Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:20a.m., Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches are possible.  The only exceptions to this rating are the Little Headwall and Left Gully which have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely in these areas but you’ll need to watch for instability in isolated areas.

All forecast areas in Huntington Ravine have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely but you’ll need to watch for instability in isolated areas. 

Yesterday’s forecast for a small amount of snowfall didn’t hold true and I wish I could say it was because we had a large amount of snowfall instead.  Unfortunately such was not the case and I’d be hard pressed to call what we received even a trace.  There were in fact snowflakes in the air off and on throughout the day but when I headed down the hill in the afternoon there wasn’t a hint of new snow at Hermit Lake.  Needless to say we did not reach our forecasted avalanche danger ratings.  The summit did record a trace of snow yesterday and blowing snow continued to find its way into every hourly observation as it has for the past four days.  As a result drifting and wind transport continued to occur but most of this was limited to mid and lower elevations.  The strong winds continued to pummel the snow in upper elevations and I expect to see lots of scouring and windpack once this darn cloud cover lifts.  We plan to get out in the field later today and figure out how much energy is left in the steel slabs that surround us.  If you’re venturing into avalanche terrain today expect to find a variety of surface conditions with nearly all of them hard and/or icy.  Most of the old icy crust has been buried at this point but you may find patches peeking out here and there.  Have your ice ax ready if you’re traveling on this surface as it is quite slick and sliding falls are a concern.  Hard slab and wind-pack conditions dominate most areas and afford some great cramponing on squeaky Styrofoam snow.  Your ice ax will come in handy here as well.  Should you come across softer snow it should raise a red flag as it will likely be medium hardness windslab that is more reactive to a human trigger. Likely locations include the Lip, Sluice and any other areas that are well protected from NW winds. 

The trend over the next couple of days is for warmer and less windy conditions. Although today we’ll continue to deal with thin cloud cover the next couple of days should bring more sun to the snowpack.  The hard windslab and exposed old surface that dominate steep slopes will appreciate that sun almost as much as me! It’s still a ways out but there appears to be a system with some potential headed our way for the weekend.  The potential for what remains to be seen.  Stay tuned!

The Lion Head Winter Route is filling in and evidence of recent avalanche activity can be found on both sides of the route.  The best line up the ridge is marked with bamboo poles.  Stay on this path to avoid the more significant avalanche terrain on either side.

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.

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

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