Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine

Posted 8:20a.m., Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.  Watch for unstable snow in isolated terrain features.  We are not currently forecasting for the Little Headwall, Lower Snowfields, Lobster Claw, or Escape Hatch due to an overall lack of snow in these areas.

The mountain finally showed itself yesterday after being in hiding for several days.  This provided us with an opportunity to safely assess conditions in both Ravines.  Despite below average snowfall, I was impressed with how a number of areas are developing.  Last weekend’s rain event triggered some wet avalanches that pushed several  run-outs  farther down into their path resulting in some well developed slide paths.  Left Gully and the Chute in Tuckerman and Odell and Central in Huntington represent the largest avalanche paths that exist in the Ravines right now.  Others are getting there and I think they will progress well with our next storm system.  As far as stability goes, there is a wide array of snow conditions to be found in the Ravines that combine to give us generally stable snow.  However, there is one case in particular that you should be aware of and use caution if you find it.  In some places I found wind slab sitting over a well developed and weak faceted layer.  This is the combination that could produce isolated avalanche activity if it is disturbed by the additional load of people. Be on the lookout for this undesirable snowpack and avoid traveling on it.  Some upcoming weather events that may change snow stability include increasing winds on Monday into Tuesday and the potential for accumulating snow Monday night through Tuesday night.  We’ll keep you posted on these events in the upcoming advisories.

If you plan on heading up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch you should be prepared for about a mile and a half of low angle mixed climbing with long sections of water ice across the entire trail.  The lower part of the trail is quite challenging without crampons or other traction footwear and there is the potential to take a nasty fall.  On the way down yesterday, Chris and I observed a blood stained site on the trail that marked the location of someone taking the fall that I was afraid of the entire way up and down the trail yesterday.  Leave a little extra time and energy to navigate this section of 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.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

Printable Advisory