Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:55 a.m., Saturday, April 09, 2011

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

If I could wish for a perfect spring day as a Snow Ranger, it might look a lot like today. What I like so much about today isn’t necessarily the quality of the snow or the bright sunshine or even the warm temperatures. It’s more about the things that aren’t weighing heavily on my mind, such as avalanches, falling ice, and crevasse danger. Typical spring Saturdays we spend a lot of energy planning for the “what ifs” but today is a bit different. Avalanche danger is Low. While it’s not a rock solid melt-freeze type of Low, the snow stability on all aspects is good. Again it will be a warm day, but currently the largest ice that we usually worry about is still well-bonded to the cliff faces. You might see some minor icefall today, so stay heads up about it, but compared to later in the season this is less of a concern. Finally, crevasses have yet to open up, and undermined snow has yet to become a significant problem. So you see, from my point of view the objective hazards for today are relatively small for a typical springtime day, and this makes me happy.

Now, despite what I said already, there are SUBJECTIVE HAZARDS that we want you to be aware of as you’re out and about today. First are the crowds—it’ll be a busy day and you’ll have to be on guard to make sure someone doesn’t do something that would ruin your day. An example might be something as simple as a person falling out of the boot ladder high in the Lip and taking out 20 people on his or her way down. You can mitigate this hazard by staying alert to what others are doing around you and always thinking ahead as to how you’ll react. Another subjective hazard comes from you yourself. Getting in over your head is pretty easy to do here, whether that’s trying to jump the headwall or just getting into terrain that’s too steep or icy. Remember, this is not a developed ski area where the ambulance can pick you up within minutes of an accident. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to get an injured person to the ambulance.

Snow conditions today will be variable depending on where you go and when you’re there. There are areas of rain crust that get softened by sunshine when they face south, but stay rock solid all day long on other aspects. Expect solid conditions in Left Gully, lower Hillman’s, and the Lower Snowfields, particularly early in the day. There is windblown snow in many areas across the ravine; the depth of this snow plays a role in how skiable it can be. In the shallowest areas the rain crust lurks just below and makes for more challenging skiing or riding. Stop by and ask a Snow Ranger, Ski Patroller, or caretaker if you have any questions at all.

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. Please be kind to the vegetation as you exit the Bowl!

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or 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