Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00 a.m., Friday April 8, 2011

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.

If you missed yesterday’s incredible weather and snow conditions, don’ t worry, you’ll have another opportunity to get after it today. The weather today will be more or less a repeat of what happened yesterday–temperatures in the ravines hovering right around or below the freezing mark, sunshine warming slopes facing S and SE, and rather calm winds by Mt. Washington standards. Midweek new snow had blown in on strong W and NW winds after rain stopped falling on Tuesday. This new snow had caused some concern over the past two days, but after watching numerous skiers and boarders charging hard in the Chute, Lip, Center Bowl, Sluice, etc. yesterday, my concerns about the stability of this snow have been put to rest temporarily. A large part of the stabilization came as a result of solar gain. It’s worth remembering that aspects facing to the north do not receive much sun at all, and although less new snow can be found on these aspects what is there may have more stored elastic energy. Another way to say it is that cold slabs that don’t get much sun will have a greater sensitivity to triggering, but they are generally smaller and more isolated. Examples of this type of issue can be found at the tops of South Gully and in Dodge’s Drop. While we don’t forecast for Dodge’s it is a slide path that has a proven history of behaving differently than other areas of the ravine. It’s about 5000′ in elevation, faces due north, and new snow stuck to the steep avalanche starting zone. Personally, it’s not a run I’d drop into without first doing some stability evaluation.

As we move into the weekend the weather outlook looks quite good for the first half, then expect a change on Sunday. Experience tells us that when we have good stability and good weather projected a few days out, the mountains will be quite busy. Wherever it is you travel in the mountains, be aware of what is going on around you. Often the biggest hazard you’ll face is the other people on the mountain who may unknowingly be putting you at risk. Do your best to stay alert to all hazards this weekend, both natural and human.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. Camping in the Cutler River Drainage is only allowed at Hermit Lake Shelters. The John Sherburne Ski Trail has full coverage and is open all the way to Pinkham. However, the upper part of the brook between the Bowl and the Little Headwall isn’t skiable, which forces skiers into the trees for a short stretch. Please be kind to the vegetation as you exit the Bowl, and be careful that you don’t end up taking an unexpected polar bear club dip into the brook!

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters. 
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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