This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 3-15-2012
All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine and Huntington Ravine have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.
I pushed all the melancholy spirits out of me yesterday and I have officially said goodbye to winter. Until the next late winter storm I am fully embracing the idea that spring is here! We have picked up a dusting of snow overnight and another shot is on the way overnight and into Friday. This should come in the form of rain due to a warm front passing through the area. After that, holy cow, say hello to sun, heat, and record breaking high temperatures! Beginning Saturday sun will dominate the skies bringing the valley mercury up to the 65-70F degree range. So, outside of our stable snowpack the main thing to talk about is the onset of Spring hazards.
The slow emergence of crevasses is slowly going to become an issue over the next week. They are currently small and just beginning to peak out, but this will change under the fireball in the sky over the next 6 days. Prepare to watch them grow. Undermining of snow by brooks, streams, and the heat of rocks and bushes is an increasing concern. It can make snow bridges collapse under your weight particularly while attempting to ski over known streams like when exiting the Tuckerman floor. The most immediate hazard to you is falling ice this week. Clear skies and direct solar gain over the weekend will warm rock, melt ice bonds, and begin sending a winter’s worth of ice formations crashing down. Falling ice has caused significant injuries and fatalities over the years and needs to be taken seriously. The dominate location for this problem is south facing pitches followed by east slopes like the Tuckerman Headwall. The entire spring hazard discussion will be ramped up over the next few days as well as tomorrow’s “Weekend Update”, issued in the late afternoon. The brook leaving the floor and the Little Headwall is pretty close to being done, and likely will be sometime this weekend due to some of the warmest temperatures this season on the way. It wouldn’t surprise me if everybody will need to walk out of the Ravine within the next several days. The vast majority of skiers and riders are already walking out and we’ll keep you updated daily on this situation.
In Huntington Ravine climbers will face conditions more similar to mid or late April. Anticipate questionable ice protection in the sun, so rock gear will obviously be a better option when the terrain allows. Undoubtedly there will be cold nights and days ahead so timing is everything. Skiing conditions on the Sherburne Ski Trail should be a little firm to begin the day but should change to softer conditions as the fog burns off and the sun’s heat penetrates frozen surfaces. You will encounter a number of bare patches down low. I would expect the trail to change considerably by the end of the weekend.
Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856