April 21, 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.

In addition to the spring hazards discussed below the big factor affecting all of us will the dropping curtain of fog and the developing rain coming our way.  I wish I didn’t have to be the bearer and deliveryman of so much doom and gloom, but I am having a hard time finding a silver lining to give you.  Just keep smiling and be happy that you’re outside rather than being at home doing chores.  Rain will become increasingly likely through the day with a chance of thunderstorms developing this afternoon.  Tonight the high mountains may see some mixed freezing precipitation coating the mountain and some slippery glazing and frozen slush before changing back to all rain tomorrow morning.  Some heavy bursts of rain can be expected on Sunday with the potential for lightning contact in alpine terrain with the passage of a tropical system coming from the south.  All told the region is expecting 2-4” of rain between today and Monday possibility more for the higher mountains!  The other issue is the dropping veil of clouds and fog making it very difficult to recognize all of the Ravine’s hazards like falling ice.  If this occurs I would be very conservative in your travel decisions.  A lower, but not absent, risk from objective mountain hazards (icefall, crevasses, avalanches) exists on the left or southern side of the Ravine than on the right, so staying to the left or south side of the Ravine is our recommendation. The final leg of “The Inferno Pentathlon” will be the ski portion in Left Gully.  This location is not closed to your use just please respect the effort these folks are putting into doing well, so give them some room. 

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 AND THE SECTION OF THE HIKING TRAIL FROM THE FLOOR OF THE RAVINE THROUGH THE TOP OF THE HEADWALL. Only this section of the trail is closed. 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. Hikers should not use this trail or other snowfields to travel through the Ravine to the alpine zone and the summit of Mt. Washington. Descending into the Ravine from above is also not recommended. From the Pinkham side, Lion Head trail up and down is a much better option.

ICEFALL will continue to be a significant issue until it has all come down. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice and a number of people had some very close calls earlier this week. Numerous large divots can be seen on the snow slopes below the Headwall and the Sluice.  The greatest hazard exists from these two areas, but there is some potential for this to happen in other locations.  Sitting at Lunch Rocks may be traditional, but it’s right in the cross-hairs of some significant ice shelling from multiple directions. We saw this occur yesterday from ice falling out of the Lip and center bowl region.     

CREVASSES exist in many areas and rival icefall as the primary concern for visitors.   These may be very difficult to see from above so remember to always climb up what you plan on descending to allow you to assess the hazards at a more leisurely pace.  The Lip and Headwall have the largest crevasses but smaller slots have grown in the Sluice, Left Headwall, and the Chute. Undermining or running water has increased the collapse hazards near holes, rock and crevasses as well.  Hillman’s Highway with it’s growing rock population is a location to be thinking about this problem.

The John Sherburne Ski trail is now closed to all use due to rapid melt out this week.   

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.

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Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger

USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest