Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tuckerman Ravine LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Lobster Claw, Lower Snowfields and Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow.

Huntington Ravine is under a General Bulletin. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Due to the multiple, deep melt-freeze cycles that our snowpack has been subjected to, both recently and over the course of our lackluster winter, there isn’t any real avalanche concern today. Given the steepness of our terrain, I would certainly be cautious entering an untracked slope in the heat of the day and be prepared to let your wet loose sluff pass by. Over the course of the next few days our main hazards will be the more typical ones associated with a spring warmup, including the following:

  • Long sliding falls – Crampons, an ice ax, and the experience and skills to use them effectively are required to travel safely in steep terrain. Snowshoes and microspikes are not a substitute. Watch your runout in your fall line since there are plenty of things that you don’t want to slide into or over, like frozen waterfall cliffs, boulders and the next item on this list.
  • Crevasses, moats, and waterfall holes – Water flowing under the snow pack creates holes, glide cracks (crevasses) and thin spots that are deep enough to injure or kill you. The climber’s right side of the Bowl, near and under “The Lip”, harbor the most, and certainly the deepest, holes.
  • Falling ice – The best thing you can do to reduce your exposure to this seemingly random hazard is by limiting the time spent downslope from frozen waterfalls. Falling ice chunks can move with surprising speed and follow unpredictable trajectories. Expect this hazard to increase over the next few days as sun warms the Ravine.  Icefall Rocks (Lunch Rocks) and beneath Center Bowl (the Headwall) are in the crosshairs and are a bad place to sit, sled or hang around. Sitting on your pack down lower in the floor near the entrance to the bowl is a great alternative to hanging out in Lunch Rocks.

WEATHER and SNOWPACK: Overnight temperatures in the mid to high teens will rebound into the mid-20’s on the summit. Sunny skies and light winds will make it feel much warmer in the Ravines and will allow slopes to soften up to pretty much ideal spring skiing conditions. Some slopes are starting out harder and icier than others so timing and choosing the right aspect at the correct time is the name of the game. Be prepared for the snow to refreeze later in the day or by aspect when slopes begin to move into the shade. Being stuck on or above an icy slope, or committing to a potentially frozen one, ratchets up the risk and consequences. As always, crampons and ice axe and the judgement to choose safer but satisfying options through the terrain are useful tools to bring with you.

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.
  • Posted 7:55 a.m., Thursday, April 14, 2016. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Frank Carus, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2716