Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, March 12, 2016

All forecast areas of Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Lobster Claw, the Lower Snowfields, and Little Headwall are not posted due to a lack of snow in these areas.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Wet loose avalanches are the primary avalanche concern today. Recent warm weather and copious amounts of rain penetrated deeply into the snowpack, by and large resetting troublesome weak layers below. Due to remaining warmth in the snowpack, it is likely that the first skiers down after the snow has softened will generate potentially large and forceful sluffs. Beware of hazards in your fall line!

Falling ice, undermined snow and crevasses have jumped to the top of the list of things that could injure or kill you. Reduce your exposure to these hazards by choosing your line carefully and choose a safer spot out of the fall line than Lunch Rocks or the floor. Waterfall holes have opened up in the already thin snowpack in the Lip/Center Bowl area, creating a significant hazard there.

WEATHER: Clear skies starting out today, with air temperatures climbing to near 30F on the summit this afternoon. West winds will increase through the day peaking in the 70mph range with higher gusts by this afternoon. Increasing cloud cover with high winds may make temperatures and snow surface temps dip below the freezing point depending on timing so be prepared to deal with variable snow conditions should this occur.

SNOWPACK: Our meager snowpack took a beating from the rain and warm temperatures this week. Though surface snow and avalanche debris was smoothed and leveled by the rain, the water flowing beneath drainages has created plenty of thin spots in Hillman’s, the top of Right, and sections of the Center Bowl and Lip. The main waterfall holes in the Lip are the stuff of nightmares and are much deeper than you might think. Give these a wide berth, or better yet avoid that slope all together. In Huntington Ravine, ice was undermined in places by the rain and ice dams have probably grown at the tops of pitches of steep ice. I’m a fan of placing gear before topping out a steep pitch in case things aren’t as they appear from below. Anticipate rock and icefall from above and if you can avoid climbing beneath others parties, do it.

New snow that fell last week has melted off the Tuckerman Ravine Trail leaving ice in its place up to the Huntington Ravine Fire Road elevation. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed below #2 hill (about a quarter mile from the parking lot). Please respect the closure by walking over to the Tucks trail at the rope to reduce erosion on the trail.

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.
  • Posted 7:30a.m., Saturday, March 12, 2016. 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